Quips about Robin Hood, William Tell, or even Cupid don’t bother champion archer Mary Zorn.
“If someone is at least thinking of it, it’s a start,” says the unabashed proponent of the sport. “If you’re a little kid and idolize Superman, you still can’t fly. But if you like Robin Hood, you can come close.”
Zorn, 19, comes close indeed. Her skills with bow and arrow earned her a scholarship to Texas A&M University, where in March the sophomore set a new collegiate indoor archery scoring record. She beat her own year-old mark.
The sport’s basics are simple enough. Competitors fire arrows at a target with 10 concentric circles. Each arrow receives a score based on where it lands.
Initially, Zorn wanted nothing to do with archery.
“I basically hated the sport,” Zorn says. “It was what Mom did. She’d won the nationals over and over again and had been on the world team.”
Zorn’s interest started to change just before her freshman year of high school in Warrenville, Ill. With a couple of weeks of family coaching, she joined her mother, Nancy, at a tournament.
A year later, she accepted another offer to enter a national tournament. “I decided I was just going to have fun,” she says. “I ended up winning a national title and setting seven national records.”
Now, she works as not only a competitor but also as an ambassador for the sport. Zorn also competes in tournaments sanctioned by USA Archery, formerly known as the National Archery Association.
A few hundred new members join the association annually, and about 6,000 men and women now participate, says Desirae Freiherr, association spokeswoman.
Zorn wants more people to understand the sport’s complexities. With her teammates in College Station, Texas, she works out with weights and shoots arrow after arrow to hone concentration.
She even taught other varsity athletes it’s not as easy as it looks.
“It was hilarious to watch two shot putters, both about 300 pounds, struggling to hold my bow back,” she says.
Zorn eventually hopes to make an Olympic squad, an opportunity requiring a change of disciplines. She now competes with a compound bow, which uses cables and pulleys to allow an archer to more easily hold and aim a bow at full-pull. Recurve bows used in Olympic competition don’t have the same advantage.
Zorn says she can’t yet consider the time-consuming switch.
“Right now I don’t even know what my major is,” she says. “I think I kind of need to get a couple of other marbles in place first, but it’s definitely a goal of mine.”