Don’t quiver, let Archery Club’s arrow point you in the right direction

Members of the 5C Archery Club practice aiming at Pritzlaff field during a Sunday meeting. Courtesy: Gillian Bell

If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of archery is Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” you’re not alone. Most people know little about the sport besides the way that it’s portrayed in the media. However, the 5C club archery team, officially established last semester, gives students a chance to try the sport in a competitive environment. 

Club President Gillian Taylor Lambert Bell SC ’23 wants people to acknowledge the validity and intensity of archery as a sport.

“Most people just are not aware that archery is a sport, and because of that, it is sometimes difficult to gain support and be treated as a serious sport,” they said. “I think a lot of people might also underestimate how difficult of a sport it is and how much of a time dedication competing requires.”

Charis Kee-seon Kim PO ’24 said she is frustrated with people’s inclination to diminish archery as a sport.

“I know a lot of people don’t think that archery is a sport,” Kim said. “Archery requires great physical precision, strength and a whole lot of mental fortitude.”

Archery’s expensive nature also prevents it from being widely played, according to Kim. 

“I wish archery was a more popular sport, but it can be prohibitively expensive to get into,” she said. “A full competition-level setup usually costs at least $1,500 and goes upwards of $2,000.”

Bell said they are passionate about introducing people to the world of archery. They fondly remember last year’s club fair.

“Many people were excited by the prospect of being able to do archery and shocked that we had a club,” Bell said. “Talking to people about their experiences with archery and telling them that they can join the club even if they have had no former experience was really rewarding.”

Archery resources vary greatly depending on the region one is in. Bell said the club they practiced with in the Bay Area shows how competitive the sport can be, given the resources. 

“I competed and practiced with a local club that shot both in Golden Gate Park and an indoor location north of San Francisco,” Bell said. “They allowed me to pursue competitive Olympic archery after a year of practice due to the resources my club had, both in terms of training capacity and equipment. My form and perception of archery was really shaped by my team and my coaches.”

Kim was a member of the same club team, and the two of them have been able to maintain their connection through archery.

“I actually met Gillian through archery in my first year of high school — we were on the same club team,” said Kim. “Because of that, I didn’t develop any bad habits that I needed to be trained out of, and I didn’t have any misconceptions of how good I was before getting properly trained.” 

But others haven’t had access to the same resources. 

Marina Rosen-Cappellazzo’s SC ’23 did not start practicing archery until college. Growing up in New York City, she had little exposure to the sport. 

“In Manhattan, there isn’t a lot of available space for sports that require open space and large fields,” Rosen-Cappellazzo said. “I wasn’t aware that I could do archery as a sport.”

Bell said archery is commonly depicted as an individual activity, but they disagree with this assumption, noting the environment of their teams.

“It is so easy to build relationships in such a small sport, even when you are competing on the individual level,” Bell said. “It is so nice to be able to practice at a range and focus on that internal competition while being surrounded by community members who I’ve built relationships with.”

Appreciative of the close-knit environment of the 5C Archery Club, Rosen-Cappellazzo said she thinks archery is less of an individual sport because of the community.

“A major draw to the club was the people and community, and I really enjoy the community we’ve developed,” she said.

The club aims to build a solid foundation this year, according to Bell.

“We have not participated in tournaments yet, although we will hopefully be able to send some athletes to local competitions in the near future,” Bell said. “We have been focusing on outreach and securing a budget for team-building activities and to replace old equipment.”

Rosen-Cappellazzo said the club’s biggest change from the previous year is the leadership transition, with Bell as the new president. 

“We have a lot of beginners, a few people with prior experience and some returnees from last year,” Rosen-Cappellazo said. “With Gillian becoming president, I have seen a lot of improvement in our members.”

For newcomers, Kim stressed the importance of coachability and a desire to learn. 

“I would recommend that people listen closely to our form tips, ask lots of questions and pay attention to each and every one of their shots,” said Kim. “The skill that helped me the most with archery was learning how to coach myself.”

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