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Brandeis Archery Club mixes recreation and competition

By Zach Cihlar

Section: Sports

April 13, 2018

Nock. Draw. Anchor. Aim. Release. As newcomers set their bows, the more seasoned members of the Brandeis Archery Team provide insight and coaching to students interested in trying out the venerable and revered weapon.

Split into two groups, Brandeis Archery offers a space for students to try out the shooting sport as a fun, lighthearted activity starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays during what they call the Brandeis Archery Club. The club sets up their makeshift shooting range in the Gosman Multipurpose Room overlooking the main field house. With windows lining the room, anyone from the track can look in and see archery practice underway. The range covers the expanse of the multipurpose room, with three targets lining the far wall.

The archery team provides equipment and targets for the club’s practice. The weapons, according to members of the team, require steady arms, good posture and the perfect amount of draw, all techniques taught and developed during these club practices. The club practices typically receive a mixture of curious first timers and the occasional group of repeat attendees who have a developing interest in the sport.

As far as recruiting and retaining new members, the club relies on the appeal of shooting a bow and arrow, a phenomenon made significant by television and movies like The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones. On top of these cultural references, the club also uses the safe and instructional nature of shooting a bow and arrow at a target to attract interested potential members who appreciate the non-physical nature of the sport.

After the two hours providing tips and coaching to newcomers participating in the Brandeis Archery Club, the archery team begins its practice. The team members transition their space into a focused training area, practicing with hired coaches and preparing for competitions.

Starting at 8 p.m., the archery team spends the later two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays developing its members and working on precision. The team is mostly made up of students who previously participated in the 6 p.m. archery club practices for a semester or two and have since developed enough to take the leap into competitive shooting. According to Nicole Porter ’19, the team’s secretary, most team members spent a semester on the club squad before entering competition with the archery team.

In fact, the entire team, excluding one member, began their journey in archery with Brandeis Archery Club without prior experience in the sport. The club does not hold tryouts and is open to anyone interested in developing their skill and possibly competing.

For the 8 p.m. practices, the archery team hires coach E.G. LaBre to lead their practices and guide their development. LaBre brings experience to the team’s practices, having spent years coaching the U.S. Paralympic Archery Team as well.

Recently, the Brandeis Archery Team hosted the Shamrock Shoot in the Gosman Fieldhouse on March 17, setting up the outdoor regulation distance range within the huge space. Brandeis archers entered the event as individuals, competing in the shootout against around 75 other outside archers. Collegiate teams that competed in the Brandeis-hosted event include Harvard University, Wellesley College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The club’s president Anisa Haque ’18 earned second place in the women’s Olympic Bow Recurve event, while her teammate Joey Wong ’19 came in just behind her in third place. As for the men, the team’s most experienced archer, Wes Baker ’21 earned second place in the men’s Olympic Bow Recurve.

Along with the Shamrock Shootout, the archery team attends the national competition yearly. This past year, the team had a few strong finishers that earned top three performances. Haque once again placed, taking the third place spot in the women’s, while teammates Baker earned first place in the men’s Recurve and Wong secured the second place spot in the women’s Recurve.

Next year the team will be led by new captains Baker, Wong and Joey Figueroa ’19, all of whom participate on the competitive archery team. The three look to continue to balance recreation and competition between the Brandeis Archery Club and Brandeis Archery Team, providing opportunities to anyone who would like to have a go at the unique shooting sport.

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