Oliver Queen, Katniss Everdeen, Legolas, Hawkeye and Merida. Aside from being bad ass (yep, even the red-haired, reluctant princess of Scottish descent is pretty bad ass in my opinion), they have another thing in common – Archery. In recent years, there has been a significant number of Archery places popping up around the metro, mostly due to the popularity of the abovementioned characters, but also because if the fact that it’s actually a pretty fun activity to do, especially if you have competitive friends.
Unlike other sports, you don’t have to train from an absurdly young age in order to increase the likelihood of your success in the sport. Sure, some people are “naturals,” but like any other sport, it does take discipline, dedication and a damned good coach. This is where Earl Yap comes in, a Philippine athlete whose passion and love for the sport has brought numerous accolades not only for himself, but for the country as well. Being influenced by his father who is an avid fan of the sport, he first tried his hand in archery along with his siblings as a schoolboy. He enjoyed it and has been at it ever since. Excelling in the sport, he has won numerous competitions and is a 5-time national champion, 2-time Thailand Princes champion, 2-time South East Asian Archery Federation Champion, 3-time Asian Grand Prix Champion, Asian Archery Champion, and he also brought home the gold medal, not once, but twice in the SEA Games. With all these awards from 2002 to 2014, there is no question that this guy is the best coach around, and arguably the best archer in the Philippines. He’d probably make a killing if he were a tribute in the Hunger Games, too.
He dreams of gathering younger archers and training them up to take the place of retiring athletes so we can continue sending our best to compete with the rest of the world. With this goal in mind, he coaches aspiring archers in BENEL Archery, an archery shop and range started by his father, Bernard Yap. It’s been around since 1986. Aside from specializing in teaching the sport, they also sell as well as service quality equipment. Currently located at Calbayog St, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, the range caters 9 archers in one go, and allows archers to shoot up to a maximum of 25
meters. This, added to the optimized lighting of the place, ensures quality training for anyone who wishes to give archery a shot.
So now, if the specs of the range and quality of the coaches isn’t enough for you to try it out, let me tell you, it is loads of fun too. Obviously, I’m no athlete and the closest I’ll ever get to being an actual archer is that I graduated from La Salle, but I spent hours trying to hit the target and eventually trying to ace the bullseye. It was addicting. The coaches and instructors are very hands on and teach you the rules (safety first!) as well as the basics of how to shoot, what your form should be (they’ll adjust your arms and teach you how to aim), and how scores are counted. It took several tries for me to even hit the paper target about 5 meters away, but I got there eventually. I even won my very own bow and arrow set! Needless to say,I was thrilled.
I was also pleasantly surprised that it didn’t cost much if you just want to have some fun. They offer archery lessons—1 hour is PHP 500.00 inclusive of equipment and coaching and if you already have your own equipment, you can enjoy range time for PHP 350.00 per hour. Members of the range enjoy discounts as well, so if you’re looking to get in to archery seriously, I’d recommend going for that. You can inquire on how to be a member once you get there, but purchasing your own equipment from them automatically makes you a member.
Some of the archers that are products of coach Earl’s tutelage include Ian Chipeco, Jeff Adriano, Dean Adriano, Paul Dela Cruz, Joseph Vicenio and Andrea Robles. All are Champions in their own right, following in their coach’s footsteps and bringing glory to the country.
As a whole, I’d say that was a Saturday afternoon well spent for me. Though I went alone, I learned a new skill and ended up enjoying too. You’ll be in good hands. If you’d like to know more, you can reach them at (02) 531 4681. ‘