Could you shoot like Robin Hood?
PUBLISHED: 11:00 08 January 2017
Anna King, from Colchester and District Archery Club, tells us why her sport is great
Did I really see a picture recently of MPs shooting arrows with Robin Hood, or had I eaten cheese too close to bedtime?
Anna King, secretary of Colchester and District Archery Club, which started in 1954: Well, technically it was a ruse to promote Nottingham. But because Nottingham’s most famous son is arguably that heroic outlaw of folklore, Robin Hood, it ended up promoting archery as well.
The MPs were given a taste of archery outside Parliament and those who took part clearly enjoyed it.
Robin Hood lives on in modern day archery. If you shoot an arrow through another arrow already embedded in a target, we call it a “Robin Hood”. While it might be a thrill the first time it happens, you don’t want to make a habit of it because you have to replace the damaged arrow, and good arrows do not come cheap!
Can anyone take it up?
Pretty much. To join our club you need to be at least 10 years old and complete a beginner’s course (either with us or elsewhere). It goes without saying that a group of people randomly shooting arrows could be unsafe, so all newcomers go on a course before joining the club to ensure they understand the safety rules, that they have a knowledge of shooting etiquette and to give them the confidence in their archery equipment.
How many members do you have?
There are around 100, from 10 years old to people in their 80s.
What skills are helpful?
Because technique is more important than strength, the key to successful archery is implementing the advice you are given by a coach. You also need to be patient, because nearly every time you put a new piece of advice into practice there is a period of adjustment – which is a nice way of saying you will probably be temporarily less accurate than before!
What’s the thrill?
People shoot for different reasons, although most would agree it’s to do with the challenge of hitting the gold consistently. It’s a good excuse to be outside in the summer sunshine, socialising.
I recently brought a pedometer along to a practice session in which I shot about 90 arrows and it showed I had taken well over 5,000 steps, which is about 2.5 miles. And that for an activity which mainly works the torso, back, shoulders and arms!
What’s the hardest thing for novices?
One of the best aspects of archery is how easy it is to get up and running very quickly.
The art of target archery lies in the ability to replicate over and over again as near a perfect shot as one is capable of.
The first challenge for a novice is to get arrows to land close together, in a group. To improve the grouping, the novice will be trying to improve his/her technique, which in archery is a combination of correct posture, draw and release of an arrow.
What’s your story?
I started archery when I was quite young, with my dad. I then stopped about 12 years old and rediscovered it at university. At that time I shot a recurve bow.
After leaving university I joined Colchester and District Archery Club and converted to shooting a compound bow (faster, more accurate, but everyone in the category shoots higher scores because of this!).
I am very competitive… I like hitting the 10 (the gold circle in the middle of the larger gold circle) and shooting high scores, and I always want to improve.
The beginning of December was the National Indoor Championships and in one match I equalled the British record (it has subsequently been broken!) That moment makes me want to shoot better and to improve.
Have you a joke to share?
Stolen from a website but I think it’s funny:
A duke was hunting in the forest with his men-at-arms and servants; he came across a tree. Upon it, archery targets were painted, and smack in the middle of each was an arrow.
“Who is this incredibly fine archer?” cried the duke.
After continuing through the forest for a few miles he came across a boy carrying a bow and arrow. Eventually, the boy admitted it was he who shot the arrows plumb in the centre of all the targets.
“You didn’t just walk up to the targets and hammer the arrows into the middle, did you?” asked the duke.
“No, my lord. I shot them from a hundred paces. I swear it by all that I hold holy.”
“That is truly astonishing,” said the duke. “I hereby admit you into my service.”
The boy thanked him profusely.
“But I must ask one favour in return,” the duke continued. “You must tell me how you came to be such an outstanding shot.”
“Well,” said the boy, “first I fire the arrow at the tree, and then I paint the target around it.”