By Wes Terrell
Eyes down range. Nock arrow. Draw, breathe and release. Archery has been a first line of defense for many civilizations. Brookhaven College has a class devoted to the ancient tradition.
Professor Greg Hernandez, who teaches the archery class, said: “Historically, [archery class] has been offered even before I was hired. It was taught by Bob Houston for years. I taught it last semester for the second time, and before that, I taught it for four years.”
“He taught the subject well and didn’t put too much pressure on you to ‘do well,’” Brookhaven student Sidney Nanton said in an email. “Just go out there and do your best. If you hit the target, that’s cool, and if you don’t, that’s cool too. Just keep trying.”
Students learn the history and technique of archery. Once students complete the classroom portion, they spend the rest of the class on the range perfecting their skills.
Hernandez said the biggest thing he has gained from teaching archery class is the opportunity to refine his own skills. He said archery students are a different breed, and he wants them to take away “a lifetime fitness skill to have fun with and continue throughout their life.”
Students take part in competitions against their peers. Beginning and advanced students meet at the same time and are graded on skill level individually.
Brookhaven provides a range of bows, but compound and recurve are the most common bows used in the class.
A compound bow is a modern bow that uses a system of cables and pulleys to gain leverage and reduce holding draw weight, or the amount of weight needed to draw the bow to its maximum draw length.
A recurve bow, Hernandez said, is a form of bow in which the unstrung tips curve away from the archer. The bows have a draw weight of 20 to 30 pounds.
Students are able to bring their own bows to class. They shoot at targets and receive points for bullseyes. Additionally, targets such as milk cartons and road cones with tennis balls are used.
An archery club, Busted Nocks, is also in the works. “As long as you know what you’re doing and understand the safety, you should be fine,” Chuck Woodfin, president of the archery club said. “We’re not entirely sure how extensive on the requirements we’re going to be. We’re looking for an understanding of the sport, an understanding of safety and [people who] have taken the class.”
Hernandez said his role in the club will be to oversee, while the club members will make most of the decisions and can consult him with questions.
The plan is to do more than shoot on the range, Woodfin said. They hope to enter competitions against other colleges and at professional ranges. Fourteen students have joined so far, but the meeting time of the club has not been determined.
Once the club grows, Woodfin said, more details will emerge. He said he created the club because “we didn’t have one, so we made one.”
“I learned to try something new and not to reject something just because I had no idea what it was about,” Nanton said. “It’s good to expand your horizons.”
Hernandez said he hopes the club and class continue to grow, and that if they do, more classes could potentially become available in spring and fall.