Archery targets primary schools as ideal socially distanced sport for all ages and abilities

As families struggle through lockdown, with many juggling home-schooling alongside their own commitments often working from home, it’s clear that physical activity for children unable to access regular PE lessons has become restricted by limited time and opportunity.

In response to this potential crisis, Archery GB is approaching primary schools to offer nationwide participation in a sport with universal appeal, regardless of gender – one that is fun and inclusive and can be enjoyed at school with classmates and at archery clubs with other friends and family members.

Archery GB strongly believes sport and physical activity has a big role to play in improving both the physical and mental health of the nation, supporting the economy, reconnecting communities and rebuilding a stronger society for all. Its strategic vision for the next 10 years sets out how UK sport needs to change as a sector and an ecosystem, ensuring everyone has the opportunities they need, now and in the future.

More than anything, Archery GB is determined to tackle the inequalities long seen in sport and physical activity, providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind and helping to remove all barriers to engagement across all sectors of society.

This complements Sport England’s strategy to put sport and physical activity at the heart of the nation’s recovery, bringing a new and diverse sporting activity to schools and providing the practical means to introduce ‘soft’ archery for all young children.

Sport truly can be for all

It has long been recognised that the range of sports available for children at school may currently only appeal to a small percentage of pupils since not all children are gifted with the same sporting genes and talents as others, and sport can therefore become a competition for the fittest or the fastest that many do not want to or cannot join.

Archery is a non-traditional sport that is currently enjoyed by over 5,500 under 18s who already participate in the UK. It can be learnt relatively quickly and undertaken indoors or out. Its many physical and mental health benefits are evident and ready to be shared by the nationwide school community, all the while following naturally socially distanced guidelines.

An Olympic sport with more to give

Archery is an established Olympic and Paralympic sport that is keen to extend its reach to the younger community by way of a simple, low cost, ‘soft’ Arrows kit available for use by primary teachers nationwide. Launched in partnership with Clickers Archery Ltd, the Archery GB Arrows Programme provides teachers with child-friendly equipment, lesson plans and ideas for activities and competitions. Archery GB is currently running a competition to win a first prize of a Three-bow Arrows Taster Pack with two Home Edition Arrows kits for the runners-up.

Archery is also part of the School Games funded by Sport England National Lottery and in the 2018/19 academic year (the latest for which data is available) 145 archery school competitions took place involving 8,902 inter school participants and 1,290 inter school archery teams. It is hoped that the current initiative will help extend access to archery widely across the UK primary school community.

By providing this opportunity for many more children to experience archery in the school environment, this ready-made sporting activity can be activated quickly and easily and introduced to the classroom by primary teachers without any training. With the prospect of success at the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo later this year, the time and more importantly the fit is right for archery to take its place on the wider curriculum in UK primary schools.

Taking the initiative for schools

Archery is an inclusive sport that can be enjoyed by children of all ages including those with disabilities who would struggle to take part in an alternative form of exercise.

Commenting on the commitment of archery to develop and support a diverse participation base across all school communities, Neil Armitage, CEO at Archery GB said “We want to offer children a new participation sport that will benefit them physically and mentally as we address the issues left behind by the Coronavirus pandemic. For too long, people with the most to gain from being active have been the least able to take part.

“As a result of the huge disruption 2020 has caused, and the inequalities the pandemic has reinforced or even exacerbated – around both socio-economic status and ethnicity – our drive to do things differently and confront these inequalities head on is stronger than ever.

“This equipment will enable schools to initiate an activity for young children that will benefit their immediate well-being. We are also encouraging and training new instructors so those who engage with the sport at a young age can take a Beginner’s course and develop their passion further. Our goal is to give all children the opportunity to have a go at archery either via their primary school or at a local archery club.”

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