With a straight posture and an eye on the target, Jessica Fitz drew the string of her bow past her ear and sent an arrow flying into the heart of a bale of hay.
“I am the next Katniss,” said the junior hospitality, tourism, and event management major with satisfaction as she released another arrow.
Fitz, along with 10 SJSU students and faculty, spent last Saturday learning the techniques of how to shoot arrows into bales of hay at an archery range, the Santa Cruz Archery Club, before proceeding to shoot real targets.
Outdoor Adventures, part of the Associated Students Campus Recreation program, held the event.
The adventures program aims to get students involved in recreational activities, primarily in an outdoor setting, according to program leader Kristine Kirkendall.
“We’re always looking around for new and different recreational activities, and this is the first time we did archery,” she said. “With the excitement around 'Hunger Games' and 'Brave,' we wanted to do something that can enhance a hobby, especially in a wilderness setting.”
Students learned the safety precautions of how to handle a bow and arrow, such as making sure the arrow is longer than their arm.
If an arrow is shorter than the archer’s arm, they can injure themselves when they pull the arrow back to shoot, according to Henry Bertram, the archery instructor.
For two and a half hours, Bertram instructed the students on the correct stance of holding a bow and arrow: a straight posture, an eye on the target and making contact with the cheek as they pull the bow string back.
The archers learned an important set of commands before they were allowed to proceed.
The command, “archers to the line” allowed archers to approach the line where they were allowed to shoot.
However, until they heard “clear to fire,” archers may “straddle” the shooting line — with one foot on each side of the line and prepare to shoot their arrows.
“Getting the technique down is the most difficult,” said Imran Khan, a freshman electrical engineering major. “You have to maintain focus and judge how you do after each shot. If you hit a target too high, try to aim lower.”
Khan said he heard about the archery lesson during his freshman orientation and he thought it was an opportunity to meet new people and experience a new activity.
“Archery is really fun,” he said. “It’s tricky at first, but once you hit the target, you feel pretty special.”
Tinny Tan, a senior occupational therapy major, said for three consecutive semesters, she scanned the list of events offered by Outdoor Adventures and immediately signed up when she saw the archery event.
“Archery is something I really wanted to do for a long time,” she said. “I think the bow and arrow is intricate and exquisite, and I felt really powerful.”
Tan said a bow and arrow is “not a modern day weapon that people normally see.”
According to Bertram, target archery as a sport dates back to hundreds of years. However, using a bow and arrow for hunting is as old as 50,000 years.
“Target archery has become much more popular and visible,” he said. “I’m not surprised that a number of movies helped out, such as 'Avatar,' 'Hunger Games' and 'Brave.'"
After the archers completed their lesson, they proceeded outside where they hiked to various target points and attempted to shoot arrows behind designated distances — some as far as 100 yards.
With a “Hunger Games surprise,” the Outdoor Adventures program brought various stuffed animals, such as Winnie the Pooh and a panda, as targets.
“We can’t do things in Adventures when you’re shooting people, so you can try to shoot inanimate objects,” Kirkendall said.
Fitz made many attempts to hit the stuffed animals but fell short.
“Not a lot of people are into archery, but it’s really fun,” said Fitz, who took an archery lesson in middle school. “It’s old-fashioned, and I would come back and take more lessons.”