Updated: Feb 6, 2020
by Cassidy Gillard
Archery is a unique sport in many ways, however what I think is particularly cool about it is that, while in many settings it is a competitive sport, it isn’t reliant on physical strength. At camp, this opens the door for any and every kid to be able to participate and succeed. The mental stamina that learning the sport of archery requires is far superior to the physical aspect of shooting. Of course there are kids who have a hard time focusing and being calm, however the amount of time that is required to be focused, calm and still is so brief that it is the perfect opportunity to practice with just a moment of focus.
School requires so much focus and calm from students and oftentimes, in my personal opinion, it is too much. I think that the ability to move and wiggle and be free from the confines of a classroom is so important, however while being outdoors and being free, practicing sports such as archery offers the chance to practice short moments of calm and focus to really dial in on precision. It’s like learning how to meditate, where you focus on just your breath for as long as you can possibly do it, even if it’s just a minute or two at a time. Over time, the more you practice, the longer that amount of time you are able to focus becomes. I think for campers, the moments of concentration, the intentional breaths, and the building of skill over many trials resembles the practice of meditation.
When shooting a bow being aware of surroundings is imperative to safety. Kids learn to look before they make a decision, and to intentionally keep those around them safe. In order for campers to be safe, they must follow directions and be aware of where the instructor is and be listening for instructions. They learn to listen, to trust, and to be patient. A confident stance is taught in order to align the bow properly and hold it steady. Confidence increases success. When the bow is drawn, the timing must be just right in order for the archer to aim, take a steady breath, and release. Pause, breathe, release.
While our archery program is full of fun and excitement, hidden within are valuable lessons that many children and adults don’t even realize are necessary. Kids are able to take on the responsibility that comes with maintaining a safe environment, feel strong, even if they aren’t using physical strength, and focus for brief moments at a time, building their mental stamina with each arrow they release.