Famous archers in history and fiction have always caught my imagination.

Was he real? The Robin Hood myth is so much fun for so many reasons.

Roger Ascham (1515 - 1568) was real enough, teaching archery to both Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. Toxophilus is the oldest book written on archery that can still be read today.

A creation of J.R.R. Tolkien, Legolas may be the first archer that springs to mind for adventurous boys (and twittering tweenie girls).

Hidesato may have been a real person, a tenth-century samurai that served under Emperor Suzaku, but did his bow really require five men to string it, and did he really sink a five foot arrow to the fletches in the head of a giant centipede that carried a flaming torch in each claw? Nasu no Yoichi, said to be the greatest Minamoto archer (which is a pretty good compliment in a family famous for producing archers), might have been a real warrior as well, but did the Gods really calm the seas so he could shoot a fan from a woman's hand on a ship out at sea?

Martin Longbow, another fictional character, this time created by Raymond E. Feist, was one of my favourites for a long time. Similar to Yoichi, one of Martin's moments of fame comes when shooting ship to ship in the middle of a storm. Tam al'Thor, Rand's father in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books, is also handy with a longbow, using the concentration trick known as the flame and void. Long live the longbower in fantasy fiction!

Park Sung-Hyun, Korean Olympic archer and world record holder, is (scarily) real - alive and kicking and a shooting machine! I would have called her an invincible shooting machine, only she missed out on the gold medal this time, so she must be human after all.

Is your favourite archer missing from this list? Drop me a line on the contact page.


schools the mind as well as the muscles.

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.

home   |   writing   |   archery   |   animal doctor   | contact
copyright (c) 2008 thoraiyadyer.com. all rights reserved.