Brand New Archery Club Takes Aim at State Competition
Feb. 22, 2013
Members of the UT Dallas Archery Club will participate in their first state competition this weekend.
Katniss Everdeen would be proud.
The adventurous heroine of the best-selling novel The Hunger Games has popularized the sport of archery for a growing number of young enthusiasts across the country, including UT Dallas students.
It’s no coincidence that an Archery Club was formed at the University in fall 2012, just a few months after the release of the film version of the novel. The club has about 40 members.
“It is mostly guys, but there are women in the club, and since The Hunger Games and Brave came out, the popularity of archery for women has grown substantially,” said Beth Keithly, associate director of research development and staff sponsor for the club.
Four members of the club will be competing for the first time in the 31st Texas State Indoor and Junior Olympic Archery Development Indoor Championships Feb. 22-24 at the Texas Archery Academy in Plano.
“I’m really excited for these students. The club has not been in existence for long, and the fact we can get a group competing shows the level of their enthusiasm for the sport,” Keithly said.
Club president Philip Barker, an arts and technology major, became interested in archery after learning the sport in summer camps during his middle school years. He came across the Texas Archery Academy while researching types of bows on the Internet.
Before long, he was volunteering at the academy and eventually was hired as range officer, helping to maintain the facility and monitor safety measures.
Barker’s co-worker, Holly Lawton Avendaño, was Keithly’s archery instructor. When Barker showed interest in starting a club at UT Dallas, Avendaño agreed to coach the club weekly and mentored Barker on how to develop a club. She also encouraged Keithly to become the staff sponsor.
“I’m kind of old-school geek,” Keithly said. “I’ve always loved bows and swords and all things Renaissance.”
Her own passion for archery began when her newly retired father taught her family, including her husband and son, then 7, how to shoot an arrow. They were soon hooked.
“I go to the archery range at least once a week,” Keithly said. “It’s a ridiculous amount of fun. It’s a stress reliever. As a sport, it’s not hard to do, but it’s difficult to perfect.”
The Archery Trade Association estimates that about 9 million people in the U.S. shoot archery each year, including recreational target archery and bow hunting.
Because of safety precautions used, national surveys show the sport has fewer accidents than golfing or fishing. “The only sport that ranked safer was bowling,” Barker said.
Archery rewards participants with several benefits, Barker said. Physically, it enhances upper body strength – primarily major muscles in the upper back. And it teaches focus.
But it’s also a mental discipline that requires a bit of physics, he added. Archery is more than just shooting an arrow at the target. To become highly skilled, archers have to account for the oscillation of the arrow during the release and also understand that the force acting on the arrow is equal to the draw force as the archer pulls the string back to the release position.
“Everything is analyzed in this sport,” Barker said.
The upcoming competition will focus on individual skills, with each of four members shooting 120 arrows in 10 rounds over the weekend.
To calm their pre-competition jitters, Barker has simple advice: “Breathe, and take your time. Envision your arrow hitting the gold, then release.”
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