Archery.... is there a need for further change?

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Archery has been changing ever since it started; it is still changing, to match the lifestyles of those who enjoy it as a pastime and /or sport.
The archery that I know best, is club level archery. For many, that can mean shooting with friends now and again; for some it is shooting to improve and possibly take part in competitions. I have shot with a few archers who went on to shoot for their country.Their shooting may have started at a local club, but they had to leave most of that behind and change their lifestyle in ways that the rest would never consider making.
Those archers who reached GMB and beyond need very different archery experiences from the ones club level archers need.
They need to spend far more time on getting to a higher level and staying there.They have to move up several gears.
Another type of archery is becoming more common these day; the "have a go on holiday" type of archery. More and more beginners are telling me that they first tried archery on holiday, at a have a go session.
bentarrow won't mind my saying that he likes the idea of people being able to shoot a few arrows now and again without having to join a club or take a beginners' course. He describes it as " pay and play" archery, in the way ten pin bowling happens.That idea is starting to appeal to me more and more as I give it more thought. I have tried to imagine the club where I shoot, offering have a go sessions as a frequent part of what the club does. I am not sure about that??
Perhaps it would be better if more " pay and play" archery places were set up. Some of the teachers/coaches may be archery club members as they would give a good introduction to those " paying to play". The establishments could operate at times when most archery clubs are unlikely to be "open".
It might be even better if the "PandP" places were linked to AGB, so some common ground could be established and traffic could run in both directions.
 


PnP sounds like a good idea to me.
I think a lot of people would make use that sort of thing if it was available, however I can see it being very expensive to setup and run.
You'd need reasonably good equipment (jelly bows won't cut it), a good, safe location (preferably 365/24/7 secure and private), members of staff who are reasonably well trained, in both coaching and safety, and trustworthy; lots of marketing and advertising; and an ironclad insurance policy!

Have you seen the new 'Archery Tag' setups that have appeared in the last few years? That's sort of similar, but gives a very different experience of archery - more like paintball combat than just boring standing on a line shooting at a roundel. I hope they're successful.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Riceburner, thanks for the reply. I like the sound of archery that is not all about standing in one place and shooting at a circle.
I did not like seeing archers shooting at each other; despite it being safe. Shooting " field archery" without having to join a club could be a better compromise. Places that offer other outdoor pursuits might consider adding bows and arrows to their current set up.
I have always had a child like interest in knocking targets over with my arrows. Things help up on sticks with clothes pegs. It is simpler than 3 D and cheaper. It's similar to shooting at balloons.
 


ben tarrow

Active member
Just to confirm Geoff's comments and put it into context, at my club, we run beginners courses EVERY saturday afternoon. People book in and come and have an afternoon's lesson. They dont have to book for 6 lessons, just one lesson at a time is fine. We keep track of how many lessons a beginner has had and as they approach 6 lessons we are pleased to tell them that they have reached our standard and invite them to join the club. We have had a lot of people who for one reason (shift work, working off shore, people with real lives for whom archery is a pleasure but not the most important thing of all) or another can't attend 6 consecutive weeks. We get a fair few people who come for one taster session and we never see again, but thats ok, because thats what the lessons are for.
In my town we have a 10 pin bowling alley, where you turn up, pay for a lane and spend a couple of hours bowling for fun with friends. No long term commitment (unless you want it). Why can't archery be like that? Theres also lots of golf clubs, the majority of which you can turn up (with your own bag of clubs) pay your green fee and off you go. Again, no commitment unless you want it.
If AGB had an arrangement for clubs to offer "pay and play", supervised, with a small fee per person or an annual fee from the club, it'd be sure to get a lot more people into archery. Sure that arrangement wouldnt suit every club, but there is no "one size fits all" arrangement for anything in the world of archery. Promoting archery has to be more about bows in hands for fun than once a year at the big archery weekend.
 


Whitehart

Well-known member
Coffee shops that also do archery are an option - but as RB says the cost to set up in the UK is prohibitive to have them in the right areas
 


bimble

Well-known member
Supporter
Fonz Awardee
Ironman
so... are we talking about things like the 'Archery Legends' in Loughborough, or the 'Wye Valley Archery' down near Chepstow?
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Cheers,Ben, You explained it far better than I did.
I would guess, that some other clubs would take that idea on board and make a good job of it.
I would guess some would rather not. It is good to have as an option; not good to have it thrust upon you.
I know Ben is not talking about thrusting anything on anybody; I just wanted to put that view on display.
Archery Legends looks like a good plan; other sites may offer similar but with their own spin on things.
If AGB had an arrangement for clubs to offer "pay and play", supervised, with a small fee per person or an annual fee from the club, it'd be sure to get a lot more people into archery.
I would like to focus for a while on the idea of getting more people into archer.
In what sense do we want to get more people into archery?
Do we want greater numbers in all clubs?
Do we want more new clubs to take the extra archers?
Do we want all the new archers to end up as club members?
Do we want new types of clubs to cater for new and different types of archery?
I have a bit of a problem with wanting to Attract more people into archery. It almost sounds like they don't really want to be in archery so we need to make it more attractive to them. We attract them , they join, they are disillusions and leave.
To clarify that; I think we should advertise that we exist and that we welcome new members and full training will be given, on club equipment.
Once they know there is an archery club near them, they commit to giving it a go. The club in turn commits to giving over time for the lessons.
I frequently hear new beginners saying they have wanted to get into archery for ages. They see us on line and ask for more details.
Archery is exactly what is on offer at the various venues/clubs; no more and no less. To have more people shooting starts with a reason for wanting more people shooting.
The club where I shoot has grown from 6 to 60. Numbers fluctuate but never too high and never too low. It works well with numbers in the 60 region. Could things be better? Yes. Are there club members who want change? Yes. Do they want to do the work? Yes.
It also requires others to do extra work, who are already busy volunteers.
 


Whitehart

Well-known member
Geoff I think this is the problem, nobody has taken a step back and asked archers and non archers what format they want from Archery.

Also facilities and accessibility varies wildly.

For those that want to give archery a try or always wanted to do it - their understanding of what it is about is totally different (Robin Hood Hunger Games Rambo) to What the majority do, target archery so after a beginners course everything looks a bit dower.

Whilst it is possible to cater and make archery fun for a few hours like archery legends what about the next 20 years how are you going to hold interest without turning in to target, Field or longbow archers.

I am not sure that walk in centres work financially (People these days are not happy with a field and no toilets)- it is not really a club offering,as it will not be open everyday or evenings. It is a lot of work, profits are low, lots of staff turnover - perhaps think of the costs of running a 10 pin bowling facility. I have one on my doorstep but even running additional special events, food, drinks, and clubs etc it struggled to get enough footfall although there are more regular bowlers in the UK than archers - that was until a great Chinese restaurant opened up in the complex.

My own analysis what we need are bigger clubs with excellent facilities indoors and out. Costs are kept lower due to economies of scale.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Andrew, I agree with all you say. I would just insert a word or two here and there.
what we need are bigger clubs with excellent facilities
What some places need are bigger...........
I see archery as being rather like allotment gardening and golf. Allotment gardening may have a few new chemicals and some more modern gear than it had in the past, but the gardening is what keeps people going back to the allotment. Golf has a bit more variety in the courses and clubs, but at the end of the day it is the swing and the putting that keeps them going back for more. Neither pastime needs cheering up; it is what it is.
Field archery and target archery, with other than Olympic recurve bows, is keeping some archers shooting who would otherwise have left. The simple bows with no sights and a simpler way of enjoying shooting arrows.
Perhaps the push for more Olympic medals,and therefore, Olympic medalists is taking archery into places that many archers would rather stay away from.
I cannot see archery ever being as popular as football, cricket, snooker. It has very little spectator appeal, next to no tv coverage, and yet some people love it to bits and stay in it till they are too old to pull their own arrows.I am happy enough for changes to be made; and new types of archery set up. I am happy, so long as that does not mean they have to remove the type of archery I joined and still enjoy.
 


Kernowlad

Active member
We fall into another category; slightly competent, (enough to compete) and with our own decent kit but unable to commit to attending every club night due to distance (Cornwall is an archery desert) and multiple other commitments (kids clubs, Coastguard training and much more). I am fairly sure many others do too.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
I am sure there are many others like you say. But in what ways does archery need to change in order to address the situation?
 


Cereleste

Supporter
Supporter
I started shooting at a facility like that. Indoor 18m range in a warehouse in an industrial complex, just wide enough for 10 archers on the line. A back wall of layered foam bosses and bunch more on wheels for closer distances. About £15/hour of instruction with the range's equipment, £12 to just shoot independently with their equipment, £7 with your own equipment (or £40/month unlimited), though an "hour" was loosely interpreted to mean however long you felt like. One guy ran it and sometimes paid experienced archers to help run sessions for scout groups, corporate outings, birthdays etc. Attendance varied throughout the day with schoolkids and retirees with their own equipment in the afternoon gradually being replaced by working age people in the evening. Open six days a week, afternoons and evenings mainly.
It's still around and has been for the past 15 years, hasn't gone under yet even with the warehouse rent going through the roof. It's very much also a social space, and the same core regulars have been there the whole time but you also get a lot of people that treat it more like bowling as a group social activity. For beginners, after a safety briefing and a few ends to get them pointing it in the right direction and not hitting their arms, the focus is on "just let them shoot as they want", not a six week plan based on the assumption that they want to learn to shoot well. It's the equivalent of me going bowling - I don't know the correct way to lob it down the lane and my accuracy is terrible, but I couldn't care less as I'm there for a sociable time, not a practice session. The building and amenities are fairly basic (it gets quite cold unless you're next to the heater), and other than target faces and the occasional new set of Easton jazz, running costs are likely fairly low. I don't think there's any affiliation with a national governing body (though most people only affiliate to shoot national competitions, otherwise it's not needed), and I'm not aware of any issues stemming from the "everyone signs a liability waiver before the first session" policy.
I think it would be a great setup to have in the UK. Being able to go for an evening of shooting with friends who don't know the sport and want to give it a go would be nice. The current "beginners course or taster session only" rules prevent that sort of archery. My club in the UK currently requires a three week notice period for any guests, and then only one and there must a first aider present and it's treated like a taster session.
 


Kernowlad

Active member
I am sure there are many others like you say. But in what ways does archery need to change in order to address the situation?
See Celeste’s post!!
Aside from that part of the problem is attitudes. Obsessive archers shooting almost daily sneering at occasional ones (while not actually being any better). Include kids more; my son is a pillar of patience and friendliness but he was definitely isolated. Stop bow snobbery; the anti compound thing is so dull.
Keep things safe but stop the very off putting attitude that without dozens of lessons, Archery is more dangerous than leaving Donald Trump near a big red button.

Sadly attitudes are the hardest thing to change and IMO AGB archery clubs are going to struggle unless they change.

Luckily the much more laid back and inclusive attitudes I’ve encountered in field archery (apart from a rather nasty and unnecessary membership incident) are a World apart.

We’d like to be able to dip into both but crazy AGB fees and dinosaur attitudes means we won’t be doing target archery for quite some time.
 


chuffalump

Well-known member
I think it would be a great setup to have in the UK. Being able to go for an evening of shooting with friends who don't know the sport and want to give it a go would be nice. The current "beginners course or taster session only" rules prevent that sort of archery. My club in the UK currently requires a three week notice period for any guests, and then only one and there must a first aider present and it's treated like a taster session.
We already have such things as you describe. We used one of them as an indoor venue for one season....before they had to shut their doors due to lack of customers. I think they went back to being a mobile demo range for schools and county fairs etc. Archery tag too possibly. You may have been lucky.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
The pay and play does seem like a good idea. Perhaps run separately from AGB rather than by them.
Some people are already running them successfully; is it likely that the idea will spread? It is risky. Is the risk going to be smaller in areas where there are lots of archery clubs? People there see archery at clubs but don't want to join, so see the pay and play as a good alternative?
Or would the risk be smaller in places where there are only a few archery clubs; less competition from those clubs and more treason for folks to attend the PnP?
 


Sadly attitudes are the hardest thing to change and IMO AGB archery clubs are going to struggle unless they change.

Luckily the much more laid back and inclusive attitudes I’ve encountered in field archery (apart from a rather nasty and unnecessary membership incident) are a World apart.

We’d like to be able to dip into both but crazy AGB fees and dinosaur attitudes means we won’t be doing target archery for quite some time.


Well said Kernowlad! I couldn't have put it better myself.
Continually shooting at a round target gets boring after a while, especially once you have achieved your desired score at your desired distance. More variety is required to keep peoples interest, more fun shoots perhaps or handicap based competitions etc. I have often heard archers say "This is getting boring"

I have ranted elsewhere about my present target club so will resist the temptation to do so again here and I know other clubs may well be different but I'm afraid it is going to be solely field archery for me from April. Never say never but I can't see me going back to target.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Changing people's attitudes is certainly not easy. Usually it is done over a period of time; making small changes, which eventually add up to a big change.... something like the big one that was required in the first place.
I have experienced this from both sides.
I didn't want to change; I was wanting to stay with what I knew best. I was persuaded to see the other point of view, by some very sympathic words.
I have also wanted to make changes. That took a long time, making small changes over time, until the " new" stuff became the "norm".
 


See Celeste’s post!!
Aside from that part of the problem is attitudes. Obsessive archers shooting almost daily sneering at occasional ones (while not actually being any better). Include kids more; my son is a pillar of patience and friendliness but he was definitely isolated. Stop bow snobbery; the anti compound thing is so dull.
Keep things safe but stop the very off putting attitude that without dozens of lessons, Archery is more dangerous than leaving Donald Trump near a big red button.

Sadly attitudes are the hardest thing to change and IMO AGB archery clubs are going to struggle unless they change.

Luckily the much more laid back and inclusive attitudes I’ve encountered in field archery (apart from a rather nasty and unnecessary membership incident) are a World apart.

We’d like to be able to dip into both but crazy AGB fees and dinosaur attitudes means we won’t be doing target archery for quite some time.

Same here - but that mostly comes from the point of view that target archery is good for basic learning and practising form, and advancement is limited to an ever-decreasing error-ratio within a very circumscribed shooting manner (doing exactly the same thing again and again), whereas field archery (I shoot NFAS) is more about adapting to circumstances for each shot, and experiencing very different situations for each new target, where advancement is more about learning to overcome an increasing range of difficulties. In my humble, and personal opinion that makes field more exciting and interesting.

The reason I say the above is to lead into this: Archery for the 'general public' needs to be exciting and interesting, so aiming to pull the general public into archery ought to use things like field and novelty shooting rather than target shooting.

To that end you're looking at quite large areas of land (like paintball woodlands), as opposed to a warehouse on an industrial estate (although I agree that sometimes that is more accessible).

I think the general gist of what I'm trying to say is that it's very easy to see AGB club archery as dull and boring (from outside), and so for 'pay-n-play' activites it needs to be different.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Hi Riceburner,
I think everyone who has posted has said that there is a need for archery to change.
Perhaps I could say that the main changes would not necessarily have to be organised by AGB. These more light hearted archery venues could be a business opportunity for someone.( or lots of someones)
I could imagine some club archers might be drawn to the PnP, if they were finding club archery to be getting less attractive to them.
I could also imagine some target clubs finding they might need to change their own operations, if they were losing their numbers and unable to regain them through normal beginners' courses.
There might also be some clubs who might not need to change much in what they offer to their members. It could be that some of the PnP users get so interested that they want to join the more established type of archery club; be it target or field.
So in a nutshell, the changes could be extra and different opportunities; without the normal clubs having to feel they have to make the changes happen from within.
 


chuffalump

Well-known member
As Riceburner says.

Pay and play is a business and needs to be run in a totally different manner to a club. My club is where I go to shoot. I like helping people but I want to shoot. I want to find out what works and what doesn't. If I'm not shooting, I want it to be my choice. Otherwise, what's the point of a club? I like target because its about doing things right. Yes, I want to see more women and younger archers in my club but if they dont have a target mentality then they won't stay.

Maybe there could be an option of a weekly fun day. A day when something totally different happens. I quite like the idea of a drop in taster session. Split in two. Half barebow, half target. Novelty targets. Less emphasis on form, more on fun. Maybe even mostly barebow and novelty. Target really punishes form faults so it's better for showing progress but not for short term enjoyment. But now you are using volunteers. Eating in to their shooting time. If they are happy, great, but a member of an archery club, happy not to shoot? How long before 'spending time with the family' becomes the norm and they start thinking that the club fees could be better spent elsewhere?
 


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