I was very lucky to get to see some Olympic and Paralympic sports at London 2012 just at the very last minute. I got to see archery at Lords Cricket ground and it was absolutely amazing and despite the fact that arrows went past so fast you could barely see them it was thrilling to watch. I then went to a ‘have a go’ session nearby and had really enjoyed it. It had never dawned on me that you could take it up as a sport. I thought you knew by quite a young age if you were good at any sports and I certainly wasn’t. One day I decided to do some investigation and found a new club called ‘Goldcrest Archers’ in Hyde. They ran beginner courses. I signed up and I was away. Many of the coaches across Tameside in their various sports are volunteers. You can get qualifications in coaching at different levels if you want to teach and support others to learn a new sport. It would be difficult for me to experience what it would be like to be say a football coach if I don’t have the skills and the training. Therefore when the opportunity came to volunteer at a sport I did know I jumped at the chance. Goldcrest Archers had decided to have an open day where you could try archery for free. This was part of GB Archery’s ‘Big Weekend’ to encourage clubs to open their doors to the public so people could try the sport for themselves. I had passed my beginners course which is what you need in order to shoot at a club. A necessary training in how to use the equipment safely before you went off to enjoy the sport. I wasn’t a trained coach but I knew enough in order to help members of the public use the beginners bow and have a go at shooting arrows. The indoor shooting range was open for the day and I was ready to help. I got some pointers from Peter the coach that had trained me and I was ready to impart wisdom. It was one thing to know how to do a sport but quite another to pass on that knowledge to someone else. With some help from Peter my first person was Zac, a junior trying archery for the first time. One of the main things with Zac was getting him to pull the string far enough back. I explained “that is how the arrow gets its energy to send it to the target”. Wow had I really imparted knowledge? It was really rewarding especially when Zac then hit the target. I then helped Zac’s dad who felt under pressure as his son had hit close to the centre. He called it the yellow but to us archers it is known as the gold.
I helped some of the adults have a go and they varied in age. Some of the ladies in particular felt unconfident so it was important to give lots of encouragement and praise. I was helping one lady and it took me a moment to realise that as I had asked her to bring her hand to her mouth instead of pulling the string back she was bending her front arm holding the bow instead. This was a lesson in being very clear with my instructions and it was easily rectified when I reminded her to keep her left arm stretched out. Being good at a sport doesn’t necessary mean that you will make a good coach but in a way I think I might be a better coach than I am an archer. My final triumph was coaching a junior called Grace who picked up archery extremely quickly and was hitting the target with her first goes and then hitting the ‘gold’ before not time. Coaching brings with it the great reward of seeing people progress and get better at a sport because of you. In my brief test of it I can definitely recommend it. If you would like to find out more information you can go to www.goldcrestarchers.co.uk or email Peter Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org