Ahh, archery. It’s fun, relaxing and – more often than not – addictive. So, how can you consistently get your archery fix? Shoot recreationally, and competitively.
Whether archery has been part of your life for five days or five years, consider these five reasons to try competitive archery and reap its many benefits.
1. It’s Fun
Slinging arrows is lots of fun, and competitive shooting can be even more exciting in high-energy settings.
One man with years of experience in tournaments large and small is Mike Willis, head archery coach for Lindsey Wilson College. He also coaches Scholastic 3-D Archery for the Central Kentucky Nock Busters club. “I would recommend all youths participate in competitive archery,” Willis said. “The benefits are limitless and totally what you make of it. I find most youths today associate fun with competition.”
2. Make New Friends
Archery is a social sport that embraces everyone at any age. Archery’s inclusiveness makes it ideal for connecting with others who share your passion for the sport.
Summer Cheesman, an eighth-grader at Eastwood Middle School in Indianapolis, can vouch for that. “One of the biggest benefits of competitive archery is meeting really great people,” she said.
Cheesman has shot competitively since 2015. She joined a Junior Olympic Archery Development program called the Cincinnati Junior Olympian Club, and competes in S3DA events across Indiana. Throughout her journey, she’s met hundreds of people from multiple states, including judges, coaches, archers and their parents. She trusts these people, and she’s happy to call them friends.
3. Improve Your Physical Health
Cheesman said her accuracy has improved in archery, and also in in darts and baseball. In fact, archery has made her stronger and helps her stay in shape.
Drawing a bow and regularly shooting arrows strengthens your arms, core, hands, chest and shoulders. Prevention magazine says drawing a bow burns about 140 calories per half-hour, the same as walking a brisk 3.5-mph pace. Archery also requires lots of walking when moving between targets and retrieving arrows.
4. Improve Your Mental Health
Willis believes shooting competitively also increases mental toughness because archers learn discipline, responsibility and self-control. Healthy competition inspires and motivates participants to do their best, further boosting self-confidence.
Lisa Firestone, an author and clinical psychologist, recently wrote an article titled “The Benefits of Feeling Competitive.” She said it’s healthy and acceptable to feel competitive. Those feelings “are an indication of what we want, and acknowledging what we want is key to getting to know ourselves,” she wrote.
5. Become a Better Archer
Competition also makes archers concentrate on their form because every shot counts. Willis coaches archers to focus on their technique and ignore outside distractions. They can also learn from other archers’ insights and equipment choices. After all, most competitive shooters have knowledgeable coaches helping them improve, which makes them conduits for great advice.
Give Competitive Archery a Go!
Those are just a few benefits of competitive archery. Cheesman concedes that competition can be nerve-wracking, but part of the fun is learning to control those jitters. She said it’s important to “stay calm, enjoy what you’re doing, and shoot your best.”
Willis agrees. “It’s natural to be nervous at first,” he said. “Be patient, disciplined and focused. Concentrate on the things you can control. Make friends, be supportive and be an ambassador for the sport!”
Ready to give it a go? Visit a nearby archery store to discuss competitive archery opportunities. Retailers can also offer coaching and shooting tips, and provide equipment and a place to practice.
And when you get a chance, read the Archery 360 article “Ready to Compete? Give Indoor Archery a Try.” You’ll find many more tips on how to get started, including what to wear, what to expect, what equipment to try, and which tournaments you’ll find nearby.