Archery folk are the best kind of folk – just my opinion! – by Helen Sharpe30th April 2021
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.
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.
(side note – Photos from the last 14 months – don’t worry about what you may think you see – context – different rules at different times and a couple of these people are definitely my bubble or I may not have come through xx )