Tampa, FL (September 11, 2015) – Tampa Archery School officially opened its new, standalone training center on Saturday, September 19. Centrally located near the HCC Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa, Tampa Archery School is a certified archery “dojo” with a two-fold mission: introduce people to the sport in a friendly and welcoming environment, and provide fun and challenging training that fosters a life-long love and appreciation of archery for shooters of all skill levels.
The School’s new home is a 3,000 sq/ft warehouse located in the Drew Park neighborhood of Tampa. The facility offers students and members 10 and 20-yard lanes for shooting, and the range can be restructured for “tree stand” shooting from its 12-foot observation balcony. Students also enjoy a bowyer’s room for fixing and maintaining their bows, free WiFi access and an observation lounge for parents and guests.
The Grand Opening included a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30am, followed by a different archery skill challenge for the school’s students each hour until 4:00pm. During this time, the coaches and instructors answered questions from guests and conducted tours of the new facility. From 4:00 to 7:00pm the range opened to the general public for free (on a space-available basis), and from 7:00 to 8:00pm guests were invited to see a live demonstration of Kyudo (traditional Japanese archery).
Founded in 2009 by Bryce Smith and Mark Irwin, Tampa Archery School originally started as a series of short seminars hosted by Florida Aikido Center. Word-of-mouth and the popularity of movies like Brave, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings and The Avengers turned the monthly seminars into a weekly occurrence. By 2010, Tampa Archery School had evolved into its own program under the umbrella of Tampa Martial Arts & Wellness Center, and continued to grow as a part of The Center until 2014, when it became an independent LLC. Work began in June on the new Tampa Archery School location, and it opened to students on July 21. Tampa Archery School maintains a partnership with Tampa Martial Arts & Wellness Center, with The Center’s owner, Gina Boccolucci, acting as program manager.
A few factors differentiate Tampa Archery School from the lessons hosted elsewhere in the area – the primary being that Bryce and Mark teach archery as a martial art. According to Owner and Head Coach, Bryce Smith, “The program we created here is really a well-balanced reflection of the experiences Mark and I have had previously in martial arts. Mark is the ‘hard sensei’ who focuses on fundamentals, drills and performance goals. Meanwhile, I am more the ‘wise guru’ who works with them on personalizing their shooting style, and making archery an individually fulfilling experience.”
While The School’s two main figures vary in their approach to teaching archery, one thing they both agree on is that the training needs to be simultaneously challenging and fun. Elaborating on this, Lead Instructor Mark Irwin said, “We shake things up as often as we can, but we always have a training goal in mind. We play a modified version of Blackjack that we call 42, archery Battleship, archery curling and other games. Plus we have targets varying from swinging sandbags and hanging ping-pong balls to game animals and mythical dragons to keep the training light, fun and exciting. Plus, every Halloween we put on a big event that lets our students experience the archery scenarios they see in sci-fi/fantasy/horror movies and games.”
Tampa Archery School currently has a roster of 55 students, varying in age from third graders to retirees. These students earn “ranks” (similar to martial arts belts) based on experience and performances, as well as achievement medals for accomplishing specific shooting goals. If they choose to, Tampa Archery School students also take part in local and regional tournaments, with several winning or placing in their category.
Tampa Archery School is located at 4405 W. South Avenue, Suite A in Tampa. Archery classes are held four days a week, with Thursday evenings designated for open range practice. Kyudo is taught on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. For a full schedule of classes, as well as class descriptions, photos and other information, please visit http://www.tampaarchery.com.