A new student group at Ottawa University is targeting a future in competitive intercollegiate archery, which could establish it among the first such clubs in Kansas.

And after nearly two years of planning, OU sophomore Casey Schappaugh said she’s thrilled to finally be firing arrows on campus. 

“At certain points it seemed like [the club] wasn’t going to actually happen,” Schappaugh, 20, Lincoln, Neb., said of the group’s founding. “But once we were able to figure out all the information we needed, and get it to all the parties involved, things seemed to smooth out really quickly. ... I really enjoy archery — it’s a wonderful sport.”

The club met for its first official practice about a month ago, Schappaugh said, adding that about 40 OU students have attended the group’s shoot-arounds. Realizing the goal of an OU archery club, however, proved to be a lengthy and, at-times, arduous process, she said.

Before the club’s official founding, Schappaugh and other members were required to legitimize the group’s purpose with the Ottawa Police Department, Schappaugh said. Currently, the City of Ottawa maintains an “unlawful use of projectiles” statute, which temporarily hampered the club’s establishment. The law prohibits the “launching, throwing or shooting of any ... arrow, dart or spear capable of doing bodily harm to persons ... or causing damage to property, unless done in the course of a legitimate recognized sporting event” or authorized by the chief of police, according to Sec. 38-1008 of Ottawa’s municipal code. 

To offer more insight into the group’s safety protocol and future plans, Kevin Waterhouse, club president, drafted a 54-page proposal for both OU and the police department. 

“[The club] put together a packet for a presentation and was familiar with [the law],” Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department, said. “Chief [Dennis] Butler met with their committee that put it together and reviewed their proposal. After reading it, he was thoroughly impressed with the quality and amount of information that was included in the proposal. It answered all our concerns and went beyond what questions we may have had.”

In April, Weingartner said, OU and the police department had a public meeting designed to offer insight into the club and its practices. The informational meeting appears to have paid off, Weingartner said, since the club has yet to receive any complaints from Ottawa residents.

Following Butler’s and the university’s approval, the group sought necessary equipment and funds to provide a quality archery program for students, Schappaugh said. In doing so, the club landed about $2,000 from OU’s Student Senate, Schappaugh said, which helps to provide arrows and equipment maintenance. In addition, the club received nearly $5,000 in archery equipment via a grant from the United States Collegiate Archery Association, including 15 bows, five targets, five stands and 60 target sheets.  

After receiving the equipment, the club had its first practices in late October. The practices — at OU’s baseball practice fields and are led by Schappaugh and Waterhouse — typically are intended to teach proper form, but also feature friendly competitions, Schappaugh said. And now, thanks to OU’s new relationship with the U.S. Collegiate Archery Association, the group is aiming to be among Kansas’ first competitive collegiate archery teams, she said.

“We were hoping we could compete this year, but unfortunately there’s no way we could have come up with the funds to send people to compete,” Schappaugh said. “We felt that — as it being our first year — we would just worry about getting people involved in the club and practicing instead of focusing on competing. We’ll leave [competing] for next year. That’s next year’s goal.” 

The association’s nearest competitions, Schappaugh said, are in South Dakota and Wisconsin, which is why the group is planning its fundraising efforts now. To raise money for prospective travel costs, the club is planning a bake sale Dec. 9 and 10 near the entrance of Walmart Supercenter, 2101 S. Princeton St., Ottawa. A time for the event has not yet been set, Schappaugh said. 

So far, the club appears to have hit a bullseye with students, including Rachel Pierce, an OU freshman from Ottawa who said she’s entirely new to archery.

“I’m having a lot of fun with the archery club,” Pierce, who also is a member of the OU dance team, said, adding that she’s becoming a proficient archer. “After my first practice, I was already hitting the target every time, which I never expected. ... I think it’s great — just another way for students to get involved.”