I took up archery about two years ago when I was looking for both a sport and a social activity, something I thought would make a nice change of scene from spending all day in front of my computer designing and developing websites.
I soon found that for me, as for many others, archery became more than just a relaxing stroll in the sun or most of the time the rain, shooting and then collecting a group of arrows from a target whilst talking to friends. Over time, as my technique improved, and accuracy improved, I noticed unexpected yet positive side effects. A stronger back, shoulders, core, better posture, more energy and even much improved hand-eye coordination in everyday life.
As a keen archer, archery is so much more than bows and arrows. From being able to accomplish a goal, strive for that perfect grouping of arrows, or finally getting that prized trophy you’ve been looking forward to all season. Life teaches us quite a lot, but archery provides excellent direction. Here are five life skills that you may, or may not, have realized archery gives you to succeed in business and in life.
It might sound cheesy but it’s true. Many archers find themselves striving for that one last shot at perfection and hitting the centre of the bullseye, before going home after each training session. We develop this passion over time for the sport and it becomes so ingrained that it spills into other areas of our lives; for example, in our working lives, planning a holiday, decorating the house, and so on. Like with archery, you want to strive for excellence in all that you do. Applying that determination to multiple aspects of your life can greatly increase the chance of success.
2. Time management
Simple, yet very necessary for today’s fast-paced business world. As with a lot of sports, practice time is very precious. You want to spend it wisely and have enough time for it. During competitions, you only have a set time in which to shoot your number arrows. Time management, therefore, is critical. So what does that lead to? Making sure everything else in your life is, to a degree, planned out. You can only get better at archery through practice, but this is also true for other things in life. Like planning a presentation for a client or completing a project on time. All having to deal with time management. Who knew archery could be so helpful?
3. Problem-solving skills
Since every day is slightly different I regularly spend time retuning my bow to ensure that everything is in balance and working perfectly before any training session or tournament. Tinkering, if you will, with the possibilities of what does or doesn’t work. The same is applied to other areas in life. Since archery has very specific problems that are associated with it, you can make even the most difficult of problems become easier with “out of the box” thinking from having to deal with archery problems. The same can be said for all others of work and life. Tinkering where things aren’t working as you expect, that small change can have a huge impact on the end result.
Some of you might be thinking, well I am not just going to pick up a bow start shooting just to develop these skills. I completely agree with you. You don’t have to. It’s ok to not have the greatest patience in the world. No one is perfect. But that is exactly what is happening when you practice archery. Everyone learns that they are not perfect – it takes thousands of arrows and hours of practice to get it right, so patience is a key fundamental piece of archery. The famous quote “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong” is very true here. The same can be said for other areas of your life. Some might take a little longer than others to figure out this revelation, but nevertheless, it happens. After which, a new change starts to emerge. Patience brings about the willingness to improve, ask questions, make those small changes, trust in yourself as well as your teammates. and wanting to help others succeed too.
5. Attention to detail/multitasking
Archery brings us the ability to look at the minute details of the whole shot process. Since there are so many thoughts going on in our minds at the peak of the shot, this is something that can’t be overlooked. Not many sports or activities can provide the same amount of information flow and detail orientation that archery can. You can have 10 things going on at once inside your head and they all have to do with the one action that you are about to take. Shooting an arrow. This can lead to us being able to multitask in several different environments. Some people have to make a checklist of the day’s duties. However, sometimes your archery brain can take over and give you a sense of direction for the day without having the need to write it down. It’s like having a brand new super power!
Archery can have a powerful influence on your day to day activities. Strive for perfection, but also know that archery is fun too. So no matter when you are shooting, remember that you are ingraining new skills for all parts of life.
Finally, archery has taught me when to release the arrow. What good is improved focus if you don’t take the shot? When you have an arrow on the string, fully pulled into position and pointed toward the target, you must shoot when you have the shot. Very often the arrow will wander and move on and off from the bulls-eye while it is in flight. But that shouldn’t stop you. In order to be able to hit the bulls-eye, I had to practice and keep practicing. Over time, that gave me the confidence to take more and more shots. I learned to trust my skills and senses.
As in life it’s important to let the things you can’t control go and not to worry. Once the arrow has left the bow, it’s already in the past and can no longer be changed. It has things to teach us: depending on the end result it encourages us to aim higher, or a little to the left or right for the next shot. But beyond that, it’s gone.
I have missed and still continue to miss my fair share of bullseyes but standing on the firing line, ready to shoot, I steady my breathing, focus and slowly let go of bad thoughts and angry feelings about past arrows that missed, Then I aim a little higher, a little to the left. Then…bullseye!
Rochdale Company of Archers
I am a member of Rochdale Company of Archers if you want to have a go please get in touch.
If you’re interested in taking up archery you can find your nearest club here.