The UTM Archery club will be shooting for the bulls-eye every Monday night in Gym C from 8 to10 p.m., and you don’t need to be Katniss Everdeen for the odds to be in your favour. “The club aims to introduce archery to any interested participants with no experience, and offers individual practice times for experienced shooters,” says club president Rebeeyah Jabeen.
Jabeen became involved with the club after noticing the demand among UTM students at the beginning of the 2013/14 school year. “We were astounded. Over 140 people at UTM were interested in the creation of [the club],” she said. Jabeen and the rest of the executives of UTM archery worked on getting the club approved by UTMSU and the Department of Student Life in order to receive funding.
The club was eventually approved and began running in January, making this school year the first full year of UTM archery in recent history. The club will offer demonstrations and one-on-one coaching for the more inexperienced players, with certified NCCP coaches to go over the basics, including safety procedures and proper shooting techniques.
One of the coaches is second-year student Brandon Xuereb, who discovered his interest in shooting arrows after watching Lord of the Rings at age 11. Xuereb’s involvement in the club came about through Cat Criger, the aboriginal elder at UTM, who informed him of Jabeen’s plans to start the club. “Since the last time such a club existed on campus was more than 15 years ago, I was more than happy to help give the sport a new, revived look,” Xuereb said. His focus at the moment, for beginners especially, is completely directed towards safety. Once the basic training requirements are met, the coaching staff, which includes Tessa Lehmann, Nataliya Mushchenko, and Waleed Aumeerally, will work to refine the form of all of the archers and introduce new challenges, such as targets or balloons.
The club ran two summer sessions in mid-August with UTM summer students, which acted as a trial run for students and the executive team on how to organize the sessions during the year in order to cater to each archer’s needs. Last Monday, the first session of the school year saw a turnout of about 60 students, most of them beginners.
Jabeen discovered that there remains some more work to be done before the club officially gets the ball rolling. “After our first practice, we realized there were so many people who were beginners and that the coaches would have to repeat the rules and proper techniques continuously until things settle down,” she said. As a result, the Department of Physical Education has partnered with the club for “Learn to Shoot” sessions that will run during the next few practices. The club will divide the gym into two halves in order to accommodate both the experienced and inexperienced archers, allowing both to hone their skills. “These [Learn to Shoot] sessions will be for beginners who want to learn archery for the first time and a fee of $5 will be charged for non-members,” Jabeen added. The funds collected from these sessions will go towards purchasing more equipment.
A yearly membership fee for the archery club is $30.