Eyes on the target: Sophomores with love of archery create new club

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By George Zhang, Co-Sports Editor

Sophomore Jimmy Zhao draws the string of his bow back in preparation for the shot at an archery tournament. He drowns out the noise of the chatter and the music behind him while he lines his sights up with the target. Finally, he lets go of the string and the arrow flies through the air. Bullseye.

Zhao founded the Conestoga Archery Club this past fall along with sophomores Leihu Tong and Dillon Li, who all have experience in the sport. They practice at West Chester every Wednesday at the Advent Lutheran Church gym. The meetings usually consist of the members honing their skills in archery with advice from the captains. 

“Typically when we’re there, the captains go over whatever they see that we struggle on during practice. If they notice that some members are struggling in their stance or their form, they will put that on our itinerary for the next time we meet. If there’s new members, they’ll briefly go over the first couple of steps, and then slowly guide them through,” Chen said. 

The club also finds success in prestigious national tournaments, such as the Easton Youth Tournament which took place in Manheim, Pennsylvania on Jan. 29-30. Tong, Zhao, and Chen were able to place 8th, 16th and 19th in their respective categories. They also participated in smaller tournaments such as the Hershey Winter Series, where Tokyo Olympian Casey Kaufhold also competed.

Zhao had plans for the club since 2020, but it was derailed due to COVID-19. He finally got the opportunity to start the club in the fall and was able to get Tong and Li to help. Tong’s reason for joining is so he can spread his love of archery. 

“Our goals are ultimately to promote the sport of archery. However, in the process that comes, we want to give everyone the joy and experience that comes from performing the art,” said Tong.

Ever since third grade, Zhao has been shooting arrows competing in competitions. He enjoys spreading his knowledge of the sport and seeing the members improve under his wing.

“My favorite part about the club is seeing week by week the members’ scores steadily increasing. They’re gaining more skills and they can shoot better. That’s a pretty good feeling,” Zhao said.

Chen enjoys the camaraderie that is present. She gives credit to the captains for fostering a friendly atmosphere within the club.

“(My favorite things about being a part of the club are) showing off to friends and laughing about mistakes or the offhand comments that we make while trying to concentrate and shoot. It’s the little things that make this club really great and really fun to be in,” Chen said. “The captains all do a very good job. They help all the members feel very comfortable, and they just make sure that we have a good time”

Additionally, sophomore William Henry agrees, stating that he enjoys the sense of community. Henry started archery in third grade and has enjoyed it ever since.

“When I joined this club, I was really excited. This club has just helped me improve my skills overall, and I’ve made a lot of friends here too. Everyone’s really nice to each other. Sometimes we even host our own little mini-games where we try to pop as many balloons as possible,” Henry said.

Moving on to the future, Li and the other captains have aspirations to compete in more tournaments as a team.

“I’m hoping that our club will continue to develop into a more prominent club,” Li said. “We want to become a club sport so we could take part in more competitions as well as compete against other schools.”


George Zhang can be reached at [email protected]