When Shooting Is More Than a Sport

Archery allowed me to find more than just a bullseye on the range.

by posted on August 12, 2021
Two Women On Archery Range

Anchor. Release. Follow through. The principles of archery and possibly … life? While archery is still target practice, it’s distinctly different than shooting firearms. Shooting a bow and arrow is quieter and more Zen, with entirely different motions and equipment.

Archery instructor Sharon Cundiff said, “If you work against [the bow], it won’t work with you.” Being tense at the gun range might work in your favor when you’re unloading magazines into targets. However, archery requires a little more grace and a lower heart rate. The meditative act of pulling back a bowstring, anchoring it to your cheek, releasing all of the tension in the string and your body into an arrow and following that energy through has an inherently calming effect. I’m sure many women can relate to being too busy to take time for themselves; archery is the perfect activity to combat a hectic lifestyle.

Cundiff said that she particularly enjoys teaching women because we have the ability to draw in others. It’s often heard in all of the shooting sports, “If the woman shoots, everyone shoots.” Cundiff also has a habit of telling some students to, in lieu of paying for their lessons, donate what they believe the value of their training session was worth to the DC Project, a national organization comprised of women dedicated to working with their individual state legislators to educate them that education, not legislation, is the ultimate answer to firearms violence. Her dedication to women and freedom is only matched by her passion for archery.

My Women’s Wilderness Escape group was particularly lucky to shoot bow and arrows with Cundiff at the end of the week. Archery has the effect of centering and relaxing, which is exactly what we needed after a fast-paced week of fun and socializing. Archery is, I think, more personal than shooting a gun because you’re using your own muscles to set up the shot, your eyes as sights and your fingers to release the projectile. Throughout our time at the NRA Whittington Center, we bonded over shooting firearms, chatting at meals and enjoying each other’s company and stories. It was helpful to internalize all that we had learned in a quiet environment like the archery range.

Upon Cundiff's return home after a previous WWE, her daughter Caitlin White said, “You look different!” Cundiff had been trying to get her daughter to attend the life-changing event for years, and White was finally able to go to the 2021 session. On the last day, Cundiff asked her daughter if she “got it” now that she had experienced the magic for herself. “Yes, totally,” White responded.

After anchoring ourselves in a new place, releasing the stress or frustration of everyday life, and following through on our goals, I like to think we all looked a little different at the end of the week. Check back at NRAWomen.com to read about the very last day at the Women’s Wilderness Escape and why it’s an ideal place for all women firearms enthusiasts to gain friends, skills and memories.

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