Archery is About Building Relationships
By CTB, Contributor
I'm a pretty lucky guy, because I have a father who I would describe as a "wise old man." (He'd be happy to hear me describe him as "wise," and probably not so happy to hear me describe him as "old.") He's always said, "Life is about relationships," and I think that's true. Whether it's the relationships with your family, your relationships with friends, or your relationship with yourself, life is about relationships. They're the best thing about life—not money, excitement, prestige, nor gain of any kind. Because if you don't have solid relationships, what good are those things anyway?
That's what this post is about. How archery can be a great way to strengthen the relationships you have, or build new ones. I don't think I've seen any posts on the internet about archery as a means to bring people together, but for me, that's what it is.
A Family Affair
There's no stronger love than a parent's love for his/her child... even when that child is driving you up a wall.
If you're a parent and you want a way to connect with your kids—ARCHERY. Seriously! Kids *love* it. From younger kids to teens, there's something about archery that just clicks with them—it may be the required focus, the sense of purpose, and the fact that it can be seen as somewhat dangerous (even though, when practiced properly, it can be very safe)—whatever it is, kids love it, and an afternoon trip to the range can be the perfect memory-building trip for you and your younger kids, and if you've got teens who are good kids but a little "too cool for school," it can be a great "we-may-not-be-talking-but-at-least-we're-still-hanging-out" type of activity.
And, it's not only parents who introduce their children to archery—sometimes it's the other way around! Many kids discover archery at a camp or summer day program, and tell their parents how much fun they've had. If you're a parent and your children express an interest, get involved! First of all, you're going to need to supervise them so they're safe, so there's that. But it's also a fantastic parent/child activity, and one that can build your relationships, and it may spiral into something that you're passionate about on your own.
Lastly—as any hunter knows, a father (or mother) taking sons (or daughters) on a hunting trip is a truly special thing. If you ever wonder why hunting is such an enormous industry (and it truly is—about 6% of the entire U.S. population identifies as a hunter), it's because we went with our parents when we were kids! It's a tradition that's been passed down through families for generations, and that alone makes it important.
Archery is for Lovers
I wrote a little bit about this in my post about whether archery is a good sport for women (summary: it's an awesome sport for women), but I'll repeat it here. The first time my wife came to the archery range, she was a superstar. A real-life superstar! Her form was perfect, and she just *took* to it. Every target that someone put in front of her, she connected to. It was amazing.
This, obviously, made me swell with pride. Archery is obviously pretty important to me, and I was THRILLED that she seemed to be enjoying herself. She's a smart and talented woman, so I'm not surprised that she took to it, but you should have seen her: she was lighting it up. So, needless to say, we go together now!
(And, in my quieter moments, I'll admit... I'm also a little jealous! Or irritated, or something—some sort of feeling I'm having a hard time naming. I had to work hard for my skills, and my wife waltzes in on her first day like a lady Robin Hood! Whatever those feelings are, though, they're minimal compared to the pride I have in her, so I dismiss them whenever I feel them.)
Anyway, the point is, archery is now something we share. We go to the range and practice and get better together. Learn together, challenge each other, and share our successes and disappointments. She's expressed interest in hunting, or at least learning about hunting, so maybe we'll do that someday, too. It's easy for couples—people who love each other deeply—to develop totally different interests, so it's important to find something you both enjoy. For us, archery is one of those things.
Archery Leagues are the New Bowling Leagues
I try to make it a point to get out of the house at least one night a week. My wife is really, really good at keeping in touch with her friends, but I'm not. It's not that I don't care for my friends; it's just that I hate talking on the phone, so I'm not going to call anyone, and I always seem to get too involved at work or at home and plans just never seem to happen. This happened only a little bit when I was in my 20s, but it's happened to me a LOT as I move through my 30s. It's just harder to get out of the house and meet up with people.
Then, finally—I figured out the perfect solution: joining an archery league. That way, I have to go (people are relying on me when we complete against other teams, so I can't wriggle out of it), I don't have to make plans (leagues usually meet the same time, every week), and I don't have to get on the phone (which I wasn't going to do anyway). Not only that, but there are plenty of different archery leagues in my area—there's 3D archery, target archery, and tons of other activities.
I've made some great friends at the range, and I didn't quite expect that. I'm very happy with how it's turned out.
Finally—You're Actually DOING Something When You're at the Range
Archery is an actual ACTIVITY. And yes, that's pretty obvious, so let me explain why I think that's relevant.
Most often, when people want to hang out, they go for drinks or they go out to eat. And that's great, and we do that a LOT, but it's good to get together and actually DO something.
When you and your friends/family go out to the range, you're spending time with your people, developing a new skill, and enjoying yourself in a way that doesn't result in weight gain or hangovers. As somebody who's gained and lost a lot of weight, and gotten and gotten over a whole lot of hangovers, that's a pretty sweet deal.
Plus, it's low impact, so if you've got a friend that's not the fittest person in the world, he/she can join in.
I Thought I'd Throw This Out There
I figured I'd write a post about this, because we, as archers, can talk so extensively about equipment, practice, and so on, that we forget one of the best aspects of an archery practice, and that's the relationships that we form—or strengthen. If you've lost touch with a friend, or want to strengthen a relationship with a loved one, take them to the range!