Right on target

While it is not unusual for a James Madison University student to set goals for their college career, it is a bit unusual to accomplish those goals by the end of sophomore year. Harrisonburg native Daniel Suter entered JMU two years ago determined to pursue his passion for archery. His goals were lofty: win Indoor Nationals, win Outdoor Nationals and make the World Team. Check, check and check.

Suter started shooting at age 6 to spend more time outdoors with his dad. His love for the sport grew and at age 14 his dad introduced him to Bob Ryder, coach of JMU’s archery team. Ryder encouraged the young Suter to pursue target shooting. Ryder says the father and son share a love of archery, their values, their work ethic and their absolute obsession with fixing what’s wrong. “In a sport as complex and demanding of an individual as archery that obsession helps set Daniel apart from his fellow competitors,” said Ryder.

Suter, a member of JMU’s Archery Club, shoots in the men’s compound division. “Compound” refers to the type of bow the archer uses. A compound bow is a modern bow that maximizes energy by using pulleys to bend the limbs. The JMU team participates in the East region of the U.S. Collegiate Archery Association, an organization that governs recreational and elite archery at the college level.

Although Suter came to JMU and the Archery Club with significant experience, no prior knowledge of the sport is required to join. “The majority of our team doesn’t know the sport when they get to JMU,” said team president Amanda Miller.

Miller, double majoring in statistics and math from Barrington, N.J., says the team recruits new members at Student Organization Night in September. The fall is spent introducing the sport and practicing. “We teach you everything you need to know,” said Miller. The spring is when competition season intensifies.

Both Suter and Miller credit the club’s positive atmosphere for making competitions fun. Miller says JMU’s club has “the best bond out of every school.” Suter concurs. “When one person is shooting, if you look behind them there is a sea of purple,” he said. “Our whole team is behind you.”

The JMU team was definitely behind Suter when they hosted the USCA US Intercollegiate Archery Championships on campus May 17–20. Coming off a win in the indoor competition earlier in the spring, Suter’s smile lights up his face when he talks about winning the outdoor competition on his home field surrounded by teammates, friends and family.

The 2012 World Team was selected on May 19 at the team trials held in conjunction with the Championship tournament. The World Team will represent USCA and the United States in Cordoba, Spain in July. Suter will lead the three-man compound team in a shoot lasting three days.

What happens after you’ve accomplished your goals? For Suter the answer is “set new ones.” Ryder, who retired at the end of the season, said ” Right now I believe the only thing that could keep Daniel from becoming one of top archers in the world would be for him to choose to make archery a lower priority in his life.” Suter is definitely not going to let that happen. He’s already set his sights on winning the collegiate world competition and after that he said, “I want to be a teacher, set up an archery pro-shop, qualify for the senior USA archery team and become a professional shooter.”

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