By Taylor Walston
Most people struggle to disrupt their daily routines, even for activities that benefit their mental and physical health. Archery, however, adds health benefits for a wide range of issues. Doctors in France, for instance, even prescribe archery to some patients. By practicing at least 30 minutes daily, archers calm their mind and engage their body to boost their overall well-being.
Archery practice makes you set aside time to do nothing but focus on a target. When you’re drawing your bow, everything else fades into the background. All that matters is your fingers on the bowstring and your eye on the 10-ring. Archery can be just as calming as yoga, because it balances body and mind.
Archery also burns calories and strengthens a wide range of muscles. In fact, archers burn about 100 to 150 calories every 30 minutes by drawing the bow. Those calorie burns increase by walking to the target to retrieve arrows and with each mile traversed over the course of a 3D tournament.
Strong muscles also boost energy levels and increase blood flow, which improves overall health and well-being. Archery even eases arthritis pain for some people through consistent practice and muscle memory. In addition, it improves hand-eye coordination, which benefits anyone needing that practice.
For mental health, archery provides active meditation, which can improve your mood, and ease anxiety and depression. Because archery requires focus, archers with post-traumatic stress disorder often find relief by practicing. It quiets the mind and helps them focus on something they can control.
If you have an at-home range, follow your practice routine as much as possible. It’s hard to take time to shoot if you’re homeschooling your kids, but dedicate as much time to archery as your schedule allows. Even 30minutes of active, consistent shooting gives you a mental break and tunes your muscles. Make sure you stretch your muscles before and after shooting, especially if you’re not shooting as much as you typically do. If you don’t stretch properly, your muscles could stiffen and fail to warm properly when you resume shooting more regularly.
If you lack the room or capabilities to set up a backyard target, practice other exercises that engage your “archery muscles.” Resistance bands help work your triceps, biceps and quadriceps. Also do planks or yoga for a full-body workout.
Fortunately, you can practice indoors or outdoors, making now a great time to connect with nature. If possible, try stump-shooting in a wooded area. Stump-shooting means spending time in nature, and shooting judo-tipped arrows at rotting logs or tree stumps as you sneak along. A woodlot’s silence offers a meditative environment. If you’re practicing on public land, make sure you know and follow your state’s guidelines.
Archery offers powerful exercise for your mind and body, toning your muscles and sharpening your mental acuity. You’ll experience mental clarity almost immediately as you aim. Grab your bow, get into the zone, and practice as often as possible to reap its benefits.
If you’re interested in trying archery, check in with an archery range to order or pick up equipment.