My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

➳ Archery ➳

I don't somehow think these were the bows she was thinking of...

I am a bit of a frilly Romantic /Aristocrat/Goth type person, yes, but bows are not really a decorative device I am in to. That and I wanted an excuse to talk about archery, not that I really need an excuse...

Archery is one of my favourite sports. I started in 2010, when I signed up to the beginner's course at my (then) local archery club, but had been wanting to take the sport up properly for a rather long time, after having had a go at summer camp years and years ago. My partner, Raven, is a keen archer, and talked me into joining. Je ne regrette rien! While there is a local archery club to me now, here in the Highlands, when I last enquired they weren't taking on new members, which is a shame because it means right now I have no club and no space to practice. 
Bah humbug!

I think what I love most about archery is that it is a sport that puts me in a state of absolute focus and concentration. I can shut out my worries and concentrate on getting an arrow as close to the centre of the target as possible. This sort of state exists in many sports, but I think target sports in general are different in so much that it is concentration on a single act (one that can be divided into smaller sections from stance, raising the bow, drawing, aiming, breathing, releasing etc.), not the "thinking on your feet" concentration of sports such as roller-derby, basketball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee etc. This is not to say I don't enjoy that sort of sport - I do, and I either currently do or have done all of the above and enjoyed them - it's just that archery fills a certain niche for me. 

I have been plinking at Raven's parent's farm, and that too is enjoyable to me but I think there is something extra that comes from  drawing a bow with my own strength, that being translated through the mechanical advantage of springy limbs, and that being why an arrow flies. As you might tell from that sentence, I shoot a recurve bow. It's not that I think that such things as compound bows and crossbows are 'cheating', it's just I prefer to have less of a mechanical advantage. I'd love to shoot a long bow, and I'd love to get involved in kyudo. 

Random fact: I do some things left-handed, and other things right-handed. Archery is something I can only do left-handed.

I think for a lot of American readers especially, archery is almost synonymous with bow-hunting. Bow-hunting is illegal in the UK. I am not the sort of person that would kill an animal for pleasure, anyway, and do not see any form of hunting as 'sport' - if I needed food desperately, I'd hunt to eat, but I would not see it as a pleasurable act.  

An odd thing I have noticed is that quite few of my fellow archers are fellow Pagans, not a vast number, but a higher percentage than simply the percentage of the population that are Pagans. Maybe it is because of its ancient heritage and a lot of Pagans are also people into 'historical things', maybe because of its connections to deities such as Artemis. To be honest I have no idea why, only conjecture. Any Pagans into archery who would like to elucidate me on the matter are welcome to do so. 


  1. I love the idea of archery, I think it is an elegant sport. I see elves and charming ladies in Daniel Deronda doing target shooting. People like Robin Hood were also excellent with a bow and arrow. It is both picturesque and deadly. For me, the literary and historical aspect is probably what draws me to it. As a kid my brother and I once had a fake bow and arrow that kind of shot. I also used to play at swords with a stick. :P I think archery and sword-fighting/ fencing are the two sports I would most like to learn.

    1. Archery is available in most places, and exists in a variety of forms. It's not as 'romantic' as in Lord of The Rings or Robin Hood or Brave or Hunger Games, but it is certainly enjoyable. Target archery takes a lot of patience as it is basically the polishing of a skill to perfection, rather than learning a variety of different skills. Field archery is a bit more adventurous and varied.

      Fencing happens to be my second favourite sport... Sport fencing is rather different (but not un-reverse-engineerable) from actual combat fencing, but historical fencing societies do exist and that can also be learnt if you're interested in historical fencing-as-actual-fighting-with-swords. There's also swordsmanship societies for earlier weapons and different weapons.

      If you're at all interested in Asian martial arts, there are also iaido, iaijutsu, kendo, kenjutsu, sword forms of aikido/aikijutsu and Chinese and Korean martial arts with sword forms that can be learnt if you happen to live near the right sorts of clubs and have the dedication for them.

      I think if people have an interest in a sport or martial art, they should get out there and try if they get the slightest chance!

  2. Archery is cool. Your article has a very good story to it.

  3. Interesting observation. I'm interested in archery and I'm also pagan.

  4. I love when people get creative with the themes and go beyond the obvious interpretation! Thank you for sharing your interest in archery. I would imagine it takes immense arm strength, control, and focus. A true discipline!

    1. I was a bit nervous and was worried you think I was stretching things and taking liberties in order to promote my blog!

      It's not so much just arm strength, more shoulder/upper back strength in actually drawing a bow, but yes, it does take an amount of strength and control especially once the bow is drawn, to keep it steady while aiming. I try and aim in my mind and keep an eye on exactly where I want an arrow to go before I even start to draw my bow because the longer you hold it, the more likely you are to miss.

      Focus is the biggest part. I tend to suffer from performance anxiety in a range of settings, and my archery isn't immune; my archery when nobody else is paying attention to me is way better than my archery when in front of people, or in a competitive setting! If I let anything other than the actual task itself, including previous shots and future shots, sneak into my brain, then it interferes with the shot I am taking.

  5. I seems fun doing archery as a sport :)

    Now to your question, I bought the bow for a charchter I played twice who was a woodelf, but I realised it was not my thing so now a play a green forestcreature most of the time instead :'D so usually people borrow the bow from me every larp, I dont use it myself. Only when I wanna practise a little.

    1. Cool :) I once took part in a Tomb Raider themed L.A.R.P/role playing cosplay where I was... a sort-of-Lara, but haven't really got into L.A.R.Ping.

  6. I love archery as well. I did archery at my school for a few years - so I can understand that feeling of just taking a step back and forgetting the world while shooting.

    1. Glad you had fun doing archery at school :D What made you not continue it when you left?

  7. It's funny that you should post about archery (by the way, it's very clever way to see "bows")
    As I was having a discussion about hunting with bows rather than using automated weapons on tripods. I don't hunt at all, but it was interesting to hear nevertheless.
    And I think you're right on the spot about archery and its relation to Pagans.

    Although I have little interest in attempting to shoot anything, as I am rather clumsy, hehe.

    1. I don't go hunting for two reasons; 1) I don't need to and b) I couldn't guarantee a clean kill. The only ranged weapon I am close to being accurate enough (in my opinion) to go hunting with is a cross-bow. I'd hate to injure something, and have it run off where it can't be helped or killed swiftly and I'd hate to kill something in a slow and prolonged manner. And I'd only go hunting if it was for food; I don't see how hunting is considered a "hobby" or "sport". How is it fun or sporting to enjoy killing things? If you want to stalk your prey, and that's where you seek your fun, stalk them with a camera.

      That sounds like an interesting debate; too much of a mechanical advantage doesn't give the prey enough of a chance to evade and survive. Any sort of hunting with a firearm is loud, and you risk startling your prey. If you miss with a bow by a long way, at least the animal you are trying to kill won't necessarily know of your attempt.

      I am not the most co-ordinated person, I will openly admit, but with all things considered, while I need way more practice, I'm not an inherently bad shot (in general, with a variety of ranged weaponry), despite being generally a clumsy clutz. Partly it is because handling something such as a bow, which is capable of injuring or even killing someone, does make me concentrate that much more on what I'm doing. Same as when I'm handling swords or any other weaponry.

    2. I always thought that if you're to choose to hunt let every part be used-- even if they have to go out of their way to place the unwanted parts for critter scavengers.
      But I'm content purchasing my food from the grocers; so I have no need for hunting either.

      The person I was speaking to was saying that the thrill of hunting is diminished by the ease of use from all the advancements in guns and such.
      I don't really find it a disadvantage so much as an advantage-- that someone like me, with no experience, could pick up a gun and possibly hunt something with a close to guaranteed kill if I so needed to.

      I also find that sport hunters usually tend to be the most generous-- all of the hunters I've met have always stocked my freezer of meat from their game. Which I enjoy when times are at their hardest for me, money wise. So I like that the balance is still there, it just isn't as obvious.


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