A reaction I often run into when I say “I do competitive archery” is one of surprise, followed by interest. To the average person, I would imagine archers aren’t common to come by, even with the increased popularity of the sport over the past few years. But to me, a member of multiple archery clubs, and the Ontario Archery Association, meeting fellow archers isn’t a rare event. This article isn’t going to be about how archery changed my life, or how I firmly believe everyone should at least try shooting a bow and arrow sometime other than summer camp. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to explain the real benefit of archery: the community.
One of my less busy practices
Unlike other sports, we don’t usually have the traditional “team” when it comes to archery. Sure, we gather in groups (a little bit like a small cult) and shoot together, but the closest version of team competition we have is when we add our individual scores together. So, in short, while someone may say they are on an archery “team”, they truly just want to sound cool. Archery is most definitely a solo venture, which has its positives and negatives. A negative is that when you mess up, you can’t blame anyone else. It’s only you on the shooting line, and it’s only you who will be controlling where the pointed stick stuck to a string stuck to an even larger stick will go. In a way, it’s also a positive as you can always change yourself to do better. A good archer will know this, which is why many of the top archers think of archery as a mental sport rather than a physical sport. In reality, it should never really be qualified as a physically active sport as there is minimal movement. If you think otherwise, stop lying to yourself (however, to be fair it does take immense upper body strength at high levels of competition). Without explanation, this would make archery seem like a very lonely, sad sport. But you’re only alone when you are on the shooting line.
If you’ve ever watched an archery tournament, you probably weren’t actually watching, but busying yourself with some other item of exceedingly more interest than the competition itself. Look, I wouldn’t blame you, even I find archery to be boring after a while. If you had actually watched the competition, you would have observed that the majority of a day-long competition would be archers not shooting. Ironic, right? Sure is! We often spend the majority of a tournament waiting for other archers to finish their shots, or if everyone is done shooting, collecting our arrows. And while we only have three minutes to shoot three arrows, those three minutes add up, making tournaments last entire days. With the time not shooting, it gives us archers a good time to talk amongst each other. I’ve met some of my best friends during tournaments. We often make a point of going to as many tournaments as we can, because we don’t get to see each other any other way. It’s often the same crowd at every competition, and over time, you get to know people. Archery has no borders; people come from all across Canada to compete in the Ontario provincial championships. It lets you make national connections, something I’ve never experienced in any other sport.
I hope by now I’ve shown how while archery is a solo sport, it is extremely social. It’s a huge part of my life; archery has enveloped me in a small, personal community. I don’t think you’ll find such tight relationships between athletes in any other sport, and in my opinion, that is what makes archery stand out from the countless other competitive sports.
A bow, and in the distance, my target