With so many projects running or launching in the area, Renfrewshire has become a hotbed of activity for archery. From inclusive and grassroots programme to modern facilities and training sessions with high-performance athletes, the area now offers something for everyone interested in the sport.
Archery & Active Schools
Over the past seven years, there has been an active Renfrewshire Archery Club running every Thursday night at the Bield Scout Hall in Paisley. In an attempt to take the sport to a wider audience, the local Active Schools team has worked with Scottish Archery to introduce Soft Archery into schools in the local area.
Soft Archery is often substituted for archery when conventional equipment cannot be used. Soft Archery arrows have rubber tips which offer a similar but much safer shooting experience.
In Renfrewshire, 80 Soft Archery sets have been purchased and used in primary schools as well as during public fun or health days. Scott Macdonald, Active Schools and community club outdoor development officer for Renfrewshire Leisure, explains how it came about.
“Archery as a sport is fairly costly to get into schools, it requires specialist coaches and equipment which is both expensive and offers challenges to safety," says Scott. "Soft Archery solves most of those issues in a really nice way.
"The area required to take part is small and sessions can be adapted to run almost anywhere. We’ve even done one in a classroom.”
Competitions have even been organised between schools in the area, the latest of which took place at Castlehead High School in December 2019. More than 120 children took part from schools across the country.
“We have run schools target archery competition for the past four years, and two years ago we were invited to the Scottish schools soft archery championships," says Scott.
"Last year Scottish Archery approached us to ask if we would be interested in hosting. Following this competition, Active Schools coordinators here in Renfrewshire decided to hold our own regional competition too.”
Linwood’s Kintyre Base
The Active Schools team have extended the project to include the Kintyre Base at Linwood High, which supports young people who are unable to attend mainstream school and aims to increase engagement and participation to improve health and wellbeing.
Louise Sinclair, a teacher at the facility, explains how archery became a part of the programme.
“When we were designing the curriculum, it was important to balance the subjects and offer an alternative timetable for them," says Louise.
"We had tried to incorporate sports previously, but the young people were finding it hard to engage. After discussions with the outdoor education coordinator [Scott] we decided that an experience of activities that would be new to them might increase their engagement.”
The programme has created a greater sense of achievement for the young people taking part. Their confidence has grown and they are now applying problem-solving and teamwork principles to other aspects of their lives.
“They recently had the opportunity to deliver a lesson to primary pupils," adds Louise. "This meant that the young people were speaking in public and that was simply unprecedented.”
Archery for the War Blinded
Adding to the facilities that already exist at the Linburn Centre in Wilkieston, a new archery facility has now been included at the Scottish War Blinded Centre in Paisley. Staff have received training to help up to 20 members of the centre take part in archery up to three times a week.
Alan Martin, Scottish Archery pathways manager, outlines the benefits.
“The centre gives us a great opportunity to develop VI archery and help the members at the centre to progress," he says.
"For us, there is also an opportunity for our coaches to gain experience of working with VI archers and using that experience to make their own clubs even more accessible.”
The facility will also be used to host the next pathway squad weekend in March, which will be combined with a session for centre members to join a training session with the pathway squad athletes and coaches.
The pathway programme focuses on progressing archers towards GB teams and having access to a facility like the war blinded centre increases opportunities to do that.