Ready, Aim, Bullseye! Moonbow Archery Hits the Mark for Learning and Fun
We can’t all be the Marvel comic superhero Hawkeye, but Moonbow Archery in Ashland comes pretty close. Moonbow founder and owner Lloyd Canty grew up enjoying archery, and decided to create a business that blended the discipline of traditional archery with the team building aspect of group archery games. We caught up with him to learn more about this unique and rejuvenating activity.
Rogue Valley Messenger: How long has Moonbow Archery been in existence, and what stands out to you in your experience with this business?
Lloyd Canty: I began teaching “traditional” Olympic-style archery for the Ashland YMCA in 2013 and the Ashland Parks & Rec., in 2014. Moonbow archery developed out of my interest to explore new and ancient forms of archery.
RVM: How has your life experience led you to this unique business?
LC: I started archery as a seven year old in Australia and loved it. My older brother and I made our own bows. We made arrows using dowel and spliced chicken feathers for the fletchings. Archery came very naturally to me. My early experiences with a bow and arrow; learning to focus, concentrate and with disciplined repetition be able to consistently reach a distant target, has stayed with me through my career in business and years spent as a trainer in corporate America.
RVM: Where does the name “Moonbow” come from?
LC: Prior to moving to Ashland we lived in the Hawaiian Islands. Moon bows or “lunar rainbows” are rare natural atmospheric phenomena that occur when the Moon’s light is reflected and refracted off water droplets in the air. The Hawaiian “Anuenue Kau Po” means “Lunar Rainbow” or “Moon Bow.” I saw them several times while living in Hawaii. They are so beautiful and always reminded me of the natural contour of my archery bows. The ancient Hawaiians considered the Moon bow to be very sacred. The Roman Goddess Diana was associated with the hunt and the moon. She is equated to the Greek Goddess Artemis. She is often depicted in art and sculpture with her bow, arrow and the crescent moon behind her.
RVM: Images of Katniss Everdeen and Robin Hood come to mind when archery is mentioned—heroes skillfully using a stealthy weapon. But you call the experience of archery “spiritual” and “meditative.” Can you explain that?
LC: Archery has been used in ancient cultures for hunting, warfare and competition going back over 10,000 years. Down through the ages, archery has been referred to as “spiritual alchemy.” Archery has been used by ancient cultures as an effective tool for personal and spiritual development, i.e., to cultivate Zen-like attributes, such as mindfulness, unification of the mind and body through breathing, centeredness and physical motion. In Zen-based archery, our arrow is synonymous with our mind’s keenest intention. Our intention is to reach a certain mark on a target, repeatedly.
The secret for the archer lies in becoming one with her target. In essence, she is both bow, arrow and target. She does not stress and strain to reach it, nor does she accept there is a distance of space and time between her and the object of her intentions. She acknowledges only unity. She actualizes all of this from a place of presence deep in her center, rather than trying to achieve it from a place of absence and separateness. In this sense, the archer’s own center and the center of the target are the same.
RVM: Briefly describe Arrow-Tag and how it came about.
Arrow-Tag is a fast-moving game of stealth, strategy and precision that will call upon all your wits and natural survival instincts. It’s a safe, exciting and totally unique archery experience that encourages, teamwork, focus, concentration, critical thinking, physical movement and extension of your own natural awareness!
The great thing is virtually anyone can play and no prior archery experience is necessary. One of my best players was a 15 year old girl who ended up owning the whole game. She had never played before and was up against some great players! Her success was due in part to her patience, timing and overall game strategy. I learned from her grandparents that she was an expert video game player.
I had been teaching traditional and Olympic-style archery and wanted to have my pupils experience a new kind of archery. I had seen some Arrow-Tag games played in Australia and thought it would be a great activity to introduce to Southern Oregon. I was captivated by the idea of combining archery, creativity, movement and strategy into a fun game that virtually anyone from groups of friends, family or business colleagues can play. People who have played Arrow-Tag describe it as a hybrid mix of archery and dodge ball. Take the best bits and you have Arrow-Tag.
RVM: What can participants expect when trying archery for the first time?
LC: The most common feedback I get from someone new to archery is how much fun and how relaxing it is. I’ve taught archery to so many people who come from very stressful backgrounds, from corporate leaders to college professors and medical doctors, to single parents. It’s extremely satisfying to see their tension and anxiety drop away when they’re doing archery. Without fail almost every new archery will say to me, “Why didn’t I do this sooner? It’s so much fun!”
RVM: What has been your most rewarding experience since starting Moonbow?
LC: Hosting an archery event for 50 amazing women all dressed in red, doing archery with me for a Goddess retreat in Ashland. Their task was to write their personal life-goals on large balls and then shoot at them with rubber-tipped arrows. Many of them experienced life-changing breakthroughs!
Another one that really sticks out for me was for corporate group from Medford. They played Arrow-Tag at Emigrant Lake dressed in inflatable Dinosaur costumes. That was tons of fun!
RVM: Where do you hope to see the business in five years?
LC: As more academic studies emerge indicating the immense benefits of archery for all age groups, especially our youth, I would like to see archery come back into the schools, from elementary to the college level where baseball, football and basketball currently absorb most school sports budgets. The self-discipline, focus and concentration required in archery can hugely benefit participants in those other sports as well as improved academic scores. This Fall I will be introducing a new type of archery that is in-step with modern technology. It will be a big “hit” among younger people who are already so adept in that genre.
RVM: Who is your hero and why?
LC: Chiron (the wounded healer), the centaur from Greek Mythology who was known as an expert archer, healer and sage. He was the teacher of Achilles, who was also an expert archer. Chiron was accidentally pierced with an arrow belonging to his friend Heracles. The arrow had been treated with the poisonous blood of the Hydra. Ironically, Chiron, the master of the healing arts, could not heal himself and willingly gave up his immortality. For this reason, his half-brother Zeus took pity on him, and thus placed him among the stars in the sky to be honored. There is a part of every one of us that is wounded and needs healing. The healing comes through opening our heart. In “Mindfull” archery, the target is synonymous with the center of our being, which is our heart. When we practice archery in this mode, letting all actions originate from the center (our own heart), we naturally allow healing to take place.