There are many sports that people can perform when they are young and strong, but they lose the ability as age reduces capabilities like strength, speed, and short recovery time. However, lifetime sports are those that are not affected very much by age and can be performed over most of one’s life. Archery is one of those activities. Regardless of gender, age, most physical conditions and strength levels, archery can be practiced. Further, most people have no issue with the sport, so it can be practiced just about anywhere without conflict, as long as there is a range to safely shoot and hit targets. So if you’ve ever considered to try a new sport, archery may just be the option to pick up. Here are ten lessons that will make the effort worthwhile and enjoyable.
Start Your Learning with an Experienced Teacher
It’s not a hard concept to place an arrow on a bow, notch the end, pull back and launch it at something. The same can probably be said for golf. However, there’s a huge difference between just shooting an arrow and shooting with skill and grace. So starting off, the best step to take is to learn the sport’s basics from an expert. This will ensure that training is practiced correctly and injuries are avoided. Finding a professional coach or mentor can be done by joining a local archery club or hiring a coach. Both can provide instruction on the basics, allowing for a good foundation in archery before progressing further.
Rent Equipment First, Then Buy
Some folks get caught up buying the latest, best equipment for a sport when starting out. While the sports stores sure appreciate the sales and revenue, it doesn’t do much for learning archery or any new sport, for that matter. In fact, it could contribute to frustration when things don’t work out well at first, and then a person gets upset about how much money was spent.
Instead, beginners in archery are better off renting equipment at first. This reduces the startup cost considerably, and a person can decide later on whether to commit more after trying archery out for a while. This approach often works better as people don’t feel obligated to have to like a sport; instead, they adapt to archery without pressure.
Master the Basics
If you are truly interested in archery after a lesson, then mastering the basics are critical. There is a process to perfecting a basic archery shot which include subtle technique, finesse and precision. When a person can consistently master a shot with archery basics, then he has a strong base for enhanced performance as well as knowing how to avoid getting hurt.
Get in Shape
Like any sport, a person performs the activity better when they are in shape, both mentally and physically. Being fit allows a person to handle stress as well as perform technique without errors due to weakness or faltering. Proper archery fitness includes both cardiovascular development as well as strength-training, so both areas should be followed. An emphasis on upper body strength will provide direct results to archery as well, so pushups, stomach area, chest strength and back muscles should all be worked on. That said, other areas can’t be ignored. Muscle tears and strains often occur when one muscle group is developed but a connected part is still weak.
Before having a chance to compete in the Olympics, a top level archer has already put in a minimum of four years of concentrated training just to make his country’s team. So no one should expect perfection in 72 hours of practicing. Those who stay on track with their training and stay disciplined will see results over time, including placement in competitions, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
When your expertise starts to build, it’s then time to invest in good equipment. Having dedicated bows and arrows makes a huge difference in performance once the basics are understood and refined. Unfortunately, the best equipment is often expensive, so obtaining the right products can take time on a budget. Even with lesser quality equipment, using the right size is critical. A bow too big can trigger injuries that are preventable.
Practice, Practice and Practice
Many believe any sport that one wants to be competitive at requires at least 10,000 hours of direct training and practice before a mastery level can be achieved. If you figure mathematically there’s only 8,544 hours in a calendar year, that’s a lot of time spent notching and shooting arrows. Practice alone, however, doesn’t cause improvement. So testing at competitions on a regular basis is required as well. With an effort to improve in contests, practices should concentrate on steps to get better for the next competition.
Track Results and Status
Don’t rely on your memory to track progress and how your archery develops. Instead, keep a journal on your progress. This can include simple statistics as well as notes and insights on technique, experiences, equipment, impressions and differences in performance due to internal or external factors. Capturing all this information and reviewing it regularly can help refine your performance by focusing on those things that need change to cause an improvement. Tracking also helps visualize progress with real, objective data versus anecdotal feelings.
It’s Not All Work
You’re going to get bored of archery and anything else real quick if it’s not fun. So work hard but enjoy the sport as well. Taking everything too seriously can cause a person to get extremely frustrated as well as emotional. Instead, taking things in stride and breathing deeply once in a while can allow a person to have a more relaxed attitude towards archery.
Learn to Listen to Exhaustion
When your body is tired, it will give off clear signals in the form of fatigue. This can also be signaled with a loss of energy, hunger, thirst, or an inability to focus. All of these signs are messages that the body needs a break and rest. There’s no question that practice and performance tends to be far better when a body is rested and replenished, so listening to fatigue is critical to avoiding injuries and frustration. Over-training or trying to “gain through pain” often just leads to repetitive injuries like tendonitis and strained muscles. It’s not worth the training delays and recovery costs if you are seriously hurt.
The above ten lessons are not geared towards the well-experienced archer, but they will definitely serve a person well who’s beginning and looking to take the sport seriously. If done right, a person can enjoy archery for decades, long after other sports go by the wayside due to age and time.