Calling all aspiring archers: Start Archery Week is back for 2024! Take aim and try archery for the first time
15 February 2024

"I’m glad I gave the sport another go" - Returning to archery with Range Returners

Emma, the Head of Communications for Archery GB, shares how a bad experience led her to stepping away from the sport, but how a good club, knowledgeable coaches, and a supportive community helped to rekindle love for a sport she once thought wasn't for her.

I first tried archery on a visit to a health spa many years ago. I remember enjoying the taster session I did and was interested when the instructor said it was a good activity for focusing the mind. I didn’t know at the time that several years later I’d find myself working for Archery GB and on the verge of going to the Tokyo Paralympics as a media officer.

I decided to book onto a beginner’s course to find out more about the sport I would be writing about. I had attended a Start Archery Week have-a-go at my local club, but they didn’t have any space that summer on their beginners’ courses, so I found a club a bit further away and booked on with my husband, Andy.

Over four weekends we were taught how to string a bow and follow basic range safety. We were shown how to shoot, how to safely collect our arrows and the basics of scoring. I remember at the end of the course I didn’t really feel like I’d made much progress from the first session - if anything, I was worse!

We joined the club and went along to a club session but nobody from the club spoke to us apart from the equipment officer. I didn’t get the chance to go back until after Tokyo, and the club had switched to shooting indoors. Again, nobody spoke to us or even explained range etiquette. I felt pretty intimidated, especially when I didn’t realise we were only supposed to shoot three arrows each end, not the usual six I’d been shooting outdoors. We were taught on recurve bows but without sights, so aiming was a nightmare. I stopped going and decided archery wasn’t for me.

Roll forward to last spring and my dad was looking for something to do to get outside and exercising. I suggested he try archery at the club where I’d attended the Start Archery Week event as I’d been so impressed with their friendly volunteers and well-run event.

I attended the same club as a Range Returner and had a brilliant time. For a start, the bows had sights and we were taught to aim. There were plenty of coaches who worked with 2-3 people, so we got lots of advice to help us improve. Most importantly, a coach identified that I am left eye dominant. I switched to shooting left-handed and saw an immediate improvement.

After the course ended, we were invited to come back and try a club night. People made an effort to talk to us and we ended up joining. We’ve earned badges, my dad has attended his first competition and we’ve both completed a Boost course, designed to help us further our knowledge of archery.

I’m so glad I gave the sport another go. Finding the right club, knowledgeable coaches, club nights that fit with when I’m free and friendly archers mean I’ll keep coming back. I’m very proud of my Range Returners certificate which has pride of place in my office! 

If you’re ready to get back into archery and want to know more about attending a Range Returner's course, you can find out more by clicking on the button below.

Become a Range Returner


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