TROY, Mich. – While most of us are probably past our hurdling or high dive days, there is an Olympic sport that you’re never too old to try.
Archery is one of the oldest sports in the world, but it’s enjoying new popularity.
Coach Brandon Wright is passionate about archery and teaching it to others.
“What I love the most about the sport is there’s really no limitations,” Wright said. “I have everybody in different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, everything in the sport of archery. I can’t tell you how many people in their 40s, 50s, 60s have called me up, like, ‘I wanted to try this my whole life.’ And they do.”
Wright started Rising Phoenix Archery 10 years ago, with just three students.
“Now, we have about 300 athletes that train each week, and then we get about another 100 people that just want to try it, and just stop by and we show them how to do archery for like 10 bucks,” Wright said.
The sport has grown immensely in popularity over those years, especially with women and girls.
“Ten years ago, I’d say maybe one out of every 10 participants was a girl,” Wright said. “Today, I’d put that number close to six out of 10.”
While archery always sees an increase in interest after the Olympics, much of the credit goes to Katniss Everdeen.
“Thank God for Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games, and Brave and all that stuff, because it really was a male-dominated sport about a decade ago, and I don’t think that’s the case today,” Wright said.
Maria Cherro, 14, of Sterling Heights, started at Rising Phoenix when she was just seven years old.
“I’ve definitely seen a higher number of women shooting, and that’s, like, something amazing to see from all ages,” Cherro said.
Some archers shoot for fun. Others compete.
Sales of archery equipment skyrocketed during the pandemic, as people looked for activities they could do outside or on their own. Many of those people are realizing the social potential of archery, as well, and seeking out classes like those offered at Rising Phoenix.
The benefits of archery are as varied as the archers themselves.
“People become more mentally strong,” Cherro said. “They can handle a lot of things. It’s very calming. It’s something that everybody can do, no matter what age, anything.”
“Self image -- that’s probably the biggest thing,” Wright said. “Something where it starts off and it’s difficult, because it’s not an easy sport just to begin, and then as they progress and as they learn, it builds them and then they’re hungry to do more.”