I remember shooting a bow once in my life. I was eight at a summer camp and each kid got three tries. That was it. I’m pretty sure I never even hit a target. So when I decided to try out the Sonoma State Archery club out on the track I was nervous to say the least.
A few members were already there by the time I walked out and they all seemed to know exactly what they were doing; some even had their own equipment. But the leaders of the club Zac Truskolaski, Nicole Tillquist and Gini Michels were more than welcoming.
As Truskolaski finished setting up the huge 4x4ft targets all over track, Tillquist and Michels helped show the new members how to prepare to shoot. Everything from stringing a bow and choosing the right arrows to the rules of shooting and bow safely.
Last year the club received a grant from the Easton Foundation for Archery so they were able to get 15 new bows for people to use as well as arrows and other necessary shooting equipment. By the time the rest of the members showed up I was more excited to start than nervous.
Everyone lined up and started. The more advanced shooters started with the more difficult further away target while first time shooters like me stayed on the closest targets. Michels helped up us figure out our stance and how to aim properly, she was so patient and extremely supportive to us blindly aiming at a target and hoping it didn’t go flying off.
“Some people get discouraged if they aren’t perfect at it the first time,” said Michels.
“It will really take three to four times before someone will really feel comfortable at it,” said Tillquist.
They were right, after a few rounds of shooting arrows all the new members around me where consistently hitting the targets. By the time we finished most of us were able to move on to the further targets.
For someone who knew absolutely nothing about archery a few hours before I felt accomplished. I guess I wasn’t the only one for Truskolaski said, “Ninety percent of people that come out have never picked up a bow before... in a session or two we can take them from not hitting the target to grouping arrows.”
The archery club, with the help of their faculty advisor Jeffrey Reeder, who also is an avid bowman himself, have been able to secure three weekly shooting times that anyone can come out and shoot; Sundays 10-2 in the Fieldhouse at SSU, Mondays the club carpools to Novato Northwoods Bowmen Range and Thursdays from 9 a.m - noon on the SSU Track, and for only $20 for the entire semester one can come out and shoot with all the equipment provided.
It was so much fun getting to try the Sonoma State Archery club.
It is such a great example of a club that is relaxed, fun, and every time you go you actually get to do something.