Archery is among the world’s oldest arts with roots that extend back to Ancient Egypt and perhaps even as far back as the Stone Age. Commonly adopted back then for hunting and warfare, it is still practiced regularly today, but instead has application as a hobby or competitive sport. In fact, archery was included at the Olympic Games in 1900, 1904, 1908, and 1920. Following a 52-year hiatus, the sport was reintroduced to the Olympics in 1972 and has remained a part of its program.
Whether you decide to take up archery for recreational or competitive purposes, the sport promotes several valuable life lessons. While it involves the relatively simple task of pulling back and letting go of your bow, it can take a lifetime to master. Here are six qualities that archery can help to instill in those who regularly undertake this pastime.
One of the most valuable skills you need to become successful in archery is focus. People who master the sport are able to use a laser-like focus to hold steady and hit their desired target. Simply practicing archery on a regular basis will help to instill this level of focus, as there are several considerations necessary to take to make the perfect shot. Archers also often need to overcome outside distractions.
In addition to honing in on their target, archers need to ensure that they are not only in the correct stance but that they maintain stability and balance throughout the shooting motion. Controlled breathing is another element that contributes to success in archery. All of these require immense concentration. Improving your abilities in archery can help to enhance your ability to focus and overcome distractions in your life.
Speed is an asset in many sports, including football, soccer, and ice hockey. The opposite is true in archery. A good archer exhibits patience in their approach and follow-through. Rushing, or trying to hit a target without ensuring proper form, balance, and focus, will only result in inaccurate shots.
Moreover, it can take several years—if not a lifetime—to truly master the art of archery. Pursuing greatness in this sport is a practice in patience in itself. One famous Japanese archery master, Awa Kenzo (1880-1939), developed the archery form known as Shado, or the “Shooting Way.” His philosophy was that archery is more than a pastime and sport. Rather, it’s a way of life. He also viewed it as a spiritual event that helped archers to connect with their inner being.
Since archery takes so long to master, it can also instill confidence. Unless an archer is participating in a competitive archery event, they are generally their own greatest opponent. However, noticing a gradual progression can help them to gain confidence that can be carried over to other aspects of their lives. In archery, results are easily measured based on your score. Consequently, it isn’t hard to notice improvement in the sport. This is particularly true for youths who take up archery.
“As [kids] begin learning the technique of shooting, they realize it’s not like some of the cool movies they’ve watched, where the hero is shooting a bow any and every which way,” notes Coyote Hill archery instructor Josh McCaskey. “They have a lot of fun learning the sport. The first few times they shoot, the arrow goes off to the side or over the target. But once they start hitting the target, they feel incredibly accomplished having learned a skill. It’s a really big confidence booster for them.”
Athletes who participate in team sports can sometimes afford to make mistakes knowing that their teammate might pick them up. While archery can at times be a team sport, it is primarily an individual pursuit. Archers who make mistakes or miss targets then have nobody to blame but themselves. They not only learn from and improve through their mistakes, but understand the importance of personal responsibility, which is an important virtue in business and other aspects of life.
In addition to exercising patience in order to improve their shooting abilities, archers must be persistent in their drive to master the sport. The saying “practice makes perfect” is particularly true for archery, and achieving proper muscle memory to excel in the sport requires regular practice.
Archery by nature also requires discipline. Athletes in other sports can excel with different abilities and movements, whereas archers need to be particularly disciplined when going through precise movements in order to reach the goal of hitting their target. Everything from their stance to breathing patterns need to be precise. Moreover, proper stance is not only about your foot position. Archers also need to engage their head, shoulders, back, hips, and knees to perfect their stance. Archers also need to ensure that they hold their bow with the proper grip and have their bowstring fingers in one of the three commonly accepted positions.