Archery is one of the fastest growing sports in the Scottish Highlands. What better way to enjoy the great Highland outdoors than with an archery session—something that requires skill, co-ordination, and steadiness. At the same time, archery is the perfect outdoor sport for people of all ages and all abilities. It is a highly sociable sport, often considered relaxing, and offers the opportunity for competition, too. Archery is a widely-available activity here in the Scottish Highlands, with many activity centres, clubs, and archery grounds to choose from, most of them providing lessons for first-timers as well as challenges for the more experienced.
Archery is an art form. It is the skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow. While it was originally developed for hunting and for combat, today it is widely enjoyed simply for target practice. It is a popular and fun recreational activity worldwide. Archery is said to date back as far as 10,000 BC as a form of hunting and combat found throughout the late Paleolithic and early Mesolithic world. Evidence for archery has been found all over the world. It remained a vital skill for many thousands of years, only declining with the advent of firearms. Archery is experiencing a revival as more people have the time for recreation and are looking for a sport suitable for all ages. Most people who practice archery regularly enjoy honing their skills, meeting with other archers, and engaging in some friendly competition.
Archery centres throughout the Highlands will offer one or more of the following styles of archery equipment: traditional longbows, recurves, and compound bows. Traditional bows are not as prevalent as the other two styles. All bows are basically the same in how they work: a string attached to an elastic, flexible limb which stores mechanical energy. This energy is release when the archer pulls the string. The main difference between bows is whether the string is drawn manually or there is a mechanism, as in cross-bows, for drawing it. The reason a compound bow is the most popular is that it is designed so that not as much strength or force is required for drawing the string. This allows the archer more time to aim accurately. The arrow itself consists of a shaft with an arrowhead at the front, and a notch and fletchings (feathers) at the end. They are made from a wide variety of materials, all depending upon the archer’s preference and what they are to be used for. Bowstrings are designed for maximum strength at the lightest weight. On modern bows, they likely will be of synthetic material. Most archers will also wear a bracer or arm-guard which prevents the inside of the bow arm from being hit by the string.
Activity centres and archery clubs will teach you the correct stance and all the techniques required for a successful day of archery. You will learn about dominant eyes, bow arms, and drawing hands. You will be taught how to sight your target correctly. You will learn how to load the bow, knock the arrow, raise, and draw. You may even be given the opportunity for a little friendly competition after having sufficient lesson and practice time. There are a wide variety of types of competitive archery. Some of these include: target archery (which is what most Scottish Highland archery centres will offer), field archery, 3-D archery (which uses three dimensional model targets), clout archery (which has a long history to pre-Elizabethan times), cross-bow competitions, flight archery (which aims for distance rather than accuracy), and ski archery (which is a combination of cross-country skiing and target archery, with penalties given for missing targets).
If you are looking for something a little different with a long and varied history, archery is the sport for you. It is great fun, very social, and well-suited to all ages and abilities. It is the perfect activity for those who harbour a bit of a romantic streak—you know, the Robin Hood / Maid Marion set! You may find that you have discovered a new hobby for yourself. Archery clubs and centres can be found all over the world, so no need to stop when you leave the Highlands of Scotland. Treat yourself to a lovely outing in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. You can enjoy the scenery, get a bit of fresh air, and participate in a centuries old sport that has been popular in the Scottish Highlands for literally thousands of years.
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