Archery was touted at the recent Beijing Olympics as the oldest sport known to humankind. To me it is not a sport but a discipline. You might ostensibly be competing against others, but as every archer knows deep down you are really only competing against yourself.
I don't head down to the club, unpack my gear and shoot arrows so I can have a laugh and socialise, though that can be relaxing. What's more relaxing, though, is to clear my thoughts of everything but the sequence of motions required. The whole world drops away. Nothing exists except my body, the bow, the arrow, and the distant target. Even the grass in between doesn't exist. My stare is the tangible thing that connects the target to me, holding it in existence, stopping it from vanishing like everything else.
The arrow leaves the quiver. The nock takes the string. I take the string. The bow fits into the webbing between hand and thumb; the bow rises. Breath flows away. My eyes never leave the target. The string touches my nose; my fingers fit under my chin. My shoulderblades come together. I hear a click. The bow falls forward in my hand. I see fletches quivering in the gold. Only then do my arms lower slowly.
When you're in the zone, you can't conceive of bills to be paid or banking to be done. There's no room in your skull for what you said to someone yesterday that you wish you could take back, or whether you remembered to hang out the laundry or feed the cat.
Recurve archery might not be as totally simplified as shooting with a longbow (wooden stick plus string), but there is still an elemental feel that cannot be experienced with the cams (pulleys) and cables of the compound bow.
It's because I can't lose myself in repetition that I'm not as drawn to field archery (stalking around through the bushes) as I am to target archery. It's because I can't guarantee a painless killing shot each time (and, frankly, nobody can guarantee that) that I am opposed to bowhunting.
Find a target archery club near you: FITA is the international archery federation; Archery Australia and Archery NSW also have excellent websites.