Wanna awaken your inner Katniss, Robin Hood, Merida or Hawkeye? Plano’s Texas Archery Academy is the place to do it. Think you can’t hit a target to save your life? Clint Montgomery says you can.
Clint is the executive director of the non-profit archery school, Texas Archery Academy (TXAA), which he co-founded with his pal Tony Fontana in 2010. The Plano location, right off of the intersection of Central Expressway and Plano Parkway, was the first of several indoor and outdoor TXAA locations now scattered across the state.
Archery has been a life-long passion for Clint. Growing up in San Antonio, he was only 5 years old when — like so many red-blooded American boys — he asked his mother for a BB gun. She said, “How about a bow?” Luckily, San Antonio had land set aside for archery, where he spent thousands of hours practicing.
Before the Academy was even a glimmer in his eye, Clint was a decade-long member of the Texans Archery Club, and they trained on property that was part of Texas Instrument’s corporate headquarters in Dallas. He eventually took over leadership of the club. When Texas Instruments decided to “arms-length” all their clubs, Texans Archery Club relocated to Elm Fork, a premier shooting sports complex in the DFW area.
The archery ranges at Elm Fork were all outdoors, and some of the moms bringing their kids to practice weren’t exactly thrilled with the sounds of guns going off, let alone the cold weather or bugs. Tony was commuting to the range from Allen, and Clint was coming from the Park Cities, and the drive was a little far for both of them.
“Both of us had noticed that . . . it was so hard to keep consistent numbers and really attract the kind of numbers and have the effect on the public that we really wanted by holding classes outside,” Clint recalls. “It was the catalyst for the birth of teaching academies.”
The idea for Texas Archery Academy was still germinating when Clint made a trip to the PGA Tour Superstore in Plano. With a professional background in commercial real estate, Clint noticed a large storage space on the property that wasn’t really being used. It was an “Aha” moment for Clint. The PGA Tour Superstore and Clint came up with a mutually beneficial agreement, and the Texas Archery Academy was born.
Beginners are welcome at TXAA. Even if you’ve never picked up a bow, Clint swears you’ll hit a target on your first visit — usually within a few minutes. He explains, “It’s as simple as you walking in the door. We put you right into Discover Archery. It gives you the equipment, the safety briefing, enough to get you going safely.” And anyone can become a member of the Texans Archery Club, which now calls the Texas Archery Academy its home.
The pest part about archery is that anyone can do it. Clint says he’s seen children as young as 18 months shoot successfully, as well as much older senior citizens. “The older folks will actually find it has a therapeutic or rehabilitation effect,” he says. The instructors at Texas Archery Academy will work with differently-abled archers to ensure their success. Could someone with only one arm do archery? “Yes,” Clint assures me.
Programs for Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and YMCA Adventure Guides give young archers confidence in themselves. Clint says, “We’ll have ’em lined up, and you got little 5 and 6 year old boys on the line and dads behind them. We teach the dads how to help them. And very quickly they find that the boys are going ‘Dad, sit down, I got this.’ And they’re shooting, they’re hitting, and the Dads are saying ‘My kid can’t even tie his shoes, this is amazing!’ ”
But the academy is equally popular with adults, who may enjoy it for completely different reasons. For some, Clint says it’s an outlet. “They’re beat up by life, their job sucks, they’re just having to deal with all this stuff. It’s a thing they can focus on that they have complete control over.”
Seeing the positive benefits of rank-advancement programs like Scouts, Clint and Tony created their own “Leadership Path” for archery – nothing like this existed before. The USA Archery Organization already has a pin system that is an award for a shooting proficiency score. TXAA’s curriculum works hand-in-hand with the pin system, creating leadership and teamwork opportunities along the way.
Located in cities where it’s not exactly legal to shoot arrows in your backyard, the goal of Texas Archery Academy is to make archery accessible to everyone. The non-profit is also aiming to help send kids to college. Texas Archery Academy is always seeking corporate partnerships and sponsorships. Clint says, “Every kid can shoot archery, and depending on their ability to dedicate and sacrifice — like in any other sport — they can go to college on archery. That’s where that corporate backing can say ‘Let’s make this happen.’ There is no one else, no other entity, doing this for archery. That’s what Texas Archery Academy is about.”
Texas Archery Academy Website