Patience, persistence and passion are powerful traits of archery and motherhood. In fact, women for centuries have wielded bows for war, sport and family food.
Even ancient cultures celebrated goddesses with rich connections between archery and womanhood. And today, competitive archers and famous bowhunters prove daily that women can do anything they set their sights on.
Let’s discuss some famous females who prove babes and bows belong together:
Diana: Goddess of the Hunt
Roman and Greek mythology often link archery and womanhood. The Romans celebrated Diana as the goddess of the hunt, moon and nature. Ancient statues and paintings show Diana holding a bow and full quiver. This mythical archer also appears in DC Comics’ Wonder Woman movie. That character, Diana, is a nod to the awesome Roman goddess.
Artemis is the Greek equivalent of Diana. As the daughter of Zeus, king of all gods, Artemis is one of the most respected gods in Greek mythology. She’s the twin of Apollo, god of war, and carries a golden bow. She is also the goddess of hunting, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and wild animals.
Atalanta is yet another skilled huntress and archer in Greek mythology. She is also a stellar athlete who often beats males in sporting events. In the Calydonian Hunt, several male heroes try to kill the monstrous Calydonian boar, but Atalanta slays the beast with a well-placed arrow.
The Vikings also worshiped a warrior huntress wielding a bow. Norse mythology honors Skadi as the goddess of archery, bowhunting, skiing, winter and mountains. Their legends depict Skadi roaming snowcapped mountains atop skis to bowhunt.
Millions watched the Amazons on the silver screen this past year in “Wonder Woman.” Wonder Woman belonged to the Amazons, a tribe of beautiful female warriors skilled in archery and horsemanship. But these legendary warriors aren’t just fictional characters. In her book, “The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World,” Adrienne Mayor reveals fascinating facts about these bow-wielding women.
“Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination,” writes the Princeton University Press. “Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions and scientific archaeology, (Mayor) reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons.”
Archery is also one of England’s oldest, most popular organized sports. Competitive archery leagues were common In the early 1800s among England’s upper class, whose women participated while wearing corsets and petticoats. Queen Victoria, in fact, was an avid archer! To see what these competitive archers wore to practice in the early 1800s, check out the 1799 drawing “Archers” by Adam Buck, and the 1823 print “Royal British Bowmen” by J. Townshend.
Archery uniforms look far different today than in Victorian England, but competitive archery remains popular among women. In fact, no one in the sport’s rich past was likely better than South Korea’s Kim Soo-Nyung. In World Archery’s list of the best Olympians of all time, the organization wrote, “With four gold medals, a silver and a bronze, Kim Soo-Nyung is the supreme Olympic archer of the modern era – and with a remarkable comeback story thrown in.”
Soo-Nyung began shooting at age 9. She was on South Korea’s Olympic team in 1988 and 1992, but then retired to get married and raise two children. As if to prove to moms everywhere that motherhood doesn’t slow you down, Soo-Nyung returned for the 2000 Olympics and won the individual bronze and her third team gold medal. Watch some of her best Olympic shots here. The International Archery Federation declared Soo-Nyung the female archer of the 20th century.
Your next chance to see Olympic archery is the 2020 Games in Tokyo, but several women bear watching until then. South Korea’s Chang Hye Jin, 30, won gold in the recurve women’s event at the Rio 2016 Olympics, and she’s been on fire ever since. She’s currently No. 1 in the world in the recurve division.
The top-ranking American is 22-year-old Mackenzie Brown, who’s currently ninth worldwide. And although compound bows aren’t yet part of the Olympics, they’ll make their first appearance at the Pan American Games in 2019. In the compound rankings, Cassidy Cox, 19, is the highest-ranking American, and ranks 16th worldwide. To keep up with their accomplishments, visit World Archery.
Women are North America’s fastest-growing group of bowhunters, and plenty of them are great role models. Tiffany Lakosky, co-host of “The Crush with Lee & Tiffany,” was one of the first female archers to star in hunting shows. She balances that role with being a mother of two. She’s a talented and passionate archer, and a high-profile advocate for female bowhunters.
Eva Shockey achieved her star status more recently, but bowhunting is in her blood. Shockey, co-host of “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures,” is Jim’s daughter, which allowed her to learn from one the industry’s most famous and accomplished hunters. But Eva’s bowhunting accomplishments are all her own. Over 1 million people follow her bowhunting adventures on social media, which is more than double her dad’s following. Her first book, “Taking Aim,” debuted in 2017, and chronicles how her hunting career broke gender stereotypes.
Anna Vorisek is also blazing trails. Vorisek was the first female bowhunter to achieve a North American Super Slam by taking all 29 of its big-game species with a bow. In fact, few men have accomplished that feat. In this article, Vorisek described her quest for the slam.
From the world stage to backyard woods and throughout ancient mythology, women and archery have long been a perfect match. Girls and women who want to try archery and bowhunting can seek help from several groups and organizations in every state. A good place to start is the venerable Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program, which offers classes for female archers nationwide.