Archery is more than just a hobby and a sport. Its benefits begin before you step on the shooting lane and extend far beyond the target. From the physical to the mental benefits, archery can make a difference in many aspects of your life. Learn more about these benefits below.
1. Archery Can Improve Your Focus
Archery requires a high level of focus in order to properly execute a shot. The archer needs to clear their mind and think of nothing but the shot process and the target as they draw their bow. This level of focus doesn’t happen overnight; it takes practice and repetition to be comfortable enough with your form that you can relax your mind and not think about the details. Being able to quiet your mind and focus on the target will help you focus during other everyday tasks.
Once you start practicing archery, you might find that you can more easily focus at work or more easily concentrate on a book. Of course, it will be different for everyone, but the techniques you use during your archery practice can translate into daily life.
2. Archery Can Improve Your Mental Health
With an increased level of focus, you might start noticing a positive difference in your mental health. Archery is a form of meditation. You must completely quiet your mind and focus on only one thing, which is the same technique used in active meditation. For this reason, archery has been noted to help improve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Knowing how to control and quiet your mind can help you deal with different emotions and situations more effectively. When you’re feeling particularly stressed, emptying your mind and zeroing in on something in the room or a single thought can help clear your mind, just as you clear your mind as you focus on the target.
Practicing yoga can also help you prepare to practice archery. Throughout your yoga routines, you’ll stretch your muscles and practice balancing and resisting against your own body weight. You’ll also keep a calm mind throughout the practice, all of which will help you on the line.
3. Archery Can Improve Your Upper Body Strength
Like yoga, archery will help build and tone your upper body muscles. Though archery might look as though it requires a set of strong arm muscles, your muscles don’t necessarily have to be “strong” to draw the bow. Rather, they need to be stable enough to hold whatever draw weight your bow is set to. The draw weight indicates how many pounds the archer is holding while at full draw, the pounds of pressure placed on the bow. You should be able to comfortably hold the weight without shaking or excessive pressure/pain on your muscles. Archers compete with bows set at varying draw weights; there’s no one standard weight. For example, at any given competition an archer pulling a bow at a 25-pound draw weight could be competing right next to an archer pulling 50 pounds. It’s not about how much weight you can draw, it’s about whether your muscles and mind are stable enough to hold the weight at full draw.
We recently spoke to Dr. Preston Ward, a doctor of physical therapy, founder and owner of MTN Physio LLC and medical contact for Team USA archery, about the muscles used in archery. He recommends that archers practice exercises that focus on the posterior rotator cuff and all of its individual muscles: the infraspinatus, teres minor and supraspinatus, as well as the upper back, including rhomboids and the serratus anterior.
4. Archery Can Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
A natural and correct assumption about archery is that it can help improve your hand-eye coordination. Where your arrow lands on the target is largely determined by whether your hands can correctly aim at the target based on what your eyes are seeing at the other end of the sight. It’s all about the connection between your eyes and your hands. Practicing and repeating the motion and the process will help improve this connection over time.
5. Archery Burns Calories
Archery is also beneficial to your overall health by burning calories. Archers burn about 100-150 calories every 30 minutes by simply drawing the bow back. If you’re practicing or competing at an outdoor range or walking a 3D course, the number of calories you burn increases with every trip up and back from the target and every foot traveled on the 3D course. Archery works your upper body muscles and allows for cardiovascular exercise, a great example of a full-body workout.
Whether you’re seeing archery’s physical benefits, mental benefits or both, we’re confident archery can make a difference in at least one aspect of your health. Some doctors in France go so far as to prescribe archery as part of their treatment plan for patients. So, there you have it: Archery is participant tested, doctor approved.
Visit your local archery range to start your journey.