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The Benefits of Archery for Seniors

Today I was reading an older post I wrote called "You are Never Too Old to try a New Sport" and decided that I should elaborate on the topic of Archery Practice for Seniors.

I currently offer a 10% Seniors Discounts to everyone over the age of 65 when signing up for archery lessons, but I have also routinely had 1 or more promotional discounts per year in an effort to get more seniors outside and doing archery.

In the past I have discovered I really enjoy teaching older people the sport of archery, and when you really enjoy doing something you tend to want to chase that feeling again and again - hence why I routinely actively look for archery students in the older age brackets.

Seniors have a number of benefits when it comes to taking up archery as a sport.

A. They have more flexible schedules and can practice more often, often continuing to do archery after they finish taking lessons with me. A number of my past students are now regulars at the archery range, and it is always a pleasure seeing them again and again.

B. They're patient and willing to put in the time needed. Like any activity where the phrase "Practice Makes Perfect" truly matters, archery is one of those sports that require time and patience. Seniors in my experience are abundantly patient.

C. Seniors are very social and archery is a social sport. When not shooting, archers have a tendency to talk amongst themselves. Having good social skills is not a necessity obviously, but seniors I have encountered while teaching archery are typically quite talkative, and being a talkative person myself I enjoy the conversations about the history of archery as a sport / hunting practice / recreational activity. Thus on a social level, that is an advantage. (In contrast anti-social people tend to not enjoy archery as much, end up quitting after awhile, and their archery equipment ends up collecting dust in a closet or basement.)

As a sport archery provides a lot of positive things for seniors as well.

The Benefits of Archery for Seniors

#1. Exercise that combines walking with upper body strength.

Archery is easy on the knees as it only requires small amounts of walking to fetch arrows. There is a fair amount of standing involved, but archery can also be done while seated on a stool or even while seated in a wheelchair. This allows people with a broad range of mobility concerns to still be able to exercise and have fun.

Because the muscle work for archery is mostly for the arms, shoulders and upper back it is very beneficial for building stronger muscles, similar to a weightlifting workout - but nowhere near as boring as weightlifting.

#2. Archery sharpens the memory and observational skill centres of the brain.

Sports like archery have been proven to help reverse or alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia and similar ailments. In the case of archery, the sport is very form oriented and shares similarities to yoga and Tai Chi. Having "good archery form" is a mostly a memory issue, and as archery students progress their memory-based actions start to become habits as muscle memory takes over. The regular mental stimulation of the brain exercises those parts of the brain, allowing the brain to become more robust and resistant to a variety of ailments.

#3. Archery is a very relaxing sport.

While it does take some upper back muscle to do, once people get the hang of it the sport is quite relaxing. It is very low stress and the worst thing that can happen is that you break or lose an arrow. You can take your time at it, there is no rush and it is indeed encouraged that people take their time perfecting a shot as opposed to rushing and performing shots at a frantic pace, as that only leads to sloppy inaccuracy.

#4. Good for your posture.

Walking in general is good for your posture, but archery also encourages a person to stand up straight and pay attention to the quality of their posture while shooting. The quality of a person's posture effects the quality of their accuracy, and learning "good archery form" will often feel like a lecture on good posture.

#5. Fresh air is always good for you.

See my past post on The Benefits of Fresh Air.

#6. Stronger bones.

Walking and weight lifting exercises (archery is effectively a muscle endurance exercise) also help to build up bone density, which gives you stronger bones which are more resistant to damage. My brother-in-law recently broke his hip while rollerblading in Vancouver, and he is only in his 30s, which makes you realize how easily people can break bones.

#7. Archery has a long list mental, physical and social benefits.

For a more complete list of all the benefits of archery read "Archery, huh, yeah, what is it good for?"

Note - You may have noticed that all photos shown here are of older male archers. Sadly, archery is not very popular with female seniors, a fact I find disheartening. I have taught a few older female archers, and I certainly would like to teach more of them, but they are certainly a rarity.

Individuals interested in archery lessons in Toronto are encouraged to contact me. If you are over the age of 65 please let me know and I am more than happy to give you the 10% discount. (The discount is on top of the regular discount for purchasing 3 or more lessons. So for example 3 weekday lessons is discounted to $170, so if you are a senior the total would be $153 instead.)

Happy shooting!

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