I’ve been doing archery for about two years now, I think. I like it a lot, and I’m pretty good at it. But I’ve noticed that even something as fun as archery has a few down sides.
Here is a list of pros and cons of becoming an archer.
Pro 1: Better posture.
If you’re doing it right, you’re supposed to use your back muscles to pull back the string. Back muscles are much bigger than shoulder muscles and can take a lot more strain. I’ve found that after a few hours of archery, my back muscles stay tight and I stand up a lot straighter.
Con 1: Tension headaches
The down side of using your back muscles to pull back the string is that your back muscles stay tight all the time. This has a tendency to lead to pain that crawls up my spine and tries to strangle my brain. Tension headaches bite.
I had a tension headache the other night that felt more like a severe migraine and lasted until two hours after I tried to go to bed. I felt like someone had stuck an ax into the back of my head and was hammering on it.
Pro 2: Increased finger strength
This is true especially for those of us who do the type of archery I do: recurve (or traditional) archery. Most archers who use compound bows also use a release that means all of the weight of the string is on their wrists. However, people like me hold all of the weight on three of our fingers. Which has the effect of beefing up our fingers.
Have you ever had to carry a lot of groceries and it felt like your fingers were about to fall off? I don’t really have that issue. My fingers (at least on the right hand) are used to dealing with worse.
The only down side to this is that the ring that wear on my right hand is getting a tad tight. Well, not the only down side…
Con 2: Dead nerves in fingers
One possible side effect of putting a lot of pressure on one very small spot, like a string on a finger, is that you might hurt the nerves. A few months into my archery career, I realized that my protective finger glove was far too thin. I thought that I was just getting used to the pain on my fingers (and on in particular), but turns out no.
The tip of my finger had just gone numb.
I was a little alarmed when I first noticed, but when I called up my dad (who is also an archer), he just shrugged and said, “Yeah, that happens.” It took a few months, but after I got better finger protection, the feeling did return in my finger.
Side note: Do you have any idea how hard it is to type when you can’t feel the tip of your finger? It’s not easy.
Pro 3: Increased zombie apocalypse survival chances
Let’s be honest, most of us wouldn’t make it ten minutes in a zombie apocalypse. But I feel like we archers have a little better shot (archery pun. I am not ashamed). At the very least, we can hit the zombies from a distance.
And arrows are reusable, too. Unlike bullets.
Con 3: Mostly an utterly useless skill in normal life (if you don’t hunt)
I mean, it’s cool that I can hit dead center of a target many yards away, but that’s not something that’s going come in handy most of the time. I’m not a hunter, personally, so I can’t even use my archery skills for that. I’ve got this awesome skill that I use mostly just for fun and stress relief.
Pro 4: Really cool fictional characters who share my hobby
Whether it’s Katniss from Hunger Games, Susan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Legolas from Lord of the Ring, everyone loves the archers. They’re always the coolest member of any fictional universe.
Con 4: Undying annoyance at fictional archery mistakes
It is a general life principle that once you know how to do something, it becomes hard to watch stupid actors attempt to do that thing on a screen. Sometimes the production company pays for the actors to actually learn to shoot. Sometimes the actor can figure it out.
Most of the time, watching actors try to pretend they’re shooting anything just makes me laugh or rage. Take this example from one of the Hunger Games movies:
First off, her left arm is so hyper-extended that it is a miracle that she doesn’t have forty bruises on the inside of it. Then, I have to ask where is the anchor point??? She’s holding her drawing hand in MID AIR.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble Hunger Games fans, but she’s hitting nothing. Except by pure luck.
Archery is a ton of fun, most of the time. But, like anything, it comes with a few down sides. Not enough to make me want to stop doing it, but plenty enough to inspire a humorous blog post.
Bonus: Please enjoy this feature that my university’s sports show did with me.