Sport is all around us from an early age. Toddlers are given balls to kick around or hit, and the sporty people among us tend to naturally gravitate towards the obvious sports that dominate the mainstream. Some sports, however, remain resolutely outside of the mainstream – but that should not lessen their appeal. Archery is one such sport, and there are a number of reasons why archery is such a terrific sport for kids to get into.
From an early age we tend to give ourselves labels, with little room for grey areas. Our children are either sporty or not sporty. There’s no nuance. For those labelled ‘unsporty’, it is usually a tag that sticks. We can’t all be into the same things and there’s nothing wrong with not being particularly into sports – but it can be problematic, with inactivity and resultant obesity a growing problem.
The chaotic nature of many team sports simply do not appeal to some youngsters, which is where solo pursuits like archery can be such a boon. Here’s a rundown on why archery is such a great sport for kids to get involved in:
- Focus and goal-setting – in archery, you are literally hitting targets. Or at least trying to. That sporting challenge can play a massive role in improving your child’s focus and concentration
- It’s physical activity – it might not be the most physical of sports, but you’ll still get plenty of exercise, walking to retrieve your arrows and the repetitive nature of shooting will improve upper body strength as well as posture
- Coping with pressure – like it or not, life is full of pressures and archery provides a really good environment in which to learn how to deal with pressure. Archery is about accuracy and control, and the better you become at it, the more pressure you’ll put on yourself to improve and keep hitting those good shots
- Sociability – while it’s very much a solo sport, it’s also extremely inclusive and is one of the best sports around when it comes to taking part together as a family. Archery clubs provide famously welcoming environments
- Inclusivity – arguably the sport’s greatest asset is its inclusivity. Anyone can play and compete together: old, young, disabled or able-bodied. And the pathways to the very top of the sport are pretty much wide open – if you’re good enough, you could well find yourself competing for your country. The sky is the limit
- Get outdoors – while archery is a year-round sport and played both indoors and out, for much of the year it provides a great chance to get your kids off the sofa, away from their screens and spending time outdoors
- Patience – in a world where everything is increasingly on-demand and immediate, it’s good to teach our kids that patience is a virtue. Archery has a serenity about it that few other sports can boast – and the patience needed while waiting for the right moment to release the bow, coupled with waiting for others to shoot, can prove beneficial to your child
Another key benefit is mindfulness. Back in March 2017, we spoke to a Mum suffering with depression and anxiety, whose only release from the unrelenting demands of parenting had been browsing social media. Her account of how archery had helped her was revelatory:
It (social media) was no kind of release at all, wasting time scrolling through things I wasn’t really interested in. I had deleted all my social media apps when a friend suggested I went with her to her local archery club, but I told her I had no interest in sport and haven’t done since I used to ‘forget’ my PE kit and find other extravagant ways of getting out of PE, which I found intimidating and absolutely hated. But I was talked into going along and I found archery was brilliant. I loved it straight away – it was just me, my bow, my arrow and a target. It emptied my mind completely and was such a great way to switch off – and not only switch off but immerse myself in something else. I quickly became addicted to the thrill of bettering my own personal bests and literally hitting targets. It’s a great sport – and this is from someone who would ordinarily claim to hate sport. It’s got me out of the rut I was in and enthused by something I would never have considered. Much of my anxiety and depression has lifted and I can honestly attribute a great deal of that to getting off my backside and into archery.
Archery isn’t on everyone’s radar. We know that. It receives precious little mainstream coverage, despite growing hugely over the last decade. Other similar sports – such as clay pigeon shooting – are similarly on the fringes but offer the same sort of positive environment in which children can learn, compete and play sport… even if you / they think they’re supposed to be ‘not sporty’.
You can find your nearest archery club here. Give it a go – you may be surprised.
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