Does archery involve developing muscle?

No, correct archery technique involves using as little muscle as possible. There are some basic and fine tuned muscles that have to be developed, but the overall goal is to use the skeletal frame as much as is possible, to control the bow. Bones don’t get tired or suffer from nerves in competition, whereas muscles do tire and begin to quiver. The overall feeling of the shot should be relaxed and controlled. This is difficult to master because at the point of highest tension (full draw) the archer must be at his or her most relaxed. A relaxed shot feeling is easier to reproduce more consistently than a tense shot.

What is the most important thing for a newcomer to learn?

One of the most important things to learn is how a good shot feels. We cannot say that a shot was good just because it hit the centre of the target if the archer had no notion of how or why it did so. Our goal is to have all arrows hitting the centre and this only comes when we know what a good shot feels like. An archery shot is perhaps best compared with a golf swing, only after thousands of shots can one begin to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.

Is it important to have a ‘good eye’ for archery?

Vision is only a small part of what is actually taking place during a shot sequence. You can stare all you want at the target but it is ultimately what you do with your body on the shooting line, that affects the outcome at the target.

Is there a genetic type that is better suited to archery?

No. Archery is suitable for all. When we look at top international archers we see that they range in all shapes, ages, sizes and abilities. It is particularly suited to wheelchair athletes. It is the one sport where they compete and often win against ‘able bodied’ archers.

Is fitness important for archery?

For a club shooter a basic level of what we term ‘bow fitness’ is necessary. For safety reasons alone the person should be able to control the bow. Studies have shown that, for top archers at major international events, a day of competitive shooting is the equivalent to running a marathon! So at this level, fitness is of the utmost importance. Due to the high number of arrows and the duration of events, archery is essentially an endurance sport. So even basic levels of fitness will give a competitive edge. Correct nutrition is also important over the course of a days shooting. Sugar highs and lows will adversely affect mental and physical performance. Archery is the art of repetition and it all comes down to consistency, so it is important to remain on an ‘even keel’ throughout the day with no sugar rushes to interfere with the scoring performance.