A Hunger for Archery

This ancient weapon is today's trendy sport

Archery's been around a lot longer than Robin Hood's bragging of splitting an arrow with an arrow or William Tell shooting an apple off his son's head. Pop culture gives the historic sport more wings when movies are released. Errol Flynn (1938) and Kevin Costner (1991) propelled archery into the spotlight when they portrayed Hood on film and now children and teenagers are spellbound by self-assured Katniss Everdeen, the bow-and-arrow shooting heroine of "The Hunger Games."

The bow and arrow was a staple of ancient war and is an integral part of modern day hunting. It's been a summer camp staple for generations and a proud Olympic sport. From standard bulls-eye targets to creative field tournaments, archery combines skill and patience.

Concord's Lucy Morris, a certified archery coach and instructor, teaches kids, families, adults and corporate team building students the primeval art.

"Archery is an extremely safe sport as compared to most sports," she says. Morris sees a lot of families entering into the sport. For adults, she espouses the sport as a sort of meditation.

"Adults can come and learn the sport of archery and dig more deeply into the relaxation and centeredness of learning how to just let go of the string," she says.

Archers employ a variety of gear like traditional long and recurve bows to more complicated compound bows. Horizontal crossbows are also used. Equipment includes arrows, quivers, arm guards and finger tabs.

Some generations may have discovered archery through an influential summer camp counselor while others find it through computer videos and games. Regardless, it's a life-long sport.

Says Morris, "Whatever you do in life, give it your full attention and enjoy the process of learning and growing." Bulls eye.

Expert Advice with Lucy Morris

Concord's Lucy Morris says, "Your dream, our goal." Executive director of the New, England School of Archery and Supplies LLC, she's a qualified Level 4 archery coach, teaching children and adults through park and recreation departments, New Hampshire Fish and Game's Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshops and other venues, including private lessons, team building workshops and instructor training.

How can I get started in archery shooting, and do I have to be strong?
You would want to contact a professional instructor and find out what their background is. Archery is a great sport in which people of all ages can participate in. We use lightweight bows so folks can have a good time learning the archery form correctly and so they don't have to struggle with the poundage of the bow.

What do I need as a beginner?
You need a willingness to learn and a desire to have fun. You want to consider yourself a student and don't need to pace your learning curve with anyone else in the class. You want to remember that with every shot you take, it is gone once the arrow has left your fingers. After each shot refocus on your next shot, not where the arrow just went. It is learning to be more in the moment.

What are the different archery equipment options?
There are a lot of equipment options. When you start you should get a lightweight bow. Then this bow can be used later on for form and training work as you get stronger and you have moved to a heavier bow without injury. A bow that is too small could break when you pull the string back. We work with each one of my students individually on their equipment purchases, to make sure all the equipment fits each archer to their size and needs. You don't have to spend more than $200 or $300 to get started with equipment.

Isn't just shooting at a bulls eye a bit boring after a bit?
We have different kinds of targets that we put up that are fun, interesting and challenging so that we can teach different skill sets in a fun manner. Our students are amazed that they can shoot at a rope and hit it in their second class with us. In our intermediate classes our students may create their own targets and work as team leaders in shooting teams to solve the archery puzzles and challenges. We also shoot at balloons that are tacked onto the target.

If I'm interested in bow hunting, how can I get started?
If you are interested in bow hunting, I would recommend taking an archery class and get very good at shooting. Start with lightweight bows, and go to the gym and work out to build up your core muscles so you can safely increase the weight on your bow quickly. You only have one chance to kill an animal and not wound the animal. You would want to contact NH Fish and Game to find out when the hunter safety class is being offered.

Interesting Fact

Surveys say 9 million people in the US take part in archery annually with more than 60 percent under age 35.

Gear Box

Entry level archery isn't all that expensive. The PSE Razorback Recurve Bow ($104.99) gets high marks for both new youth and adult archers for its ease of use (lighter draw weight).

Heralded by youth development clubs, the Gold Tip Youth Lightening Arrow is known to be reliable and durable (12/$39.99).

The Bear Archery Target Arm Guard ($7) offers some comfort during target practice.

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