The great Yogi Berra once said: “When you’re part of a team, you stand up for your teammates. Your loyalty is to them. You protect them through good and bad, because they’d do the same for you.”
The same applies to families, right? You stand up for your family, you’re loyal to them, and you protect them. Emily and Chris Bee are siblings and archery teammates, so their loyalties are doubled.
Chris, 19, and Emily, 20, started shooting archery when they were 5 and 6 years old, respectively. What started as a way to go bowhunting with Dad quickly turned into a shared experience for them.
“Chris started shooting archery at a local Junior Olympic Archery Development club on Saturday mornings,” Emily said. “We all went together since archery and hunting were a family thing. My dad convinced me to join the program since I was going (with Chris) anyway, and bought me my first bow.”
Unlike Chris, Emily didn’t immediately fall in love with JOAD, but its competitive atmosphere solidified her love for bows and arrows. “After shooting JOAD for several years, Emily and I decided to start shooting a few local tournaments after our coaches suggested we should give it a try,” Chris said.
They’ve been hooked ever since. Emily and Chris grew up competing in their school’s National Archery in the Schools Program, and have transcended nearly every archery discipline, whether it’s indoor, outdoor, target, field, 3-D or bowhunting.
“Our archery story very much fell into place,” Emily said. “Everything we have done and accomplished was never necessarily the goal or plan.”
Although sibling loyalty also wasn’t part of the plan, it affects their archery endeavors.
“(Emily) was always the perfect training partner,” Chris said. “From taking cool pictures on the range or seeing if she can see a flaw in my form, we’re always there for one another.”
Chris and Emily have competed together through JOAD, NASP and now on Michigan State University’s archery team. They’ve amassed countless memories and unleashed thousands of arrows. For Emily, however, what sticks out the most was Chris’ unwavering support at this summer’s U.S. National Collegiate Outdoor Championships.
Chris and Emily were MSU’s No. 1-ranked male and female compound-bow archers, and competed on MSU’s mixed team of two males and two females.
Chris was eliminated during an earlier round, but supported Emily as she shot in the gold-medal match. “He stood behind me and encouraged me till the end,” Emily said. “I remember feeling so confident and excited to have a friend and supporter cheering me on.”
When she finished, Emily walked toward Chris, her heart racing and questions flying. How was her form? What did the arrow score? Did she shoot her best? “He’s the best arrow caller I know,” Emily said. Chris assured Emily she shot a 30 to solidify her hold on the gold medal.
“Chris has made a great accountability partner, motivator, encourager and overall training partner and bow mechanic,” Emily said.
Chris feels the same way about Emily. “There have been so many memories over the years shooting together, but I think we have our most fun when it’s the two of us and maybe some friends hanging out on the range,” he said. “Some days we’ll stay after the sun goes down and shoot until it feels like our arms are going to fall off. Music playing, good company, bows and arrows – it’s truly hard to beat.”
The fun and respect they share overflows to their social-media channels and online presence. “Social media revolutionized the world in the way we meet people and express our lives online,” Chris said. “Emily and I have taken advantage of that, and found our creative niche in the archery and hunting world.”
In addition to their blogs and social-media accounts, Chris and Emily recently launched the Bee Experience. Still in the creation phase, the site will eventually include instructional videos and opportunities to book one-on-one day camps and team workshops.
“We shot NASP archery all through middle school and high school, and excelled and learned what it took to perform at a high level,” Chris said. “Now graduated, we both want to give back to the sport and to the kids striving to become the next champions. A lot of people are afraid and think they need to be athletic or experienced. That’s wrong. Anyone can do it, and I promise it will be a ton of fun.”
Emily encourages new archers not to go it alone. “Find a local club or training facility and get involved,” she said. “Never feel too young or too old, because archery is a sport you’re able to do your entire life.”
Best of luck to Chris and Emily as they pursue their next goal: making the Senior U.S. Archery Team and competing on the world circuit.