The Life & Times Of An Amateur Archer
Everyone has a story about how they came to be standing outside in a field shooting arrows and whooping each time they hit the gold (or in my case the target, but we can’t all be perfect!).
After hearing a few of the stories from people at the club, especially those people who took the beginners course with me I’ve been thinking about the ways that doing something like archery can touch peoples’ lives, and sometimes in the strangest of ways.
Take the father and son pair who came on the beginners course with me. The son J came to the club shy, quiet and barely able to look anyone in the eye. Although I wasn’t surprised given that he’s all of 14 and at the awkward age where communication consists of grunts, his discomfort was tangible whenever anyone tried to talk to him.
After a couple of weeks he slowly started to come out of his shell; even him starting to say hello to everyone seemed like a big step for him. Not wishing to pry or make him feel more uncomfortable, I generally left him to it (I have been called a ‘handful’ more than once) and chatted more to A, his dad. A explained to me that J had been quite seriously bullied at school; name calling, leaving out and general mockery.
I often wonder whether the perpetrators of bullying realise how demoralising their words and actions can be, or whether they are just too busy hoping that noone will turn on them in place of the current victim. It’s sad really, that kids seem to resort to this kind of rubbish.
It was A’s suggestion that J take his mind off things by taking up a new hobby and they decided on archery as the beginners course was just about to start and they had both enjoyed the Hunger Games. Now that they’ve both completed the beginners course, they’ve joined the club although it’s been a while since they’ve been able to come regularly.
And what a difference these few months seem to have made to J.
A explained that since he started the course, he’s noticed a real change in how J has been at home – instead of being entirely introverted and quiet at home he’s been talking about shooting, techniques, new bows and about the next time they’re due over on the field. Apparently, he has been less stressed about going to school and has even started to meet up with some people and socialising.
Having an interest outside of work / school can do wonders for us all; I have friends who bake cakes, write novels / poetry and others who video game avidly… it keeps them sane during their work hours, and I enjoy catching up with them.
Having a sport as your interest, especially one which is sociable, fairly unusual and definitely kickass can do even more than wonders. It can give you a whole host of new friends, fill you with confidence and definitely gives you something new to talk about over the drinks machine at work.
I really hope that J and the other kids like him, those who are searching for something new and interesting to help them through a tricky time, find what they’re looking for. I know that archery has been something I’ve clung onto on the days where getting up in the morning feels like the world’s biggest waste of time and I hope that it will be there for me for a fair old time to come.
TODD PACK | Writer & Editor
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