Aim for health with archery

You might have heard the tale of William Tell, who proved his archery skills by shooting an apple off his son's head with an arrow.

For William, you could say archery was a family affair. While these days we might have different ideas about how best to use a bow and arrow, archery still has something for everyone.

"Archery is a family sport. Some people get into it because their kids take it up, and vice versa," says Barry Eley, performance manager of Great Britain's archery team.

"It's a sport where people of all ages and abilities can line up together and take part. That's one of its big attractions.

"That said, some people take up archery because they have had to stop doing other sports through injury or age, when they found, like me, that they couldn't keep up with the youngsters on the football pitch any more."

Archery is one of 36 Olympic sports. It was part of the Games from 1900 to 1920, and has been a regular feature since 1972.

An ancient art

Records trace the first bow and arrow back as far as 50,000 BC. It was traditionally used for hunting, but is now a popular sporting contest.

For every Olympian or Paralympian, there are thousands of archers who take up the sport for fun. For novices, Barry advises enrolling on a beginners' course at a club registered with Archery GB, the sport's governing body.

“Apart from learning archery, safety and etiquette are also important, and our coaches guide all beginners on these issues," he says.

Health benefits

Archery works your upper body strength, balance and co-ordination, which are beneficial to your general health.

At competition level, archers walk the equivalent of five miles (8km), pulling heavy loads, during a day’s event.

“Many clubs boast about the age of their members and their fitness levels,” says Barry. “But be careful before you start doing archery regularly. To shoot any bow you need to have muscle strength in the upper and lower body.

“Ignoring general fitness and not keeping your muscles toned can lead to injuries around the shoulder and collar joints. Incorrect shooting technique can lead to wrist and finger joints and ligaments becoming inflamed and sore.”

An archer's equipment includes a bow, arrows, a chest guard and a finger guard. Costs start at around £60.

“If you do a beginners' course, the club will ensure you get exactly what you need,” says Barry. “All equipment should fit the archer’s size and strength.”

The rules and etiquette of archery keep it safe, which is why they're such an important part of archery training. “Everyone in the sport has to abide by the rules,” says Barry.

“My best tip is to enjoy yourself, and be considerate of your fellow club members. You'll make lots of friends, and you'll find everyone is helpful."

Try something new: archery

Adam tries out archery as a fun, social outdoor hobby that adds some exercise to your lifestyle, whatever your age.

Media last reviewed: 02/07/2013

Next review due: 02/07/2015

Page last reviewed: 01/07/2013

Next review due: 01/07/2015

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Media last reviewed: 10/09/2013

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