I’ve always enjoyed archery and have participated in the sport on and off through various Scout camps and school activities but never really thought about going for the Instructor Award until the opportunity arrived.
So I booked myself on to a course with Scout Adventures. The date suited me compared to other companies I looked at and the price was fairly reasonable (£220) for the course and accommodation. I usually travel via train to Gilwell (doesn’t cost me anything) but this time I had to take the car (which loves to drink petrol) so another £30 was spent on fuel (would have been less without the 1-hour delay on the M25 on the Friday night…)
The course was a mix of Scout Adventures centre staff on their apprenticeship scheme and other Scout Leaders (and one Group Scour Leader) looking to deliver archery to their groups. So a good lively mix with a common interest in Scouting (yes, some conversations did get around to the “Scouting politics” we’ve all come across within the association!)
Our instructor was a Norfolk lad called Andy who had been involved in the sport for over 20 years and ran his own company. He made us all feel very welcomed from the start.
So, we were straight into assembling the bows; securing the limbs on to the riser (wooden middle part), adding the bowstring (using the bow stringer), measuring the distance between the string and the grip and adjusting the nocking points slightly higher so they don’t cause the arrows to catch when released was all good fun. A lot to remember but I have manual to help now!
A lot more maintenance required than a rifle but far far easier to replace any damaged parts!
So we got right into the S, L, D, A, R method of shooting:
- Standing sideways on to the target, one foot on each side of the shooting line, gripping the bow gently (“Like you’re holding a hamster, don’t squeeze it too hard or its guts will come out”).
- Loading the arrow correctly by lift the arrow over the top of the bow (“Over the mountain and down the other side”), placing on the rest and attaching the nock to the string between the nocking points.
- Drawing back the string with three fingers below the nocking point (“Scout’s Promise!”) so the hand is at the corner of your mouth (“The dribble point”).
- Aim at the target (self-explanatory but sometimes you have the remind the young people to do this…).
- Release – opening the three fingers and watching that arrow fly!
I must say, doing it this way… far easier than what I’ve previously been shown… and the young people are more likely to hit the target! So double bonus right there!
After a few practices shooting, we ended the first day recapping what we’ve learnt.
The next day was straight into watching a demonstration from the instructor of a model session with new shooters and important instructions we had to cover – then we had a go. It wasn’t easy at first remembering everything – from the introduction to safety checks, to demoing, to “guided shooting”, to arrow collection etc… it was a fair bit to remember. I think we were more fearful of messing up, therefore, were very careful to try to remember the things that we’d instantly fail on:
- both feet over the shooting line,
- not giving out bracers and fitting correctly,
- picking up arrows when not correctly standing overshooting line,
- and arrows, at any time, pointing in any direction other than downwards or towards the targets)
It was good to practice and get feedback on various points. The whole day was a mix of classroom talking – safety, maintenance etc and playing the range.
To end the day we were introduced to a few archery games – individual and teamwork ones as well as competitive ones. There’s a lot more in the handbook which I would like to try in the future.
The last day consisted of a recap of the model session for assessment then looking at equality in archery and being provided with tips and advice for helping the less-abled access the sport from wheelchair users:
To users unable to grip the string or had restricted movement in draw hand;
To users with only one arm and having to draw the bow back using string and their mouth.
It was interesting and fantastic to see the sport being accessible to all.
After lunch was the assessment afternoon starting off with a 24 question test which covered the parts, definitions etc from the course (handbooks were allowed to be used!). I got 22/24 (pass mark was 18/24)
Then came the assessment – at this point we’d had so much rehearsal that whilst we were feeling nervous we knew we’d do alright and remember all that we needed to.
I can quite happily say that we all passed!
The instructor was fab. I truly felt that Andy loved the sport, was very knowledgeable and was a good teacher – he interspersed the sessions with humour, advice and tips to help manage a session and kept all of us engaged. He runs his own archery based company which can be found here: