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Aim, Draw, Fire!

Hezekiah Smithstein | hsmithstein19@dtechhs.org | May 15, 2019

Senior Jaya Reddy draws he bow at a competition in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Jaya Reddy

It’s a weapon of stealth, used to hunt for 60,000 years. It’s an instrument of war, felling enemies from a distance. It’s an unparalleled demonstration of focus and dexterity, used in modern sports to show absolute mastery of the mind and body. There are masters among us: d.tech’s very own set of talented archers are walking these very halls.

It’s not every day you run into the opportunity to pick up a bow and arrow. For senior Jaya Reddy, the chance presented itself at a middle school church camp. “I thought it would be badass after seeing The Hunger Games,” Reddy says, “I thought it would be a very powerful sport for a girl to be a part of.” After falling in love with the sport, Reddy got her first bow from her father, an inexpensive model at Big 5 Sporting Goods. “I thought it was perfect,” says Reddy.

Both Reddy and freshman Jacquelyn Lomano are part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development team (JOAD), at Pacifica Archery in Daly City. Reddy has won competitions locally at San Francisco Archers and Kings Mountain Archers, in addition to competing nationally.

Lomano recently made an appearance at her first competition this January, at Indoor Nationals in Sacramento, where she ranked an impressive 22nd place out of around 500. “It was stressful, but it got relaxing because I knew the support of my friends was there,” Lomano says.

For others, archery is a family tradition. Senior Matthew Silverman grew up shooting with his uncle in Ohio, who was a bowhunter. “He mostly hunted deer, turkey, other small game like that,” Silverman remembers. Whenever he went to visit, he shot at a range in Ohio that had a game called Techno Hunt, where Silverman and his brother trained by shooting at a screen with real bows and arrows with special tips.

The draw of shooting differs from one archer to another. Sophomore English teacher Patrick Sullivan, who has been shooting with a compound bow in his backyard since he was 12 years old, says he enjoys getting “that dopamine rush from hitting that target perfectly.” For Reddy, archery is a way to quiet her mind. “I feel almost nothing when I’m shooting,” Reddy says, “because I’m so focused on what I’m doing. It pulls me out of my reality.” Lomano also acknowledges that archery helps her get in a good headspace. “If people are watching, you know how to block them out and just focus on the target, and where you want the arrow to go,” Lomano says.

Keeping up with archery amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be difficult. “Whenever I get into it, I get really into it and shoot a lot, but sometimes things happen- I get hurt, or I get busy- and I just don’t have the time to dedicate to it,” Silverman says, “Luckily I always seem to pick it back up pretty quickly.” Reddy remembers a point in her junior year where she was too stressed out with school and her personal life that she stopped picking up her bow. “I really missed [archery], and when I picked it up at the start of summer, I was like ‘I really should have done this because it would have helped’,” Reddy says.

Archers encounter other challenges besides simple distraction. Silverman recalls when he first picked up a bow and his improper form caused his bowstring to hit the inside of his arm, bursting a blood vessel and causing bruising and swelling. “That was not fun,” Silverman recalls with a grimace. Lomano notes that since she is double jointed, she will at times hyperextend her arms, which causes the arrow to bump against her arm.

If you’re considering picking up a bow, Reddy suggests you definitely give it a shot. In over a year of teaching at Pacifica Archery, she witnessed many people enjoying the experience of trying a bow for the first time. It is more complicated than it may initially seem, however, and before heading straight to the target it is important to “make sure you get a lesson first!”

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