For a moment, all I was focused on was the target in front of me and the bow and arrow in my hands — everything else around me faded into the background.
My eyes were fixed on the colorful target 10 yards away from me as I held the bow in one hand and the arrow in the other, somewhat unsteadily.
I joined about a dozen students at the Miami Springs Golf & Country Club on a sunny, warm Sunday afternoon to spend some time with the FIU Golden Archers – a student-run archery club.
Founded during the Spring 2015 semester, the club meets almost every Sunday afternoon at the golf club, which has an archery range with several targets at varying distances.
Before that afternoon, I had never shot a bow and arrow in my life, but club members were just fine with that. They patiently taught me some of the basics: how to hold the bow and arrow and how to stand with proper form. They also gave me some additional pointers on how to safely use the equipment.
I took a deep breath, trying to keep my hands as steady as possible, and after a brief moment of stillness I released the bowstring. A split second later, I watched the arrow streak past me and land on the target with a thud.
The arrow didn’t hit the bull’s eye, but it did land on the target – and for me, that was a victory.
According to the club’s leadership and members, one of archery’s greatest appeals is its accessibility to students from different backgrounds and athletic experiences, including myself.
“It’s a sport anyone can do regardless of their limitations,” says Manny Rojas-Romero, a sophomore computer science major and the club’s founding president. “It doesn’t matter what your height is, how much you weigh, or how strong you are. It’s a very open, customizable sport that is a unique experience for anyone that chooses to partake in it.”
The club, which has about 50 active members, invites students interested in checking out the club to connect with them on Facebook or through email or come out to the range and check out the club for themselves.
For Rojas-Romero and many of the archers that are members of the club, regularly coming out to the range and practicing consistently has helped foster other skills that can carry over and positively impact other areas of life.
“Practicing archery does help with the same things martial arts would help with, like discipline, time management, understanding, body control,” he says.
The club hopes to continue to spread the word about archery and introduce more students to the sport. They have their sights set on sending club members to local and regional archery competitions against archers from other schools and organizations.
“We do have individuals in the club who are competing on their own, but the club itself does not yet have a competition team,” Rojas-Romero says. “But it is something we’re working on building.”