Navajo Technical College’s archery team started with only three members and no equipment. Even they couldn’t predict that a short five years would see the team ranked among some of the best collegiate archers in America. Coming from the barest of bare bone beginnings, the team is proud of their achievement.
“It was three guys. We couldn’t even practice, and I hadn’t done it since I was a kid,” founding member Ryan Whitehair told The Farmington Daily Times. He had seen flyers floating around the campus and decided to try his hand at it.
“I love Westerns. You know, with the Indians and the bows,” said Whitehair. “It’s kind of like going back to our roots.”
Practice is essential. During Whitehair’s initial experiences on the team he was humorously known as “buckshot” because of his wild aim and equally wide groupings. He and the rest of the team has since improved “by leaps and bounds.”
Since 2010 the team has medaled in several important competitions around the country and recently joined the United States Collegiate Archery Association (USCAA).
“Joining an association like the USCAA is a good thing for the college because competing on the national level opens us up to a lot more schools,” said the college’s athletic director Christine Reidhead. “There are a lot of D1 programs and high profile schools that will be competing so we’re excited about joining.”
As the team does well and their popularity grows, the college hopes that more students will join the sport. The end goal is to help support and motivate athletes with scholarships. The team is now preparing for a tribal colleges competition in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“There’s quite a few of them that have been hunting with their families before, and there’s a growing group that have just improved vastly,” says team instructor Clyde Henderson. Interest is coming from students who have a desire to get in touch with their heritage, like Whitehair, and those who are caught up in the wave of archery-related popularity.
The Navajo Technical College maintains its campus in Crownpoint, New Mexico.