Interested in Starting Archery?
You don’t need to be massively strong to enjoy Archery – and even if you are, you’ll be using muscles you may never have used much before, so nearly everyone needs time to build up.
But you do have to be a bit sensible – you’ll be using something that was invented as a hunting weapon and eventually became a very deadly war weapon. Even the junior beginners bows that you’ll start with can hit a target over 70 metres away – have you any idea how far that is?
It’s from HERE > v < …. to … W-A-A-A-A-Y … O-V-E-R … T-H-E-R-E … >> even Usain Bolt would need at least Seven Seconds Start to be safe! So we don’t want anyone risky with a Bow in their hands.
To avoid getting stopped by bad weather, most of our Beginners Lessons are held Indoors – though we do try to get outside for at least one session. We try to give you an opportunity to shoot a reasonable distance, say 50 metres, so you get an idea of the power of your bow, and see how exhilarating shooting outdoors can be. Shooting Indoors requires control and precision – of course you need these Outdoors too, but you can open up a bit and let rip.
One of our top Sussex Archers says “Shooting a Bow is easy, you just push it out with one hand, pull the string back with the other, and let go”. Do you think you could manage that? He’s right of course, it is just like that, but like all really simple things, we Humans are very good at making it harder that it needs to be. The Challenge of Archery is to use strength with precision and total relaxation – and there’s massive satisfaction in sending arrows absolutely smoothly through the air directly at a yellow spot about the size of the palm of your hand, maybe 40 or 50 metres away.
There’s really no such thing as an “Accurate Bow”, just Accurate Archers – when you’re good you’ll have learnt both bodily and mental control, which of course will take time, but will develop fastest if you really enjoy shooting arrows.
Here at the club you can shoot at Targets, both outdoors and in, several days a week (that’s Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday mornings all year round, and Wednesday evenings in the Summer Season). We hold two Tournaments a year that give an opportunity to taste good quality Competitive Archery, and there are Junior League Matches and various Improvement Award schemes to have a go at. You just go at your own pace, and we will allow for your age and size.
Plenty of young archers do all their shooting at their Home Club but there are many opportunities to go further afield and participate in all kinds of events both nearby and miles away, There are several branches of Archery, some available at the club itself (Target, Wand, and Clout Archery), others at specialist venues (Field and Flight Archery), and several types of Bow, ranging from ‘primitive’ to high-tech, and the Club encourages all members, especially the Juniors, to try some variations. You can get a taste of the types of archery which are available nearby by clicking here.
You will get help and advice as you go along, and if you really want to go further we can arrange access to higher level coaching, including the Junior Archery Academies. If you have a disability of any kind we can help arrange support, including getting a disability Sports Classification at Stoke Manderville. Talented youngsters are likely to be spotted and encouraged to go onto one of the development programmes. This is because the Club is affiliated to Archery GB, which in turn is a member of the World Archery Federation, and this means any archer with the necessary talent and willingness can be taken into the Elite training programme.
There are real opportunities for representing your Club, County, Region, or even Country, sometimes quite soon after starting the activity.
You can see from this picture that Junior Archery isn’t always a lot of Fun – or you’d think so from the expressions on the faces. It’s a group of Sussex Juniors being given information at the start of a County Championships (probably things like where the lavatories are). The interesting thing is that five years after this was taken, the girl on the left of the front row won a Silver Medal at the Rio Paralympics, and the girl just right of centre was the Reserve for Team GB Archery in the Olympics.
But before stepping onto the International Stage, there are opportunities nearer to home, and plenty of Arundown Juniors have enjoyed taking part and working their way up the ladder. Our Juniors shoot in Tournaments at Angmering school which attract some top-rank Archers, they enter the County and Regional Championships, and some go to National Championships. Many or most of these competitions are ‘open’, so anyone can go without having to meet a particular standard, so it’s a great way to get valuable experience.
Several of our juniors, girls and boys, have won County Championships, and a few have been Regional Indoor Champions. We’ve had two outright National Junior Champions in Field Archery (that’s a humane form of Hunting, where the archers work their way round a course of targets laid out in rough woodland) and one of our current Juniors has twice been in Home-International-winning England Teams, once Indoors and once Outdoors.
One good spinoff of this was that the Club organised a National Record Status tournament in 2015 specially for the benefit of the best Juniors in the Southern Counties, to help them get selected for the England team to shoot against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the Junior National Indoor Championships, which meant that all our Juniors had an opportunity to shoot alongside some excellent archers.
Information and Answers for Parents
Our Club is affiliated to the sport’s National Governing Body, which considers all archers under the age of 18 to be Juniors. We welcome Junior members, but we will not take responsibility for child care, and generally we do require parents or guardians to attend and remain on site while a child is being taught or is shooting. The exceptions to this are the older Juniors, usually those over 16, but sometimes over 14, who are considered on an individual basis so long as satisfactory arrangements have been made guaranteeing the Junior can get home after the Session. Parents often make arrangements between themselves to look after one another’s children.
Our Instructors and Coaches have received training in Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, and several of our people are CRB checked because their position or qualification requires it.
What type of Junior does well as an Archer?
Archery is a popular sport for all kinds of children and teenagers, and while it’s something that active, athletic children can shine at, it’s also one that can suit youngsters who aren’t over-keen on contact sports like football. Unlike team ball-sports, or one-to-one contests like tennis or judo, which involve aggression and trying to prevent the opposition performing well, Archery depends on one person only, the Archer, and so the Sport suits people who like to perform an action coolly and perfectly, rather than grapple with an opponent. Uncontrolled aggression can get in the way of good archery and wild and emotional children can be a problem. The battle is with the distance, the wind, the equipment and yourself. Do it right and something wonderful and very satisfying happens, a well-shot arrow flies smoothly along a perfect curve, as if on an invisible rail. And in Competition, the most satisfaction comes from knowing you handled it better than anyone else.
As you may have noticed from recent Paralympics, Archery was one of the founding sports of the Paralympic Movement, and is accessible to a wide range of disabilities, involving missing or compromised limbs, motor control, eyesight limitations and many other impairments. We’ve seen Archery be of huge benefit to children with various forms of autism, dyspraxia and even hyperactivity. It is, however, rather important that Parents give as as much information as they can so we can try to set up the best and most suitable learning programme for each individual.
How young can Junior Archers be?
While there is no formal policy about Starting Age, Archery Clubs quite widely use eight as a minimum. This club doesn’t have a hard-and-fast minimum, and we have successfully taught children as young as four, but generally the youngest have been either part of a family group, or are children who have parents or older brothers / sisters who shoot.
One problem with little children is the difficulty in finding scaled-down equipment for them that’s actually suitable, we find we have to modify the commercial gear. This means we can only accommodate one or two very small children at a time, which makes it difficult for several same-age friends to come together.
But another important issue is staying-power. It’s very unusual for children who start very young to continue for more than a year or two, and that often means they haven’t really got the most out of the Sport, as things tend be quite limited for the little ones. Most of the Juniors who persist for any length of time are in the 11 to 18 group. The 14 to 18 year olds are often better than most of the adults.
What will Juniors get out of the Lessons?
The beginners courses are part training, part practice and part probation. We have to follow a syllabus laid down by the National Body, who provide insurance, and they insist all new archers have been through a recognised induction course. If the pupil completes satisfactorily (and to be honest, it would be very rare not to, if they have any weaknesses we’d attend to them if they continued, it would probably only happen if the pupil was actively dangerous) then we issue a certificate, which would be recognised by another club if changing or moving to another district. At that point they should have a membership card to Archery GB too, which is usually the confirmation required.
The idea is that by the end of the course they have some skills, know more or less what they’re doing, and know the safety rules. We hope that at that point they will join the club and continue and improve and maybe get competitive, though many just enjoy club-level activity. They can use the club equipment so long as it’s not required for lessons at the same time. But if they are competitive-minded they should get equipment to suit them, as the club gear is chosen to be easy to use and robust, rather than high performing.
Does my Child need their own Bow and Arrows for Lessons?
We provide equipment, which is selected to be suitable for out-and-out beginners to allow them to develop their style, posture, and muscles in a safe controlled way. We strongly advise you to resist the urge to buy a bow and arrows until the end of the Lessons. We can give advice on purchasing equipment, which should prevent mistakes that could spoil your child’s enjoyment, and they will be helped to purchase equipment that can grow and adapt as their body adjusts to the new activity.
We can try to find 2nd-hand equipment, usually things that people have grown out of, or progressed beyond. However, unfortunately it seems most children want to hold on to their first set of gear, and surprisingly little gets back onto the second-hand market.
What happens when the lessons end?
Once lessons have been completed satisfactorily, if the beginner has decided they have an interest or aptitude, and would like to continue, they are able to join the Club. Membership Fees are due on joining, and as people join at any stage of the year, they are charged pro-rata for the number of months until the beginning of May in the following year when the next full year fees become due. All membership is probationary for the first year, although it’s almost unknown for anyone who has shown they are sensible in the lessons to turn out to be unsuitable.
We don’t have any special mechanism for looking after children as a separate group, for the most part they are treated as equal members of the club, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is they are expected to behave in an adult-like way and respect the potential dangers of the activity, which teaches them to act responsibly, and gives confidence and experience interacting with Adults. On the other hand we do not often lay-on organised activities just for juniors, but they are provided with suitable shooting distances on normal target days, and are give their own challenges and prizes in our Tournaments and Fun Shoots. Many of the club members are parents, and some of the younger ones are brothers or sisters, so there is a tendency to be inclusive.
What Costs are involved?
Compared with many other activities, costs are quite modest. For an annual subscription of around £60 (refer to the Membership Page to see the current charges), Juniors can shoot three or even four times a week at Club Sessions at the Angmering School. At no extra cost they can enter the Junior Winter League and shoot in the Summer Postal and Outdoor Leagues. There are no Club Uniform costs apart from the Club Shirt, which is mainly for Away events once the young archer decides to go to Competitions. If they do start to got to Competitions then the costs start to rise, entering local shoots costs around £8, and of course there are travel and food costs (maybe for several members of the family!), and Regional and National-level Competitions cost about twice as much, with much longer travel distances. Of course when possible we share cars and travel expenses, so the costs are kept down unless your child turns out to be a real star on The Circuit.
Equipment costs are variable depending on tastes and how much you care to spend. Of course children have a habit of growing, so larger equipment is needed now and then, although there is a market for used equipment so long as your child can bear to part with it. Other than that, arrows are the main consumable, and barring accidents (collisions between arrow and the woodwork supporting the target being the most common) will last for a long time, usually the children grow too big before the arrows need replacement through use.
It’s possible to buy a complete new kit capable of giving good results and robust enough for year-round use, with virtually everything a beginner would need until they moved to an intermediate set, for around £120. A similar intermediate-level set, which in fact would be good enough to compete at County Level, can be had for around £300. The next step up would take you to £600 or even £1500 or more, but there’s no need, or sense, to spend this much early on.
My Child is a Student at The Angmering School, can they join the Archery Club?
Arundown Archery Club operates from the Angmering School, and we do try to integrate with the sports department and help by laying on activities when the need arises. We are pleased to have students join us, and we will give a discount to any who take a course of lessons.