What I do is a privilege – thank you

I often think back to January 2022 when I was giving a friend a lift, and I was asked why do you do all this, why volunteer so many of your hours to do the things that you do, what do you get out of it. That person is paid for everything that they do in sport, it’s a business and my choice to give my time for free clashed with their own view.

I personally think there’s a place for both and I don’t question those who do it for payment, giving my time for free with Integr8Archery and everything else that I do, and all of the years of volunteering before is exhausting and it certainly would be easier if I didn’t have to do a paid job to allow me to do it for free. First years stats show I averaged 26 hours a week – that’s a lot but I love it!

There’s variety in what I do, introducing new people to our sport, enabling self sustainability of groups by providing mentoring, supporting existing archers who are struggling, some have been bullied with in the sport, some are facing changes if they want to remain but have worries and anxiety, some have put down a bow because of some of these mentioned issues but would like support to return.

There are days that it’s tough, really hard work, the balance from a day job that is shifts, can be intense and requires all of me when on shift. Coming home exhausted, finding time to shoot my bow, dealing with my own health issues, making a brew and cracking on with meetings, emails, calls to arrange shooting for others, in whatever way possible.

But I love it, the hard thing is doing it alone, some days wanting to sit and share, good days, bad days, those who have worked with me know that some days I literally bounce as the ideas flow and I see things coming together – sharing that is great but I don’t get much opportunity to do that now.

There are those who find it irritating that I do all of this! Why it bothers anyone I do not know, there’s plenty to be done, crack on with your own thing and I wish you the very best of luck with it! Genuinely because the more of us out there doing anything for our sport means there are more people shooting and getting something from it. It gives so many things to so many people, we should be celebrating what we are all achieving.

Which brings me to what do I get out of this? The messages and updates, how things are going, what achievements have been made, and success is measured in so many ways.

The last couple of weeks have been this for someone I haven’t known long but who let me in, wanting to return to archery but things have changed and they had concerns about returning. The photo at the top of this blog is the very amazing Niamh returning to the range, the one at the bottom – one of several sent to me yesterday from the flight competition she attended.

It is a privilege to be part of anyone’s journey and some chat with me and take ideas and go off to do the things we have chatted about, some contact me some time later and update me, some stay with me, share often, message me to discuss worries along the way, some when they are on ranges struggling and thinking they need to quit.

I was once told that I was carried in someone’s pocket, their greatest cheerleader, their greatest believer, the person who never questions anyone’s right to be on the shooting line. This is a great privilege – to be allowed to support a person when they feel they’re most vulnerable. Thank you to everyone who lets me in, lets me stay and shares their successes and achievements no matter if it’s a small step or a huge leap.

So the answer to that question, why do I do what I do, give all of my time for free? Why wouldn’t I, why wouldn’t I do what I can to give anyone the peace they find on a range?

Sorry this Saturday blog is two days late, Saturday I should have been home at 22:00 but it was nearer 1:00 Sunday and as result I didn’t get to go to my beloved flight shoot, which means this year I will not get a flight season. I took Sunday to look after me, I needed that. Sometimes we need to look after ourselves to allow us to give to others and those that know me, know it’s rare I do that.

Thank you, as always for reading what I write. For allowing me to share some of what is happening with Integr8Archery CIC.