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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Take aim with NIU Archery Club

Joseph Howerton
Two archers aim down their sights. Archery Club hosted a weekly meeting on Tuesday. (Joseph Howerton | Northern Star)

DeKALB – On Tuesday, a student was struck in the head with an arrow. The victim’s friend, in response to the shooting, loosed an arrow into the assailant’s chest. Did we mention the arrows had foam tips?

The NIU Archery Club held its weekly meeting on Tuesday where veteran members introduced the sport of archery to new members. Participants took up arms, engaging in target shooting and games, all while learning to use a bow.

Katelynn Valdez, a junior geology major and NIU Archery Club’s president, assisted those new to using a bow how to pick and string a bow, take a proper stance drawing arrows and loosing (or letting go of) strung arrows. Teaching new members who’ve never used a bow how to shoot takes roughly five minutes, Valdez said.

During the event, club members and alumni gave advice on form and improving shots loosed.

Starting at 4 p.m. in Anderson Hall, Room 100, the club set aside half of the gym for target practice. Five large targets with bullseyes and pictures of zombie heads were set up to receive volleys of arrows from archers. After the arrows were spent, club overseers would call for a ceasefire to safely collect arrows and begin the process again.

This continued for a half-hour until David Benner, NIU Archery Club’s faculty advisor as well as kinesiology and physical education instructor, introduced that evening’s game: bow tag.

Similar to dodgeball, two teams would go head to head firing foam-tipped arrows at their opponents, knocking them out until one team was left standing. The two five-person teams would don paintball masks to protect their faces and fire at one another while darting for cover. 

Valdez said bow tag is one of the games the group does during meetings. Others include long-distance shooting and target practice on 3D figures like a deer mannequin. Benner even brings in RC control cars with balloons attached for archers to try their luck at shooting a moving target.

Additionally, the club takes part in a camping trip each year and participates in 3D object shoots put on by local archery clubs.

Joselyn Bahena, a sophomore computer science major, attended her first meeting of the NIU Archery Club on Tuesday. Bahena said the experience was a good intro for archery beginners.

“They give you instructions and help as we go forward. It’s kind of easy to understand, even if you’re new to it,” Bahena said. “I think it’s a good thing for a beginner, and, like I said, it’s not super hard to grasp. They’re (Archery Club) really well organized, and they give you options as well. If you don’t want to play a game, we can just keep practicing.”

Equipment is provided by the club to use during events. Bows ranging from 18 pounds to 40 pounds of draw strength are available, as well as a number of arrows. Participants are allowed to bring in their own equipment, but only single-string recurve bows, no compound bows with additional strings.

Valdez and Ryan Manzer, an NIU archery club alumni, said the hobby is easy to get into, and it’s worth it to stick with it to achieve better results.

“There’s nothing like you’re shooting and getting that first couple of bullseyes and knowing you did it on purpose,” Manzer said.

Membership for the NIU Archery Club is free, and more information on signing up, or participating in its current bake sale fundraiser, can be found on Huskie Hub.

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