The new Texas Archery Academy facility at Central and Walnut Hill opened in January, giving neighborhood residents a safe, convenient place to hone their archery skills. While there may not seem to be that many local bow-and-arrow enthusiasts right now, Preston Hollow resident Clint Montgomery, one of the executive directors of both the TXAA and the Texans Archery Club, says it’s his mission to expose more people to the sport. “I’ve never met anybody who didn’t want to shoot a bow,” he says.
The 13,000-square-foot space beneath Spec’s “had been dark for probably 15 years,” Montgomery says. But now the facility boasts several indoor ranges designed for everyone from young children to serious competitors. There are also party rooms for kids or corporate groups and a technical range where serious archers can record themselves and analyze their form. Even the parking garage will be put to use as an after-hours range for members.
Anyone can drop in for a 30- or 60-minute session, held every hour from about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. No reservations, equipment or previous training are necessary. But it hasn’t always been that easy to get a start in archery.
“People have always wanted to shoot,” Montgomery says. “There’s just been nowhere to go.” While hunters and other enthusiasts have traditionally had private clubs and ranges, most people just didn’t have a convenient, affordable way to learn and practice archery, he says. “The community outreach has been missing.”
That’s why the TAC, which was started in the 1960s as a benefit for employees of Texas Instruments, sponsors the academy — to make archery more accessible to the public. A nonprofit that was formed in 2011, the TXAA provides instruction, hosts tournaments, and operates indoor training facilities in Plano and San Antonio in addition to the new Walnut Hill location. TXAA ranges are open to the public, but members of the TAC are given free access to the ranges and equipment and can enjoy extended hours. A TAC membership is $120 a year.
Montgomery hopes that more people in the area start picking up bows. “Archery is not just bowhunting,” he says. “We teach everybody.” Because it requires self-discipline, control and focus, he says, archery is a great activity for children. “Every kid can do it, whether they’re in a wheelchair or captain of the football team,” he says. Montgomery has even taught toddlers, who shoot at big foam monkey targets. “Even though they can’t tie their shoes, they’re obeying the range commands,” he says.
And while he’s in favor of team sports, Montgomery says archery provides something they don’t. “It’s like golf,” he says. “It teaches you about yourself.”
If you’re not looking to do any self-exploration, that’s OK with Montgomery. “We don’t want to burden [beginners] with too much,” he says. “Just walk in and have fun.”
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