Archery is a sport derived from a time when people used to bowhunt for their food. Today it has become a sport that has branched into many different forms. It has gained enough interest on our campus that the UTM Archery Club continues into its second year, providing space for shooting for experienced shooters and coaching for beginners.
UTM Archery hosts two-hour sessions of target archery every Monday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the RAWC, with an Olympic-style setup for some of the most skilled shooters.
The aim of Olympic-style archery is to shoot all of the arrows in a target that stands 70 m away from the shooter to the innermost ring, to earn the maximum number of points. Archery poses a challenge because the centre of the target is the size of a grapefruit, and from the shooting distance, it appears to be the size of a dime.
“I think the most important part of archery is to stay relaxed and just to have fun, and not worry too much about where your arrows go as long as they point in the right direction. Initially, I was expecting more people, and I was waiting for a more formal range, but it’s nice to have the informality of the gym as well,” says Danielle Mackie, a second-year member of the club.
Anyone is allowed to attend the archery sessions, even if they have no experience with archery. Half of the gym is designated for coaching beginners, where two coaches demonstrate how to shoot with precision and accuracy. The targets for new students are bigger and set up much closer to the individual until they become familiar with the entire process.
The greatest challenge for someone that has just begun to learn is how to train their body to stand in a particular way, which can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Many students struggle with noticing and correcting automatic movements that are made unconsciously based on their logical scheme. These mistakes are important to correct as they are ergonomically incorrect, or they debilitate the person’s ability to shoot the target.
Seeing the more experienced archers shoot alongside the beginners is inspiring to those who have just begun.
“I like it. I would like to try it and be in the regular group and do what they are doing. That’s my goal for now,” says David Nam after holding a bow for the very first time.
“My mother and I went to the Medieval Times show downtown, and it was a good experience,” says coach Tessa Lehmann, explaining her archery origins 12 years ago. “But my mom was a little unimpressed with how Hollywoodish it was, so she signed me up for archery thinking that it was more of a classical-type archery. It turned out to be not classical, but competitive. I fell in love with the first arrow, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Although derived from an older tradition of bowhunting, “At its core it’s the same—it’s still much of the same positioning, it’s just a different goal,” explains Lehmann. In one, archers practice shooting at a paper target, and in the other it’s hunting an animal for food. “It’s a show of marksmanship, it’s a show of dedication, and you have to work at it to be good at it—like most things.”