Global Resilience Solutions > 2015 > January

Warriorship: Historical Archery


You may have seen this guy on Youtube. Lars has clearly spent years of dedicated practice developing a very particular set of historical archery skills- those used for rapid fire and at relatively close ranges. There is only one way to develop skills like this- correct practice and constant repetition. The “correct practice” part came from reading sources on combat archery to come up with something distinctly more realistic than the sport archery of today.

Historical archery is enjoying a revival, especially in places like Hungary, which have particularly distinguished archery traditions. Their method of practicing rapid-fire horse archery, also using a sheaf of arrows held in the hand, is particularly noteworthy. This practice takes them through a 180 degree arc, from virtually straight ahead to the so-called “Parthian shot” at a target behind them.


Where these practices focus on speed, Japanese Kyudo, or Zen archery, takes another approach. Rather than developing speed through practicing fast, they develop speed, power and accuracy by practicing slowly. This method is common to a number of Asian martial arts- the more slowly you practice, the more deeply whatever you are doing sinks into your muscle memory, and the faster you will be when speed is required. But more importantly, this method emphasises Hara, the complete single-pointed focus and total alignment of the body’s energy behind each shot. The objective of Zen archery is to hold the bow at the point of highest tension with an empty mind and absolute focus on oneness with the target. When it is time to shoot, it is not the volition of the archer that should loose the arrow. Even though this practice seems monotonous to Westerners, Japanese archers in feudal times were renowned for the power of their bows, the accuracy of their shots and their rapid rate of fire.


Correct practice, constant repetition and single-pointed focus are the skills that unite historical archery with the warrior approach to mastering ANY skill, whether in the ancient world or in the modern one. And you can use this same approach to master ANY aspect of life that you wish…

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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