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Archery benefits: good for the body, good for the mind

Friday 26th June

When asked what I do as a hobby, and I reply ‘Archery’, most people raise an eyebrow. The next question tends to be ‘Isn’t that expensive?’. It’s also surprising to note the number of people who profess to always want to ‘have a go’, but have never actually gotten round to doing so.

Having not done sports since I left school I was nearing forty and looking for an activity that would allow me to meet new people, exercise the whole body and not feel intrusive on my social life.

I was introduced to Archery six years ago and knew instantly that it would fulfil all my criteria. My only regret was that I hadn’t discovered it in my youth.

Good For The Body

There are of course many reasons to partake in a sport, one of the key being improved physical fitness. Archery is classed as a low-impact sport and is enjoyed by people across a staggering age range, from pre-teen juniors to the more senior in our society. It is also enjoyed by many disabled people too.

Some of the physical benefits are obvious; muscle conditioning and aerobic exercise being the most readily associated with any physical activity. Many people with injuries, including myself, have talked about the therapeutic benefits that Archery brings to their recovery.

There are many forms of Archery, and many types of bows to use. Target Archery is the Olympic standard and comprises archers shooting at targets over a known distance. Field Archery is about moving through a preset course, usually in woodland, and shooting targets that are over known and unknown distances. Clout shooting, on the other hand, is about getting your arrows as close as possible to a flag planted in the ground at an unknown distance.

My personal preference is Field Archery as the additional physical benefits of walking around a woodland course and not knowing what the next shot will be adds a level of variety to the competition.

Good For The Mind

The other side of the sport of Archery is all in the mind. If you think about the act of drawing and shooting a bow Archery is a very repetitious sport. One shot after the other, trying to be as consistent as possible and, as with any other sport that requires precision, the level of concentration can be immense.

The ability to be able to do something physically and mentally, repetitively and accurately, as with any sport requires discipline. In some respects, it can be quite Zen-like, and the more one repeats the process the more natural and second nature it becomes.

How To Get Involved

There are many sports that claim to be for everyone. Football, Rugby, Cricket, even Golf; but Archery is a true ‘everyone’ sport. The exposure Archery received at the 2012 Olympic games showed the pinnacle of the sport, both amongst the able and disabled competitors that are at the very top of their game. This form of Archery, however, is merely the tip of the iceberg. As with any other sport, it is the grassroots clubs where many people will have their first taste of practising the sport.

There are several organisations that govern the sport nationally and internationally, including Archery GB and the National Field Archery Society. If you are interested in what Archery might have to offer you or are looking for clubs local to you then have a look at their websites. Facebook and Twitter are also great sources of information as most local clubs have a presence on social media.