Isn’t it fun when something that was old but really good comes back into the mainstream again? So it goes with the sport of archery. The popularity of this old-turned-new-again sport is soaring, thanks to Katniss Everdeen [Jennifer Lawrence] in The Hunger Games, and the spirited little red-head, Merida, in Disney’s Brave.
I remember shooting at the archery range when I was a little towhead attending YMCA summer camp at Camp Evergreen back in the early 1970s, and then again aiming my arrows towards the target for a brief time in 7th or 8th grade gym class, but alas, the sport seemed to disappear, and the only time bows or arrows were ever part of the conversation was during hunting season. But the sport is now new again, and we were thrilled to see it last week while visiting our friends in Huntsville. David and Angela’s son, Neil, had a tournament – in fact, he shoots for the Alabama State Championship team – so happy were we to go observe this resuscitated sport.
Here’s how it worked – at this tourney, at least. Twenty kids at a time did their shooting; two kids per target – one with blue arrows and one with orange so they could be scored individually. Each archer got one practice round which consisted of five arrows, then they shot three more 5-arrow rounds, or “ends” in which their scores were recorded. The first four ends they shot (one practice, then three for points) were from a line that was 10 meters away from the target, then once they were all done from that distance, they moved their quivers back to the 15-meter line, took their practice round to find their aim spot, then proceeded to shoot three more ends for points.
A target has 10 rings to it – 10 points for the smallest ring in the yellow circle; 9 points for the outer ring in the yellow circle; 8 points and 7 points for the two rings in the red… out it went to the edge of the circular target where the last, largest white circle was worth 1 point. As each archer shoots five arrows, a perfect score would be 50 (5 shots all in the 10-point ring) for an end. And each archer shoots three ends from 10 meters, and three ends from 15 meters, so 300 is a perfect score.
The whole flight took around 30 minutes, and when it was over, they called a new flight with more kids who repeated the same sequence. Thursday night’s tournament had five flights, but Angela informed us that other tourneys in which Neil has competed have many more flights and/or more shooters per flight and some kids are still shooting at close to 9 o’clock in the evening!
Neil and his shooting partner did very well, but shooters don’t find out their ranking until a day or two later. Often these tournaments are spread out over two or three nights because the sport is so popular and there are so many kids who now participate in it.
We had lots of fun watching Neil, and are really glad we got to take in the new world of the old sport of archery. Thank you Katniss, Merida, Angela, and Neil!