Boxes of arrows and a pile of archery bows rest on a bench as Miami University senior Justice Hubbard greets the people arriving to the band practice field.
A row of targets stretches across the field, and some people who arrive with their own quivers of arrows and bows head for the targets immediately, setting up their equipment. Others, arriving without anything, head straight for Hubbard, who passes out arrows and helps the newcomers figure out the right weight of bow to use.
With the bows strung and everyone equipped, the group heads for the targets. Hubbard and other senior members of the club instruct beginners on proper archery technique — grip the bow without extending your elbow, keep the arrow aligned just so, pull back the string to your chin.
Close one eye to aim, and when ready, release your hold on the arrow. If all goes to plan, arrows across the field will hit the targets with a resounding thwack.
Hubbard, the president of the archery club, founded it three years ago after arriving at Miami intending to find a community of archers. He has had an interest in archery since his childhood, but knew in high school that he wanted to join an archery club in college. He spent his senior year working on an independent project to design his own bows and arrows.
Though the club started off small, there have been more people attending every year. For Hubbard, fostering a greater sense of community each year is one of the most important parts of leading the club.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned about Miami and what I want out of Miami is the community,” Hubbard said. “When I started the club, I not only wanted to shoot, but I wanted a community. Now, I get to teach people how to shoot and you also start to create bonds and new friends.”
Hubbard says there are four people in the club who shoot competitively and five who have been involved in archery as a hobby before, which means that the majority of the club’s members are new.
First-year Christa Niemann has been to two practice sessions with the club this year. Prior to joining, she’d never picked up a bow and arrow.
“I’d never tried archery before, but I’ve always wanted to,” Niemann said. “I wanted to have that one talking point from college, like the one cool thing I did.”
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Niemann missed the target the first time she shot, but has since hit it almost every time. The club’s vice president, Courtney Collins, said this is pretty common among new members.
“Once you get the body motion down, it becomes easy,” Collins said. “Your first couple arrows might not be where you want them, but as you get into it, your aim gets better. After a couple tries, people usually start to pick it up.”
Once beginners pick up on the basics of archery, they can focus on refining their skills and shooting technique at subsequent meetings. However, Hubbard likes to remind people that archery doesn’t have to be competitive — it can be a simple way to blow off steam or relieve stress on a Saturday afternoon.
For some members, it can be a combination of both. Dylan Deeters, a first-year, used to shoot archery in his grandparent’s backyard as a kid, but hasn’t had consistent practice for most of his teenage years.
“After figuring out how to shoot again, I’ve been enjoying it a lot more. I’m hitting the targets every time,” Deeters said. “Archery also always clears my mind.”
Hubbard thinks the unique nature of the sport is what draws a lot of the club’s new members in. Though most people know what archery is, it’s not something many have had the opportunity to try.
“Archery is not something that’s mainstream, but it allows people to do something they’ve never done before but maybe seen on TV,” Hubbard said. “‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Brave’ got people interested in archery, which is great for us. You see it in the movies, and you want to be like Katniss Everdeen or Green Arrow; we’ll show you how.”
The archery club meets every Saturday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the band practice field across from Tappan Hall.