Archery gets you outdoors. It gets you moving. You find strength you didn’t know you had, and it boosts self-confidence. Could archery help the millions of people battling depression?
Make no mistake: Depression is a serious illness that requires medical attention. But archery, with its health-boosting benefits, might offer additional relief for those coping with stress or depression.
Take Louise Redman, Australia’s champion archer, who turned to the sport to battle postnatal depression.
“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, I wanted to be in the deep end, and it really snapped me out of PND,” she told the Canberra Times. “Most of my friends know how obsessive I am about archery. I try to encourage mums to get out there. I’ll have a quiet word with them to say, ‘Consider PND and have a strategy in place.’ PND is a lot more common than people realize. Archery is such a family sport. It’s definitely a different kind of mother’s group.”
Many archers describe a therapeutic feeling after a good practice session, whether enjoying the sport recreationally or preparing for a tournament. Others feel a confidence boost, increased strength, and the benefits of getting outside to practice.
One of the best things about archery is this: To execute a good shot, you must concentrate. Slow down, focus and regulate your breathing while performing a strength-building activity. These steps help you focus on the present, and hopefully set stress aside.
“You have to be in a meditation state when you’re shooting,” Redman said. “You can’t do anything else. It appealed to me. It’s the kids’ break from me, and my break from the kids. Even when you’re aware that PND is a chemical imbalance, you can’t just talk yourself out of it. I didn’t realize so many women suffered from it, and I was determined to beat it the second time.”
Mental focus is a major part of archery, and provides a great chance to shut out everything else as you pursue your objective. “The more focused you are on your target, the easier it is to clear your mind and aim precisely,” writes author Jack Gerard for AZ Central. “These same skills help you to deal with stress and clear your mind of worry when you’re away from the archery range.”
When polled, our staff members said archery reminds them of other focus-oriented activities such as yoga, Pilates and golf. Read more about archery’s awesome health benefits here.