Archery is perhaps the world’s most inclusive sport. Few activities let you begin when you’re tall enough to hold a bow and keep you shooting at age 90. Likewise, few sports accommodate people with various injuries and disabilities.
Even so, a few myths about archery persist, and sometimes become barriers to people taking up the sport. If you’re already an archer, you’ve probably heard some of these already. How did you respond? If you hear them again, here’s a handy guide to refute all those falsehoods!
“Don’t you need to be strong to do that?”
Absolutely not. Archery is more about technique than brute strength. Any club or beginners’ course will start you on a low-poundage trainer bow. As you progress, you can move to a heavier bow to propel the arrow faster. But start low. Denise Parker won a bronze medal for the USA at the 1988 Olympics at age 13 while shooting a 28-pound draw-weight bow. That pull is about the same as picking up a small dog. Likewise, the Korean ladies team features the most successful Olympic archers of all time, but some of them barely weigh more than 120 pounds. In fact, being really muscular is usually considered a hindrance to being a top archer.
“Archery must be really dangerous, right?”
Archery is statistically one of the world’s safest sports. According to recent National Safety Council statistics, archery is more than three times safer than golf, with just one injury for every 2,000 participants . In fact, over 90 percent of those injuries occurred while bowhunting, not target shooting. Safety on the range is part of the sport’s fabric, starting with your first lesson. As long as you follow local laws (and shoot at a local range rather than your backyard) it’s a very safe activity.
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. My eyesight is really bad.”
Not a problem. Aiming with your eyes is actually a smaller element of archery than you might think. Few sports let you happily wear your normal glasses – or any glasses – while competing at the highest level. For instance, two-time Olympic gold medalist Im Dong Hyun is severely visually impaired. He sees a target at 70 meters as a blurry wash of colors, Even so, he set the world record for a round at that distance. Other archers who are completely blind use additional tactile sighting equipment to shoot. Nothing is impossible!
“Isn’t all that stuff really expensive?”
It’s only as expensive at you want it to be! Most archery clubs and beginners’ courses will lend you equipment when you’re just starting. You can buy a basic bow, arrows and accessories setup for a few hundred dollars, and it can last several years. Archery sets have many individual pieces, but almost everything is interchangeable, and you can upgrade as you want or need. As you gain experience, you can take advantage of a thriving second-hand market for archery equipment. Most of these online products are made from tough materials, and are often as good as new.
“It must get boring doing that all day.”
It’s never boring to constantly improve your discipline, focus and precision. In fact, few sports have such a range of options surrounding the core activity. Which type of bow do you want to shoot – compound, recurve, bare-bow or one of dozens of traditional bows from around the world? What kind of tournament do you wish to try – target, field or 3-D? Indoor or outdoor? You can shoot for a lifetime near home, or travel the country and the world competing. Improving at archery is an ever-evolving puzzle that fascinates for a lifetime. And for something so personal, it’s one of the most social sports around!
“Don’t you have to wear green?”
Yeah, I admit it. Sometimes I wish Robin Hood had never existed.