If you are seeking a different kind of adventure where you get to keep your feet on the ground and shoot at things without the need for gunpowder, archery could be your cure. It has a ton of history and is also an Olympic sport.
What couldn’t be cooler than competing for a medal by firing little sticks at a target without having to throw them? Here’s a look at what makes archery so much fun.
1 – It’s Been Around Longer Than The Hunger Games
Sure, archery tends to be the default method of hunting for food in such forums as ‘reality’ TV and several slick, over-produced video games. It has nothing to do with product placement and likely far more to do with the ongoing national outcry about the harm that can come from guns.
You never hear about the disgruntled ex-employee bursting into a local McDonald’s and taking hostages with a bow and arrow. That’s because no one would take the assailant seriously.
However, archery is old-school and as effective as firearms minus the registration hurdles. Don’t let television or the arcade make it out to be more than it is. Archery is sport and accurate.
2 – Somebody Get Guinness On The Phone
Back in the olden days, which would actually be somewhere in the Middle Ages (we’re not talking about your Uncle Tom going through a midlife crisis here, either), a skilled long-bowman was the Energizer Bunny of his day.
A truly skilled master of the bow could fire um, release somewhere between 10 and 12 arrows in the span of 60-seconds. That equates to one arrow every 5 or 6 seconds. It took far longer than 60-seconds to explain that point to you.
In other words, if you were good at this ‘sport’ back then, you typically got to the head of the line during battle. The downside was when cannons were invented, and hot oil dumped from fortress walls.
3 – Sooner Or Later This Was Going To Happen
The Kingdom of Bhutan has declared archery as their national sport. We’re not sure, but we suspect that most of the hunting and poaching activity in that tiny country probably involves a few arrows here and there.
The point we are trying to make here is that in some places on Earth the more prepared you are for the unexpected, the better off you are. For example, if your airline won’t let you pack your crossbow as carry-on, you could always argue that you are off to a sporting event somewhere like the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Even if you have to fake a destination, you’ll earn respect from all on board when you use words like quiver and shaft feathers.
Year Number of Archers in the US 2006 7M 2007 6M 2008 6M 2009 6M 2010 6M 2011 7M 2012 8M 2013 8M 2014 8M 2015 8M 2016 8M 2017 8M
4 – The Terms Associated With Archer Are Fun To Say And Some Sound Naughty
Okay, we’ve already dropped a couple of hints your way (quiver and shaft feathers), but there is no getting away from the fact that some of the terms used in archery are far too fun to say.
Sure, they serve a grander purpose in the sport, but fitting some into your normal conversation can be equally challenging and silly fun. That is especially true if you are referencing wand shooting, index fletching, a fistmele or merely looking for head.
No one said it wasn’t going to be dull, this bow and arrow game called archery. However, if you ever find the need to speak in code and your draw partner doesn’t speak Morse, you could fake your way through with these terms.
5 – It’s Far Less Romantic Than Robin Hood Made It Out To Be
There are other reasons why Robin Hood had a gang of merry men. It wasn’t always because of the grog, either. With this in mind, in Robin’s day, the skill of archery often meant the difference between you eating well for the next few hours or not. It also had a lot to do with your actual life expectancy.
Hey, just like there are common hunting accidents with firearms when someone gets a little twitchy in the present, there were a lot more twitchy people wandering the woods with weapons that could do as much harm and looked harmless.
We’re looking at you, the early developments of archery. Which, by the way, is where the term hair trigger came from.
6 – Be Thankful You Don’t Live In Great Britain
Yup, you read that correctly. The Brits take archery quite serious. So much so that at various times in that country’s history monarchs would place bans on other sporting activities.
For example, football, bowling, and golf tended to be the targets – pun intended – of these bans. Any idea what the purpose of these bans was? If you said it was to curb gambling, you would be wrong. If you said, it was to eliminate male-bonding opportunities you’d be wrong again.
Apparently, men had a lot of spare time when they weren’t out fending for themselves, and instead of practicing archery, some would play football for fun. Royalty did not agree.
7 – And You Thought Evening Curfews Were Archaic
There was a time, not that long ago when everyone had to be home and indoors at a certain time each night. It was the law, and it sucked. But it forced families to spend time together long before IMs and Messenger programs were invented for the same basic reason.
Well, it was back in the day of King Henry VIII (you and I know him as Henry The Eighth). It was during his time on the throne (not that one) when it was also the law that each and every male in his kingdom had to put in so much time after church on Sundays with their bows and arrows to improve their archery skills.
This contributed to the breakdown of the family unit around the dinner table.
8 – Arrow Catch For Some Reason Never Really Caught On
Long before the Frisbee, one form of youth entertainment was with bows, arrows, and gloves. Children would select a ‘shooter’ from their group, put a blindfold on that person and the rest of them would form a line about 20-feet away.
Each of these players was designated ‘catchers,’ and all wore gloves similar to those worn in contemporary times by football wide receivers. One designated ‘catcher’ would count down to 1 from 5 and the ‘shooter’ would use that person’s voice to help select their target.
You can pretty much guess the rest and imagine why the sport never really caught on outside of prison walls. Nor has it been the topic of a movie.
9 – Cartoon Physics Don’t Help Matters Any
The best thing about archery is that if you get good at it, you’ll get attention. Not so much with the babes, but you will likely get invited on safaris and hunting expeditions to show off your skills.
If you think that what you see in the cartoons about archery is even remotely accurate, you are most definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time. That being said, you may also be able to teach others that an arrow can slice through an apple and doesn’t have to be sitting atop someone’s head to prove that.
Archery is not a cheap game nor is it something for someone who cannot respect the power in which an arrow can possess. Those buggers can sting.
The Bottom Line
If you are seeking a sport that is more exciting than Bocce but far less complicated than hang gliding, archery could be the right fit for you.
With proper instruction, respect for the skills and if you can refrain from laughing at some of the terms like upshot, wood, and shaft, you may be on your way to an Olympic career or a really interesting time in the wilderness with hunters paying you obscene amounts of money to see you nail some unsuspecting wildlife.
Hey, someone’s gotta eat, and the fittest ones in the jungle are usually the ones at the top of the food chain. You don’t even have to be adventurous to find something you like about archery.
If you are one of those meticulous types that are really into details and perfection, archery could help you to enhance that quirky trait. At the very least, you may end up better at darts than the rest of your drinking buddies, and that’s got to account for something.
Archery is not just about poking holes in things with sharp points. Nor is it focused on becoming a weapon for use instead of hand to hand combat. Archery is beautiful, artistic and expensive.
But it is well worth the time and effort if your goal is to take up a sport that hones a skill you didn’t know you had and would like to explore further. Archery can help you hit your targets at all time.
Archery trick shots that you can try
1. Floating target
If you think you’ve mastered the art of archery that requires simply standing at one spot and shooting at a fixed target, then the floating target is something that will pose a bigger challenge for you.
As the name suggests, the floating target shot requires you to shoot at a target that is constantly moving in ping-pong or pendulum-like motion. To make a floating target, you can simply hang a target down from a horizontal rod and give it a nudge to make it move to and fro.
You can also take someone’s help in keeping the target moving so that you don’t have to run to the target to put it in motion constantly.
2. Flying target
The flying target trick shot is even more difficult than the floating target shot. In the floating target shot, the archer could take his time in letting his eyes get used to the swinging motion of the target. However, in a flying target shot, the archer is required to shoot at a target that comes flying from his side and will vanish within 2-3 seconds.
The flying target trick shot can be arranged with the help of an accomplice who can shoot fireballs or simply throw discs from the side as the archer himself stands ready to take aim and shoot down the ball or disc as soon as it enters his field of vision.
3. Popping balloons
The popping balloons shot is something that we frequently spot in carnivals and fairs. The only difference is that instead of using a gun to take aim at the balloons, you will instead aim to pop the balloons by shooting through a bow and arrow.
You can simply stick on the balloons to an existing target and color code them for the points you earn for popping every individual balloon. Alternatively, you can just take any rectangular or circular piece of wood and use it for this trick shot to stick balloons on.
4. Shooting apples off heads
This is one trick shot that you must have seen in at least one western themed movie. It is considered to be one of the most badass archery trick shots as you are literally putting someone’s life at stake through this shot.
However, you need not to be as dramatic as they show in the movies as there is no objection to simply using a dummy in the place of a real person on whose head you can place an apple. This way you won’t have to worry about accidentally killing a person even if your aim does go a little awry.
5. Cutting the rope
The smaller the target, the more difficult the shot becomes. If you are tired of shooting at standard targets, you can try this trick shot in which you have to shoot an arrow so as to cut a rope. To prepare for this target, you can hang any object from a thin rope or thread.
In fact, you can even use the same target that you used for the floating target trick shot. The aim is to pierce the thin thread with your arrow so that the thread is cut and the object hanging from it falls to the ground.
6. Blow out the candle
Have you ever considered shooting at a target as tiny as a candle’s wick that burns when you put a match to it? The blowing out candle with an arrow shot is one of the best and most difficult archery trick shots, probably because of the tiny size of the target.
It is also a shot that involves a fair bit of fire hazard as there is always a chance that the candle may topple over and cause some surrounding infrastructure to be set on fire. For this reason, it is necessary to ensure that you have a couple of fire extinguishers handy before you try out this archery trick shot.
7. Underwater bottle
When you are shooting at something that is below the surface of the water, you require a completely different kind of technique as the water’s surface dispenses light differently and plays tricks on the eye regarding the target’s actual location.
You can try placing a bottle or alternatively a bowling pin on the surface of a swimming pool which you can then target through your bow and arrow by standing just beside the surface of the pool and peering through the water to take aim.
One thing to ensure here is that the bottle should be heavy enough to stay under water. So, if you are thinking of using a plastic bottle, it will probably not work out.
8. Split the arrow
This is another famous archery trick shot that has also been used in some movies for a dramatic effect or to showcase the high level of skill the archer possesses. What you do in this shot is first to shoot an arrow on the target and then shoot a second arrow that is so perfectly timed that it splits the first arrow down the middle to strike the target at the exact same point that the first arrow had hit it.
Practically, this shot cannot be practiced in this way as it would only result in a lot of damaged arrows. Therefore, a better way of taking this trick shot is to design a hollow cylinder that is just about the same dimensions as an arrow shaft and pin it to the center of the target board. Your aim would then be to shoot in such a way that you arrow enters the cylindrical tube and pierces the target.
9. Shooting from a moving vehicle
You’ve probably seen movies where archers from two armies ride on horseback and take aim at their opponents. Well, this trick shot requires much the same technique.
There are two variants of this shot. However, both the variants require the archer to be riding a moving vehicle such as an open jeep where he can stand and take shots.
The first variant is where the target is simply kept alongside the track where the jeep is running. This is far easier than the second variant in which the target can be put up in trees or at a much farther distance from the vehicle’s track to make it more difficult for the archer.
10. Shooting the Piñata
Not considered to be a particularly difficult shot or one requiring a high skill level, it is nevertheless a pretty fun archery trick shot that is especially great for parties and get-togethers.
If you are putting together a piñata shooting activity for a kids’ party, you can build a piñata and stuff it with candies and glitter so that when you shoot it, it will burst to spray candies on the kids.
Another version of this archery trick shot is to fill balls or balloons with food coloring and corn starch so that when you shoot them, they burst to produce colorful explosions.
We recommend you to ask someone to record your shots in slow motion as the extent of imagery in these shots can really be quite extraordinary.