Since we were all beginners once, every archer currently affiliated with Archery GB has done a beginners course run by qualified coaches. Its hard to believe looking at some our “they know everything” members but once upon a time they were noobs.
The beginners’ course is probably the first time the future archer gets to experience what archery is really about. “Come and Tries” at Centre Parcs or shooting a few arrows at a highland games might give you a taste … but archery is a lot more than “pull string – let go”. It probably makes sense to you that you need shown how to shoot a bow properly which you guess will take, what? … 5 minutes … but what about all the other stuff? Why is a beginners’ course required and so long (3 sessions at about 90mins a session) when its rarely needed to enter other sports? Well, we have beginners’ courses for 3 reasons:
Firstly: How to shoot a bow. Archery is akin to going to the gym where instructors will make sure you know how to use the weights safely and don’t hurt yourself. Archery is the same. The stance you need to take. The way to hold the bow. How to load the bow. How to efficiently draw the string back. How much weight you are safely able to draw and hold. How to aim. How to let go (harder than you think) and where that hand goes after it lets go. It’s a lot to take in and it’s a lot to remember but this is the core of what we do. And while practice does make perfect, getting the basics down very early is important. Bad habits acquired now will be frustrating later. Here we are trying to instil in you the basics of the correct way to shoot. It’s a starter for 10 in your archery development. Something you will refine with practice, but a solid base now will help you enjoy archery more. Its virtually guaranteed the first time everything comes together properly and feels right – the arrow will fly straight from bow to the centre of the target, and you will justifiably feel like Robin Hood … Now, do it again! ;o)
Secondly: Etiquette. Now that might sound a little odd but there needs to be order about how archers move about the shooting line, the kit and each other. Without these rules (think highway code for archery) there would be chaos in the confined area of an archery line. You need to know when to approach the line and when not to. Where the shooting line, waiting line or tent line are and what they are for. The ways you need to be “polite” to your fellow shooters (gossip is not affected). Not to touch other people’s bows without asking permission (honestly, REALLY important!). How to score then how and when to pull arrows from a target. All this becomes second nature after a short while making shooting completely drama free … at least outside all the hysterics for poor scores or shots. ;o)
Lastly: Safety. Archery is a safe sport because we work hard to ensure it stays that way. According to various studies in the USA, golfers suffer 3 times more injuries (per thousand participants) than are experienced by archers and our figures include bow hunting. US insurance rates for archery ranges are equivalent to badminton clubs! How safe archery would be if hunting was excluded might make it the safest sport in the world. With that in mind you need to absorb the safety procedures that archers obey virtually on a subconscious level. What the whistle signals mean. Why is everyone shouting “FAST”? Why can’t I stand here? Can that guy with the whistle tell me to stop doing what I’m doing? Archery is never at home to unsafe situations and we pride ourselves on just how safe we as a sport are. This is your grounding in being safe.
Once you pass your beginners course, you get a certificate. AGB now recognizes you have the knowledge archery requires of you and you can apply to join any AGB affiliated club. There are something like 17 clubs in and around Glasgow and down the west coast but obviously, if you do a course with us, we hope you’ll want to stay. We have a great field, a dedicated and experienced team running the club, there’s a lot of humour & banter and honestly our vice chair isn’t that bad! :o)
If you are thinking about archery as a possible future passion, we run courses a couple of times a year. The next two courses will be May and September 2024. Our courses have been filling up quickly, not surprisingly as post covid, people are looking for new, interesting things to do. Outside of our own courses, we highly recommend courses run by MRM Archery where coaches Michael and Moira are extremely knowledgeable, very approachable and are trusted by GA’s more rabidly competitive archers (one an internationalist) for coaching. These courses are accepted for club entry exactly the same way club run courses are. Wither its one of our courses, or MRM, all equipment is provided. Just dress for the weather (ideally with close fitting tops to avoid contact with the bowstring) then bring yourself and a heap of enthusiasm! :o)
Note: Glasgow Archers do require a minimum age of 12 for juniors with a parent or guardian present at all times. Other clubs in Scotland and the UK may have a lower age minimum but this is decided by each individual club.