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February 16, 2016

How Underdogs at Aggie Archery Shot Their Way to National Title

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - Last summer at the National Outdoor Collegiate Championships, Victor Fang and Katherine Kim won gold in the recurve mixed team event. What made this accomplishment so impressive was that it was only their first trip to nationals after establishing their club just one year prior. Victor and Katherine shared their story with USA Archery to inspire other emerging collegiate archery clubs.

When Victor started college at UC Davis, he had a great interest in archery and in 2014, he and Katherine then decided to spearhead an effort to get a club up and running. "In trying to establish and expand our club we faced many road bumps and obstacles," commented Katherine. "However, it was these difficulties that gave me the opportunity to discover how warm and supportive the archery community really is."

"When Victor and I started Aggie Archery at UC Davis," she continued, "we were severely lacking in equipment and operated the club on a nickels and dimes budget. The few bows that helped us get the club off the ground were kindly donated by the UCLA Archery Club and Banger's Sport Shop graciously donated several dozen arrows."

Another hurdle included convincing UC Davis to support and recognize the club when safety posed a concern to administration. "Just 10 minutes away from campus, The Yolobowmen Archery club was a community of archers that was, and continues to be, instrumental to our club's existence," commented Katherine. The club offered UC Davis shooting space for lessons and practice, and a place to store equipment.

Finally able to establish a secure club, Victor and Katherine expanded to develop a set group of dedicated members and made sure to educate them on equipment and tuning. They provided private consultations and to ensure the longevity of the club. Victor shared: "we've done our best to pass on our knowledge to the next generation and we are proud to see the current board members help out new members with equipment consults and setup."

Additional aid came from USA Archery's Collegiate Grant Program: "Without local support, Aggie Archery at UC Davis would have faded into a hopeless dream and we never would have been able to secure the grant funding from the USA Archery and the Easton Foundations to expand our equipment inventory, certify and train new instructors, and send our first competitive team to nationals," added Katherine.

Katherine and Victor were able to secure grant funding from USA Archery and fielded a team to send to National Outdoor Collegiate Championships where 248 archers represented 35 colleges and universities. There, the incredible duo took center stage and impressed the nation, winning gold in the mixed team event.

On the win, Victor commented: "If I am honest with myself, the one prevailing emotion at the thought of winning mixed team nationals was disbelief. During the match, I was secretly a bit in awe to be competing next to such a prestigious school like Texas A&M. I would have to tell myself to focus on my shot and not be distracted by the fact that I was shooting next to archers who have competed nationally with great success. When we won, I felt it was an honor to both compete with a school like Texas A&M and I felt proud to represent the West coast colleges with a national gold."

"Tournament nerves were actually a huge struggle for me up until nationals," added Katherine. She advised other first time competitors: "When you step onto the shooting line in the presence of unfamiliar shooters, some of whom have experience competing at the national level or higher, it can definitely be intimidating. Remember that it's just you and the target. It's up to you to trust your skill set and execute a strong, committed shot."

Since January 2015, nearly 60 schools have formed USA Archery Collegiate Clubs, and USA Archery is proud to offer resources and assistance to any archers looking to start new programs.

Victor added advice for archers looking to form a new club or attend a first competition: "It is important to keep an open attitude of learning. Seize every opportunity you are offered because even if other clubs are vastly different from what you envision, there may be a piece of what they do that can fit into your own club or spark new ideas.  Lastly, networking also helps you to make some great friends along the way. I think one of the most enjoyable parts of archery for me is the great community that I am proud to be a part of."

To learn more about the USA Archery Collegiate Archery Program, visit our page here. To find an existing Collegiate Archery club, click here. For questions or assistance on getting a new program started, contact Collegiate Archery Program Manager Callie Grieser at cgrieser@usarchery.org

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