Back again, with another perspective on how comics and other genre media can support your love of archery. Today’s response to my archery-comics crossover survey comes from enthusiast Laura! Find out more about this series of mini-interviews, and get involved, here. Can you relate to Laura’s journey?
Tell us about yourself. Are you currently an active archer? When did you first take up a bow? If you’ve stopped for any reason, why is that?
My Name is Laura! I’m an animation student in The Duncan of Jordanstone college in Dundee and have been shooting in my university archery club for two years. I first tried archery when I was 14 and went to a summer camp, though I didn’t properly take up the sport until I joined university.
What sort of a bow do you use? Why did you choose it?
I actually haven’t had the chance to buy my own bow yet though I’m aiming to do so at some point this year. Right now I use one of the university club bows – a 26 pound Barebow named War, because we got it in a group of 4 and named them all after the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse – possibly a bit cliché but I like it! I’ve tried using sights* but just prefer trying to aim without one. I don’t know why but maybe the added challenge in aiming makes it more enjoyable for me.
*A sight is an attachment to the bow which allows fine calibration of one’s aiming
When did you first fall in love with the idea of archery?
I’m not sure if it’s related to art/animation but I’ve always been proud when someone told me I had a good eye for things or good aim, so when I first tried archery at a summer camp and managed to win a couple of lollipops for bursting the balloons on the target, I just found it really satisfying and loved the challenge of it. I didn’t really continue archery further after that until I came to university, but the technical challenges of precision and patience in archery were always appealing to me.
Are you a sporty person, outside of your participation in archery? What makes archery important to you?
I used to swim competitively when I was aged about 12-15 and still love swimming, though now I just do it as a recreational sport. So I would say I’m sporty. I love being active when I get the chance, but archery is the only sport I do regularly in a competitive way. I think part of the appeal of archery is how casual and relaxed it can be. After swimming competitively for a while I really enjoyed just being able to turn up and shoot without pressure to take part in competitions from the start; it was all about personal improvement and goals rather than winning medals. Although I go to a lot of competitions now, I enjoy it mostly because I can just take my time and focus on shooting. It’s a great break from the stress of university work and I find it really relaxing.
How easy was it for you to find a beginner’s course, a club, or your own personal entry into the sport? Were there any barriers?
I didn’t actively seek out an archery club to be honest. I didn’t think I’d ever take it up properly after the summer camps but wanted to get into a couple of new sports in first year of university so decided to pick it up again. They advertised the club at our annual sports fayre and offered “give it a go” sessions to try it out. After going along to those I found I really loved it so stuck with it and I’m still in the club 2 years later! It was very open and welcoming I found so there weren’t any barriers besides paying the club and gym membership, though they were quite reasonable prices!
I honestly didn’t really consider doing archery properly until the sudden boom of the Hunger games and Brave brought it to my attention. I’d loved the few times I’d tried it and thought it was good for a bit of fun but I definitely remember seeing Katniss on screen and immediately thinking–
Wow, I’d love to be able to shoot like her.
Seeing a girl my age be so kickass with a bow was a major motivation boost.
Did you notice it affecting your friends, peers, or club membership?
I didn’t really notice it too much since I was in the first year of new members to our club since the archery boom, the only thing I noticed was that quite a few people mentioned the films when they were chatting at the “give it a go” sessions. However, according to some of the older members of the club, the number of new members had increased by quite a bit that year, and the gender ratio had changed drastically since a lot of the new members were female. Might just be a coincidence of course, but I think having strong bow-wielding women like Merida and Katniss in mainstream media definitely had an effect.
What’s your current favourite archery-related comic/book/myth/film/etc?
I’d have to say the hunger games. I really love the entire books series and their messages about war and violence, and the films have done a brilliant job of bringing them to life. There’s also something really nice about Katniss wielding a bow instead of a sword or staff: I find that usually protagonists wield swords and get right into the center of a battle (and therefore are the center of attention) while any archer or sniper is a minor character and supports from the sidelines. I think it suits her character perfectly as she doesn’t want to be in the center of a battle and It’s a nice change to see an archer in the spotlight for a change.
Has your motivation been affected by fictional characters, fictional archers? Tell us all about it!
Definitely! I always found the sport appealing but never thought to take it up properly until seeing characters like Katniss, Legolas and Merida gave me inspiration. They always looked really cool and powerful with their bows and they could hold their own against physically stronger or faster characters just through pure skill and technique. It gave me the idea that really anyone could do archery: I didn’t need to be physically strong or fast already; all it would take was training and practice, which turned out to be true! I’m not the most experienced or skilled archer at all to be honest but it still feels great to hit a perfect 10 and just feel as powerful as those characters looked.