Island outdoors – archery

There are two established archery clubs on the Island, with a third due to open in early 2008. The new club will be a Field Archery club using 3D foam targets and paper targets of animals. It will be based in fields and woods, using traditional bows such as the longbow. All of the clubs welcome beginners.

Archery is a great family sport and is popular among people with disabilities, who often compete directly against able-bodied competitors. The clubs operate all year round, moving indoors for these chilly winter months.

Shooting arrows at a target for accuracy from a set distance or distances is called target archery. You get the most points for hitting the gold circle in the centre of the target. The centre point is called the x-ring (not the bullseye). You don’t get extra points for hitting it, although it defines who wins a tie-break.

Archery gives your body a surprisingly good work-out. It’s good for the back, because the majority of the work in archery is done by the upper body muscles, which take the strain when the bow string is drawn. Repeated lifting of the bow and drawing back the string tones the upper body, particularly the muscles in your arms and shoulders. Archery also burns calories. In competition, during a typical one-day tournament, an archer can walk about 5 miles.

It’s said that archery reduces stress. Learning to stay cool under pressure might be applied to other areas of your life. Finally, the focus and mental clarity needed for archery will boost your ability to concentrate, sharpening the mind.

Clubs like West Wight Archery in Newport and Wight Bowman in Ryde require you to undertake a beginner’s course before you are permitted to shoot on your own. A course of six 1-hour lessons, starting with targets approximately 10m away, can be arranged for upwards of £20.

The clubs will usually provide you with all of the necessary equipment. Wear flat, stable shoes, and avoid any kind of heel that could unbalance you. A close-fitting top will ensure that your clothing doesn’t catch on the bow. If you are serious about taking up the sport at a more advanced level, you’ll need to join GNAS, the national body for archery, which among other things provides public liability coverage. Equipment can be tailored for all budgets utilizing used and new gear.

Local Clubs:

West Wight Archery Club, 01983 520037

Wight Bowmen, 01983 611918 (Ryde)

The Wight Company, Brian, 07523 052434