20 January 2020
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Natalie Tries: Archery

August 12, 2013
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It’s hard to think of archery without thinking of medieval men in tights or Lord of the Rings, but after spending a day at Lilleshall with the GB Olympic and Paralympic archers I can tell you that archery isn’t just for elves.

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Set against a stunning backdrop in the idyllic midlands countryside, the GB archery teams spend their days training on the recently refurbished range of facilities – giving themselves the best chance of Olympic and Paralympic success in Rio. There was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to be shown around and to give this mysterious sport a go.

Lilleshall

After trekking from London into the depths of the midlands I was greeted by GB Performance Director Sarah Symington who took me on a tour of the facilities, and gave me an insight into just how technical this sport is.

With an indoor and outdoor archery range, the team can train all year round regardless of the temperamental weather. With permanent technical video analysis areas on both ranges, the performance coaches won’t miss any areas that need improvement.

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Despite the success of the Paralympic archers at London 2012, the Olympic team were just shy of their medal targets. As a result team GB are aware that they need to build on their skills before Rio in 2014.

The centre at Lilleshall also caters for grassroots archery and is used as a performance centre to develop young talent to help boost the potential for future Olympic teams.

My turn…

I was introduced to Olympian Amy Oliver who was set to give me a one-to-one training session. I was laden with a bow, a pouch around my waist to carry my arrows, a protective pad on my arm and a pad on my hand to pull back the string with. This was a lot of kit!

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When we were out on the range I couldn’t believe how far away the target was. I could barely see it, let alone hit it accurately with one of my tiny arrows! Luckily –  I wasn’t expected to shoot at the full Olympic range. When the target was much, much closer, I definitely felt more comfortable.

Amy set me up with the basic stance and showed me how to hold all of the equipment correctly. There was a lot to think about. Your body position had to be spot on, all of the equipment had to be in the right place, the angle of your arm was important, as well as focussing the right eye on the target. And after all that you actually had to try to hit the thing!

I was shocked by the weight of the bow – pulling back the string and aiming your arrow at the target was seriously hard work, and really works your arm muscles. The elite girls spend hours in the gym doing similar movements and building up their strength.

When I’d finally controlled my quivering arms and taken aim, the arrow whistled past and hit the target with an incredibly satisfying thud. It was a complete rush to see where you’d hit, and you immediately wanted to give it another go. It’s certainly addictive. With a respectable average score of around seven, I definitely got the bug and would love to give archery another go.

Not only is it addictive, fun and competitive, but also it’s incredibly technical and almost therapeutic. There’s something very calming about focussing all of your energy on the target and drowning out all other distractions.

For information about how to get involved with an archery club visit: www.archerygb.org/

Natalie Morris, Sportsister
The Women’s Sport Magazine

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