From the English Longbow to modern Traditional and Olympic Archery.
Many of us never took a lesson, at least until we wanted to advance in archery competitions or improve bow hunting skills. As a kid, my first exposure to bows & arrows was Robin Hood movies and TV shows. So, as with children everywhere, my imagination was sparked and I learned by imitation and trial & error. I made my first bow from a stand of bamboo behind the house, and the arrows were thin bamboo or dowel.
The only informal lesson was my Dad showing me the difference between pinching the arrow, as I had been doing, and going to split-finger shooting. I didn’t shoot a real recurve bow until my early teens when I attended a shooting and hunting Game Fair, where they had an archery booth. Thanks to my prior practice, I was able to hit 5 out of 5 balloons. I was now seriously bitten by the archery bug. Thanks also to the encouragement of the man working the booth, I ended up buying an old Shakespeare bow from him and then saved up to buy three real arrows from the local sporting goods stores.
It wasn’t until a decade later that I began seriously studying bow shooting, bow hunting techniques, and another decade to purchase my first Black Widow recurve. This was followed by informal 3D shooting, plus more recurves and stick bows. Then ultimately, in 2000, a Hoyt Axis and coaching in Olympic target archery.
To wrap this up, for most people, archery is a long journey from imagination, to imitation, to experimentation, to actual study of the craft. But now, with considerable exposure archery has received in movies such as the Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings, there is ready access to organized archery clubs and schools. This makes the journey from novice to a level of proficiency quicker and more satisfying – and there is little more satisfying for an archer than seeing an arrow thunk into the gold rings. So do your kids and teens a favor and enroll them in lessons. Learning the correct form and techniques from the start will make archery more enjoyable and prevents developing a lot of bad habits.