Men in Sheds: Archery club brings older men together

An archery club has launched its own version of Men in Sheds - the volunteering scheme that brings men together to tackle loneliness and share their DIY skills with the community.

Deer Park Archers, in Gloucestershire, have always prided themselves on their volunteering programmes but as they began to develop their grounds, they found they needed more regular support.

The club spoke to Age UK and visited Men in Sheds clubs to find out how the community volunteering scheme worked.

They based their own Men in Sheds club on the national model but adapted it to archery using Archery GB's insurance and risk assessment framework. 

They advertised through the local council and NHS channels to find men to join the programme.

Numbers have varied between 10 and 20, some regulars, others more casual, with an average age of 71 (you must be 50+ to join) and an amazing range of practical skills.

Importantly they also converted a large container to be their workshop and through a combination of equipment donations and financial support from the club kitted themselves out with the necessary tools for the work the club needed help with.

Through the pandemic the core members continued to meet, observing all the precautions and national restrictions and focusing on keeping the venue safe and ready for archery to return. Men in sheds volunteers repairing an archery target

What began as a Friday morning club evolved into a weekday mornings club and with that development the role of the group expanded across a wider range of activities.

Deer Park has developed its own field archery course and the Men in Sheds swung into action to support the project. A tournament control centre was built, field course bridges made, trees planted and steps installed with over a kilometre of pathways. An array of bird, bat and insect hotels were built, invasive species of plants removed and hedge cutting and stream clearance work completed. 

The list is endless but collectively the activities offer members the opportunity to use established skills, develop new ones, get a sense of achievement and enjoy social interaction in a safe, friendly, appreciative and inclusive venue, with benefits to both their mental and physical wellbeing.Men in sheds volunteers standing around an arrows sculpture they built

Roger Topps, age 76 and one of the original members, said: "Since retirement, being a part of the Men in Sheds team has become an important part of my life.

"I attend 4 or 5 mornings a week, there's great banter with the team and lots of varied satisfying hard work that is well appreciated."

Deer Park now plans to develop a number of specific day groups and will be appealing for new members.

Deer Park Men in Sheds

Volunteering in archery 

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