Copperview’s Junior Archery Program a Bullseye for Midvale Rec OpportunitiesJul 01, 2016 09:03AM ● By Sarah Almond
Five archers draw their arrows during a weekly Wednesday class and aim for the balloon target. Once an archer is able to hit the gold bullseye with three arrows, instructor Bryce Rypien moves the target back several feet as both a continued challenge and a sign of progression.
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Though he’s been an avid bowhunter and bow fisherman for decades, Copperview Recreation Center’s program coordinator Bryce Rypien never thought he’d be coaching children in the sport of archery. But here he is, teaching six-week-long Junior Olympic Archery Development courses to dozens of children ages 10 to 14.
Three years ago, when former program manager Jeff Burley approached Rypien with the idea of establishing an archery program at Copperview Rec, Rypien was quick to get on board.
“Jeff got in touch with Randi Smith, the USA Paralympic archery coach, and he ended up getting a grant from the adaptive group that we used to buy archery equipment,” Rypien said.
Soon after receiving the grant, Rypien earned his USA Archery Level 1 certification. This authorized him to be an instructor for beginner archery programs to people of all ages and abilities. Then, at the beginning of 2016, Rypien earned his Level 3 NTS certification, which focuses on individual athlete development more than group instruction.
“I was fortunate enough to get to train with Randi for my classifications. She is all about using archery as a means of building the individual,” Rypien said. “By focusing on the individual, you will automatically become a better archer and you’ll get more opportunities. I take a lot of Randi’s training styles and bring them into this class.”
Since becoming an established program at Copperview Rec Center, Rypien says archery has been nothing but a success.
“The kids love it. It’s amazing — I see kids that don’t typically have a lot of discipline actually discipline themselves,” Rypien said. “We start with basics, like how to pick up a bow, how to form and the steps you move through to shoot, and the kids can see themselves succeed.”
Rypien explains that safety is the number-one rule in archery. And while he initially thought that teaching several children the importance of range safety and respect for the equipment would be a challenge, Rypien has been pleasantly surprised by the kids’ overall eagerness to follow directions.
“We talk a lot about things like rules of the range and the importance of respecting the equipment,” Rypien said. “And they are really disciplined. They know, ‘Okay, if I do all of these things right, I’ll be able to shoot all of my arrows.’”
While Rypien thinks movies like “Avatar,” “Brave,” and “The Hunger Games” have definitely influenced archery’s rise in popularity, he believes that ultimately, archery is a great alternative for kids who aren’t necessarily interested or involved in traditional sports or summer activities.
“I have some kids that are very athletic, but archery is also a great avenue for kids that aren’t into typical sports like soccer or football,” Rypien said. “These kids come in and have no clue about archery, but we start with the basics and they find a passion for it.”
In fact, it was archery’s atypical traits that attracted many participants to the May-June course.
“I just thought that archery would be really cool to try out,” said 10-year-old Brayton Taylor. “I like that it’s not like a gun — it’s something you can control without having to pull a trigger.”
Taylor is one of the only archers this session who is shooting the target from a further distance. After an archer gets three arrows in the yellow center, Rypien moves the target back five feet as both a challenge and a signal of progression.
“For me, the hardest part about archery is getting everything lined up as perfect as I can,” Taylor said. “And sometimes I get a little nervous. But Bryce tells us to practice our form every morning in the mirror and when we are looking down our arm and have good form, then we are supposed to say, ‘Hey, good-lookin’!’”
Though fun and lighthearted, things like this morning ritual in the mirror are what Rypien refers to as “building the individual.” Whether they realize it or not, these activities are helping to build the child’s self-confidence, improve technique and foster focus.
With beginner and intermediate archery classes being such a success, Rypien is hoping to offer an advanced group in the near future.
“I’ve even been getting a ton of requests from parents to start a parent class,” Rypien said. “So I’m looking into doing that in July or August.”
Though Rypien would like to host regular six-week archery classes, the schedule is largely contingent on the availability of gym space. To find out when the next archery class will be held, to sign up or to get more information, visit the Copperview Recreation Center at 8446 S. Harrison St. in Midvale. λ