While finding your way to the archery club headquarters may not be as straightforward, say, as an arrow finding its way to the bullseye, it's a worthwhile hunt nonetheless.
The range runs 18 meters deep, and arrows whizz past into several targets that still bear paper cut outs of witches and bats left over from the Halloween Fun Shoot.
“It's a very social club,” says range officer Jennifer Chow. The club hosts tournaments with Ontario schools, such as York University, in addition to Fun Shoots, such as the Valentine's Day Shoot.
Despite a stereotype as an archaic pastime, you can find plenty of interested coeds on any given Tuesday or Thursday night, when the range opens to club members. In fact, the club is functioning at member capacity. “Especially in September, the room is literally packed,” says Archery Club member Dennis Ng. “There's hardly any room.”
Until recently, this range was shared with the Hart House Rifle and Revolver Clubs. The popular Rifle and Revolver Clubs were nixed in 2007 by the Board of Stewards in the wake of several high-profile school shootings both in the States (Virginia Tech) and Montreal (Dawson College). Alex Vickers, a Programme Advisor at Hart House, cites “philosophical differences” in the decision to close those clubs, not any flaws in their safety record. In fact, the Rifle and Revolver clubs had a spotless safety record, taking such precautions as hooking the range up to a U of T campus police direct feed.
Luckily, archery wasn't caught in the crosshairs of the gun club debate and remains at Hart House today. All members are trained on proper safety regulations, and you can tell they take it seriously. Before archers are allowed to retrieve their arrows from the targets, “clear” is called out twice.
The archery range provides an important venue for Olympic hopefuls to practice their skill. The club boasts the likes of U of T student Crispin Duenas, who ranked as the top Canadian archer on the first day of the Beijing Olympics. Duenas told the newspaper: “The Archery Club served as a great practice range during my off season (Winter) that was close to where I would be each day. Shooting almost everyday is crucial to becoming a consistent and competitive archer.”
“It takes a lot of effort to improve. If you shoot casually, you don't get better, unless you get a lot of coaching,” admits Ng. Chow adds, “in archery, there's no instant gratification, unlike video games.”
This serious attitude toward practice is seen in club members like Kaho Hayashi, who trains at the Hart House facilities 6 days a week. And you can tell when you see her arrow hit the bullseye.
The next round of registration for the Hart House Archery Club will begin in January. The club fee is $15 for Hart House Members.