Sports: Archery Is A Mental Game – 9 Reasons Why You Should Take It Up

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Today when we think of armed combat or event hunting or perhaps sport, we think of guns. There’s no denying of the fact that guns are extremely powerful and highly efficient but before the guns were discovered, people used to depend on bows and arrows. In fact, warfare was taken to a whole new level by the invention of archery. Today, though not very widely popular, archery is still practised by many and is mostly restricted to sports and hunting unless of course, we start considering the famous TV show ‘Arrow’. Archery is today considered an exotic sport but in right hands, a bow and arrows can be deadly.

In 1992 Olympics games held in Barcelona saw an archer—Antonio Rebollo—calmly notch the arrow, soon to be flaming, and shot it 230 feet into the air, over the cauldron at the peristyle end of the stadium, igniting the flame that would burn during the 16 days of Barcelona’s glory. – Los Angeles Times

You can watch the spectacular moment that involved so much psychological and mental processes in the mind of Antonio Rebollo during that time here:

 

It was an impressive shot indeed!!!

For all who’ve played archery, you know the drill— Getting bruises once the string comes into contact with the unguarded part of your arm when shooting. To make the matters worse, you make poor shots and fail to hit the target, so your psycho is also hurt—very sad. On the flipside, archery clears out your mind. The legendary archer Fred Bear once said,” Nothing clears a troubled mind like shooting a bow.”

Aside from being a sport, it also enhances my mind. Here are some of the 9 skills one can learn from archery as a life endeavour:

Develop Intense Focus and Concentration

All the steps involved in shooting a bow — nocking the arrow, raising the bow arm, drawing the string to the anchor point, taking aim, and executing a smooth release — require tremendous focus and concentration to send the arrow where you want it to go. In many ways, the outcome of your shot is a reflection of your level of focus throughout the shot process.

When you first start shooting, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed by all the actions you must perform simultaneously to lose an arrow. And with your focus scattered, you’ll find your arrows sprayed all over the target face. Don’t worry, it’s normal.  Archery is all about learning and improving through doing. The more arrows you shoot, the more comfortable you’ll become with the shot process, and the easier it will be to concentrate on every action. With practice, you’ll develop laser-like focus to hit any mark you choose.

Gain Clarity of Mind

When focus and concentration are applied to the act of shooting a bow, archery becomes a moving meditation. The simple goal of hitting a target provides something tangible to focus on, allowing your mind to withdraw from the noise and distractions of everyday life.

Many archers find that going to the range after work to shoot arrows for an hour or two is a great way to mentally detox from the day’s events. And just as with other forms of meditation, the more you practice archery, the quicker you can enter this state of mental clarity.

Flex Your Patience Muscle

One of the most common shooting errors new archers make is what’s known as “rushing the shot” or “punching the trigger.” This happens when you’re aiming at the target with an arrow drawn back, then suddenly, a nervous flurry comes over you and you quickly release the shot. The movement caused by this rushed release makes the bow jump and jerk in your hand, altering your aim and the flight of the arrow.

So how do you not freak out and rush the shot?

It comes down to in-the-moment patience. When you draw back and aim, it’s normal to feel a little frantic and force the shot to happen. However, through practice you learn that there’s no rush — you have all the time in the world to take a few beats and slowly, patiently execute a smooth, clean shot. It’s a matter of allowing the shot to happen.

Improve Coordination and Balance

Drawing a bow back can feel awkward at first. It requires the coordination of your entire body from the ground up. Your arms and hands must work in harmony, your shoulders, neck, and head must be aligned in a certain way, and your legs and feet must provide a strong foundation while keeping your weight evenly balanced.

Combining all these very specific body movements and positions can be a lot to manage all at once. But as you work to develop proper archery form, your body learns what to do and muscle memory starts kicking in.

Build Physical Strength and Stability

Getting your body parts to cooperate and move into the right position is one thing, but having the strength to hold steady during the shot is another. While archery isn’t the most physically demanding sport in the world, there are certain muscle groups that must be developed and strengthened in order to draw and hold back a heavy bow.

It would seem that archery is all arms, but when done properly, it’s actually the large muscles of the back that do the bulk of the work. The core muscles play an important role, too. The problem is we don’t often use our muscles in the unique way archery demands. But as you shoot your bow, these muscles will get stronger and become toned specifically for the task.

Harkeye the famous archer. Image from https://screenrant.com/marvel-avengers-hawkeye-civil-war-trivia/

Boost Your Distance Judging Abilities

Good archers and good golfers have one thing in common: an uncanny ability to judge distances.

This skill might not have practical applications outside of your archery pursuits (unless you also play golf), but as you spend time on the range, you’ll start calling yardage faster and with more accuracy to aim your bow accordingly.

Aim Small, Miss Small

You may recall this phrase from the movie, The Patriot. In the movie, Mel Gibson’s character instructs his sons to “aim small, miss small” as they prepare for an encounter with the Red Coats. Moments later, the boys let lead fly, and needless to say, their father’s advice was sound.

Accuracy in archery is when your arrow hits the precise mark you’re aiming at. The goal is to do this over and over again at will. The best archers understand that in order to achieve a consistent level of accuracy, you can’t aim at the full breadth of the target and hope to hit the bullseye. Instead, you have to aim at a single spot on the target — or animal if you’re hunting — and the smaller, the better.

The idea is, then, that if you miss the small spot you’re aiming at, you’re still likely to hit the target. But if you aim at a large area as opposed to a single spot, when you miss, you run the risk of missing the target altogether.

Meet Like-Minded People

In the moment, shooting a bow is a solitary endeavour. But in between shots, archery is a surprisingly social activity. Simply hanging out at your local archery range is a great way to meet people, who like you, find great satisfaction in the fine art of arrow launching.

Depending on where you live, you’ll also find a whole host of archery-related events and meetups. With everything from low-pressure 3D target shoots to tournaments that range from novice-friendly to hard-core Olympic-level showdowns, archery provides a great venue for high-quality socializing.

Discipline and Stick-With-It-Ness

Kyudo, which means the way of the bow, is one of the oldest martial arts in Japan. This traditional form of archery is approached more as a serious art form than a sport, requiring years of study and discipline to master. In the Western world, although much of the tradition and ceremony is absent from modern archery, discipline is still a key component of the practice. You can’t just pick up a bow and expect to excel. Continuous, intentional effort is required to get good at archery. But luckily, shooting arrows is a ton of fun and an easy way to add some discipline to your life.

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