Archery is an exciting sport that dates back to the stone age when the ancient Egyptians used bows and arrows for warfare and hunting. In ancient Chinese warfare, archery was an esteemed art and the most common weapon used on the battlefield.
During festivals and religious celebrations at the royal palace in China, archery competitions were a significant event. It was a moment of truth for administrators, senior officials, and warriors who were expected to prove their archery skills.
Target archery as a hobby in the modern age has its roots in 14th century England. The longbow was an essential weapon in the English army. It was a class apart from spears and swords because of its ability to shoot arrows at long-range targets.
This sport was highly esteemed in England when King Edward III decreed the Archery Law in 1363. The decree made it mandatory for men between 15 and 60 years to practice no other sport but archery on Sundays and holidays.
In England, the most popular archery competition comparable to modern times took place in Finsbury in 1583 with 3,000 participants.
When gunpowder was introduced, archery was no longer the weapon of choice on the battlefield. It instead evolved into the fun and competitive hobby that it is today.
Why Archery is a Good Hobby
Archery is an excellent hobby with unique benefits compared to other sports. Here’s why archery should be your sports hobby of choice:
Inexpensive to Start
Archery doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re a beginner. Traditional archery is the most cost-effective way to practice. All you need is to buy some basic equipment – the bow, arrow, and accessories that will cost a few hundred dollars.
You can buy quality second-hand equipment online. Also, many archery clubs will lend you equipment as a beginner. Archery lessons and shooting range fees may be part of your budget.
You can bring down these costs by enrolling in group lessons instead of private sessions. Also, avoid private shooting ranges and use public archery ranges, which are free. Your backyard will work well too.
Unlike other sports hobbies that require a certain height, age, or sex, archery is an all-inclusive hobby. Young or old, male or female, tall or short, able-bodied or not, you can enjoy archery. All you need is a bow, an arrow, and willpower.
As long as you enjoy archery, the sky is the limit. If you only want to shoot with friends at a range, that’s fine. If you want to compete, there are opportunities to help you reach your full potential, all the way up to the Olympics or Paralympic Games.
Improves Your Focus
Before you shoot an arrow, you must position your body well to prepare to hit your target. However, your mind plays an even bigger role by learning to tune out distractions and sharpening its focus.
The part of the brain responsible for this is the frontal lobe. It also helps with concentration and attention.
No matter what distractions are around you, it’s important to stay focused during each shot to successfully hit your target. This constant state of being focused will help you concentrate in intense situations.
Improves Your Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination is one of the major benefits of practicing archery. In the beginning, it may be difficult, but don’t underestimate the process of aiming and firing the arrow. It trains your hands and eyes to perform together.
Shooting arrows over and over again will improve your coordination. It will also enhance your balance because you must keep your body still to make a good shot.
Improves Your Self Confidence
There’s a unique satisfaction that comes with combining physical and mental skills that comes with archery. If you’re consistent, you will make progress with every shot, and the better you become, the more confident you will be.
Archery requires you to come out of your comfort zone, physically and mentally.
As you experiment with various bows or ranges, take part in competitions, and coach other beginners, you will build your sense of accomplishment and self-esteem.
Upper Body Strength
As much as your whole body takes part while shooting arrows, the upper body uses the most strength. Holding the bow and arrow steadily will engage the chest, arms, shoulders, back, and hands muscles.
These muscles will maintain tension for several seconds as you draw the bow and release the string. Doing this repetitively will develop those muscles and increase your upper-body strength.
When you’re shooting as a hobby, you’ll use around 10-20lbs resistance. For advanced or competitive archers, it’s even higher.
Generally, people take on hobbies to do something enjoyable in their free time. Archery will give you a much-needed fun break from your daily monotonous routine away. It’s a stress-relieving activity that adds pleasure and fun to your life.
It’s also a dynamic hobby that one can enjoy in many ways. You can keep practicing it just as a hobby or become competitive as you grow. Practice alone or with friends, attend archery tournaments or go bow hunting.
Makes You More Sociable
While you can take on archery as an individual sport, it also offers social benefits. Playing the sport on a range with other hobbyists gets you talking to each other.
Competing with other archers puts you in close interaction where you get to have conversations and know more about each other. Sometimes competing archers are grouped in teams.
When you’re on a team, socializing happens naturally. Teamwork means discussing strategies, collaborating, and supporting each other for team success.
Archery is a potentially dangerous sport but is one of the safest, low injury sports with an injury rate of 0.57 per 1000 participants as of 2017.
Bows and arrows can cause fatal harm if not used correctly. Archery training teaches you to be responsible for the bow and arrow.
Archery safety guidelines will teach you to be mindful of your safety and that of the other participants on the range. When you’re in a continuous state of safety consciousness, you will start to apply it to other areas of your life.
Archery is a lot more than the act of shooting arrows anyhow. It’s a precise sport that requires specific movement and position.
The correct stance, draw, and release are all learned through discipline and consistency. An archer must be in control while taking each shot.
Archery will teach you that discipline and consistency in seemingly small tasks on the range will result in successful shots. This will apply to the rest of your life, where discipline with your goals will result in a successful life.
All Year Round
The weather is never a reason not to participate in archery. Whether it’s winter or summer, you can practice at any time of the year. During the warmer months, the great outdoors is perfect for the sport.
You can train in your backyard or at an outdoor range. During the cold months, you can access indoor facilities like a local archery club or a high school or college facility – with permission.
Indoor archery is also suitable for archers who can only practice at night or have a problem with shooting outdoors.
Who Can Do Archery?
Unlike most sports, archery is an all-inclusive hobby. It’s open to a broad spectrum of people regardless of age, gender, physical disability, and culture.
As long as you’re able to take instructions, you can practice archery. Let’s look in detail at who can take this amazing sport as a hobby.
You’ve probably heard that it’s always a good idea to start children quite young with any hobby or activity. When they start early, there’s time to make mistakes, grow, and refine their craft.
The best age for children to start archery is between 8 and 10 years old. At this stage, their concentration span is longer; they can take instructions and are strong enough to hold a bow and pull the string.
Their brains are like ‘sponges’, and they can learn skills a lot faster than most adults.
Youth and Adults
Young people enjoy archery as an extra-curricular activity either at their schools or at a range out of school. Just like other sports, archery provides opportunities for young students to acquire scholarships to universities and colleges.
The minimum age to compete in the Olympics is 16, but there’s no age limit. Adults of all ages can choose to keep archery as a hobby to relieve stress on their days off and socialize or take it further by competing.
Advancing in age often comes with limitations to what you can do physically, especially when it comes to sports. You’re not as quick or flexible; it shouldn’t deter you from taking on new activities, especially archery.
Anyone at any age can practice archery and succeed. Archery is perfect for seniors because they have flexible schedules, can put in the time, and are very social.
Being over 65 years old should instead encourage you to try new things. In 2015, World War II veteran, Charlie Edwards, won a gold medal at the National Senior Games for archery in Virginia. He was 96 at the time and had only started practicing four years prior.
Persons with Disabilities
Many hobbies disqualify persons with disabilities even before they try because the activities are physically challenging to succeed. Archery, on the other hand, is for you whether you’re disabled or visually impaired.
Some towns have archery clubs that cater specifically to persons with disabilities. For more than 30 years, target archery has been a Paralympic sport that uses the same protocols and scoring as the Olympics.
Taking part requires lots of practice and commitment, but it’s possible, judging from the gold medals won by persons with disabilities over the years.
Originally, men were the ones who went to battle with bows and arrows when archery was the way to fight wars. As archery evolved into the recreational activity that it is today, it’s mostly men who practiced the sport.
Now, the number of girl and women archers continues growing. Men typically shoot bows with longer draw lengths and heavier draw weights than women, and that’s why women’s archer bows are different from men’s in most cases.
That said, women can compete in Olympic archery and often enjoy bowhunting (hunting game) too.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Before you get on the range, you need to have the right gear. Archery involves a wide range of equipment and accessories.
As a beginner, all the equipment involved may overwhelm you, but you only need these basics to get started:
- Bow stringer
- Bow stand
- Bow case
- Finger tab/Shooting gloves
Skills You Need
Most sports hobbies require you to be physically fit or able to run fast to participate. Not archery. It’s the perfect sport if you find other sports challenging.
One of the most amazing archery attributes is the equipment can be adjusted. Depending on your age, strength, and height, there’s no need for extraordinary athletic prowess.
All you need to succeed in archery is discipline and consistency. You might get trained by a pro at the beginning, but that’s not all it takes. The real work comes with consistent practice.
The more you do it, the better you become. Small daily practice will accumulate into a huge success. The other skills like stamina, focus, confidence all come with consistent practice.
It’s a great idea to have regular lessons as a beginner because practicing often makes you more confident in a shorter time. Most lessons last about an hour with 30 minutes for instructions and the other 30 minutes to practice what you’ve learned.
It’s not set in stone how long it will take to learn this skill. It all depends on how regularly you attend lessons and your instructor. Private lessons are great because you’ll have the instructor’s undivided attention, and the training will be tailor-made for your specific needs.
On the other hand, group lessons are a money-saver and provide the opportunity to interact with other archers.
Whether you’re an adult or youth, first-timers are usually nervous at their first lesson. Keep in mind that everyone is there to learn, so relax and have fun.
Different Forms of Archery
You can practice several types of archery based on your geographical location. Some forms are more favorable outdoors while others are suitable for the suburbs where you can only exercise indoors.
Each form of archery requires different equipment and techniques. These are the common forms:
This popular form of archery is what most beginners start with. It’s also the type that features at the Olympics. Compared to the other forms, it requires very little to set up.
All you need to do is shoot your arrows at various targets with a bullseye/central gold ring – you get 10 points. The targets are mostly on a flat surface and at various distances.
The further away you shoot from the central gold ring, the fewer points you get. Archers use the Compound, Recurve, or Barebow bows for the various skill levels of target archery. You can practice both indoors and outdoors.
The ideal environment for field archery is outdoors in woodlands and rough terrain. Similar to target archery, the range will have different targets at various elevations and distances.
The nature of the environment naturally creates distractions that archers must endure. They’ll have to shoot uphill or downhill, under light or darkness, and in different weather conditions.
This recreational activity is more than the act of hunting game. Bowhunters get their satisfaction from being able to locate, track, and get close to their prey.
If going into the wild to hunt appeals to you, bowhunting or bow fishing in the form of archery for you. Bowhunting provides insight into human hunting heritage and tradition.
Walking through nature has therapeutic benefits, and wild game meat and fish are believed to be healthier alternatives to other raised animals for human consumption. The Compound, Recurve, and Barebow bows work for this survival skill.
Other forms of archery you may want to consider include:
- Clout archery
- 3D archery
- Crossbow archery
Where to Learn Archery
The internet has made it easy for you to find the archery instructor nearest to you. For example, a website like lessons.com allows you to type your zip code in and click ‘go.’ You’ll then see a list of classes near you and find the most convenient one.
Before you decide on a class, check their website to ensure that their classes match the target style you want. You may want to shoot 3D targets or traditional ones.
You don’t have to worry about going with any gear as most archery ranges will provide them for beginners. What if you can’t find a physical archery class near you?
Contrary to popular belief, you can learn archery without a physical instructor. There are several online archery courses you can take. You can also access Zoom and Skype classes.
Most online courses provide lessons for all skill levels, and you can take them at your own pace.
Their video lessons give you a step-by-step guide on safety guidelines, how to handle your equipment, how to draw and shoot, and so on. Some examples of online archery courses include:
- Archery 360
- Learn Archery
- Online Archery Academy
What’s Stopping You?
In case you were wondering whether archery was the hobby for you, we hope you now have the confidence to take it on.
The first time you draw an arrow and release it towards your target, the excitement will only make you want to do it over and over again. It doesn’t matter if your arrow lands on a pile of dirt.
Compared to other sports hobbies, archery is easy to get into and provides unique benefits. Enrolling for a course is now easier than ever.