Shooting an accurate shot is by no means easy. In archery, rhythm and mechanics are important elements when taking aim.
It takes a lot of dedication, motor skills and trust for an archer to consistently hit a target that is 30 to 50 yards away.
This is one of the most difficult parts of competitive archery according to Long Beach State archery club president Michelle Nguyen.
“It always an issue for everyone,” Nguyen said. “You’re always shooting against yourself, so if your shots are not good you get into that [negative] mindset where you are blaming yourself.”
With many inexperienced members, it’s important to have a guiding force that not only helps the club improve their skills, but also keep positive energy throughout.
Archery club coach Jason Connor found his passion for archery 40 years ago when he took free lessons at the Pasadena Roving Archers and has been infatuated with the sport ever since.
“I started coaching for the Marine Corps Wounded Warriors Battalion West about 10 years ago,” Connor said. “I’ve taught here for about a year and a half…I like working with collegiate archery it’s a lot of fun.”
The team recruits at Smorgasport and Week of Welcome. At this year’s Smorgasport, the club had a small range for students to test their archery skills and expand interest in the club.
“Last year when I joined, the president didn’t actively put much attention into recruiting so [the team] was fairly small,” Nguyen said. “But this year I wanted to build a larger base…so right now we have close to 60 members and within that, we have 30 who compete.”
The most difficult challenge is to keep people coming to practices and competing. When new members get a taste of the club, they are introduced to the three types of bows they will be competing with: recurve, compound and barebow.
Most beginners are advised to use barebow because of its simplistic handle that allows beginners to learn the basics of archery. After this, they pick from the different bows and their respective styles.
“We start with shooting technique…which is like a step by step way to shoot,” Connor said. “You can take a pretty complex shot process and break it into digestible chunks.”
Archers can only focus on so many things when shooting, which is why the coaching staff has worked to instill these techniques into each member so it becomes second nature.
The time and attention each player receives goes a long way on the field and in each person’s life. Third-year political science major and treasurer Will Ritchie found himself in love with the community and sense of belonging once he got involved in the club.
“It’s been one of the defining moments so far in my college life,” Ritchie said. “Just to be close with a group of people it’s really fulfilling. Really made the college experience a lot better for me personally.”
Ritchie would go about his business like most do, yet going through the motions wasn’t fulfilling enough as he knew he could get more out of his time at the Beach.
“I did not really feel like I was really enjoying college,” Ritchie said. “[I was] just studying my major. Even doing these extracurriculars, doing clubs [like archery] to relax a bit, that’s so really big for me.”
Having joined the club last year, Ritchie felt somewhat comfortable with a bow after spending time in the Boy Scouts of America. The experience in his youth is what propelled him to join the archery club, but the camaraderie is what keeps bringing him back.
“Really, it’s the people, not so much the archery itself,” Ritchie said. “Being a part of a family, really is what makes it fun, made me really want to come back.”
The team has now been preparing for an archery championship that takes place in January 2020 as well as other competitions that will begin early next year.