WOAC Juniors Return to Competition

Having returned the club and members to shooting in May one of the biggest issues we have faced has been mental health.

The fear and uncertainty that has come with the pandemic and the unknown situation it has created.

The stress of lockdown followed by the new stress as lockdown was eased and how we try and live in this new normal.

Having restricted numbers and social distancing has been especially hard for the juniors who haven’t been to school, seen friends or family and now with the booking system couldn’t really shoot with their club friends either.

As club safeguarding officer seeing the toll that this has all taken is hard and as someone who suffers with mental health and knows what archery brings me to help with that I felt it was important to look into ways that we, as a club might be able to help.

Spending some time talking with my husband, Paul Sharpe, who as a club coach ordinarily supports the juniors, I then reached out to Gaynor Hutchinson who is a senior coach at Aim4sport and this is where many of our juniors go for different levels of coaching.

A plan was agreed and we have now held two monthly sessions at the club with Gaynor, Paul and myself to allow the juniors to attend coaching sessions with their peers and relax with parents encouraged to leave them and come back later.

We are seeing most improve, relax, communication has definitely improved and so many more smiles!!!

As part of this they wanted a competition, most compete regularly under ordinary with a number pulling on their county shirts.

With this in mind we arranged a 720 for the 23/8/20 thanks to the return to competition being released.

However, at the last minute, due to local events it appeared we would have to cancel as the sports ground that includes the WOAC field has been barricaded.

Gaynor, Dave and their club members stepped in to offer the range at aim4sport for the event to go ahead.

Yesterday saw 8 of the juniors on the shooting line take part in their first competition since February.

With the Aim4sport club members moving over and sacrificing their distance shooting to allow them to take the main range.

As with any competition there were smiles and frowns but even those who were not happy with their scores were thrilled to be on the line.

I cannot express enough the pride in seeing those juniors step up yesterday, remembering how they first walked into the field in May and our gratitude to everyone at aim4sport for sharing their facilities to allow the juniors to have their event.

Having always believed that relationships can be created to help us all within our sport and most certainly that the spirit of pulling together is key to the current circumstances – this has most definitely been proven this weekend.

Helen Sharpe
Wellingborough Open Archery Club