MERIDEN – Archery is a sport that goes back thousands of years and has grown popular in the last decade.
Hitting the target requires more than just physical ability. It’s also a mental sport, according to Dominic Pereyo, senior program director at the Boys and Girls Club of Meriden.
Here are 5 things to know about the activity from Pereyo, who recently taught a summer archery class at Cuno Camp.Health benefits
Muscles in the arms and shoulders are used the most during archery. Triceps and biceps come into play as well as core muscles. Pereyo said the sport works most of the upper body, especially the upper back near the shoulders.
Archery is also a mental exercise. Pereyo said unlike soccer, which he previously coached, archery does not involve running around to get the adrenaline pumping and to make participants feel better and more confident. Instead, archers need to work their way through the sport mentally. Equipment
The basic pieces are the bow, arrows and the target. Finger guards and arm guards are also used. There are three different types of bows an archer can use: the compound bow, which is primarily used for hunting; the long bow, which is a straight piece of wood used by old English archers; and the recurve bow, which is the style used primarily by the Boys and Girls Club and camp.
The bows range from a 15-pound draw, which is the easiest to pull, to 50 pound draws for Olympic archers. Targets vary from the classic bullseye style to 3-D targets featuring foam figures like turkeys.Skills
Skills needed to hit the target include strength and awareness, according to Pereyo. Archers need to build up enough strength to pull back and release the arrow.
Samantha Cicio, a camper, said it is easier now to pull back on the bow since picking up archery four years ago. Her friend Ashley Case agreed, and said she started last year with a 15-pound bow and made her way up to a 20-pound bow for more accurate shots.
Campers Dominic Oliveri and Eli Dineen said archery helps them with their other activities outside of camp and school, like track and field and basketball.
A big part of archery is the follow through. Pereyo said it is important to stay still after releasing the arrow. He said younger kids tend to want to see where the arrow goes right away and end up moving their bow down too quickly, changing the direction of the arrow.Safety
Pereyo said archers need to always make sure the bow is pointed at the target while loading the arrow, as it is easy to accidentally fire. Archers also need to be aware and make sure the range is clear before firing and before going to retrieve the arrows. Pereyo said it is also important to watch out for anyone standing close by while pulling arrows out of the targets.
Proper positioning to pull back the draw is also imperative to avoid any muscle injuries.Popularity
According to Pereyo, who first started teaching archery in 1995, the biggest surge in popularity came in 2012 when the blockbuster franchise “The Hunger Games” first hit theaters with its protagonist using a bow and arrow. Pereyo said the Olympics were that same year, which developed more interest in the sport. Pereyo said a lot of bows were on back order due to the high demand.
About 60 kids participate in the winter archery league in Meriden with a group in the summer. A few kids have gone on to join a junior Olympic club in the past few years.
More information can be found at https://www.bgcmeriden.org/Content/Archery.asp or by calling 203-235-8185