You are crouching down behind a small barricade. Your heart is pounding. Sweat streaks down your brow as you watch a comrade take a hit and fall. Your grip on your bow is tense. You are waiting for the right time to strike.</p>
How did it all end up like this? Just a moment ago, everyone was gearing up and amicably making conversation. The next thing you know your friends are out for blood. Your blood.
At The Clever Archer, a game of archery tag can erupt into a full-out war in just a few minutes. Armed with a bow and foam-tipped arrows with nothing but a face mask for protection, two teams face off to see who will come out on top.
“My wife and I had initially been thinking of opening an escape room,” said Tim Jennison, owner of The Clever Archer, “then we happened to go and try archery tag in Mississauga and we really enjoyed it.”
Jennison and his wife, Amy, saw the opportunity for activities like archery tag in the Kitchener-Waterloo region to catch on. “It wasn’t around here at all, and we wanted to do something bigger than an escape room.”
In a basic game, archery tag fuses together elements of dodgeball, paintball and tag. “There’s this flexibility of being able to run wherever you want, crouch, dodge, and all that stuff,” said Jennison. “I think it’s different, I think it’s a lot of fun and it’s really engaging physically."
A session is about an hour long with several different game modes being played throughout. Each game, with names like Traitor, Elimination, Domination, and Castle Siege, are five minutes long. Right before the actual gameplay starts, the referee helps out beginners with gearing up and learning how to shoot their bows.
“Some of the game ideas were lifted from classic dodgeball. In some ways, [archery tag] plays out like dodgeball,” said Jennison. For coming up with their original modes, Jennison explained the process: “When we were first getting set up and open, we played a bunch of games with a couple other staff members … we were playing a lot of games and trying different things. Some ideas didn’t work out so well and some worked really well, So we implemented them, and added them to the list of games that we now play."
The variety works really well. With each game, there are new twists that add to the thrill. In one game, you may find yourself on a team with your best friend, ready to take on the world and shoot some arrows Hawkeye-style. In the next, you’re aiming at each other from across the room with a round of Traitor.
“You’re in this environment where the arrows are whizzing past your head and hitting the barriers with a loud bang,” Jennison described. “It’s a ton of fun.” Playing at the Clever Archer is a unique experience, You never know what, or who, for that matter, will hit you next.