Growing up in Montana, Danica Loucks ’13 had many opportunities to practice archery, a skill she learned when she was 10. She belonged to a 4-H archery club, competed in a Junior Olympic archery program and went turkey hunting in the mountains with her brother and father.
But when she brought her bow to Bowdoin her first year, she didn’t use it much, mostly because archery isn’t as popular or common here. And she missed it.
A couple years later, she and Mike Woodruff, director of the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC), realized they shared a desire to bring archery to Bowdoin. Coordinating with BOC, Loucks – with help from Destiny Guerrero ’14 – launched a new archery program this semester.
Woodruff said he’d been thinking for a long time that archery would be a valuable addition to the activities BOC offers students. “Some of our activities are perceived as requiring a big involvement,” he said. But with archery, “you can do it on or near campus … in an afternoon. Any student can be involved in it, and get involved with some outdoor activity.”
Seven first-year orientation groups got a chance to try shooting before the semester began, and now Loucks, a USA Archery certified coach, is offering weekly open-range sessions in Whittier Field. These practices will culminate in Bowdoin’s first annual BOC archery tournament in October.
For the tournament, archers will compete by shooting 30 arrows at a target 10 meters away and adding up the scores of each arrow. The competition will be followed by archery games, such as shooting at balloons and playing archery poker, where players are dealt their hands by shooting at a full deck of cards pinned up on cardboard. Whatever cards they stick, they play.
Loucks says that the appeal of archery for her is in the way it forces you to be still, focus and pay attention to your body. “In general, I’m not good at doing things that are calm and quiet,” she said. “Archery is an opportunity to slow down. For me, it’s somewhat of a meditative experience.”
When she coaches new archers, she teaches them to use the structure of their bodies to draw the bow and aim the arrow, rather than relying on many small muscles. This technique helps prevent rapid fatigue, leading to overall better form. “One key idea I try to teach people is yes, you have to aim, but you need consistent form,” she said. “If you get a group of arrows in one area, it’s a sign you’re doing the same thing every time. Then you think about aiming.”
Loucks said she’d like to train younger students to be archery coaches so the program continues after she graduates next spring.
Photos by Emily Tong ’11