By Jackie Holbrook
“I’m too old for that.”
Negative thoughts and intimidation keep people of all ages from trying new hobbies or recreation. Don’t let such fears keep you from falling for a new pastime like archery.
Did superheroes slinging arrows on the big screen spark your interest in archery? Or was it your grandkids shooting bows in the backyard? If you filled out the paperwork for your AARP membership before drawing a bow for the first time, don’t worry about it. You’ll find archery as fun now as you would have in grade school.
Wendy Lainchbury, now 70, started shooting at age 65 because she missed hanging out with her husband Lyall, son Mike, and daughter-in-law Linda. All three are archers. “I realized one Sunday that I always seemed to be sitting at home on my own,” Wendy said in an interview with New Zealand’s Women’s Weekly. “There was no one around because they were all out shooting, so I decided to give it a go.”
Wendy doesn’t just shoot for fun. She became a world-champion archer, and competition is a family affair. The Lainchburys travel the world competing in tournaments. The family also owns an archery shop, Attitude Archery in Auckland, New Zealand. Wendy reports that she’s now more fit than ever, and excels in her sport.
You don’t have to be a world champ to benefit from archery. It provides cardio and strength-training workouts for everyday seniors. Repeatedly drawing a bow and holding it at full draw while aiming builds strength. After shooting each round, you’ll get your daily steps by walking to and from the target to retrieve your arrows. In addition, you can adjust your archery activity to your fitness level.
Don’t start with a draw weight that’s too heavy. Your bow’s draw weight is the amount of force you’ll pull to fire the arrow. The lower the draw weight, the lighter the force you’ll pull and transfer to the bow’s limbs. Ask an expert at an archery shop to tailor the bow to your strength.
Compound bows can be adjusted as you build muscle, so start with a lighter draw weight and increase it over time. Don’t worry about anyone judging your draw weight. No one can know your bow’s draw weight by looking at your bow, and everyone is having too much fun shooting their own bows to even ask.
Archery provides seniors with other benefits, too. It improves focus, posture, memory and hand-eye coordination. And it adapts to anyone. If you have mental or physical limitations, adaptive archery lets you shoot alongside everyone else.
It’s also a social sport. Ask the pros at an archery shop about lessons and leagues, which are great ways to meet new friends while improving your skills. Leagues accommodate all ages and abilities, and many people participate to get out of the house and connect with others.
Who knows? You might end up like Wendy Lainchbury and discover a hidden talent. Archery shops have information about local, state and national tournaments; and most tournaments have a senior division. Your archery pro can help you learn the equipment and tournament regulations.