Archery: Mental Focus & Grace

Archery: Mental Focus & Grace January 27, 2014

Images of Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games rekindle fond childhood memories. I find beauty in watching an archer mount their bow and release with balanced form, precision and calm.

Growing up in Canada, I enjoyed many sporting activities. Of all sports, archery influenced me the most. It enhanced mental focus, taught me patience, physical awareness, and emotional control. In many ways, archery prepared me for life.

I believe archery teaches competition within oneself. Joining a team offers great lessons as well. When a child follows safety rules on a shooting range (around 7 yrs old) they show readiness to start a new and enjoyable sport. I encourage Moms and Dads to give it a try. There are no age limits in archery. One’s  first bull’s-eye is exhilarating!

A target consists of  a simple geometric pattern. The rings draw one towards focus. Often, my mind narrows onto an arrow and zones into the bull’s-eye. Scattered thoughts disperse, external conversations and clatter mute, breaths become calm and deep, and the mind focuses on task. Later in life, I realized this training prepared me for intense concentration during academics, deep reflection, meditation, and prayer.

Many sports require adrenaline pumped, aggressive field play with fast, explosive movements. Hearts and minds race, bodies shove, stack, bruise, palms sweat and smack talk prevails. Typically parents train children to go outside and run off energy. While fast play offers great exercise, we often forget to train youngsters  in slow controlled movements. Such training yields great endurance, muscle conditioning, self-discipline, and patience. For me, patience came in learning not to rush. Sports with targets are very fun. However, one quickly learns there are no shortcuts. Archery requires a calm controlled stillness, steady heart rate, dry palms, clear mind, and graceful movements.

Controlling emotions in precision sport is challenging. Frustration often leads to mental distraction and stray arrows. Archery taught me to control my emotions and body form in high pressure competition and difficult life circumstances. I learned to work patiently  through a process.

Successful archery demands posture control. Sadly, many  youngsters and adults have slouched, zombie screen postures. When you draw a bow string, one’s chest expands, shoulders pull back, the spine lengthens, the abdominal core stabilizes and  legs balance strong. Eastern medicine believes that poor posture leads to poor energy flow and a sluggish mind. In Archery, poor alignment yields compromised performance. I learned that good health and posture keep my body in peak performance and my mind efficient.

Accomplishments of any kind, inspire confidence and happiness in all individuals. Offering children  new and challenging experiences adds richness to the growth process.  Perhaps a trip to the nearest archery range will be your next family outing? I hope so.

Each time I pull an arrow from my quiver, I feel an exciting chill run up my spine.

I see depth in the words of the Prophet Muhammad, “Teach your children to swim, shoot archery and ride a horse.” Athletics offer opportunities for physical, social, and spiritual lessons.

Peace to you in health, family fun, and mental focus!

Sharda Mohammed

Sharda Mohammed is a Canadian born mother of two little mountain climbers. She has a keen interest in learning to foster leadership & compassion in young children. She works part time as a physical therapist.

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