A bow and arrow cheerleading stunt is no small matter. It requires a flyer with excellent flexibility partnered with a strong stable base. If your team is considering adding this stunt into its repertoire, a variety of YouTube videos combined with your coach's careful instruction can help you perfect this feat.
Characteristics of a Bow and Arrow Cheerleading Stunt
The bow and arrow cheerleading stunt is characterized by a flyer who is capable of a vertical split in which the toe (or heel in some cases) of the extended leg is held within the opposite hand. The free arm is then stretched horizontally past the extended leg while the flyer's abdomen naturally curves like a bow. When flawlessly done, the horizontal arm combined with the other aspects of this stunt will mimic the shape of a bow and arrow. The Liberty stunt is a good place to start as the bow and arrow is a variation of this stunt.
Naturally, the full instruction of the bow and arrow stunt does not translate easily through words. Hopefully, your team has a skilled coach who has executed this stunt in the past, but if your team works under its own jurisdiction, then you will want to do more than examine images of this stunt via the web. Instead, YouTube.com has several videos of cheerleaders performing the bow and arrow, so you can see all the steps the lead up to the completion of an elevated bow and arrow.
The Flyer's Role
Clearly, a flyer attempting the bow and arrow will need to be very flexible. Heel stretches are at the very foundation of this stunt. If you or your flyer is incapable of mastering a heel stretch, it will make the toe grab of the bow and arrow pretty much impossible. Practicing splits and heel stretches for long periods of time and on a very regular basis will help prepare your muscles for this stunt.
This YouTube video featuring a standing bow and arrow contest will give viewers and idea of how a flyer glides into the position from a heel stretch. Although the contest is rewarding the longest hold of this stunt, you will note that the fluidity with which the flyer moves into the position makes a drastic difference in how professional the stunt looks. If your flyer is twisting and hopping all over place, trying to achieve balance, it will be extremely difficult to move her bow and arrow into an elevated stunt.
The Bases and Inventive Measures
If you have a flyer who can pull off her role perfectly, then the next step is deciding how you will execute the elevation portion of the stunt. Technically, a bow and arrow doesn't require elevation in order to live up to its name, but it's far more impressive if your flyer is raised into the air for the world to see. You will need a solid base to raise your flyer properly.
This bow and arrow execution exhibits two bases with two spotters per flyer. The more bases and spotters you have, the more strength behind the elevation. This is the best option for teams that do not possess any power bases. More hands, however, does not necessarily promise a safer stunt, as the more the people who are involved, the more ways a stunt can go awry.
Again, another video displaying a similar take on the bow and arrow shows the standard two base and two spotters formation. However, this video adds an interesting twist in that the bases rotate thus allowing the flyer to exhibit her skills in a more ceremonious fashion.
There is a fairly thorough instructional video available on YouTube which demonstrates the classic two bases and two spotters per flyer bow and arrow. The best part about this demonstration is that it illustrates the individual roles each base and spotter will need to play out in order for the stunt to be executed smoothly and safely.
If you have an extremely strong base combined with a highly agile flyer, your team might be able to pull off a more advanced variation of the bow and arrow. This video displays a one on one base/flyer combination with a somersault into the bow and arrow, followed by a tic toc variation into another bow and arrow, now executed with the opposing leg. This move requires extreme acrobatic skill and is rarely seen outside the college or competitive circuits.
Since cheerleading can involve some high level gymnastics and athletic feats, it is always recommended that your stunts be practiced under the supervision of experienced coaches. This is especially important when you are attempting new stunts, as so many of the details for safe stunt execution cannot be demonstrated by a mere YouTube video. It is also very important for cheerleaders not to practice stunts that are outside their current skill level. So before you add an elevated bow and arrow to your list of future stunts, be sure that you have already fully mastered a simple extension.