In our society, 50 might be the new 40, or maybe even 30. Either way, age does not dictate rules or expectations. You can wear what you want, eat what you want, and play whatever sports you want, including archery.
So, stop right there if you’re thinking, “There’s no way I could shoot an arrow. I’m not as strong as those TV and movie characters.” There’s no such thing as “not strong enough” for archery. You don’t have to be superhero-good. You just need the strength to try.
The easiest way to get started is to visit your local archery shop. They can introduce you to area leagues and clubs, and help you decide which type of archery – compound, recurve or traditional – best fits your interests. They’ll also help you choose a bow that fits your body.
A bow’s draw weight is the amount the archer must pull back to shoot the arrow. Draw weights are tailored to each archer, so you can shoot a bow that’s comfortable for you. The higher the draw weight, the more upper body strength that’s needed to pull the bow to full draw. The lower the draw weight, the lighter the resistance, easier the pull and less muscle that’s required. Even so, the skill and concentration remain the same. When stepping onto an archery range, your perceived limitations – not your age or strength – are the only factors that can keep you from succeeding.
Archery is rich in fun and health benefits. It can be as therapeutic and beneficial to your concentration as yoga. Archery uses your full range of upper-body muscles, including the latissimus dorsei, the muscle that works when rowing. Keeping your mind sharp is important at any age, and archery is a great way to retain and improve your focus.
If you’re interested in competition, Missouri hosts the Missouri State Senior Games for archers 50 and older. This competition features multiple events, much like the Olympics. But unlike the Olympics – which allows recurve bows only – competitors can compete with any bow they choose, from compound to recurve to longbow.
The National Senior Games Association promotes healthy living for athletes over 50, and it’s the world’s biggest multi-sport competition for those 50 and older. As part of the United States Olympic Committee, its prospective competitors must qualify for the Games in their home state before moving on to the big show.
“In most sports, the top four finishers in each age group qualify for Nationals, as well as those who meet the minimum performance standards,” the NSGA website states. These standards are an overall score that athletes must achieve.
No matter where athletes finish, they can also qualify in the sports with minimum performance standards by meeting or exceeding the standards for their age division at the state level. Archers can only compete in one of the archery styles, however.
“I like to check myself, physically, against men my age,” one competitor said in the video below. These events let healthy individuals maintain their sports passions on a competitive level.
Although the Games are labeled “senior,” the competitors are typically fit, healthy and ready to dominate their sport. There is no maximum age, either. As long as you’re physically capable, get out there, try new things, and keep doing the things you love. Archery might just help you discover a strength you didn’t know you had.
Archery is also a great way to meet people with similar interests. After all, learning from peers can be just as valuable as classroom or formal training, which is why archers often strike up conversations with others in their age bracket. Even if you’re not interested in competing and just want shoot archery for recreation, find your local archery range and give it a try. You might meet some interesting people.