Like bows and arrows, the 5C Archery Club builds close relationships between students and the sport

One of the most experienced members of the 5C archery team demonstrates how to shoot an arrow. (Courtesy of 5C Archery Club)

Packing a quiver of arrows, buckleing a chest plate, and carrying a giant bow, each member steps back and takes aim.

The sound of arrows piercing targets can be heard every Sunday afternoon on Arce Field, home of the 5C Archery Club. For SC ’23 member Gillian Bell, the organization provides a space to embrace the sport.

“It’s a very laid back environment,” Bell said. “If you don’t know anything about archery, we’ll teach you and you won’t have to stay all the time you can just hang around and watch us.

Between 3 and 5 p.m., the club offers collaborative opportunities where any student can learn the nuances of archery. CM ’22 club president Trevor Christensen emphasized the open nature of the group.

“We have a philosophy that people of any skill level can show up and participate,” he said. “We have people who have been archery for years and people who have never shot before; the general objective is to provide a welcoming space to shoot archery and improve in this sport.

A typical Sunday meeting involves rolling out archery targets, borrowing Claremont-Mudd-Scripps archery equipment, and letting members shoot freely.

For Bell, this environment was essential to his choice of college. After arriving at Claremont, she started shooting with the archery club her freshman year and has been unable to participate since due to the pandemic.

“After first participating in eighth grade and all through high school, I knew [archery was] a sport I may be doing for the rest of my life,” she said. “I was really looking for any college that had some sort of team, so having a club here was definitely a major bonus. [in choosing Scripps].”

Although it was a difficult sport for Bell to learn at first, improving his archery skills allowed him to develop perseverance and a never-give-up mindset.

“The most important thing [back then] was I was absolutely awful at it — like I couldn’t even hit the mark,” Bell said. “I think the fact that I was so horrible at it made me want to keep chasing it. If you get it wrong you can see the immediate result – I really like the black and white nature of archery in that sense.

Bell mentioned how much she enjoys sharing these stories while building relationships with other archers who have unique backgrounds.

“It was really fun and interesting to see other people’s relationships with archery,” Bell said. “They’re used to different types of equipment, from different coaches or different teams – we also come from different geographies, so everyone brings their own level and perspective of experience.”

Given the improvements at the club, Bell explained how sending members to archery competitions could potentially spark more interest in 5C archery. Although there are “many regulations” and “time conflicts” to resolve, the club has thought about sending students to personal tournaments in the past, or even hosting their own informal tournaments, Bell said.

“It’s tough because there’s a variety of experience levels, but it’s something that really interests me,” Bell said. “I think it might be interesting to place the students in group competitions after chasing them for a few hours and taking two-day trips around central California.”

While practicing is “very good and fun”, said Christensen, tournaments add a new level of challenge and are a cool way for archers to test their skills in competitive environments.

“Occasionally [competitions] comes down to a one-arrow shot, and those are some of the craziest moments; you’ve come so far in the tournament, and it’s all about that one arrow,” he said. “Looking back, half the fun I’ve had in archery is through [those moments].”

Currently, the club has around half a dozen regular members, although attendance varies from week to week. Looking ahead, Bell hopes the club will attract more attention across all 5Cs.

“[Archery club] is a very open environment and I would really like other people to get involved in that space,” Bell said. “For me, archery is really a meditative sport, so being able to share this experience with other people is really fun.”

Earnest A. Martinez