Archery instructor, New England School of Archery and Supplies
How long have you been involved in archery? How long have you been an instructor?
I did a little when I was a kid, but really started as an adult. I took lessons with Marcia Wyman, and she asked if I'd like to teach. And I actually said, 'No, that seems too scary.' That was 4 ½ years ago, and I've been teaching almost ever since.
You say you love to teach archery as a way for people to "let the stress of life melt away." What is it about archery that lends itself to stress relief?
Archery is a very meditative sport. People tend to get very focused on what they are doing and feel more relaxed and let go of their tension. I've attended presentations from neurologists, and they showed brain waves of high-level archers; when they shoot, their brain waves go into a meditative state.
Tell us more about the meditative archery you have studied.
I went to learn Kyudo (a form of Japanese archery). The range is called a dojo, and the instructor is called sensei. Archery is a martial art. With Kyudo, there's a whole process you go through, almost like a ritual before you are in a state to shoot. I try to take that mental aspect of Kyudo and take it to western archery.
What do people use archery training for?
Your dream, your goal. If a person wants to learn how to shoot because it sparks a fire in them, or someone wants to hunt, I can help them sharpen up their form so they become a better shooter. If someone comes to my class and wants to compete, we absolutely can create a goal and a plan and a training system to get to whatever level they want to compete at. I also teach team-building.
If you are stressed out, part of coming to class is doing stretches, getting a chance to stop thinking about everything else and be completely focused in the moment.
Have you ever split an arrow with another arrow, Robin Hood-style? Can you teach us how?
I think I've done it a way most people haven't done. I was shooting at a target with some arrows already in it, and it tipped forward as I released another shot. I wound up shooting one arrow into another and breaking one of them in half. When things like that happen, you have to imagine they happen for a reason.
You trained at the Olympic Training Center. How intense was that?
I went to the Olympic Training Center three times; twice for coaching certificates. It was extremely intense. We started at 8 a.m. California time, and I was still stuck on Eastern Standard Time, and we'd go until dinner at 5 p.m. and then have a class at 6 and finish at 7. And then the students would go and practice their form. You'd go to bed at 9 or 10 and start at 8 a.m. again the next morning.
How expensive is it to get started in archery?
We provide all the equipment during lessons. Come to class and see if you enjoy it. (Morris also sells equipment and can help newcomers select the proper size and weight equipment.)
What is the longest distance at which you can hit a bullseye with an arrow?
Let me tell you my goal: my goal is to be able to hit a bullseye at the length of a football field three times consecutively, and then another three. Why stop there?
Who would win in a "Hunger Games"-style battle, you or Katniss Everdeen?
There is actually a portion of the movie that I disagree with, because I believe that as a society we should be going to the aid of those who get hurt and also we should be protecting our youth.
The positive thing that I see in the movie is that Katniss, who is the main character, has strong inner strength at her age. She takes up the responsibility of making sure her family has food. She helps others in need of help. She has courage, determination and leadership despite all the odds against her.
There is a lot more to shooting a bow then just pulling a string back; there is the person, and the person is what counts. Through the act of learning how to shoot, the student becomes stronger and gains confidence and they can develop the characteristics of a hero. I believe that it's those characteristics of a hero that the teenagers of today would like the world to see them as having. (next page »)