Keeping a bullseye on Archery Club

The Archery Club practices three days a week by Reynolda Village


Courtesy of Murren Kelly

Members of the archery club practice at Waterfall Field near Reynolda Village.

Isabella Romine, Features Editor

While most students at Wake Forest could name one of the archers that have sprung into popular culture in the last few years, fewer likely know that the university has its own archery club. 

Three days a week, the Wake Forest archery club meets down by Reynolda Village at Waterfall Field, a scenic green clearing sheltered by the trees of Reynolda trail. At practices, club members run drills, receive coaching and compete in friendly games, like trying to shoot small balloons on targets. The club is open to all experience levels and provides equipment for those who do not have it, so anyone is welcome to join. 

The club’s president, junior Murren Kelly, described being introduced to archery by her father as a child, though she had no real experience with the sport when she joined the club her freshman year. Even at the height of the pandemic, archery didn’t suffer from COVID-19 social distancing restrictions as much as other student groups. However, though the sport could continue mostly as normal, the pandemic decreased student turnout. When Kelly joined her freshman year, the club had less than 20 active members. 

“We were all in agreement that it should be a bigger club because it’s so open to experience, and people don’t really get to try things like archery outside of college,” Kelly said. 

After becoming the vice president at the end of her freshman year and president last spring, Kelly worked to increase the profile of the club on campus. Her efforts combined with the former club president have increased club membership to its present height of about fifty people today. 

According to Kelly, one of the club’s benefits is that they have no attendance policy: “For a lot of people, it’s come and go. We only see some people at the beginning of the semester and others only at the end, but it’s available to them when they want to be there.”

Though the club is limited in the events it can coordinate with other on-campus groups because of safety training issues, they are able to host a faculty and staff event. Students invite their professors to Waterfall Field and teach them archery skills, providing a fun way for students to connect to their professors outside of a classroom setting.

This semester is shaping up to be especially exciting for the club. Kelly and vice president Sara Goncalves, a sophomore, recently earned coaching certifications, which allows the team to compete in formal settings. Though their competition schedule is not finalized, they are considering participating in events at Boneyard Archery, a range located in Rockingham County where Kelly and Goncalves received training for their coaching certifications.

“I’ve been competing in archery since I was eight, so I had planned on joining the club since I committed to Wake Forest,” Goncalves said. “My best experiences have been working to get members competing so we can possibly win some tournaments.”

Competing will be optional; however, it might not take as much time to get to that level as many would assume. Kelly described how participants are often surprised at how well they’re able to shoot, hitting right on target repeatedly even during their first practices. 

“I think some people think that they don’t have the right experience or maybe aren’t the right type of person for archery,” she noted.

Kelly continued: “But through the club, I’ve learned that anyone can do archery. Our vice president [Goncalves’] bow is taller than her, and she can shoot it so well. When the club started, it was pretty much all male students and was a bit closed off. I would say now, though, our club might even be more women than men. We want everyone to feel like they can at least try the sport.”