UWRF lecturer has hidden archery talent
April 15, 2015
When she’s not teaching art classes at UW-River Falls, leading art therapy groups, or working on her own art work as a professional artist, Ann Lawton can be found in her back yard doing her own unique form of therapy: recurve bow archery.
A recurve bow is a type of bow with tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is strung. It is a more “old fashioned” way of performing archery, compared to shooting with a cross bow for hunting today.
Anyone who knows Lawton would not expect her to have such an intriguing hobby. She openly talks about her life outside of school to students and shares her artwork, but archery doesn’t seem to come up often. It almost seems out of character, until she explained her reasons for sticking with it after picking it up for the first time about two years ago.
“Not only do I find that it’s a meditative practice, but it just feels really good to do," Lawton said. "It gets me outside, it gets me to concentrate on something and just being able to focus on this idea of a target and putting something out there."
Lawton said that she never anticipated sticking with it; in fact, she said she never wants to actually kill anything and does not intend to get good enough to even hit a moving target. She said she just enjoys doing it, even in the winter.
“There’s this hard-core element about doing it in the winter when I feel like I’m all in survival mode,” Lawton said laughingly.
Of course, Lawton finds a way for her hobby to benefit her passion for art.
“It’s good for the upper-body strength and as an artist always needing to do that and work on that, too," Lawton said. "We always tend to forget how strenuous art-making is, and so this kind of stretches me out in a new way and builds that muscle tone in ways that I kind of never realized.”
Not only does it help her build physical strength, Lawton said it also acts as a cathartic release for her.
“It’s a stress reliever for me and there’s a sense of accomplishment with it, and it’s always so inspiring to see people who are really good at it,” Lawton said.
While Lawton said she enjoys shooting, she said she doesn't intend to become a professional and plans to keep using it as a source of cathartic release and general enjoyment. If she ever does become really good at it then that will just be a perk.
“My goal is to work on my accuracy and work on my distance," Lawton said. "It’s for me, those little things, so once I achieve that it’s just, like, yeah keep going, keep doing that, keep improving.”
The idea of improving and pushing oneself to do better is something Lawton said she thinks is true of many things in life. She said she sees her bow and arrows as a metaphor for how to approach situations in life.
“Even though you have those bad days where you’re not hitting the target straight, at least you’re close—close enough for today," Lawton said. "Persistence, I think is really important.”
The symbolism of shooting the arrows means so much to her that she got three arrows tattooed on her left forearm about a year ago.
“I really like the visual notion and I was contemplating this tattoo for awhile. I liked this idea of, again, talking about persistence and trying and this moving forward momentum," Lawton said. "It sounds a little cliché, but the arrow always goes forward, even if it doesn’t land where it’s supposed to--it’s at least forward. And the fact that there’s three [arrows], you know, sometimes it takes more than one chance to achieve what you need, achieve what you want.”
Lawton said she takes this lesson with her professionally, too.
“I think, for me in my career as being a benevolent kind of warrior and, you know, the helping professions of education and therapy as well," Lawton said. "You don’t have to harm anyone, but just kind of always fighting for what you believe in.”