In 2020, the National Field Archery Association introduced a Junior Essay Contest open to all archers aged 12 to 17 who compete at the The Vegas Shoot.
This year, two $1,000 scholarships were awarded to one young male and one young female: Zachary Maracine from Alhambra, California and Alexandra Mott from Texas, Nevada.
Both young archers wrote a 500-1000-word essay with archery as a topic and were chosen by an independent panel of experts.
To me, archery is an art. A delicate, yet aggressive dance to get an arrow to the middle of a target. The pregnant pause I take before deciding to release an arrow is the calm before a storm of thoughts that try to get my arrow to score a ten. Archery is frustrating, but that frustration makes the fun times so much better. The lack of attention I have to so many things while I’m at full draw, but a heightened focus on the target and wind sock is peaceful.
The feeling of the cool air brushing against my face as I subconsciously tighten my left eyelid is comforting. So many elements of muscle memory come into play, yet every shot feels new and refreshing. Archery is beautiful, and yet so many people don’t realize it.
A lot of people think that archery is simply raising a bow, aiming it, then releasing the arrow, and that it always goes where you aim. While this idea of archery is correct, yet super simplified, I do hope that more and more people start to realize how much minutiae is involved in the shot, and how greatly small changes affect where the arrow goes.
Archery is a journey to control the minutiae to work in the archer’s favor, and the small details within their brain. At the elite level, archery is 100% mental, and the best archers can control their thoughts to be almost the same each shot. This pursuit of a perfection that is unattainable, yet we archers are all so convinced this perfection is the best thing we will achieve. The journey of archery is taxing, even to those with mental toughness, fortitude, and overall grit. The realization that success in archery isn’t as widely revered because of how misconceived the sport is by many is discouraging, but simply another trial in the journey to be the best archer you can be.
While a lot of the facts seem to say that archery isn’t super rewarding or worth the hard work, the feeling is always so addicting. Shooting a great shot and it going exactly in the middle is the greatest feeling for any archer. Having three great shots and them all going in the middle is a greater feeling, and having six is even better. There is always more and more perfection to be had, and every archer wants more after the smallest taste. Knowing that there is a connection to an abstract middle is weird, but feeling that connection is indescribably amazing. Archers are on a thrill ride to feel that connection in more satisfying ways, at national tournaments, on the world stage, or repeatedly on the world stage.
The benefits as a person from archery are astounding. I’ve learned so many lessons, become a better person, and have grown majorly because of archery. Archery is such a strange sport, and loving it no matter what anyone else thinks is part of the journey. I visualize shots everywhere, randomly bring my hands up to simulate a shot no matter the setting, and I don’t even realize it. It may seem weird to someone else in a grocery store, but now I’m okay with that.
Many people’s views on archery are based on misconceptions that undermine hard work and very real success. Even if archery seems weird, it’s the best feeling in the world for me, and simply being able to do it is one of the greatest privileges I have. Archery is so many things, a connection to a point in a piece of paper, a journey to perfection, and a refinement of yourself as a person. Archery is an art that can never be perfected, but that’s okay.