In what was a pretty hefty blow for the sport, it was announced recently that archery would not be included at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, to be held in Birmingham. But, in line with Archery GB’s positive bid that highlighted archery’s immense inclusivity, we reckon it’s time to point out why that decision was such a bad one.
Archery’s Accessibility Ignored
In submitting its bid, Archery GB presented a vision that would broaden the diversity of the sport programme at the Games and provide exciting opportunities for the growth of archery across the Commonwealth. The bid focused on archery’s accessibility as a world-class spectator sport, its undoubted inclusivity, its wide appeal as a grassroots activity and delivering a strong post-games legacy.
The bid also suggested Aston Hall as the competition venue. Located less than two miles from the city centre, the picturesque 17th-century building and grounds would have provided excellent, ready-made facilities.
Neil Armitage, CEO of Archery GB, said:
We are disappointed that despite a comprehensive bid, full support from our International Federation World Archery and vast support from our archery counterparts in Commonwealth Countries, our case for the inclusion of archery has not been taken up.
We will continue to work with commonwealth countries to develop archery around the world and we’ll continue to work with Birmingham and the West Midlands to make archery accessible to more people and capitalise on the excitement a home games brings.
Our vision to get archery in the Commonwealth Games is as strong as ever and we will be reviewing our future strategy. neil armitage, archery gb ceo
Why Archery Is a Great Sport
All of us at KUDOS love sport – it’s why we do what we do. But we’re aware that not everyone is into every single sport like we are.
The chaotic nature of many team sports simply does not appeal to some people, which is where solo pursuits like archery can be such an enormous boon. Here’s a rundown on why archery is such a great sport for people to get involved in:
- Focus and goal-setting – in archery, you are literally hitting targets. Or at least trying to. That sporting challenge can play a massive role in improving your – and especially your child’s – focus and concentration
- It’s physical activity – it might not be the most physical of sports, but you’ll still get plenty of exercise, walking to retrieve your arrows and the repetitive nature of shooting will improve upper body strength as well as posture
- Coping with pressure – like it or not, life is full of pressures and archery provides a really good environment in which to learn how to deal with pressure. Archery is about accuracy and control, and the better you become at it, the more pressure you’ll put on yourself to improve and keep hitting those good shots
- Sociability – while it’s very much a solo sport, it’s also extremely inclusive and is one of the best sports around when it comes to taking part together as a family. Archery clubs provide famously welcoming environments
- Inclusivity – arguably the sport’s greatest asset is its inclusivity. Anyone can play and compete together: old, young, disabled or able-bodied. And the pathways to the very top of the sport are pretty much wide open – if you’re good enough, you could well find yourself competing for your country. The sky is the limit
- Get outdoors – while archery is a year-round sport and played both indoors and out, for much of the year it provides a great chance to get off the sofa – and especially for your kids, away from their screens and spending time outdoors
- Patience – in a world where everything is increasingly on-demand and immediate, it’s good to teach our kids that patience is a virtue. Archery has a serenity about it that few other sports can boast – and the patience needed while waiting for the right moment to release the bow, coupled with waiting for others to shoot, can prove beneficial to both you and your child
‘I LOVED IT STRAIGHT AWAY’
Another key benefit is mindfulness. Back in March 2017, we spoke to a Mum suffering with depression and anxiety, whose only release from the unrelenting demands of parenting had been browsing social media. Her account of how archery had helped her was revelatory:
It (social media) was no kind of release at all, wasting time scrolling through things I wasn’t really interested in. I had deleted all my social media apps when a friend suggested I went with her to her local archery club, but I told her I had no interest in sport and haven’t done since I used to ‘forget’ my PE kit and find other extravagant ways of getting out of PE, which I found intimidating and absolutely hated. But I was talked into going along and I found archery was brilliant. I loved it straight away – it was just me, my bow, my arrow and a target. It emptied my mind completely and was such a great way to switch off – and not only switch off but immerse myself in something else. I quickly became addicted to the thrill of bettering my own personal bests and literally hitting targets. It’s a great sport – and this is from someone who would ordinarily claim to hate sport. It’s got me out of the rut I was in and enthused by something I would never have considered. Much of my anxiety and depression has lifted and I can honestly attribute a great deal of that to getting off my backside and into archery.
Archery isn’t on everyone’s radar. We know that. It receives precious little mainstream coverage, despite growing hugely over the last decade. Exposure for any sport is vital, which is why the Commonwealth Games snub is so hard to take for everyone connected to archery – it would have given the sport a real boost.
But the sport can exist and thrive on its own terms. British success at the Olympics and Paralympics, coupled with an increase in initiatives to widen archery’s reach, have served to drive an 85% rise in participation over the last 10 years. Its accessibility and inclusivity must surely be huge factors in that growth.
You can find your nearest archery club here. Give it a go – you may be surprised.
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