By Diana Abou-Saleh
Sports & Managing Editor
With steady hands and a focused expression, Betty Tyler takes aim and prepares to release an arrow from the glossy, fire truck red compound bow she received as a Christmas gift.
Standing 20 yards from the target, she releases the arrow. It soars through the air and hits the golden bull’s-eye.
“Archery is a combination of how you stand and how you let go of the arrow,” Tyler said. “That’s what makes a good shot.”
Tyler, a 50+ student, is enrolled in the intermediate archery class at Brookhaven College.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Tyler said. “I’m not the best archer, but I’m in there.”
Tyler has become an accomplished archer over the past two semesters, according to Bob Hueston, archery professor.
Tyler said she has been taking classes at Brookhaven for 15 years. Last semester she gave up her aerobics class to take archery because she found the latter to be more enjoyable.
Tyler said her passion for archery was triggered by watching the 2008 Olympic trials for archery on television.
“At my age, I can’t do basketball or softball. I can’t do all that running,” Tyler said. “So, I thought archery is something that someone my age could do.”
She said she comes from a family of “jocks” and prefers doing outdoors sports. “I do gardening, but how much fun is that?” Tyler said.
Tyler said archery has become one of her top priorities.
She has become so attached to the sport she purchased her own equipment to practice whenever she can.
The first time Tyler picked up a bow and arrow, she did not have much luck.
During the first four weeks of class last semester, Tyler said she missed all six haystacks used as targets.
The first time she hit the bull’s-eye she loved it. She said every student in the class clapped because they had seen how hard she worked to improve.
Tyler said she has improved so much that she often competes against male students.
Rodrigo Reynoso, intermediate archery student, said Tyler has a lot of heart for the sport.
“Sometimes she can get very competitive,” Reynoso said. “When she hits the bull’s-eye, and we don’t, she rubs it in our faces.”
Tyler said she plans to register for competitions held by the Texas Archery Association of Plano.
In order to prepare for competitions, Tyler built an archery range in her backyard. “I have a big backyard,” Tyler said. “So, I went and bought some straw bales and put those up about 50 feet away and just started to practice, practice and practice.”
Tyler also takes lessons at an indoor range in Garland called Outdoor Pro.
Hueston said it is great that Tyler can look forward to competing in the future.
“She is now an excellent, experienced archer,” Hueston said.
Tyler said she makes a constant effort to inform other senior citizens that activities like archery, computer skills, journalism or writing are available to them.
“It’s important for [younger generations] to know that senior citizens aren’t at home playing bingo,” Tyler said. “They are out there.”