Archery likely isn’t at the top of your list for engaging programs, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. As a unique recreation experience that teaches students different skills, the art of the bow and arrow is being offered at many campus rec centers around the country.
In fact, archery has been steadily rising in popularity since 2012, according to Caren Sawyer, the executive director for Easton Foundations, an organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the viability of archery. “Archery awareness increased overall with the release of The Hunger Games series in 2012, which was the same year the U.S. men’s archery team won silver in the 2012 Summer Olympics,” she said.
With archery more frequently being a weapon of choice for many characters in mainstream media — Hawkeye in The Avengers, Merida in Brave and the Green Arrow in Arrow, for example — many educational institutions have brought the activity back to prominence.
“There has been an increase in archery programs at the high school level, which has encouraged future college students to continue to excel at archery in college,” said Sawyer.
There are also many developmental benefits to archery for participants of all ages, aside from the feeling of success you get from hearing the satisfactory “thud” of an arrow hitting its mark.
“Studies have shown archery promotes developmental assets that have been shown to safeguard youth from risk, among other values,” said Sawyer. “Participation in archery also improves leadership skills, adds confidence, fosters respect, and develops honorable and competent adults.”
Archery is also known as being rather relaxing. “Archery is a ‘Zen’ sport,” said Sawyer. “When you’re connected to the bow and arrow, it is almost impossible to worry about anything else. It’s a great way to relieve tension from a long day of school.”
Many colleges already offer archery as a club or intramural sport, but you can also make it an additional activity for students to participate in casually. Giving students the opportunity to learn a new skill can go a long way in their collegiate development.
It can also give them the chance to experience one of the oldest skills still developed across the world. “Archery is more than just an activity,” said Sawyer. “From a historical perspective, it is one of the oldest arts still practiced, it’s part of human culture from hunting to mythology to the arts, and it connects us with our past.”
If you’re looking to add some variety to your rec center’s offerings, it might be time to set up some targets and start handing out bows. You may be surprised how many of your students will enjoy being an archer for an afternoon.