Archery has always played an important role in our history. Archery figures prominently in our epics – Ramayana & Mahabharata, it has played an important role in warfare from time immemorial. Archery is an Olympic sport and India has produced many top players in the sport – from Limba Ram to Deepika Kumari. Archery is an excellent hobby that enables kids to develop their concentration, team-building skills; and adults to improve their physical health, stamina. It works as an excellent stress buster in today’s busy life.
Why then, do we not know many people around us learning/practicing archery? I guess it’s the lack of exposure to the sport & (perhaps) lack of training facilities. So, I decided to visit an Archery Academy (Vill Archery Academy, Anna Nagar, Chennai, India) and talk to its founder/coach Mr. Vasu.
He said, archery is an art of propelling the arrows.
I asked him what motivates people to take up archery training and he told me that students take it up as a sport that provides an opportunity to compete from School/District level to the Olympics. If participants compete at the national level, they become eligible for admissions to Colleges/Universities under the sports quota.
But unlike other sports, archery is not restricted to school/college students. I saw a Doctor and a Professional working in a Bank (among others) learning archery in his academy. For working professionals, it can be an excellent hobby during weekends. It also enables them to relive their childhood dreams, including the possibility of winning an Olympic medal!
It seems, there are two types of Archery – Target Archery & Field Archery. Target archery is based on sport with well defined targets and venue, but Field archery is based on hunting. In field archery, there is no defined venue, distance or target – this makes it more interesting and challenging. While Olympics is based on the former, field archery – though at an initial level in India – has competitions conducted regularly, across the world.
O.K., how much does it cost? He suggests that students/professionals can first attend the familiarization course offered by his institute (where all the required will be provided by the academy – 16 sessions, Rs. 5000 approx) that offers training in archery basics. This enables them to determine if they want to take up archery over the long-term and try out different types bows/arrows. Competitions are conducted separately for each type of bow – so, selecting the right bow, initially, is very important.
The re-curve bow (starting from Rs. 15,000 along with kit/accessories) seems to be the most popular type of bow because it is allowed in Olympics & popular in International competitions. But there are also bows made of wood (starting from Rs. 7,500 and made in India) that are allowed in national-level competitions. Special Compound bows (starting from Rs. 50,000) are semi-mechanized and have cams (like pulleys) to hold the bow in a particular (stretched) position to improve accuracy, speed & reduce pressure – these are very expensive and currently not so popular in India. There are also entry-level practice bows for students (that cost around Rs. 3000), to start with.
Apart from the bow, some arrows (wooden, Aluminium or carbon) are also required for practice. The carbon fiber arrows may cost from around Rs. 500, each. The training facility (with target and coaches) may cost around Rs. 1000 – 1500, a month, depending on the number of sessions.
Clearly, archery is not an inexpensive sport, but which sport played at the professional level, is? Note that archery is one of the few Olympic sports that can be taken up by players of any age and the other, shooting, is far more expensive.
In the Olympics selection, archers have to shoot at targets placed at 30m, 50m, 70m & 90m distances and for the finals, they have to shoot from 70m distance.
So, how many of you will bet that I will win an Olympic medal if I start practicing archery from now? 😛