Picking up and bow and shooting a thin and noble arrow at 150 mph might not seem like a relaxing activity that encourages introspection. Yet, those who are immersed in the practice of archery have long touted benefits like achieving inner peace, coping with life’s challenges, and reducing anxiety, to name a few.
For many hobbyists and professional archers, archery is meditative in nature. Requiring patience and precision, mindfulness is an integral part of the sport. In fact, it is the same sort of mindfulness that is typically used during meditation. The practice itself serves as a metaphor that is easily applied to the ups and downs of life.
Keep reading to learn how archery can be used as a metaphor for life.
It Helps You Find Your Place in the World
It is important to most people to seek out those with whom they have things in common. Whether that is a similarity in religious convictions, working in the same company or industry, or playing the same sport, it is basic human nature to want to feel supported. Similarly, you must find your fit when choosing a bow. Many people will pick up and use the first bow they see; however, a mindful person can learn something important during the selection process.
From longbows to compound bows, recurves, and more, everyone will prefer something different and this can be likened to different people valuing different things. To pick up and use a bow without trying others is like trying to become friends with random individuals instead of seeking out people you have things in common with.
In order to be happy, people must be active participants in their lives and not settle for a poor fit—whether it comes to one’s personal life, professional life, or a sport like archery. Much like people conversing with many individuals on the first day of school or work to try and find friends, beginning archers will experiment with different bow styles and draws (amount of pressure it takes to pull back on the bow). Undertaking archery, like life, entails continually trying to figure out what works best for us.
It Is Difficult, but Gets Easier over Time
Life often serves up surprises and can be difficult at times. Similarly, learning archery is not easy and will continuously surprise you with new lessons as you progress. The good news is, difficult situations in both life and archery become easier to deal with the more you learn.
The very first draw on a bow, even at 20 pounds, will leave your arms shaking and feeling overstressed. But after a bit of trial and error, the difficulty of the draw lessens. Once you get more attuned to pulling back the bow, you’ll begin to find new clarity in your struggle to line up to the target. Similarly, your life path will become clearer—and your aim will become better—the more experience you have.
It Requires Constant Practice
To some, the bow is symbolic of the struggle of life. Bows are difficult to use at first and never really become easier to use. You just adapt to the difficulty as your proficiency increases. Archery presents many struggles, but through goal setting, you can slowly progress in your practice and learn to master it, just like in life.
As you continue to develop your ability to breathe slowly and tolerate the struggle, so too will your aim become more precise. This is akin to mindfulness in life and not disengaging from situations that challenge you. This newfound peace will allow you to achieve new milestones even in the face of setbacks.
It Develops Patience and Clarity of Purpose
Once you begin to aim your arrow towards the target with more ease, you’ll find a new respect for the sport as well as yourself. That is the importance of patience and the critical skill of acting at the right time. This is especially true in bow hunting when you can wait for many days for one slim chance at achieving your goal.
Yet, when the time comes, you must not hesitate. Instead, you must set aside your emotions and act quickly to obtain success. This is similar to life, as well. As you grow older, you will find that patience and finding the correct time to act or speak is critically important. Thinking and listening first are crucial before taking action, but once the right moment arrives, it is important to be decisive.
It Is Important to Learn from Your Mistakes
Given the precision required to be a successful archer, you’ll inevitability miss or fail to meet your expectations sometimes. While that may be disheartening, you’ll learn the importance of analyzing those mistakes and learning from them to achieve your goals the next time around. Just like in life, you’ll make mistakes every once in a while, but you can learn and become stronger as a result.