Dublin University Archery Club (DUAC), founded in 2012 and granted DUCAC-affiliated status in 2015, are on the up and up. DUAC ended their season with a total of seven medals across five intervarsity tournaments – the highest number of medals won in a single year by the club in its brief history. They have picked up three nominations at the Trinity Sport Awards, including one for Sports Club of the Year, and their new residency in the College’s Sports Centre is indicative of the club’s drive for continued success, and the dedication of a group of passionate individuals.
Captain of DUAC, Diego Coyle Diez, who is up for the Game Changer of the Year Award at this year’s Trinity Sport Awards, emanates the enthusiasm at the centre of the flourishing club’s success. Speaking to The University Times, Coyle Diez relays the foundational mantra of DUAC – “A club is basically a family”. Despite the individual nature of the sport, Coyle Diez strives to foster a feeling of togetherness within the club. “We want to ensure that we have a sense of community”, he says. It’s clear that the captain believes in a vision of DUAC built on inclusion and accessibility.
However, being a self-proclaimed “fringe club”, maintaining continued engagement with club members, pivotal in curating a sense of community, can be difficult. Yet despite this, under the captaincy of Coyle Diez, an overhauled training regime has reaped tangible results. Coyle Diez, who himself has trained under international-level coaches, has implemented a programme based on focused, intimate coaching techniques. Newcomers to the sport feel comfortable, while also thriving under the expertise of the club’s committee members.
The team captain underlined the importance of their improved training procedure within the club’s ethos: “We want to ensure the new coaching method goes through, because it has shown dramatic results. We have shooters scoring 400 to 500 [points] now, within a year, which normally takes 2 or 3 years. It took me 2 years to score a 500 out of 600 score.” Now anchored by a core group of 20 regular attendees, the club’s approach to training has proved instrumental in building a strong team roster, facilitating competitive success, and building a sense of community.
We want it to be a place where people can come and get that sense of belonging
In her first season with the club, Aoife Simm has emerged as one of the major success stories at DUAC. Competing in the Female Beginner Recurve category, Simm consistently achieved podium scores in the various intervarsity events throughout the year. After securing a personal best score of 450 points in the penultimate Irish Student Archery Association (ISAA) competition of the season at the University of Limerick, she went on to finish 3rd in the overall league standings in her division. Teammate Eva Kearney, who has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year at this this year’s Trinity Sport Awards, competes in the same category, and finished the year close behind Simm in 4th place.
While new archers such as Simm and Kearney have prospered under DUAC’s training programme, veterans of the club have also reaped the rewards of a fruitful season. With Coyle Diez, Pádraig Dunphy and Oskar Ronan all shooting tallies in excess of 500 points on different occasions this season, Trinity archers competing at an advanced level look set for further competitive success next year.
As well as promising displays at intervarsity events, another marker of DUAC’s upward trajectory was the inaugural Trinity Archery Open, the club’s own national indoor archery competition. The first event of its kind held by the club in its short history, DUAC welcomed over 100 archers from across the island of Ireland to Trinity last March. The event was not without its problems, however. Speaking to The University Times, incoming Vice-Captain Ben McLoughlin notes how there were “so many hiccups, so many setbacks” in the lead-up to the event, citing timing and a lack of personnel manning the event as the major difficulties they faced.
Being a self-proclaimed “fringe club”, maintaining continued engagement with club members, pivotal in curating a sense of community, can be difficult
Despite this, McLoughlin praises the faultless attitude of his fellow clubmates who brought the event together. Echoing the sentiments of Coyle Diez, McLoughlin mentions the camaraderie evident in the club’s ability to host such an event. Learning from the challenges they faced this year, there are already plans in motion for an expanded Trinity Archery Open to take place early next season.
Looking to the future of the club, the message from both Coyle Diez and McLoughlin is clear – to build on the triumphs of this year, and aim even higher.”We want it to be a place where people can come and get that sense of belonging”, McLoughlin tells me.
Staying true to their philosophy of inclusion and accessibility, DUAC will look to foster the potential of emerging archers while ensuring that the club is always a space where one can feel part of the DUAC family. If the ardor of both the captain and vice-captain is anything to go by, it seems the future of archery in Trinity is moving in exciting new directions.