Picture this, a century far far away, in a little town called Ajax, a reltively inactive girl of 17 who needs to take phys ed in order to graduate. Thankfully, Grade 12 phys ed is all elective so every 2 weeks you switch activities. Perfect! She tries a bunch of activities – horseback riding, bowling, curling and archery.
Fast forward 30 years. Who dis? New century, same girl only now significaltly closer to 50 than 20. She has, over the years gone horseback riding, participated in a bowling league, but has always wanted to explore the world of archery.
You guessed it, that’s me! I moved to Kingston, Ontario at the age of 47 during the heart of the pandemic. Needless to say, starting over in a new city is difficult at the best of times so I decided as soon as it was possible, I would continue my journey of being active with the goal of eventually finding what fit meant for me and my round body.
Google to the rescue: Kingston Archery Lessons. BINGO! Sign me up! I signed up for the newsletter and finally it came – lessons are open!
Cue the rash of Hunger Game references. I told each and every person, no! My interest started when Jennifer Lawrence was still in diapers. I wanted to be the next Geena Davis ( a beautiful, strong woman who in addition to being a phenomenal actor, also was an Olympic Level archer.)
My first of six weeks of 1 hour lessons was on Saturday March 12. There were 2 instructors, 4 men, 5 children and me. I was beyond excited. First step was to determine which eye was dominant so we knew if we shot left or right handed. Point your finger at something across the room. Then look at that spot with one eye. Then the other. Whichever eye kept your finger pointing at the spot is your dominant eye.
Go ahead, try it! I’ll wait!……so then we were assigned a bow (a revcurve bow – best for beginners). We chose an arm protector (so that we didn’t get string burn if the string hit our arms after releasing the arrow) and we were taught that there are 10 steps in archery.. Each week we covered 2 steps and the final class was the tournament!
Here are the steps
Stance – place your legs shoulder width apart and facing straight (perpendicular to your target)
Nocking the Arrow – put the arrow in the bow and attach it to the string (each arrow has a divet in it to put the string into)
Setting the Drawing Hand – ensure your fingers are above and below the arrow, do not touch it!
Setting the Bow Hand and Bow Arm – your bow hand should be at a 45 degree angle and not holding onto the bow for dear life. Hold your arm at shoulder height, straight out.
Predraw and Drawing the Bow – draw the bow back towards your face
Anchor – your nose should be touching the string and your thumb is touching just under your jaw
Holding and Aiming – generally aim below where you want to hit, hold it there for 5 seconds
Release – ka POW!
Follow Through – keep your stance, don’t move the bow
Relaxing–Do your best Taylor Swift impression and shake it off!
It sounds way more complex than it is. Once you learn the muscle memory, it’s quite simple.
I found archery to be a fantastic sport that is as much mental as it is physical. It takes a great deal of hand eye coordination and the absolute rush of power when you release the arrow is phenomenal! It’s a fantastic sport that does not require a ton of athleticism but is still active as you really use your core and back/shoulder muscles.
There are several kinds of bows – the recurve is best for beginners, the longbow (it’s very tall – like over 5 ft tall), the compound bow and the crossbow., As one progresses in their experience, one can try the other kinds of bows and it very much depends on your environment and what you’re shooting at.
My experience at the beginner class was amazing! I am already signed up for the intermediate and can’t wait to shoot some more! I very likely will invest in my own bow and arrows. A search on the Archery Canada website will take you to archery supply stores. You can also check out your provincial associations, tournaments and general information about archery.
As a non athletic person who likes to be active and is working towards her fit, I can’t recommend archery enough. It’s incredibly empowering and a truly enjoyable sport!
Bio: Kirsten (aka Kiki) is a woman approaching 50 who has struggled with exercise her entire life. She lives in Kingston with her 2 cats and occasionally a Shar Pei named Giselle. She is currently taking archery lessons and hopes to start curling again this year. Kirsten is also an active participant in a virtual distance challenge and is currently walking from Cairo to the Pyramids at Giza.