Archery

Cindi Buhr of Hickman participates in an archery class at a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop near Halsey.

NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC

So many of our favorite characters in movies, television and books have been archers, bringing a new popularity to archery. Many people see archery as a fun hobby, but there is much more to this sport.

Archery is an ideal activity that can keep you fit and healthy. Although most see it as more of a stationary sport, it requires a significant amount of endurance, strength and focus. Here are a few health benefits that anyone can gain by participating in archery.

Strength: This benefit is probably the most obvious. Have you ever tried drawing back a bow? If you are not used to it, it can be difficult. Simply by drawing a bow back you use muscles of the legs, core and upper body. These are not necessarily the same muscles you work out at the gym. I have seen buff bodybuilders struggle to pull back a medium-poundage bow. It takes some serious strength.

Coordination: There are so many details that all work together while shooting archery. You need to place your feet, nock your arrow, grip the bow, push the bow away while pulling the string, find your anchor, aim, and release. Most of these steps only take seconds to complete, but each one can affect your shot. There are many things happening at one time that your muscle memory and routine needs to become subconscious.

Self-development: Your greatest competition is with yourself. Archery can be a team sport, but most importantly, you are competing against yourself. You know where you excel, and you know where you need work. By practicing, you gain confidence and develop your skills on your own.

Exercise: Besides the strength it takes to draw back your bow, you can expect to do a lot of walking, either out in the field or while target practicing. In competitions, archers can walk up to five miles just moving from target to target and retrieving their arrows. In addition, the action of drawing back a bow burns about 140 calories per half-hour. This would be the same as walking at a brisk pace, around 3.5 mph.

Relaxation: Being new to archery, I never would have thought how relaxing and stress-relieving it would be. Releasing an arrow, watching it fly, and hearing the “thwack” as it hits the target (one of my favorite sounds). When you are doing something you love and you are learning to focus, and building strength and confidence, how could it not relieve stress?

Archery requires focus, control, physical ability and determination. Top competitors train for hours at a time, but even on a recreational level, it has huge benefits. Archery gets you active, burning calories, and can even put you in a better state of mind.

Monica Macoubrie is a wildlife education assistant with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact her at monica.macoubrie@nebraska.gov.

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