There is no shortage of things to do in Jersey City and when I heard an archery range opened in the Heights, I couldn’t wait to try it! It is the only range that exists in our area. Chris Cotto, the owner and instructor at Jersey City archery and a JC native, invited us to try it out a few weeks ago. We had such a good time, we almost forgot we were there to interview him! Archery is a really fun, challenging and exciting sport. I felt like Katniss from The Hunger Games, ready to annihilate my enemies.
This is a great place for anyone who wants to try something new or the professional “shooter” who wants to practice killing zombies (they have zombie targets for a few bucks).
I found a YELP review that pretty much sums up Jersey City Archery.
“My name is Brian M. For five years, I was stranded on an island with only one goal: survive.And survive I can with some archery practice! I have been archery instructor certified for almost a year and have probably shot twice in that time…not counting archery tag. It’s awesome that I can shoot more often now without having to cross the Hudson River.”
What is your name?
Chris Cotto: Chris Cotto.
And what do you do?
CC: By day, I’m a programmer in New York City.
And by night?
CC: I am the owner and an instructor at Jersey City Archery.
So, start from the beginning…
CC: A few years ago, I was out with a friend for a birthday party. We went to Brooklyn, did archery, and I just fell in love with the sport, ever since then. I started coaching at Marist High School in Bayonne. The kids had such a big impact in my life, and they kept asking for more and more activities, but the certification I had at the time did not allow for it. So I got a different certification, and I said I was going to open my own archery range because it’s beneficial for the kids. Plus, as an archer myself, there wasn’t place in the area where I could practice. I’d have to travel up to Brooklyn, which is pretty far away.
That’s amazing. So you just have regular job, and you have this passion, so you decided to go for it and open a space?
CC: Yes. So far, it has been an amazing journey and we received a very warm welcome from the community.
I love that! So you started 2 years ago?
CC: About 3 and a half years ago.
What do you love about archery?
CC: You’re always improving. You’re never perfect. No matter if you’re shooting barebow or the best equipment out there. No matter what you’re doing or what range you’re in, you’re never going to hit 10 after 10 constantly. So it’s always about the form, where you’re standing, equipment as well. Every time you make a change, the smallest change, you have to readjust your entire shooting technique.
Can you give readers a little insight into what archery is? Sell us archery!
CC: If you’re looking for a sport that isn’t super demanding, but still gives you a little bit of a workout and gets your blood pumping, this is that sport. You can compete professionally, work toward the Olympics, or just relieve stress after work. So many people come in just to de-stress and clear their heads. It’s personal, yet interactive. All of our members know each other and are welcoming to everyone. We’ve been described as having a cool, Jersey vibe so stop by and experience it for yourself.
Do you live in Jersey City?
CC: Yes, my family moved here from New York when I was under a year old. And I grew up here. I am a Jersey boy, accent and all.
How do you feel Jersey City has changed in the last few years?
CC: I have my pluses and minuses. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s for the better. You know, if you look down the road, instead of at what’s happening now, it’s all for the better.
Do you live in the Heights?
CC: I live in Greenville. I actually didn’t know about archery growing up, because all the majority of ranges were on this side of the city. I found it pretty odd, but in a good way, to open archery in the Heights when archery was big in this part of the city to begin with. It is kind of a personal goal of mine to reach out to the other side of the city, because they are neglected when it comes to archery. Some kids in Greenville don’t know what the work means, so we have to change that.
Do you have a favorite Jersey City hangout spot?
CC: The place I used to go hang out in closed. Port-O. But I’m always welcome to find a new place.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or Jersey City Archery?
CC: We’re pretty new, so I invite everyone to come check it out. We’re the only place in the area that teaches crossbow. We teach one crossbow class on Saturdays, there are only six spots, so it’s a very small class. Come and have fun, even if you’ve never tried archery. See if it’s something you can get into. It’s a very affordable sport to start with.
Are there a few instructors?
CC: Yes. We have 4 instructors, including myself, and 2 instructors’ assistants.
That’s great! Where did you find the instructors, in Jersey City?
CC: I coached one at Marist, and she graduated and I asked her to work for me. The other two, I interviewed myself.
Good for you! That’s awesome, you work full time and do this. How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?
I love it!