When we speak about health, most people recommend having a good diet, and to do plenty of exercise.
This is no secret, we’ve all heard it from several blogs, videos and doctors.
Truth be told, is that when it comes down to the exercise talk, most people think of running, soccer or any other sport that will make you run as hell, or the classic choice of going to the gym.
Before taking up archery, I only really had gym activity as part of my regular routine – fortunately that’s all changed now and I play a wider variety of sports, you only have to read this site to understand that!
When I started regularly practising archery, I didn’t really imagine archery as a sport with many health benefits for my body and mind.
However, my teammates talk about it, and I started reading some blogs about it. But I didn’t actually believe it until I lived it. So, I am going to try my best to mention several benefits, as I’ve experienced, as well as answer some questions many people ask after. I would like to preface this by stating that I’m not a medical expert and you should consult a doctor or mental health practitioner if you are looking for help.
What’s good about archery?
Besides being an amazing sport. Sorry, I let myself go because I really like archery! There are several benefits to practising regularly. I’m talking about benefits for your mind, your body and your coordination. The first benefit I want to talk about, is how archery effects or better said, improves your hand – eye coordination.
Your hands are supposed to aim based on the feedback sent from your eyes.
Both of your hands must coordinate according to what your eyes show, one is the aim and the other is the trigger.
In fact, if you look on the internet for coordination exercises, you’ll find that there are several that seem not to be related to archery but still help a lot.
Like tennis ball exercises or movement ones that requires different moves with your hands at the same time. Here are some simple hand-eye coordination exercises you can try today
Another great benefit of archery is the improvement of your upper body.
It strengthens your muscles from the chest, the back, your core and your arms. There is a lot of stress, especially on your shoulders and upper back muscles.
Although you might not feel it instantly since this is not like going to the gym, the constant repetition by shooting over and over again is working on your muscles. Also, depending on the strength of your bow, the workout will be stronger or less intense.
Then, it is regularly said that archery improves your social skills like no other.
Since archery is mostly an individual sport, and archers are set in groups to shoot in competitions and leagues, you get a chance to talk and meet other archers, and most archers are willing to share some knowledge and tips with new archers or just strike up some general conversation.
There’s a different type of competitive environment here, we are taught mostly by archery coaches that the competition is mostly against yourself, trying to improve on your last score.
That’s why they don’t see you as an ‘enemy’ or the competition, just you against your last score.
Is archery good for your brain?
Archery is an amazing sport to help your mental help since it improves focus.
In fact, there are medical studies that shows how much can archery help people suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and lack of focus.
In fact, I have used archery as a way to control stress and my own anxiety. I am going to talk some part from my own experience, and some from what I’ve read in different studies.
Since archery is in part a silent sport, and one that requires a lot of focus, it helps your mind to concentrate only on the activity you’re doing, it is an amazing way the clear your mind and focus on the target, focus on the arrow, on the string you’re pulling, on the wind and your breathing.
Being in the great outdoors and shooting actually helped me clear my head every weekend.
It allowed me to forget about work and all my worries, actually, it’s the only activity that helped me with that. I tried yoga and meditation, but only archery helped me control my stress.
I think archery is great for people with depression since it is a sport that allows you to watch your progress step by step, it is amazing how much of a boost it is for your self-esteem to watch your own ability improve steadily, week by week. Especially when you hit that perfect 10, it’s a moment to remember and cherish.
Now talking about PTSD, the effect is quite similar to the one on people with lack of focus.
As a sport, it makes archers focus with 100% of their minds on every move they do.
It’s a great way to bring your problems out of your head while doing exercise and still focusing on your mind.
Team sports of high activity like basketball and football are great ways to release stress, but in several situations, those sports put a lot of stress on us. Since it is a team sport, several people are the ones that put pressure on us and may be reliant on us to perform, they fight or get angry, which is not good for someone with PTSD.
On the other hand, archery is a sport that allows you to focus on yourself and just yourself while leaving all your problems by a side. I don’t have this, but sometimes the stress is close enough to anxiety, which I do have. Shooting a bow lets me put my mind in order and clear it from all distractions.
What can archery teach you?
Besides the fact of actually learning to shoot an arrow, I believe archery teaches you to be consistent on every aspect of your life.
The main point of the archery training is to be consistent with your shot, not to just hit one 10 and then a bunch of 6’s straight after.
It would be better to have every shot on the 8 ring, that’s what consistency is.
Our trainer taught us that by taking away the target colors and making us shoot straight to a plain target.
The idea was to make all our shots be around the first shot – consistent. No matter where it went, we had to keep all our arrows together.
It also teaches you to be patient, you can’t just shoot all your arrows at once. You have to take your time, aim, wait for the wind to be in the optimal condition before taking the shot.
Of course, it is not like you can take all the time in the world, it is a patience lesson within some time, you must make a decision and take the shot eventually. Nevertheless, you still need to be patient and wait for the right moment to release the arrow.
Does archery improve strength?
Yes, it does.
There is a lot of stress put on your muscles and in your arms, core and back. It is not like going to the gym, but still, it strengthens your arms and back a lot.
Personally, I’ve felt the training mostly on my shoulders and biceps.
According to my trainer, most of the stress is put on the back muscles but I’ve only felt stress there on my first month. After a while, you’ll find out that your muscles get used to the strength required by your bow and later on, you’ll need to increase the strength of your bow to keep the training up and keep improving your strength.
Some people like me need to complement the training with some push ups and visiting your local gym to assure you improve your strength at a good pace.
Is archery a life skill?
I strongly believe it does. There is a lot of learning that has to happen when you start practising archery, patience and the skill of shooting a bow.
First of all, patience itself is something amazing.
Practicing archery is a process, you can’t just grab the bow and start shooting, you have to warm up, stretch, warm up again with the bow and then get ready to shoot.
Then you try to get better results and improving your range, it becomes a long process as you get better with each week of practice. It is also a useful skill to have in your background, especially if you’re an adventurous person like me!
In which situation can archery be useful?
Any survival situation, for example.
That’s what I meant by being adventurous person, if you like to go to the wild, camping in the forest of anything like it, archery could be a life saving skill.
I’ve read several articles where adventurers have got lost and been attacked by animals or had to forage food.
Of course, this comes with the question, do I need to have my bow with me at all time? Not really. There are several tutorials on YouTube teaching how to make a bow with wood and some natural resources. It is pretty simple, it won’t be a powerful bow, but it will be good enough to hunt or to protect yourself from any threat.
As I said, it’s an amazing survival skill that next to some camping knowledge, it could actually save your life.
More common knowledge are things like starting a fire, making a tent and gathering drinkable water. These things are often taught in scout groups or other ‘outdoor’ groups.
My father was a scout so he taught me several of these things, and I complemented them with my archery skills.
How can I improve my archery skills?
Besides practicing a lot, hitting the gym every once in a while is great for you, let me elaborate on that.
Archery is not a training that puts a lot of stress on your muscles in the same way a gym training session can do.
So archery is not just about shooting a bow, it is also a mind sport and a strength sport.
Complement it with gym time, pushups, abs and some cardio training. The stronger you get, the easier it will be to last for an entire competition and to extend your range, which requires a stronger bow.
Normally I like to complement my archery training by doing some rounds of pushups and abs. Also, on the days I’m not practising archery, I like to hit the gym most days and work with low weight and several repetitions to keep my muscles in good conditions.
Also, if you’re up to it, doing some yoga or meditation is a great way to complement your mind and improve your patience in case you feel like you must work on it.
In my case, archery is my meditation, but for some people, it is a necessary exercise to keep their minds in the right place and focus when they go to the shooting range.
Is archery an expensive sport?
I think archery is probably on the expensive end of sports to take up.
Most sports just require some sneakers, or a ball right for the sport.
In the case of archery, there are several parts required since having a bow is a must in archery. At least the bow and arrows are required to practice and compete, consider them as the ball.
It is expensive in comparison with some sneakers and a ball, but the difference is that you won’t change your equipment for a long time. So it often ends up being less expensive in the long run. I’ve spent a lot more money on basketball shoes than on archery equipment. Since archery consumables like arrow parts are pretty cheap.
As we’ve seen, archery is a sport with several benefits for your physical and mental health.
There are so many reasons why it is good for you and how it has helped people cope with conditions like stress and anxiety. And how amazing it is as a skill, especially for adventurous people.
Once the zombies come, you’ll thank me for reading this article and all the archery training you were able to get!!
I actually believe that anything new can be learnt by dedicating enough time, as long as you’re happy doing it, it is going to be good for you.
Life is about having as many great times as possible, if you like archery, if you actually feel its benefits, then it is not only good, but it is the right thing for you to do.
If you’re a parent and looking in these few words a reason to put your son or daughter up to an archery lesson, then do it. There are more than enough reasons for it, but later on, ask him/her if they enjoyed it or not. That’s the most important thing.
Keep practicing and enjoy archery and its benefits.
Happy shooting everybody!