The ancient goddess Artemis is often depicted in a flowing gown while holding a bow and arrow, but if she were around today, she’d be wearing black leather boots and cargo pants.
Of course, these days, archers are most often depicted by men in camo, leaving women few role models in archery, but Kendall Tichner wants to change all of that.
With a following of nearly 1 million people on social media, the entrepreneur opened Wild Captives, the nation’s first female- and LGBTQ-owned archery studio where she hopes everyone can “be their own superhero.” The studio in Brooklyn’s Industry City offers empowering and fun hour-long introduction to archery classes every weekend for $45/person.
Inside the chic, airy studio, the 35-year-old Tichner sinks bullseye after bullseye into a target while Taylor Swift music plays in the background. She’s a modern-day Artemis—if the ancient goddess upgraded her outfit to include black leather boots, cargo pants, a zip-up top and a ball cap. That precision, that confidence, that sheer badassery seems to intimidate some of the men on social media who mansplain in her comments. To them, Tichner responds:
Tichner's path to archery wasn't exactly a quick shot.
Growing up on Long Island, Tichner attended summer camp at Camp Che-Na-Wah in the Adirondacks where she first tried her hand at archery, but for years, she didn’t think too much about the activity. Then amid the pandemic with free time and extra space, she started looking for a sport she could do alone, and archery came to mind.
She shared her experiences of learning archery on TikTok and gained a following, especially from fellow women and queer folks who wanted to buy bows to learn. But the main archery brands in America at that time displayed images of hunting and dead animals on their websites, and that wasn’t the vibe Tichner was looking for.
So she decided to design her own bow, a custom-made recurve bow created for beginners to intermediate archers. She worked with a variety of factories to create the full kit, which retails for $289. With black ebony wood and red-and-white designs, the 25-pound bow is both beautiful to behold and easy to use even as a new archer.
As the word of her bows spread, fans started asking for classes to learn archery. She opened up private lessons in Brooklyn in mid-July.
It is a very feminine sport that has a deep feminist history of peace and tranquility.
“Even just, I think by accident, it’s been a bit of a political statement. It is a very feminine sport that has a deep feminist history of peace and tranquility in the martial arts and all over the world. But in the U.S., it’s been associated with hunting because that’s where people make the most money,” Tichner tells us, adding that archery was one of the first sports to allow women to participate in the Olympics.
That history plays a part in each introductory class, along with learning about different parts of the bow and safety requirements. After the lesson, each participant gets a chance to shoot the bow trying to pop a balloon pinned onto the bullseye. Intro-to-archery classes are available each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bookable online for anyone over age 12.
Tichner delights in seeing fellow women find archery successes, whether that's in the studio during a class or on social media. Her work reclaims the traditional role of women as archers, subverting the masculine narrative that's emerged over the years. She also removes the predator-prey ethos from the sport, instead transforming the activity into something worth doing just for the sake of it.
[It’s about] reclaiming feeling empowered and in touch with your body and aware of the world around you.
“[It’s about] reclaiming feeling empowered and in touch with your body and aware of the world around you,” she says. “I think it’s giving people an immediate boost of confidence and physically a sport that gets them feeling in their bodies in a power position. And then seeing how capable they are because it’s something that they’ve just always seen mystical figures do or people on TV do but never realized how much they can be their own superhero and that it’s totally possible.”