Programs find value in archery as a therapy to treat PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health conditions

Many people enjoy archery as a recreational activity or as a competition sport. There are so many incredible benefits like improved focus, better coordination, and increased upper body strength, that make it a great physical activity. However, archery also unites mind, body, and spirit making it a very Zen experience. It has a calming effect that helps the archer feel centered and focused. Doctors, psychologists, and counselors are also recognizing the benefits of this art and are recommending it for their patients who suffer from a variety of mental health conditions including anxiety, autism, and PTSD.

Archery Improves Socialization without being Overwhelming

Archery is typically thought of as a solitary sport, but that isn’t necessarily an accurate assessment. While it is possible to practice alone, but many people who decide to pursue the activity often join archery clubs or groups and take classes where they interact with others. However, it isn’t like other group sports such as basketball, football, or baseball which have more intense social interaction that can be overwhelming to some.

Archery lets people be in a group, but not too close. This is ideal for those who struggle with conditions that cause socialization issues like Asperger’s Syndrome, depression, and Sensory Processing Disorder. They can practice their social skills and be around others without experiencing sensory overload or intense pressure to interact.

Archery Helps Children with ADHD

Some therapists have recommended archery as a good activity for their ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) patients. Mastering the skill calls for focus and concentration, but delivers immediate reward. In other words, when the child is able to focus on what they are doing, they are immediately rewarded when they hit their target. What’s more, the activity calls for short bursts of focus in the beginning but this gradually increases as the skill improves. Archery increases cognitive function by working areas of the brain that help improve academic success in the classroom.

PTSD and Anxiety Patients Benefit from Archery

Programs like the Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) are using archery as part of their successful alternative treatment for PTSD in veterans. Warrior PATHH uses activities and personal exploration to treat this severe form of anxiety instead of using medication and traditional therapy methods. Archery is included because it teaches focus and patience.

Some doctors are now recommending archery for their patients who suffer from various anxiety disorders. Along with focus, the patients benefit from the confidence that comes with mastering the skill. It is also very centering. As they focus on their target, what they are doing, they become self-aware and grounded. This is a by-product of the mind, body, and spirit working in concert with each other, promoting relaxation.

Archery as a Treatment for Autism

Patients with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism) respond very well to archery. Often, a person with this condition does not like to be touched or is uncomfortable in social situations. They may be socially awkward and lack confidence. Archery is more of a solitary activity, but can be practiced in a group setting such as a class or club. A person who is socially awkward can mix better in such a group because everyone has the same interests.

Archery also helps with the anxiety and depression that can come from being on the spectrum. It builds confidence, allowing the person to have a sense of accomplishment. They can set goals, learn focus, and even improve the poor posture that is often associated with Asperger’s and a lack of self-confidence. People on the spectrum often feel isolated or like they don’t fit in. Archery helps to make them feel included so they aren’t quite so alone.

At High Altitude Archery, our instructors are experienced working with students who have PTSD, anxiety, autism, and other conditions. They provide careful, patient, professional instruction in both group and individual class settings. If you are interested in incorporating archery into your therapy program, call today and schedule instruction or some range time. We carry a broad range of archery equipment and also offer professional bow tuning in addition to our archery lessons and open range. Whether you are a newcomer to archery, or a seasoned pro, there’s a place for you here.

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