As an enthusiastic coach and archer, Ged Laing of Ayr Archery Club in South Ayrshire, has been supporting various care homes over the past couple of months by delivering soft archery sessions to residents. This has allowed older adults the opportunity to have a go of archery within their care home setting and experience the positive physical and mental health benefits of the sport.
Ged told Scottish Archery about this fantastic project he has been running, reflecting on the enjoyment and rewarding feeling he gets from seeing the residents enjoy trying the sport.
“I am president of Ayr Archery Club, and we do as much as we can for the community. Earlier in the year I was sponsored to have my head and beard shaved for the Scottish Archery Association Under 21 Pathway squad. When we thought about it, we realised that the only group we had not helped was older adults not able to join our club.
“Just before Covid I started going into local homes and asking if they would be interested. I didn’t get a lot of interest to start with. But at a community event we were involved in, we were spotted by a leisure coordinator at a local care home and so contact was made. I asked the club for volunteers, and we started with a demo.”
When reflecting on his work with older adults, Ged stated: “We learned so much. Elderly people may not be as strong, as they are not using their muscles and a lot of the groups we worked with had dementia, so that is a lesson in patience. After a short time taking part in the activity, they opened up. Conversation is possible, so it's very rewarding. It's soft archery at a different level: no arm guards required and with the less able we hold the riser to allow them a try. The distance has to be short and usually indoors, so say three metres. If outdoors, we can also do a clout type, but only if weather is not windy.
“Once we [started working with] one home, the word spread and now we work across four homes. My goal is to give the homes a soft archery set so that the staff can continue with the activity. I have yet to go back to the first home that I supplied the kit to, but I will as I am really keen to ensure it continues. My big dream would be they form teams and compete against other local homes.”
Lyndsay Noon, CEO of Scottish Archery, praised the club’s wonderful work. “It’s fantastic to see clubs expanding their work into the local community and providing opportunities for older adults to try archery out of the club setting. This is a great example of a sustainable community-based project set up to improve the lives of others through the fantastic sport of archery.
"If anyone would like to advice on how to set up a project like this, then please get in touch. I’m sure Ayr Archery Club would be keen to share more about their experience and learning, too.”
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