There’s a great place out there with no deadlines, no ringing phones and – best of all –no stress. It’s not an unchartered island or remote wilderness area. In fact, it’s much closer than you think. It’s your nearest outdoor archery range.
Getting outdoors is good for you, and we have the science to prove it. In the 1980s Japan began studying the positive effects of spending time in nature. This research helped inspire a practice called “Shinrin-yoku,” which translates to “forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere.” Forest bathers simply walk into a woods, forest or other natural setting and take in the sights, smells, sounds and experiences.
Several other scientific studies have since investigated the effects of forest bathing, and documented astonishing health benefits by simply spending time in the woods. The health benefits include lower stress, improved memory, fewer negative thoughts, and profound revitalized feelings.
If you’re feeling stressed and distracted, and constantly suffering symptoms of stress like losing your keys or misplacing your wallet, maybe you’re just another American who’s spending too much time indoors. A survey in 2001 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found Americans only spend 7 percent of their time outdoors. If that’s you, how can you find ways to unplug and get your family outside? It’s time to try archery.
Archery offers similar health benefits to forest bathing, but provides further benefits like exercise, coordination, improved focus and self-confidence. If you want to combine the therapeutic benefits of archery and forest bathing, try 3-D archery, field archery and stump shooting. Imagine combining a leisurely hike and shooting a bow. That’s the essence of those three formats. Each has its unique qualities, but all three involve nature walks with a bow and arrow.
3-D archery takes you on a hike along a wooded course that leads you to life-size animal targets. And just as no two hiking trails are the same, no two 3-D shots are the same. Each target, setting and distance is different, which makes for a fun adventure.
Field archery is much like 3-D archery except you shoot paper bull’s-eye targets and hike along a wooded course that’s laid out much like a golf course. Field courses also feature different shooting stations that vary by the archer’s age, equipment and skill level. Target sizes also vary depending on the shooting distance.
Although 3-D and field archery lead archers along a pre-set course, stump shooting is just the opposite. Your imagination tells you where to go and what to shoot. In stump shooting, you walk through the woods, or even your backyard, and shoot at logs, old stumps and tufts of grass. The only rules you must follow are archery’s standard safety guidelines, which make stump shooting a more random, freewheeling experience. Check local laws and your state wildlife agency’s policies to determine the legality of stump shooting on private and public lands.
No matter which archery discipline you choose, you’ll have yet another way to have fun while relaxing and recharging in nature. That’s what happens when you’re smiling with pleasure as stress rolls off your shoulders with every shot.