Archery fosters relationships. Don’t believe me? Consider the Olympic Games. Every four years, the Olympics unite archers from across the world. Despite cultural differences, we unite through the Olympic spirit of “friendship, solidarity and fair play.” We represent different countries, but we share a love for bows, arrows and arrowing bull’s-eyes. That commonality spans generations to promote friendship and collaboration.
Teach a Man to (Bow) Fish …
Alaskan wildlife officers use archery camps to build relationships with people along the Kuskokwim River, said Lisa Demer of the Alaska Dispatch News. The king salmon population in the river – a region that once provided more sustenance than anywhere in Alaska – declined in recent years.
That forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to impose restrictions to help rebuild salmon numbers. The restrictions created tensions, despite good intentions to protect and boost the area’s natural resources. By offering archery and firearms camps, however, federal wildlife officers started forming relationships with the native people at young ages.
The camps provide a relaxed environment for officers to engage the children, open doors to communication, and prove that officers have the native people’s interests at heart. They’re not just enforcers. They’re real people who genuinely desire to build relationships, and help the Kuskokwim villages and their resources flourish. For children who attend the camps, the early friendships with the officers are keys to continued success and cooperation.
Although salmon fishing is temporarily restricted in the Kuskokwim village area, the restrictions will one day be lifted. When that happens, the native people will have mastered a new trade and new methods for acquiring protein: bowfishing and bowhunting.
Archery Unites People for a Common Cause
arcHER, an online community for female archers, combined archery love with philanthropic devotion to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Using the ALS ice-bucket challenge as inspiration late last year, arcHER founders Cara Kelly and Kaitlyn Price organized the pink balloon challenge.
“An arcHER shoots at a pink balloon from any distance while being videotaped, and then states that they’ll donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation,” Price said. After sharing their videos on social media and tagging arcHER on Facebook, participants challenged fellow archers (men and women) to participate and donate. Social shares drove visibility, which resulted in more arrowed balloons and donations.
The arcHER community raised just under $1,000 for breast cancer research in three months, proving that archery has the power to unite people in a common goal.
Archery Connects Generations
Recurve archer Emma Harris started shooting archery with her stepfather when she was 8 years old. Harris’ stepfather, Kevin, is a combat-disabled veteran. They’re in different life stages and have different experiences, but archery bridges their generations to emotionally aid Emma and Kevin.
“He didn’t get much help dealing with his injuries’ physical and mental realities,” said Michelle Simpson-Pitts, Kevin’s wife and Emma’s mother. “When he met Emma, he started getting outside to coach her, which helped him engage in life. It was a large factor in helping him seek treatment for various issues, and to become a certified USA Archery coach.”
Archery emotionally connected Emma and her stepfather, and helped her build relationships with students her own age, too. “Emma was shy and seldom engaged with anyone outside of the house before she took up archery,” Simpson-Pitts told 360’s Brandi Granett. “Now she’s the opposite. She seldom stops talking!”
Although archery is such an individual sport – you control where your arrows strike – shooting helped Emma come out of her shell. She became an effective communicator, both with her stepfather and kids her own age.