Grand National Archery Society GNAS
all the talk of 2012 and the Olympics in London, it would
be easy to lose sight of the fact that many people enter archery
for the social side.
"Archery is THE family sport, and some people get into
it because their kids take it up, and vice versa," says
Barry Eley, the performance manager of the GB national squad.
"It's the one sport where everyone of all ages and abilities
can line up together and take part, and that is one of it's
"Others take up archery because they have had to stop
doing other sports through injury or age, when they found,
like me, that they couldn't keep up with the youngsters on
the football pitch any more."
Archery in Britain is run by the sport's national governing
body, the GNAS, which is based at Lilleshall, near Telford.
All clubs come under the GNAS umbrella, and all members are
also registered members of GNAS (membership is just under
30,000 - record levels).
The British elite squad are very competitive at international
level - Alison Williamson won a bronze medal at the Athens
Olympics, and reached the first ever World Cup Final last
But for every Alison Williamson, there are thousands of archers
who take up the sport for fun. Eley says the best advice he
can give a novice is to enrol on a beginners course at a recognised
local club. "Apart from learning archery, safety and
etiquette are also very important, and our coaches guide all
beginners on such issues," he said.
And if you want to be good enough to compete in competitions,
rather than just shoot socially? "Make sure you put as
much effort into your general strength and conditioning as
you do to your archery practice, to prevent injuries and ensure
you can handle your bow efficiently through out practice and
events," he said.
do be careful before you start doing archery regularly. Many
people will take up the sport as they don’t have to
run or keep fit, but in order to shoot any bow you need to
have the muscle strength in the upper and lower body. Ignoring
general fitness and not keeping your muscles toned can lead
to injuries around the shoulder and collar joints. Incorrect
shooting technique can lead to wrist and finger joints and
ligaments being inflamed and sore.
The essential equipment to become an archer is a bow, arrows,
a chest guard and a finger guard. Says Eley: "Like all
sports, these can cost from as little as £60 for a starter
kit, to up to £3000 for the Olympic archers equipment.
"When you do a beginners course - normally six one hour
lessons - your club coach will ensure you get exactly what
you need, and advise accordingly, as all equipment should
fit the archers size and strength, and not be just what a
salesman would sell you - thought most retailers work with
local clubs, and the GNAS and would tell you to join a club
The rules and etiquette of archery make it as safe a sport
as there is. Says Eley: "It's safe because every one
in the sport has to abide by the rules. My best tip is to
enjoy yourself, and be considerate of your fellow club members.
You'll make lots of friends, and you'll find everyone is very
The GNAS website (www.gnas.org) list all the clubs throughout
the country, so you can look for one in any given area. And
if you do not see one, then ring the GNAS office on 01952
677888. The website has links to clubs, counties and regions,
the archery in schools association plus other sites you either
want or need to visit. Technical information can be found
in several sections on the site particularly in the performance
section. Failling that, contact Peter Jones, GNAS media, on