Thank you Rachel Rapkin and The Recorder for covering our FREE event, hosted by Northfield Library. And, of course, thank you, Northfield Public Library, and Programming Director, Matt Atwood, for inviting us to share archery with your families.

NORTHFIELD — “Hook, grip, set, draw, anchor,” founder of Amherst Archery Academy Kyle Bissell commanded to a community archery class sponsored by the Dickinson Memorial Library summer program.

On Saturday, in a field across from the library, Bissell and his assistant, SerahRose Roth, taught free public sessions from 9 a.m. to noon on archery craftsmanship. Before the shooting began, participants had to dress their arms and hands in protective gear and partake in a 20-minute tutorial outlining proper technique and safety procedures.

“One thing that can happen is when you release the string, if you’re not holding the bow correctly, the string will hit the arm,” she said. “The finger guard protects against the force of drawing the arm back as well.”

Roth and her daughter Avi came across archery last summer when they were looking for a mother-daughter activity of equal enjoyment. To their surprise, the sport was just what they were looking for and proved to be difficult, which made it fun.

“When we started out, we thought it was so simple, you just you draw and release. It’s much more than that.” Roth said. “You have to repeat the movement perfectly over and over again and there’s all these tiny little steps you have to take one right after the other, but once you get it down, it becomes simple.”

After one year of training, Avi is considering the option of joining a young competition team for adolescent students and her mother is learning how to become a certified coach.

“It’s a challenging sport because you have to hold tension in the bow while the rest of your body is completely relaxed,” Roth said. “I love it for all kinds of reasons, but personally, it gives me a place of peace. I have to breathe when I shoot and it’s a good excuse to let go of the stress of my day.”

Bissell began shooting when he was 7 and has been a professional coach for 20 years. He looks up to Matt Stutzman, a paralympic who shoots with his legs and holds the world record for the longest accurate shot in archery at 230 yards.

“I love how accessible archery is to a wide variety of ages and physical abilities,” Bissell said. “Archery is accessible to people in wheelchairs and is a fantastic multi-generational activity.

“We had a great turn out,” he said. “It’s challenging to have students for such a short period of time (because) we only get to cover a small portion of the actual material.”

You can read the original article, published by The Recorder, here.

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