Archery – What’s the Point?
It isn’t a widely popular sport. It isn’t even a widely known sport. Although with movies like Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, and Brave, there has been a resurgence of interest in archery. For us, I don’t think it was movie inspired, but almost ten years ago my boys got an introduction to archery at a Conservation Center’s summer camp. One of my sons really liked it. And so began my yearly hunt for a regular program and place to learn about and practice archery. Year after year my search came up lacking. Until the end of 2014.
I was late in my research attempts to find an archery outlet as we neared the holidays of 2014 when I discovered that an indoor range would be opening its doors in December and offering beginning instruction classes only thirty minutes away. It wasn’t north of the river like I was hoping, but it was very doable. I was thrilled! So I signed Elijah up for an 8-week beginner course that started right after the new year. He was hooked!
Three classes in he asked to try the Recurve bow. Ah, that’s was he was waiting for. That’s what shooting a bow should feel like. He had found his thing. We continued classes; he continued learning; he practiced with his exercise bands and string at home. We were able to get him a new bow from his great uncle and then a custom-made one by him, too. He was truly enjoying archery.
I began to wonder what we could do with archery – to what end was this pursuit? So I hit the internet and began the arduous process of researching and discovered tournaments. Now, with multiple governing bodies and multiple disciplines within the world of archery, traversing said world has taken diligence and determination to make sense of things, but we have been walking the road of tournament archery for a year and a half now.
Tournament archery is national. Well, it’s international, too, but we haven’t made it to that, yet. And once Elijah discovered that it’s an Olympic sport, he had a goal – the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. That is quite the goal – Olympic hopeful. And the odds are definitely NOT in his favor. The men’s team is a maximum of three. Yes, three men to represent the US in archery. And that’s IF we as a country win all three slots. It’s confusing and I’m glad it’s not right now. Right now we are training and trying to figure out this shooting outside thing and all the tweaks and nuances of equipment and form.
Oh, and he’s graduated to an Olympic recurve. As the name suggests, it’s the type of bow shot in the Olympics. He’s decked out with stabilizers and a clicker and a sight. Nothing fancy. No magnification with that sight, just an aperture. And, of course, like all teenagers he has had a year of growing and changing, from height to draw-length to braces to hair. Okay, his hair doesn’t effect his shooting, but it has seriously grown. All those other changes have also created changes in his form and shot, which he continues to work through.
Okay, so after all this, what’s the point? Tournament, of course, but to what end? Why commit so much time, effort, and resources to travel around the country to shoot arrows at a target? Why do it to throw a ball around a field or court or swim in a pool or tumble on a mat or skate on a rink? What’s the point? This is the point:
- Because it fuels a passion
- Because it’s teaching focus and commitment and determination
- Because it’s teaching how to handle and deal with stress and anxiety; strengthening mental resolve
- Because it’s a social outlet with others with the same interest
- Because it’s, hopefully, drawing us closer to the Lord and our reliance on Him for, well, everything.
That’s a pretty big point. And it could lead to scholarships for college, a job instructing new archers, continued good posture and overall physical fitness (because, yes, shooting a bow takes good posture and physical fitness). What I’ve learned is that pursuing archery has more benefits than the ability to shoot straight, it’s character building. And I am far more interested in building my son’s character in positive and strong ways than I am in his shooting, but I will nurture and support his shooting to do so.
So, we’ve been training and preparing, and outdoor season is in full swing. We are getting ready to kick off two months of steady travel and tournaments. We got our feet wet in Arizona in April, but now we’re off to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri (twice), Iowa, and Texas. It’s daunting, but it’s also exciting. Here’s to supporting #ArcheryDreams #Discover!
How can you help support Elijah’s #ArcheryDreams? Pray. That’s the biggest way. Here are some additional ways of supporting his endeavors financially. Thank you.