On the 26th and 27th July 2014, Andover Archers and Old Basing Archery Clubs once again held the World record status double FITA Star competition weekend at Foxcotte Park, Andover, and Hampshire.
With archers entering from all over the UK and from Europe this weekend saw the Andover rugby club transformed into a superb competition field for archers of all ages and genders, the competition now in its 25th year is ranked in the top 5 events in the UK and at one point it was in the top 3 in Europe.
An absolutely amazing sight is probably the only way I can describe what I saw as the clubs organised the world record level archery shoot, the field was turned into a modern day scene from a Robin Hood movie with a line of targets that stretched for the whole length of the rugby playing and practice area.
I was invited along to see the event and was given a fantastic welcome by an extremely friendly and team orientated group of people who were very happy to explain all aspects of the modern day sport, you will possibly no doubt remember as a child finding what appeared to be an appropriate length of wood a piece of string and something straight that resembled an arrow, suddenly you became Robin Hood, well todays archer is something of a scientist, the variation of bows, strings, arrows and accessories is mind blowing to say the least but, impressively from what appeared to be a man with a stick and a string or to be correct a long bow to a lady with modern day equipment or again to be correct a compound bow, the skill of these people was quite incredible, at 90 yards I could only just make out the ring borders on the target, the bulls eye (Sorry Nick the Gold) was a small yellow round but with only 4 minutes to prepare, compose, take aim, steady and release 6 arrows into the gold in a session was made to look dare I say easy by some archers. I asked one of the younger archers Abbie Loader on the day I attended that she must have very strong arms.
Have you heard the phrase “Put your back into it” asked Secretary Nick Loader, he explained that one of the largest muscle groups in the body are the muscles that run down your back, the technique for using a bow is to pull these muscle together as opposed to using your arms.
Try it, sit back in your chair or stand up straight, the latter is better, and pull your shoulders blades together using those muscles, naturally your arm open, now imagine you are holding a bow and “Put your back into it” that is the technique for using a bow.
Now if you fancy trying this then all you need is here in Andover, Andover Archers were founded in 1976 by Brian Slayford, Stan Hawkins and Lorna and Raph Tucker. The club used the Sports Centre initially, until June 1976 when the school ground at Whitchurch was used, and the first lot of archery equipment was bought. G.N.A.S. fees were £2.50 and Club fees were £3.50. How times have changed.
By 1979 the club had grown to 30 members and the club used Chilbolton Playing Field, Wallop Airfield, Harrow Way School and the Walled Meadow as venues…so it was time to look for a suitable permanent place to lay down some roots.
In 1981, with the co-operation of Test Valley Borough Council, the Sports Council, The Hampshire Playing Fields Association and club cash, the club acquired a 21 year lease on a two acre field on Walworth Industrial Estate. And finally moved to their current location in 1994 and from what I can see and was shown the purpose build club building is ideally suited for the needs of the Andover Archer.
The 2015 event is I have no doubt already being planned, the group are to say the least, experienced, committed and extremely professional in the way that they approach and conduct themselves in their sport and are always quick to point out that this is a hobby but in reality you are using a weapon, although relaxed, friendly and very jovial, safety, care and organisation is the priority of the day.
On a personal note, if a friend had not invited me to the event I may have gone another 25 years without knowing about this fantastic group of people and the excellent work that they do for the sport, I hope to cover more events at the club and will bring more information, thanks again to the team at the Andover Archery Club.
For more information and to get involved visit their website at www.andoverarchers.org and speak to an expert in a friendly welcoming club environment.
If you have images from the day please send them to us and we will add them to the gallery page.