This year 2020 has been a strange one to say the least! A piece of advice in life, to expect the unexpected cannot have been more applicable to this year where unexpected circumstances have driven a wagon and horses right through all of our well laid plans.
Our sport of archery has been as affected as anything else with the constraints of self-isolation, social distancing and lock-down causing the wholesale cancellation of much activity in the sport as a whole – right from the local club level through to national and international competition. There has been however an unexpected consequence of living under the pandemic however, and that has been to cause a growth in the popularity of archery. Perhaps not surprisingly when you consider it is an activity that is easily participated in in a socially distanced way.
People with time on their hands and denial of their possibly more usual activities look for something else to do. This I think is the main reason. There has been the greatest increase seen in the numbers of ‘independant archers’ – that is people deciding to take up archery with no involvement in a club or organisation. They may have access to a piece of land or even intend to shoot just in their back garden. By far the greatest area that this interest has been observed is in traditional style archery such as longbow. (There has been seen also, a surge in purchases of crossbows which perhaps is concerning as such weapons are easier for the uninitiated to create accidents with!)
I have no problem with such involvement in our sport/pursuit/art, but I would advise caution and a considered approach. Firstly, the fact that the bow and arrows constitute a weapon, not a toy nor just another piece of sporting equipment. True we don’t fight wars nor put meat on the table with bows and arrows any more (at least not in our part of the world) and most people see archery as primarily sport, but they were originally intended for those purposes. Even a light bow delivers an arrow with more force than a full legal limit 12 ft/lb hunting air rifle. Such an air rifle would be regarded with respect – your bow and arrows must be also. Beware that a garden fence is not an effective backstop for an arrow, and that an arrow shot high into the air could travel 200 meters. I would strongly urge any aspiring archer to get some training!
Beginners courses are available at archery clubs, or failing that at least ‘have a go’ at archery under instruction where this activity is offered. I offer such basic training and familiarisation sessions myself where you can learn to handle a bow and arrows in safety and have some fun also.