This Badass Archery TikTok Star Will Teach You Her Skills on a National Park Adventure
A rediscovered talent for archery and a dramatic TikTok video that generated some 10-million views are the catalysts for a new travel company that will bring adventurers to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks next summer to shoot (at targets), explore, birdwatch, and forage. Kendall Tichner, 33, the founder of Wild Captives, describes it as "a New Age scouting organization for adults."
Last year, Tichner, 33, an urban planner and real-estate executive in Los Angeles, was looking for a pandemic-safe outdoor activity while isolating near Joshua Tree. As a child, she had excelled in archery at summer camp in the Adirondacks. She hadn't picked up a bow in 20 years, but some time and some trial and error — and a few minor injuries — unearthed some startling skills.
"Initially, I ordered all the wrong things" she said. "The first bow was too short and too heavy, the arrows were the wrong size, and I was wearing a really bad arm guard and getting bruises all over."
The TikTok video shows her flying through the air, hitting targets, extinguishing candle flames, and bursting untethered balloons. All cool, but the enormous reaction wasn't hampered by the fact that Tichner is rather stunning, with her shock of dark hair and palest of blue eyes, which all contributed to fans comparing her to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the heroine in The Hunger Games series.
Tichner says thousands of people wrote her, asking how they could learn archery. "It struck a nerve," she said. "With the pandemic, people were living in a digital mindset, online all day. I think people are missing tangible experiences and using their hands in a primal way."
Some were so inspired by the self-made video that she received "loads of fan art" from admirers who worked their artistic skills in rendering drawings of her in action.
On the flip side, professional archers (mostly men) have criticized her form. "I get mansplained," she said. "But I don't care, I'm not going to the Olympics." Nor does she have an iota of interest in hunting. "For me, archery is a kind of meditation and a way to connect. I use it as a time to focus. It's an intense, visceral experience. There's something primal about archery and it feels imbedded with mysticism."
She hopes her escapes to wild places will "help people become more aware of the world around them, feel more capable and prepared, and able to look at familiar things with a new eye, whether in the backwoods or on Main Street." And just maybe, she says, they'll learn to hit a bullseye.
Wild Captives' five-day Wilderness Survival and Archery Trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons runs June 9-13. All transfers from Bozeman, Montana, equipment, meals and lodging (in tents) are included in the $1,695 fee.