Nikki Bainbridge and her young son Theo are loving their new hobby. Nikki explains how archery is fitting in with their Formula 1 obsession.
What made you want to take up archery?
Over lockdown, I found that I re-evaluated what was important to me. Life is too short to put things off. If you want to try something or go somewhere, just do it, don’t wait! You don’t know what’s round the corner. I'm gradually adopting this mantra more and more, so when I saw the advert for an archery taster session, I initially thought it might be suitable for my 11-year-old son, Theo.
Theo isn't your typical sporty type (he’s extremely laid back!) and I thought that perhaps archery would be a good fit for him. So I booked him in. When we went to the taster session and I saw all the equipment laid out I was kicking myself that I hadn't put my name down too to try it. Cut a long story short, someone didn’t turn up and I jokingly said that if they didn’t come, I would take their place, secretly hoping they wouldn't come. Well, after that first session I was hooked!
How are you and your son getting on with the beginners’ course?
Absolutely loving it! Before you know it, two hours are gone in the blink of an eye – it’s so absorbing. I think as a parent, the hardest bit for me was having to step back and let Theo learn how to assemble the bow himself correctly. I’ve had to sit on my hands a good few times and let him figure it out. Also hearing him receive constructive criticism was a new/hard one too. You spend your whole life trying to protect your children but I guess at some point you have to let them stand on their own two feet. Probably good for both him and me to be honest.
At this stage, do you think you’ll both want to continue with archery long-term?
Theo has expressed an interest in competitions, although I think he’ll have to gain a little more confidence yet. We only realised halfway through the beginners’ course that he wasn’t in fact a left-handed archer, and we switched to a right-handed bow, so we have a bit of catching up to do. As far as I am concerned, I’d like to continue (I’m raring to go actually) for as long as I can!
Do you both have many other hobbies, and will archery fit in with them (or take over?)
We are massive Formula 1 fans, and go to races when we can and we religiously follow it on TV. We can shoot mid-week but it might have to be every other Sunday to fit in with the F1. We’ll see!
Did you have any expectations/preconceptions about the sport before you tried it?
I thought it was going to be really technical. It looks so complicated with all the sights and things hanging off! I was worried about nocking the arrow and having the arrow twang up my arm, but the careful and deliberate way that the course has been delivered ensured that safety always comes first. It’s very reassuring and you feel confident that you are doing the right thing.
How are you settling into archery club life?
Again, this was something I confess I had a few preconceived ideas about, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Newark Castle Archers is a lovely club and everyone is friendly. Granted, it’s still early days but from what I’ve seen so far, there has been welcoming smiles all round. I’m looking forward to participating further in the club activities and getting to know everyone.
Do you both enjoy the sport for different reasons?
Theo says that he likes archery as it’s something a bit different; all the other lads play football. Theo is a gentle soul and isn’t aggressive enough to play team sports like football or rugby. Eleven-year-old boys can be quite intimidating on the field! Theo likes the idea that he’s in control of his own destiny with archery. I enjoy the sport as it makes me take time out of my extremely busy week and have some ‘me time’.
I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but I hadn’t realised how important it was to do something just so completely different from my mainstream life. You get bogged down with working and raising a family, and this is like a breath of fresh air. I just had to take a leap of faith.
Do you or your son have any ambitions in the sport?
Theo probably has. I think maybe I’m a bit old to be shooting in the novice competition with a bunch of kids, though I might be wrong, ha ha! I’d like to see if I can improve, then see what’s out there for me progression wise.
Why would you recommend archery to a friend?
It takes you out of yourself. You have to practise a little bit of mindfulness. I’ve found that if you calm yourself down before releasing, take your time, and settle yourself, the arrow flies that little bit better. Taking deep breaths and centring yourself is all good for promoting wellbeing and good mental health.
The sport is measured, it’s refined and elegant and I think that once you get into that mindset of taking your time over things and considering everything around you (attributes highly valued and taught in archery) it will stand you in good stead in other parts of life. My husband wants to try it now!
If you like what you've read, find out how you can start your archery journey. You can locate your nearest archery club, learn about some of the kit and types of archery you can try, and find local archery events.