I mentioned that it was my son who brought us to archery. His disability was never seen as a barrier to taking part in the sport and he received the warmest possible welcome.
I, myself, have pain and mobility related issues that have seen me have to work with my coaches and my physio to make changes to allow me to continue shooting after I thought I would have to stop.
Following a blog that was published regarding my own struggle with change I had been invited to support 12 archers by the summer of 2022 with their own changes to stay in the sport. This continues and I never take for granted being invited into someone’s journey to change.
I have worked with disability groups, volunteered at the 2019 World Transplant Games, agented for numerous archers, spotted and worked with visually impaired archers and supported many by finding them the right person to help them.
Archery is a fantastic sport for mental health, I have my own battles but also know others, who, like me, will tell you there is peace to be found on a range. The process of clearing your mind and the repetition of process is calming for the mind.
Following Covid lockdown 1 it was clear to me as a safeguarding officer that there were issues arising. With the help of the club and senior coaches we were able to create sessions for juniors to bring their lunch and sit at safe distances and reconnect with the world, shooting was a bonus as we took care of their well-being.
I have stood on the range in my pyjamas to meet a child who hadn’t left the house for 10 months and had become non verbal due to a mental health break, his laughter from the car was priceless, it’s been a long journey but we have managed to get him stood on the range , the grass wasn’t going anywhere but he left the house that first day and was brave enough to keep trying.
Some times the greatest skill is simply to think outside of the box.
To stand beside a parent who watches their child be accepted by a sport after being turned away by 8 others because they have something that makes them different is truly a gift.
With this in mind I started my training to be an Inclusive Activity Leader, which has seen starting my coaching journey with the incredible Disability Sports Coach team and I have achieved my first step, my Level 1 award in coaching assistant, multi skills.
The work to support those with mental health battles has seen us launch our sessions with our friends at Towcester Archery Club for existing archers who want that feeling of a safe, unjudged environment, coming together every 2 months.
Let’s work towards making sports activity and it’s many benefits available to everyone.
I have now taken on the elected role of Vice Chair for Northamptonshire Federation of Disability Sports, I will add the link when our updated webpage is launched, this is an exciting time for the revamp and relaunch of an organisation which has worked with others in the county to increase physical activity for all but particularly the disability community and I am looking forward to seeing what the challenges and hard work we are all going to be giving in the coming months will achieve.