Be An Archer: It's More
Than Muscles Be An Archer: It's More Than Muscles

Archery has fascinated people since its creation more than 60,000 years ago. Whether people throughout history shot bows for hunting, fighting, competing or playing, they did so no matter their gender or physique. As Brady Ellison – Team USA’s 2012 Olympic silver medalist – often says, archers aren’t cut from cookie-cutter molds. And that means anyone can try archery.

Sports on Television

While watching those 2012 Olympic Games on TV, viewers saw an array of physiques for the many sports. This included bulky weightlifters; pizza-slice-sized swimmers; slim, sleek marathon runners; and short, muscular gymnasts. Meanwhile, it’s hard to define a representative body type for archers. Maybe that’s because archery requires more than just physical movements.

“When it’s done right, it’s beautiful to watch,” Ellison said. “It looks like an art form.” In other words, archery is more than skin deep.

Unlike athletes in many other sports, it’s hard to define a representative body type for archers. Photo: ATA

Unlike athletes in many other sports, it’s hard to define a representative body type for archers. Photo Credit: ATA

Shooting and the Body

Hitting the 10-ring with an arrow from 70 meters seems daunting. After all, the ring’s diameter is just 4.8 inches, or 12.2 centimeters. But archers at the Olympic level pursue perfection with every shot. As Ellison notes, winning Olympians put more than half their arrows into the 10-ring. That’s quite a feat! Let’s review some tips for boosting your chances of making such shots.

Body positioning through the shot is vital. Proper form gives smaller-framed people the required strength without bulking up. Larger, muscled-up people, or simply larger-built men, often have a hard time with archery. Sure, they can draw heavier bows, but they often struggle to perfect their technique because they lack the necessary fine motor skills. But that doesn’t mean archers avoid strength training. Archers must still build muscles to generate more power behind their bow.

Brady Ellison – Team USA’s 2012 Olympic silver medalist – says that winning Olympians put more than half their arrows in the 10-ring. That’s quite a feat. Photo Credit: World Archery

Brady Ellison – Team USA’s 2012 Olympic silver medalist – says that winning Olympians put more than half their arrows in the 10-ring. That’s quite a feat. Photo Credit: World Archery

All archers prefer one shooting form over another. But because archers come in all sorts of body types, each must find the shooting form that most benefits them. Just because one method works for a particular archer doesn’t mean it will work as well for you. What matters most is understanding your bone structure and how it helps you shoot. That understanding boosts your chances for success.

Eyesight Misconception

In archery, perfect eyesight is not as important as one might think. Ellison says archery is, “more about the feeling of the shot and what you’re doing than what you’re seeing.” Photo Credit: World Archery

In archery, perfect eyesight is not as important as one might think. Ellison says archery is, “more about the feeling of the shot and what you’re doing than what you’re seeing.” Photo Credit: World Archery

Further, eyesight is not as important as one might think in archery. Sure, the target is far away. Yes, its colored rings can appear blurry for those with poor vision. But vision alone doesn’t determine archery’s winners. Mental clarity matters more, and world-class shooters prove it regularly by winning. For instance, Im Dong Hyun of the Korean national team has poor vision, but shoots with glasses. And Janice Walth of the United States is legally blind, but that didn’t stop her from setting five world records and clenching a silver medal at the 2007 Paralympic Archery World Championships. As Ellison said, “It’s more about the feeling of the shot and what you’re doing, than what you’re seeing.”

Ellison does a fine job explaining why archers need not be built the same. It’s a matter of mental training and body positioning. So get inspired and invite your friends out to the range. You never know who you’ll help enjoy archery!

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