Week 44 – what do you know about VI sports?

What do you know about sport for the visually impaired? This is something that annoys me and those who know me well have listening to me complain and make a fuss for years! There is simply not enough information or signposting for somethings, for those who might use them, who might consider trying them or for those who might choose to give their time as a volunteer. Two such things that I have enjoyed giving hours to are the transplant games and visually impaired sport. Today I am going to give some information about British Blind Sport as it’s a subject that has come up half a dozen times in the last month or so.

One of the things that I do as a volunteer is spotting for visually impaired archers. I have worked on a semi regular basis with two. It came about as a result of covid, then lockdown rules allowed disabled athletes to practise and someone I knew needed help to find a range that would allow her to shoot (many refused to allow their disability members to access their ranges, a conversation for another day) and also a means of getting there and that role of spotter. Having agented numerous times for disability athletes I said I would give it a go, however I was more than a little anxious as this is more than just collecting arrows for someone and my ability to describe what was happening was going to be key to how useful I was! Turns out all those years doing surveillance in the day job gave me a useful skill on the archery range! 

https://www.aim4sport.com/2021/03/26/why-support-matters-the-thoughts-of-a-visually-impaired-archer-by-deb-wright/

I gained a friend too and have been able to proudly watch Deb maintain her success on the archery field in the time since.

http://www.ncasarchery.org.uk/http:/www.ncasarchery.org.uk/achievements-deb-wright/

In recent months I have put a couple of coaches in touch with British Blind Sports in regards to archers who needed support. Whilst physical disabilities and adaptations around these are focused on and access is improving significantly, help for visually impaired is still not obvious. 

British Blind Sport offer amazing support to people to access a multitude of sports

and they have an activity finder to help you locate something to go along to. 

My friend Clive has used their services and now shoots for GB in a sport that he loves as much as I do

The sport that I love, where I found my people, that allows me to be me, is the most adaptive sport that I know. I have yet to come across anyone who cannot shoot, it’s one of the very reasons that I love it so very much and why I am so very passionate about it and what it has to offer. 

There are a couple of significant events this year that need volunteers and you may be looking for somewhere to give your time so I would urge you to consider looking here:

What have I been doing this week? Mostly lots of planning and attending a couple of multi sports meetings. Lots happening over the coming weeks as the summer moves towards us! 

Not so many arrows shot myself, as I would like still but getting there and this coming weekend will see me shoot my first outdoors competition of the season at one of my favourite places and will have the chance to see lots of friends. My only aim, considering the lack of shooting that I have had, is to enjoy the day, see how it all goes and enjoy the company – and not to cry for dozens of arrows like I did last year! 

Catch you all soon, have a great week and enjoy this run of bank holiday weekends ❤️🏹

Quit, change, challenge? Your choice!


Apologies this is a day late, I had drafted my blog Friday evening ready to tweak a little after my first day of training with disability sports coach but we finished earlier than expected and as I took myself for a stroll I thought of an entirely different blog. Unsure which to publish I decided to wait and it was the right decision as I have decided that both deserve to be seen, so here is my originally planned blog and I shall tweak the other and it will be published next Saturday.

Several months ago I was asked about my previously published blogs and if I would link them here, I asked permission several times about adding links to that website here on mine and never received a reply. So, after some quick checks to cover the legalities, I have gradually reposted them here, and I thank those people who pushed me, because they do continue to open conversation and discussion and new people have reached out to chat with me who have seen things relevant to them in what I have written, it’s always humbling to have someone read my blog and then share their story, I carry each with me like treasure because I know it’s not easy to share.

My last republished blog is about trying something new, pushing your boundaries, rejuvenating what’s happening. At the time this was originally written I had been struggling with my body breaking down and moving to seated and the opinions that came with that, but a hand of archery friendship invited me to try something new and it gave me the boost to stay with my bow. It has definitely been the biggest part of why I haven’t quit this year too.

There is no secret that I am passionate that our sport is adaptive in such an exceptional way that it doesn’t exclude anyone and I continue to work daily on getting new people to pick up a bow.

Within this, what I have discovered is their is a shortage of people available to deliver adaptive sports to those who want to take part, after seeing the inclusive activity leaders course advertised on the Parasport website, I decided to apply.
I have been quite vocal for years about not being a coach, many people telling me to go for it, it’s really not something I ever wanted, but I find myself in a position of having to take an archery instructors course, something that I have been quite resentful for (thank you to those who have had to listen to me snarl and stamp my feet about it). The disability sports coach course has also made me feel much more positive about that, it’s no longer about being prepared for when I am let down and jumping in to deliver sessions, it’s now about having the ability to deliver 6 sports to those looking to access them.

So are you struggling with staying positive, thinking of quitting or cannot remember where you left your motivation? Sure you can sit on the sofa under a blanket, and I do that when I need to, or you could try something new, it can be small, but it might light a spark. Give it a go!

MAYBE SOMETHING NEW MIGHT REFRESH YOUR MOTIVATION?

Originally Published 27th August 2021 by Aim4sport.

Having been shooting for 3 years and half of that in a pandemic and the various happenings of 2020 my goals slid and for various reasons I sat down on several occasions with the very real question around quitting everything related to my sport.

I have always enjoyed competing (my first season saw me shoot 26 competitions) – it gives me focus on the days I don’t want to pick up my bow to practise.

I am not interested in beating others – just in pushing myself.

So 2021, I managed to start to settle with the changes I had been forced to make to continue shooting but I needed to find competitions, I enjoy going to new clubs, new places – whilst I have met some people with “interesting” views the majority of archery clubs and archers are incredibly welcoming and I find you don’t feel like a stranger very often.

With the current situation, many clubs have had to cancel or postpone competition which is very understandable. So I threw out a request on social media with some dates I had no plans for.

I was quickly given some ideas and the one that really sparked my interest was a suggestion I could step outside my comfort zone and try flight archery. The offer came via Ian Norwood of Riverside archers who assured me that I would be very welcome and supported if I turned up to the competition having never shot a flight arrow and I could enter the target bow category.

Some quick research made me realise that with little adjustments I could have a go and test my boundaries and generally just have some fun!!

So Sunday 15/8/21 I found myself on the airfield at Church Fenton to learn to shoot flight at the national championships!

What can I say? It has been amazing day spent with fantastic people who have the most positive attitude towards our sport! No grumpy faces just a genuine anticipation of what may be achieved during the day by those who are on the line. And we saw a world record taken with a shot at over 900 metres!!

I say we saw – as a target archer it’s a little unnerving that we don’t actually see anything – we fire the arrows into the sky with no hope of seeing where they are going you cannot possibly follow them with your eye!

We are also used to the “no coaching from the line” rule – so to stand on the shooting line and as you draw an arrow a voice calls out “Helen I’ve got you” and the chaos of voices vanishes as you focus on that one voice who guides you to try and ensure that together your arrow is released at the optimum moment – truly team work.

I was adopted by Riverside archers before the day and they were amazing in their support of me, but for anyone wanting to try and knowing no one when you arrive don’t worry about that – they are the most welcoming group I think you will meet.

With no disrespect, as I am a target archer, and I fully understand the mindset – can you imagine arriving at the national championships having never given it a go and being asked by the tournament organiser if there was anyone there who had never tried? To find yourself surrounded by people who will then help you achieve your best on the day?

So, as there were no other female compounders I came away with 4 gold medals and being declared national champion in 4 categories. I had gone to the event with the aim of taking on category C – target bow compound.

I was encouraged to play with the other 3 categories so I did, these would definitely have belonged to someone else had there been entries with relevant kit.

My category C? Well we’ll never know – had another lady arrived with target bow and arrows it would have been fun for sure to have someone for comparison.

I know I was short by some way of the record for the distance shot in that category, but I also know my score would have been valid to earn a Merlin badge in the raptor scheme if I could achieve a second score to support it.

However, I now have to wait until next August to enter all 3 flight competitions – see if I can earn that badge in the award scheme, make some small tweaks to my category C kit and wonder should I consider another bow style to try in a different category! I have after all been playing recently with longbows!

I have to thank John Marshall for loaning me transport when my own car failed it’s MOT 36 hours before the competition!!

Benjamin Horner, Dave Leader and Daniel Smitton for their help letting me bounce around ideas and plans to prep and get ready. Most declared my plan to be lunacy so thank you for embracing my plans.

And the very best wishes to all at Riverside archers for the next 11 months and I will hope to see you all on the 7th, 14th and 21st of August 2022.

2021
2022 – still encouraging me to move forward and push my boundaries

Another repost but the last 11 months have only proved what I already knew 🤗❤️🏹

Thank you to the crazy group of archers who are my people, who have given me the strength to move forward, breathe, continue the work I could manage alone, who have given me so very much more than I would have ever dared ask for and to those few who know why this weekend is important and are checking on me 🤗😘 archers are my people and I love you all.

ARCHERY FOLK ARE THE BEST KIND OF FOLK – JUST MY OPINION! – BY HELEN SHARPE

Originally Published 30th April 2021 by Aim4Sport

My life is full of people who in some way, shape or form belong to the world of little pointy sticks, and I love them. Archers of different levels, judges, and coaches of all kinds to name a few.

At the age of 46 I have finally found my people! Having spent most of my life struggling to fit in amongst my peers and trying repeatedly to make myself into whatever they expected me to be at various different stages of my life I am in my group, where who I actually am is the most important thing to the people around me. 

My clumsy, unco-ordinated, crazy, quirky self is all they want with no demands for me to change even on the days that they find me frustrating.

Archery is a place where I have found people who celebrate the individual in each of us. (Yes, we have all met that odd one who still needs to learn this lesson but for the most part I believe that our quirky differences are what makes us feel like I found my family).

For me most sports were not an option due to various issues so as a child I was goalkeeper in the football and netball teams, and I loved the fast and furious game our school played of uni-hockey which is indoor teams of 4 players and only for the crazy! All sports which often saw me strapped up with twists, sprains, or broken bones from stopping the other side in their attempt to score.

I left school and had no sport to continue with. 

It took another 25 years for me to stumble across archery – simply because my son wanted to try. I had no idea that it would bring the things it has when he asked to visit a club. I certainly didn’t have any idea that on these hidden away fields and ranges I would discover a crazy crew of people who not only welcomed us all, but over the last 5 years have become my family. 

Club members who laugh and cry with me and feel my pain.

County squad members who are some of the most amazingly welcoming people I have ever met! Definitely led by their captain.

Lockdown 1 saw my mental health suffer badly, I have a history with it and recognised the signs but needed help. So those archers sat virtually with me at any time of day or night – I am grateful to them all, but especially those 2 who regularly gave up sleep to keep me company in what can be long and lonely hours in the night when your mind is beating itself up. 

As we come out of lockdown 3 I can look back on a year of working hard to keep my club shooting and starting a job on Saturdays that puts me right in the middle of that archery family every weekend. 

I can also say that those months have given me time to spend virtually getting to know a lot of those amazing archery people so much better because we weren’t dashing around from home to work to range. So we had a chance to communicate and strengthen friendships. 

They allowed me to bounce all my crazy ideas I have as an AGB ambassador and work on projects that will hopefully start to really work as we can return to the ranges because this group of crazy people sat and listened and joined in – because we had time! 

I have an early morning walking buddy because what else is a senior coach going to do at 5:00 in the morning but watch the sunrise with a coffee!! 

I guess this is a thank you mostly to every one of those people for becoming my crew, because life will pick up and we will all get busy and the time we had to chat and laugh, and cry will be gone. But they are all now stuck with me and whilst I would gladly not have had a pandemic and lockdown, I am so grateful to find that archery gave me my people, and not just folks to stand and shoot arrows next to.

It’s Saturday again!! Another busy week but a Saturday repost ☕️

This has been a busy week and I have a couple of things to share, especially news that I received yesterday, but I will cover all of that in Tuesday’s end of week blog.

The last few weeks have been re-posted blogs after someone asked if I could share them as they had heard about them from another archer. This one seems especially appropriate as we are moving indoors and this was originally posted towards the end of the last indoor season. So, grab a brew and have a read. A quick thank you to the archers who have reached out in the 8 months following this too, I know how hard it is to talk to someone about the changes that we fear, thank you for trusting me.

SOMEONE ELSE’S PERSPECTIVE

Originally Published 25th February 2022 by Aim4Sport.

Firstly, read all of this if you are going to read it! 

Last year I wrote about my issues with moving to seated to continue shooting. 

The response to that has blown me away, thank you to everyone who responded but especially to 5 people who reached out. Each with different issues, some were moving to seated, some a change in bow styles, but all at a point where it was to change or quit? 

Each with similar issues around the changes but chatting and sharing and a couple of archers who really let me help, we are all still shooting. That’s not to say some days are not still a struggle as we adapt to the changes. 

So, what have I learned in the last year following that blog? 

That I am not the only one struggling, that sharing your story can help others in ways you didn’t expect. 

But – also? 

I have always enjoyed competing, it’s never about anything other than competing against myself. I enjoy the company of other archers and I hope each achieve their own goals, but their outcome does not effect mine, because I am not competing against them.

So with this in mind, summer 2021 was a return to competition for many, opening back up still dealing with the pandemic. 

For me, trying to come to terms with taking the shooting stool to places and with people I don’t know, unsure how I would be received. 

My team – coach, Dave Leader and physio, Benjamin Horner – always there, when I wobble and need a word. It’s my right to shoot and we are claiming it. My club, Aim4sport AC supporting the change.

Not everyone is open to those who make the shooting line awkward, require some accommodation, but my aim when I applied to become an Archery GB ambassador was to push inclusion and I have worked hard to ensure that disability archers are not excluded, so why is it harder to push for yourself than for others? Admit it, it is for most of us! 

Some of the toughest opposition I have faced has been from entirely unexpected sources, those you’d expect to support me. 

I have had an amazing team of people prepared to work as agents for me, a role I have done for many over the last 5 years, wheelchair archers, VI archers, world transplant games! 

It took one of those archers who I had agented for, to give me firm words to have me accept it was ok to ask for help, that I am not a burden despite the words of some. 

So off I went, into the outdoor season, sometimes with an agent, sometimes not!! But determined that I would see only my aim to get that elusive first classification that had been so close but eluded me for 3 years as my body gave into the pain. 

I chose the first shoot out of county very carefully. 

Guildford Archery Club is somewhere I have enjoyed shooting and watching my children shoot, perfect. Or so I thought!!!! (My mistake not theirs)! 

I arrived the night before to realise I had left Bert (the shooting stool at home)! 

I messaged the TO and was entirely overwhelmed the following morning to arrive and find they had me a stool waiting!!!!! Wow! A little emotional and hugging the work party who were proving that I had absolutely made the right choice in my first competition out of county with no agent! 

It didn’t go so well, I couldn’t finish, though it looks very similar this taught me that all of that time working with my engineers to get my stool set for me was worth it. They are not all the same.

A learning experience so definitely no regrets. 

I was encouraged by this to go out and get on with it. 

Often finding kindness but also often finding myself sat in the very same place. Right at the end, on the right of the shooting line. Lonely, to be truthful but happy to be shooting and this is perhaps the price to pay to continue with my sport? 

The outdoors ended and the move indoors which I hate every year! New bow to celebrate getting that first classification finally!!!!! 

For a variety of reasons I haven’t managed many indoor shoots but I am booking in and trying to aim for the target I set myself. 

The indoors seems to make availability of agents less? 

So key to this is being brave enough to ask for help.

Then I struggled at a competition with my mental health, and as the work party paid attention to me because they knew I was struggling they suddenly noticed what no one ever does! 

I am on the far right of the line again, literally my nose against the brick wall for a double Portsmouth. 

What happened next however is what is most important. A conversation that they have never seen what happens, knowing they have seen it at theirs and other tournament venues but never thinking of the impact of what is happening on the archer! 

Apologies, it’s ok – it really is, or is it? 

Most of us just feel grateful that we are welcomed, that we are accepted, as a burden as we are often told and you make space for us on the line! 

But I can say that their reaction and how talking to me, talking to the judges about practicalities and ways to move us whilst meeting all the needs of everyone, means that going forward anyone seated at Archers of Raunds will be less isolated and definitely included in the shooting line. 

It also opened up an entire conversation around how we sometimes look at the easy fix but is it the most appropriate fix for the person you are trying to help, will they ask if they need more? 

Can you look at what you do and say did you just do enough or did you put a little more thought into what the individual might need? 

Did you accommodate them or did you actually welcome and include them? 

I am not asking for you to make people feel special, just considered. I also know that some archers like the very end so they can focus the mind and shut everyone out. 

All I am asking you to question is how do you feel when you look at the line, how might you be accommodating everyone. 

I know that this will annoy some, those same people who have tried to tell me I have no right to shoot if I cannot stand or if I cannot collect my own arrows. We are, after all, entitled to our own opinion, but if we can make people slightly more welcome in our sport surely it’s worth just stopping to think for a moment? 

Next in the series, following on from last weeks blog, around health and change.

Last week’s republished blog was around the changes created by my physical health and the pain it creates, the decision to continue to shoot or quit. This week is around the battles my mental health can create and sees a republish of a blog that I wrote and was first published by Aim4Sport on the 19th February 2022.

This seems particularly important as I have rounded off my outdoor season with a shoot for the county today and I have reflected on my personal social media how the first competition of the outdoor season saw me cry through three dozen arrows as I battled with the idea of loosing my sport completely, had a rollercoaster of emotion, successes and failures but I am reaching the end of the season in a different mind set to how I started.

So, I again, invite you to grab a cuppa and read this from earlier in the year:

MAYBE THE BIGGEST SUCCESS WAS JUST LEAVING THE HOUSE?

Published 19th February 2022

Right now life isn’t easy, there are a long list of things happening and I am waiting on tests and results on top of all of that. 
I haven’t been able to shoot properly after upsetting my back, literally 3 weeks ago today I couldn’t put my foot flat to the floor and I am blessed that my physio is also my friend and that my coach is my best friend because that is what it took to get me through that particular evening. 
So today was going to be my first real competition with Calliope (my new bow). Booked weeks ago and long before all of the things that have hit to add to the usual struggles.

I had finally managed to get my first class badge with the 2021 outdoor season – 3 years in the making and hard earned. 
So I came to the outdoor season with a goal and a new bow! 

Tried a frostbite on Boxing Day and couldn’t finish, then the back!!! 


Had a couple of issues leading up to this week, like sitting crying with my laptop because I could not press the on button and having to call the office to admit that my mental health had tanked. 
Sunday morning arrived and I love competition, I am only shooting against myself and never have an expectation of the actual event itself. 
But today it was tough, really tough, for a variety of reasons. Still struggling with the concept of sitting to shoot some days, because no matter how much support you have, some days the voices who are trying to push you down are louder.

No you can’t see what is wrong with me, no you have no right to ask or to share your opinion of me, but some feel it’s ok to tell you if you can’t stand you shouldn’t be shooting. 

So, feeling vulnerable and having a rough week, I discover my agent is not joining me. 


Why am I trying? Why am I fighting, surely just quitting would be easier!! 


But I have people in my life who know how I would view that later if I gave in!! 
So with some encouragement I took a deep breath and left the house, not easy and I have, in the past, spent weeks/months in the house unable to step outside so never underestimate the effort it may have taken to step over the threshold and go outside.


By the time I arrived I was sobbing, tears streaming down my face, but I knew there were people inside that range who would support me, and all the things in my head trying to tell me to go home would be wrong if I could just get out of the car. 
So I walked in and indeed there were people, archers who don’t need information but I just reached out and said I need your help, I need to shoot today to allow me to continue tomorrow or that may be the end of my shooting for good.

And help they did with no information, people who knew me, people who didn’t, getting me and my kit in, set up and onto the line. Three different agents over 2 sessions. 
Pretty? Not at all!! 
Though there were a lot of photos taken so I will see if I looked like I might have vaguely had a clue how to shoot! 
Scores? Who cares? First competition with a new bow, no agent and overwhelming anxiety.


I came home with 2 silver medals for the single and the double rounds but they are more like medals for surviving the day. 
I cannot thank the people who got me through today enough and I look forward to returning to the same venue in 6 weeks to shoot again, hopefully with a smile on my face. 
But also, from my day, came learning. 
A club who saw me and the issues and reached out to ask some questions about the stool and how I felt and a realisation that actually they have never really taken into account some elements around seated archers, so a conversation with the judges and some new things in place to allow them to support anyone who shoots with them to be in the most comfortable environment that they can be.


It makes a difference to know a club welcomes anyone and will work with them to get things right if they realise they can improve. 
So on a day when my biggest achievement was leaving the house and not letting the voices in my head beat me and take away my sport, a positive experience for us all and one that will hopefully help others in the future. 
My point? Be kind, always kind because you never know what someone went through just to be stood in the room with you.

AUTHOR ARCHIVES: HELEN SHARPE

Something a little different, even though it’s a repeat!

Grab yourself a cuppa – I usually have one under my stool 😉 thanks to the amazing people who keep me topped up!

The next few Saturdays are going to be a little different. So on a Saturday, before you sit to read my blog, make a brew ☕️🫖.

It’s easy to see what’s happening with the projects if you have been watching the website, so I thought I could explain a little more for those who don’t know me very well about the wider picture and what you get from me if you need some support instead of a project.

It’s also going to explain we are all friends at Integr8archery, because it is key to everything that happens here, in this huge family of archers who are supportive and welcoming where differences are not an issue and we embrace each others quirks.

Just in the last couple of weeks I have been approached following people reading my blogs who want support and think they may have found it amongst these pages. Last week someone new approached me on the shooting line to ask about Bert (my shooting stool), since the blog below was first published 12 people have reached out to ask me to help them through their own change. 5 of those stay in regular contact and I am blessed to call them friends. Just because you made the change doesn’t mean some days aren’t still tough and some times the words of others make us question our place on the line. On the days you need extra strength – I will always fight for your place on the line!

WHAT IF RESISTING CHANGE MEANS HAVING TO QUIT? – BY HELEN SHARPE

First published by Aim4sport on the 19th March 2021.

I signed up to my beginners’ course in January 2018, knowing at the same time that I would have a limited amount of time available to shoot because of the restrictions to my body and the pain those restrictions create. So I guessed 2 years?

Lots of issues in lots of areas and over the previous 22 years several surgeries, physios and whatever it took bit by bit to keep me going.

Being the last person in the house to pick up a bow meant that I had been around archery long enough watching what happens to know probably my best chance to shoot was with a compound bow.

So away I went, met with some resistance from those who felt that no novice should start with a compound – whatever was I suggesting!

I was lucky enough to have a coach on my beginners’ course who was happy to go with me in that starting process, so beginners course completed off we set.

So, 2 years? What could I cram into 2 years! Cram I did, shooting every day, bow in the car – office to range.

Clear advantage to living in a house of archers, if I hadn’t gotten my bow and found myself stuck at the office, I would often get a text message to tell me my bow was waiting, set up and ready to go on the shooting line, taken by my family.

I had learned over the previous 43 years to ignore the pain (not recommended in any way) and plough on.

Perfect in my mind because I wanted to compete, my plan was 4 specific local competitions in my first outdoor season – my reality? 18 competitions – including being selected to shoot for the county!

County selection surprised me, but this amazing squad have proven immensely vital in helping me face the changes that, though I anticipated, have still been surprisingly painful on an emotional level.

I love long days of competition, but they come at a cost, I cannot sit down during the day because the moment I relax I can’t move. So, a 1440 – amazing day often with great people. Walking slower as the day goes on but pushing through and often achieving more than I had hoped.

At a cost though, those closest to me would see me when it was over – and help me find my space to lay on the floor as my body seizes up and I cry – a lot – as the pain hits. Some of those friends might pour me a beer, some might cry with me, I learned later what watching someone in great pain can feel like for those around you, but that is someone else’s story.

There are no categories in archery that allow for pain, it’s incredibly difficult to quantify pain so how would you make rules that fit it? A challenge but if someone wants to pick it up and try, there are many of us who would be grateful.

I set myself a target for that first outdoor season and surpassed it.

Indoors came and a new coach, but someone who knew me and wanted to work with the issues.

Back outdoors and by now nearing 18 months and the toll was hitting – that original predicted 2 years looming and the reality that the pain was definitely becoming unbearable. My coach found himself away often due to work commitments.

So on I tried to plod alone with increasing pain.

Until the offer of a new coach arrived, one who thought we might have ways to try to get me more than 2 years in a sport that I now loved and didn’t want to give up. With a phone call he turned our team of 2 into a team of 3, a physio to add some knowledge to the situation.

Not an easy few months as those assessments and conversations happened.

When you have fought to walk and move and do everything without giving in, to have these people come into your life who think they have answers that sound in your mind like giving into those issues – it’s not easy if you are stubborn! And I might be just a little bit stubborn, possibly.

At different points it has been suggested I sit to shoot, always met by my less than polite reply to whichever brave person suggested it.

This coach however may be slightly braver than anyone else had been because despite being warned and the reaction the first time he mentioned it, he did mention it again!!

I am an evidence-based creature so to believe it was the answer regardless of what we thought we might know, I needed to see proof. So data gather started to prove what different scenarios and arrow counts would show, with sitting, standing and with or without an agent.

I am immensely grateful to those people who lived through that process with me, coach, physio and agents because quite frankly I was unbearable, and I didn’t behave well because I saw it all as giving in and letting my broken body and pain win after always fighting it.

We all survived the process – just!

The decision discussed and agreed that if I wanted to shoot I had to sit because crying as I shoot due to pain isn’t really acceptable.

Sounds simple? Nope.

You can’t walk into a store and come out with a shooting stool and to add to the issue we found ourselves in a pandemic!

My county squad mates came out as soon as possible and spent time, session after session creating what I needed and letting me rant and stomp about in the process.

So I spent the summer of 2020 learning to bond with Bert the shooting stool.

Dealing with my own head space whilst at the same time being faced with opposition from people who had opinions about if pain, regardless of how severe, should see a shooting stool allowed on the shooting line, because after all, pain is not a disability, right?

It’s a lot to get your head around but as coach keeps telling me – laying on the ground immobilised and crying in pain means giving up shooting so get sat on the stool and get on with it or quit.

Am I that resistant to change and so impacted by other people’s opinions that I never want to shoot another arrow? No.

Am I still learning to accept that I must change to carry on shooting – yes!

But I am also very blessed to have some amazing people in my corner to support that change and a coach who has most definitely become my best friend and will let me scream and shout and stomp and then tell me to quit moaning and get on with it.

So I can and I will change and learn to accept it and contend with opinions of others because I want more than 2 years, in fact I just had the 3rd anniversary of my beginners course. So maybe if faced with the option of quitting I can, in fact, be strong enough to change instead.

Some of us fight for others because we have struggled ourselves – thank you Angela Grant ❤️🏹

12 weeks!!

Photo credit to Malcolm Rees

As I hit my 12 weeks anniversary of Integr8archery it’s on the back of a week of volunteering with AGB and I find myself heading towards another weekend of volunteering, it drew my mind to the suggestion that I have nothing else in my life. This is a conversation that I often recall and still wonder why the person who said it believed it to be an insult?!

Which of course then leads me to the first blog I had published by Aim4sport.

Should you be interested in volunteering but are unsure where to start, please take a look at the Archery GB website

Should you be interested in the blog, please find it below, should you wish to read it:

YOU ONLY HAVE ARCHERY IN YOUR LIFE !! – HELEN SHARPE

First published by Aim4sport on the 26th February 2021

Approximately 18 months ago, as I sat amongst the parents as our children were all in their coaching session, another parent threw these words at me in anger:

“You only have archery in your life!!”

As he stood there looking at me quite obviously waiting for me to argue with him and list all the things that I do outside of archery

My reply was in fact:

“without people like me, who give back – your sport, our sport, wouldn’t function on any level!”

So yes, I am proud to say I have, outside my day job and parenting, given much of my time to my sport.

On that day I could list myself as:

  1. Archer
  2. Parent of archers
  3. Wife of an archer
  4. Club safeguarding officer, treasurer and health and safety officer.
  5. County secretary and county representative at regional meetings.
  6. Regional safeguarding officer.
  7. AGB ambassador.

I had also recently had the privilege of stepping into the county captain’s shoes to take care of the county junior squad at a competition when the county captain was away at work.

So, yes I would appear to have nothing else in my life other than archery!

Well, be honest, can you find me some spare time there for a hobby!

Those who know me well know I am incapable of sitting still with nothing to do.

What many see as a chance to chill and relax? I simply see as immensely stressful and makes me restless – often leads to mischief and trouble.

So 2020 brought a pandemic and lockdown, restrictions and furlough.

How to fill that time?

Well I started, along with a lot of the nation, by trying to work in the garden, it’s seriously neglected ordinarily as we concentrate on shooting those arrows.

This was however short lived when I stuck my leg on a tree and found myself with a hole in my leg!

So what to do now I have no work or shooting?

Lockdown 3 has also found me being approached by people new to furlough asking this whilst the range is closed and they have no access to the shooting that helps with their mental health.

I stumbled across studying, haven’t done any for a while so decided to see what might help in that list of roles whilst I was injured, furloughed and the ranges were closed.

Nearly 12 months on I have now completed 3 level 2 courses around mental health and safeguarding related topics along with some other shorter courses.

May 2020 saw the opening of ranges under restrictions, many people on the committee and coaches were on the shielding lists so with the help of 3 willing volunteers I took on the task of getting the club open, which was made easier by the many webinars and sessions related to archery and multi sports that I had sat in on since early April.

As we have rolled from lockdown, restrictions and tiers this has been my focus to allow anyone who wants to shoot the chance to be able to shoot. Our sport ticks so many boxes but in strange times many want that time on the range to help with their mental health.

I have worked with the NGB to get disabled archers back on the field last summer, when they do not have an agent in their household.

Now in lockdown 3 I am agent for an archer who is able to shoot under the disability exemption.

I am constantly in webinars, training sessions and meetings in our sport or across other sports working together to keep grassroots going.

Do I only have archery in my life? Probably, is it an insult? – never. I will work to allow people to enjoy my sport, our sport because I love it and all that it can give.

Would I recommend you give as many hours as I do to volunteer – no!!

Would I recommend you find a way to volunteer even a couple of hours a year?

Absolutely, because in my opinion, you will get something back if you give even a little.