By James Murray, Observer contributor
I waited three long days for it to be delivered.
Three days is a long time for a nine-year-old kid to wait for a bow-and-arrow set he’d picked out of the Eaton’s catalogue to be delivered. I was so proud as I ventured outside with bow in hand and my four wooden arrows in a homemade quiver. As I recall, I only had the darned thing a few hours before I managed to snap it in half. It took me the better part of two years to save up enough money to purchase a bow of better quality. That was a long time ago and both those bows are a part of the distant past. However, my interest in archery has always lingered and, over the years, I have owned a variety of bows and all I can say is that each and every time I have nocked an arrow and drawn back the bow string, I have felt both a sense of anticipation and challenge.
Whether your plan is to shoot just for fun or ascend the podium at an archery competition, archery can be both fun and challenging. Archery provides a great upper-body, not to mention a cardio workout, especially at 3-D shoots where participants have to walk from target to target along a course and retrieve their arrows.
Modern archery shoots and/or competitions feature three primary disciplines: target, field and 3-D. Target archery consists of shooting at bull’s-eye style, multi-coloured targets at prescribed distances. Generally, target archers shoot 18 metres (about 20 yards) indoors, and 30 to 90 metres outdoors, depending on the set up. Target archers can compete at local, regional, national and international levels. There are both indoor and outdoor ranges right here in Salmon Arm. (For further information contact: Salmon Arm Archery Club and/or Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club)
Field archery is often shot on a roving course in the woods with paper targets 20 feet to 80 yards away. Participants hike along a defined course and shoot targets at uphill and downhill angles.
At 3-D archery events and tournaments, competitors walk a wooded or open course and shoot at three-dimensional lifelike animal targets at different distances.
An easy way to get a better understanding and feel of each type of discipline is to drop by an event organized by an archery group, or an archery store that also has an indoor shooting range. Most avid archers and/or sales staff are quite willing to answer questions. Once you’ve researched which types of archery you’d like to try, contact an appropriate archery club or organization to help you get started. By joining a club, you can participate in local, regional and nationwide programs at both youth and adult levels that can be either purely recreational or competitive. Clubs quite often offer weekly shoots where new potential members can drop by and try out a hands-on archery experience. Clubs also offer consistent coaching and access to league and tournament shoots and competitions.
When choosing which type of bow to shoot, again it is best to check with local experts who can explain each of the three archery disciplines, as well as provide an opportunity to try out different bows and equipment. In basic terms, your options are the Olympic-style recurve bow, a compound bow and, for traditionalists, a longbow. What bow you choose depends on what feels good to you as an archer and appeals to you as a discipline.
As I said at the beginning, I have had a lifelong interest in archery. And having said that, I regretfully have to also say that I never joined an archery club. Be that as it may, I did recently attend a day-long archery workshop. Boy did I learn a lot. I learned that over the years I have managed to acquire a variety of bad shooting habits. The instructors were more than kind and I am now in the process of correcting those bad habits. There really are huge benefits to learning from someone who is knowledgeable.
In spite of my age and shortcomings, last weekend, when I nocked that first arrow and drew back the bow string, I really did feel both a sense of anticipation and challenge.