Everyone deserves a passion. Whether it’s an interest in the arts, music or sports, having a hobby enhances one’s life. Hobbies aren’t time wasters. Studies have shown they provide countless benefits, like lowering stress and creating connections. There are millions of options out there. From knitting to kickboxing and magic tricks to model airplanes, there’s an interest for everyone.
Sports provide mental and physical benefits. Many students fall in love with a sport through school programs; 73% of adults who play sports participated when they were younger, according to a study by the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Science Board. But some adults find the sports of their youth harder to play as they age.
“I played high school and college football, but my body at 60 years of age definitely does not want to play football anymore,” said Dr. Tommy Floyd, president of the National Archery in the Schools Program. “However, I can still shoot my bow.”
Floyd is one of millions of people across the globe who shoot archery, one of the safest and oldest sports. It’s also a pastime where age doesn’t matter. Archers from ages 8 to 80 can shoot together.
“It’s incredibly important to remember that archery is something that brings people together, and it can bring them together as families or as groups of friends, almost regardless of age,” Floyd said.
Working at NASP, Floyd deals with archers of all ages. The program has introduced over 21 million students to archery. It has also trained more than 104,000 adult volunteers.
“In a time where it’s so important for families to have activities together, this is something we can do in the backyard, something we can do at the archery range in my community,” Floyd said.
NASP is open to students in grades four through 12. But Floyd said he’s seen much younger kids shoot a bow successfully. For kids, learning to shoot comes during a pivotal developmental moment.
“At that age, you’re making a ton of decisions about who you are, what you’re going to be about, what you’re going to like, what you’re going to dislike. All those things are enhanced when you can find an activity like archery,” he said.
Archery provides youths the opportunity to participate in an individual and team sport. They build confidence, keep up their academics, encourage teammates, learn to deal with pressure and disappointment, and more.
“We’ve got a world full of students that are staring at phones that change every two seconds. Archery requires that they be able to focus,” Floyd said.
Many of NASP’s students go on to introduce family members to archery. From siblings to grandparents, Floyd said, NASP creates archery families. Now that the program has been going on for two decades, former participants are introducing the next generation.
“I think it’s amazing when we have archers that were fourth and fifth graders when we met, who now have children participating in NASP,” he said.
Many of these parents volunteer in the program. Many are also involved in archery in other ways. Competitive archery opportunities don’t end at graduation, which can be the case in other sports. There are numerous opportunities for adults to compete in archery tournaments. There are indoor and outdoor tournaments that vary in style and equipment. Here’s how to find an archery tournament near you.
With archery, you’re never too old to compete. Most tournaments have a senior class for ages 60 and over. Archery also appears in senior-focused games like the National Senior Games Association. Edna Siniff, 86, is the three-time archery champion of the National Senior Games. Siniff didn’t even start archery until age 75, according to her local paper. She told the reporter she took up archery because it’s one of the best exercises for seniors and a social event. She practices multiple times a week at A-1 Archery in Hudson, Wisconsin.
Participating in archery doesn’t have to be competitive. Most archers enjoy it recreationally. You can shoot alone in the backyard or at a local range. Clubs and archery shops are a great way to find an archery community at any age. Leagues are a fun way to improve skills and make friends. Many shops and clubs host fun shoots.
It’s never too early or too late in life to participate in archery. It’s truly a lifelong sport that everyone can enjoy. “It’s a sport that helps the noggin and helps the heart,” Floyd said.
If you’re interested in giving archery a shot, visit an archery shop where experts will be able to provide equipment recommendations and provide lessons.