As universities nationwide begin to return to a business as usual format, Izzy Carpenter looks at the rich rewards of seeking out the student archery club.
For many people, archery becomes a new hobby they discover while at university – a fun sport to get stuck into that’s social, interactive and great for introducing you to people who you might not otherwise meet. For others, archery is a chance to flex their skills competitively.
University archery can appeal to both types of needs. Tom Hall of the Great Britain Olympic squad is one of this country’s best archers whose journey started off at university. He said: “I started archery at Warwick University in 2010. Just found the club by chance really. I did my beginners’ course and shot for the novice team in my first year. That was really important – it meant I got to experience being a part of a team and shooting for something bigger than me right from the start, even though I was just trying to crack the 500 mark on a Portsmouth round.”
If a university has an archery club on site, it will be listed on their website. However, it is worth noting that not all universities have archery clubs. Alternatively, you can find a list of all the clubs in the country on the Start Archery website under the ‘Find a Club’ tab. Depending on if you want to commute to university or live on campus, this is something to consider looking into before applying. You may also need to take into account the type of archery club that is available and what bowstyles and equipment they can accommodate. The clubs should usually provide a point of contact via email so that you can ask the relevant questions.
Birmingham and Derby alumna, Philippa Taylor, spoke a little about the process of getting into the archery clubs of the universities she attended and how they differed: “Both Derby and Birmingham had social media pages and a stand at their freshers fairs/virtual drop-in sessions [lockdown] to join. For Derby there was no limit on members so anyone was welcome. But Birmingham had a limit so you had to be selected to be a part of the club. Prices varied at both universities, but these included AGB membership, so this was a very reasonable membership in comparison to the usual external club rates.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for higher education sport in the UK. The BUCS archery website (www.bucs.org.uk/sports-page/archery.html) has a lot of information about up-and-coming events.
The BUCS annual events, including the outdoor and indoor championships, are the perfect student-only tournaments for a new university archer to aim towards. The events are well run, team-orientated, and there are many different categories to cater to the needs and skill levels of all competitors. These tournaments are also the best place to go to talk to fellow archers and get to know your peers and ask them questions. Everyone there is inviting and friendly, so don’t hesitate to introduce yourself!
“University archery is very special due to the ability to compete at both a novice and experienced level with all bow types, and everyone’s enjoyment of archery is celebrated through more teamwork than I’ve seen in other disciplines of archery,” Philippa added.
Tom (picture above) continued: “I got onto the experienced team after that and spent a few years progressing up, using the BUCS championships as my big targets. I started to get into doing national tournaments by 2013. I did a lot of tournaments way above my head those years, just to experience shooting at a higher level. Every time I came away determined to get better so that I could compete there.”
If you’re someone who wants to take their archery to the next level, as Tom did, and start doing more national events, all of the year’s tournaments are listed on the Archery GB section of the Sport80 website: https://agb.sport80.com/public/widget/2. The best way to grow as an athlete and get better is to shoot among the best in the country. Not only can you watch these archers shooting, but you can also have a chat with them and get more of an understanding of the level you want to aim for.
“Being in a very competitive environment with other experienced archers can help push you to your limits and have regular friendly rivalries which can end in great friendships,” Philippa explained.
For many students, they know from the very start that their primary end goal is to the make the GB team for World University Games. The event is like a small Olympics, but just for athletes at university. Students from all over the world, doing all kinds of sports, come together for a week of competition. This tournament is a great way to meet other GB students, learn more about their sports, and sometimes you even get a chance to support them and watch them compete. It also allows you to meet archers from other countries and form new friendships. The next World University Games will take place from 26 June – 7 July 2022 in Chengdu, China.
Both Tom Hall and Philippa Taylor have attended the World University Games. Tom went to the 2015 in Gwangju, Korea, where he and his teammates came in ninth place for the recurve men’s team round. Philippa went to the most recent Games in 2019 in Naples, Italy. Both events saw thousands of athletes from around 20 different sports compete in the same place.
Tom Hall, 2020 Tokyo Olympian, summed up his university archery experience quite simply: “Student archery literally changed my life forever.”
For more about student archery, visit www.bucs.org.uk/sports-page/archery.html
For all student archery queries, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org