With a sixth-place finish for the men’s team and a fourth-place finish for the mixed team in the 2014 Outdoor Nationals, Sonoma State University’s archery team has already suited up for another event-filled year.
The club was originally founded about three years ago by former president Zachary Truskolaski and current adviser Jeffrey Reeder. The main purpose of the club was to bring together the students on campus that had an interest in archery.
“The intended impact of the organization,” said current president Shawn Kelley, “is to bring awareness of a well-practiced sport that is centuries old. It is important to continuously generate interest in archery so that its practice does not discontinue.”
For people that don’t know what archery is, it’s defined by Merriam-Webster as the art, practice, or skill of shooting with bow and arrow.
But to the archers in the club, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a way to relieve stress and relax while also being a lifestyle for some.
“My favorite part is being able to hangout with people who have the same interest in the sport of archery,” said current team member Quinten Rodriguez. “And practice regularly because of access to a range on campus.”
Although the exact time period archery began is unknown, there is evidence to show the earliest people to use bows and arrows were the ancient Egyptians about 5,000 years ago. The purpose of their bows and arrows were for hunting and warfare.
As archery has developed over the years, many traditions have been started and carried throughout various cultures. In addition, each archer may have traditions of his or her own.
“Archery, to me, reminds me of all the time my father and I would spend together shooting and talking,” said Kelley. “Father-son bonding time.”
While many people like Kelley have practiced the sport for awhile, many are just getting started like current club member Mandy Young.
“I actually only got started last semester,” said Young. “I just walked up to practice one day and now here I am with my own bow and everything. I've even made my own leather quiver.”
Even with arrows flying through the air at speeds up to 150 mph, archery is the fourth safest sport club in the U.S., falling behind table tennis, badminton and bowling. And with these high-speed arrows, safety becomes a crucial part of the sport.
“Most of the rules we have are all self-explanatory or common sense,” said Kelley. “But when you show up we will go over all the rules so that everyone stays safe.”
Safety rules are especially important during competitions, which are held throughout the year. The team is heading to their first competition on Saturday and will be holding their own competition on campus grounds on April 11.
The team’s last competition is in Virginia for Outdoor Nationals at the end of May.
Besides competitions, many archers participate just because they enjoy the sport.
People of all ages have found joy in archery and their interest starts at varying ages.
“I have seen children as young as six shooting a bow,” said Rodriguez. “As well as people in their 80s. The physical requirements are not much; it only requires some dedication. I have seen a man without any arms practice.”
The biggest struggle of the club is getting archers to participate. The club provides all the necessary equipment and always welcomes any and all new members who are interested in joining.
“If anybody has any interest in the sport, they should come by the club and give it a try,” said Rodriquez. “It is a much different experience when you can participate at your own pace.”
Anyone interested in joining the club and meeting new people is encouraged to attend one of the practice times, which are given on the official Facebook page or by an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All practices are held at the Sonoma State University track.