Packing a quiver of arrows, buckling a chest guard and carrying a giant bow, each member pulls back and takes aim.
The sound of arrows piercing targets is heard every Sunday afternoon on Arce Field, home to the 5C archery club. For member Gillian Bell SC ’23, the organization offers a space to embrace the sport.
“It’s a very laid back environment,” Bell said. “If you know nothing about archery, we will teach you, and you don’t have to stay the whole time — you can just hang out and watch us.”
Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., the club offers collaborative opportunities where any student can learn about the nuances of archery. Club president Trevor Christensen CM ’22 emphasized the group’s open nature.
“We have the philosophy that people of any skill level can show up and participate,” he said. “We have people who’ve done archery for years and people who haven’t shot before at all; the overall purpose is to provide a welcoming space to shoot archery and get better at the sport.”
A typical Sunday meeting involves rolling out archery targets, borrowing Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ archery equipment and letting members freely shoot.
For Bell, this environment was essential to her choice of college. After arriving in Claremont, she began shooting with the archery club her freshman year, and has not been able to participate since due to the pandemic.
“After first participating in eighth grade and all throughout high school, I knew [archery was] a sport that I will possibly do for the rest of my life,” she said. “I was really looking for any college that had some sort of a team, so having a club here was definitely a major bonus point [in choosing Scripps].”
Despite being a difficult sport to pick up initially for Bell, improving her archery skills allowed her to develop perseverance and a never-give-up mindset.
“The biggest thing [back then] was that I was absolutely horrible at it — like I couldn’t even hit the target,” Bell said. “I think that me being so awful at it made me kind of want to keep pursuing it. If you mess up, you can see the immediate result — I really like the black and white nature of archery in that sense.”
Bell mentioned how she enjoys sharing these stories while building relationships with other archers who have unique backgrounds.
“It’s been really fun and interesting to see other people’s relationships with archery,” Bell said. “They’re used to different kinds of equipment, coming from different coaches or different teams — we’re also coming from different geographical areas, so everyone brings their own level and perspective of experience.”
Considering improvements in the club, Bell expressed how sending members to archery competitions could potentially attract more interest to 5C Archery. Although there are “many regulations” and “time conflicts” to work through, the club has thought about sending students to personal tournaments in the past, or even hosting their own informal tournaments, Bell said.
“It’s difficult because there’s a variety of experience levels, but it’s something I’m definitely interested in,” Bell said. “I think it might be interesting to place students in group competitions after driving them out a few hours and having two-day trips to central California.”
While practicing is “all well and fun”, Christensen said, tournaments add a new level of challenge and are a cool way for archers to test their skills in competitive environments.
“Sometimes [competitions] come down to a one arrow shoot off, and those are some of the craziest moments; you’ve gotten so far in the tournament, and everything’s riding on this one arrow,” he said. “Looking back, half the fun I’ve had in archery is going through [those moments].”
Currently, the club has around half a dozen consistent members, although attendance varies from week to week. Looking ahead, Bell hopes the club garners more attention all across the 5Cs.
“[Archery club] is very much an open environment and I would really like to get other people to be involved in that space,” Bell said. “For me, archery is very much a meditative sport, so being able to share that experience with other people is really fun.”