Heather Reynolds

Finding myself with a large bow and arrow in my hand was more than a little unexpected on a Sunday afternoon. But I reasoned that having watched many people on TV doing archery over the summer – the Olympics, the Paralympics, Robin Hood… I ought to be able to manage this archery taster session. How difficult could it be?

Upon arrival, I was greeted by the news that I was an anomaly; right-handed but also right-eye-dominant and I should join the line for other anomalies. However, the introduction also offered the reassurance that, despite appearances, archery is a very safe sport. As long as I understood the basic command of “stop”, and didn’t step over the shooting line, it seemed I was on safe ground. I soon got chatting with my fellow novice archers and we wore our anomalous status like a badge of honour. I immediately realised that archery had the potential to be a hugely social sport, as the relaxed turn-taking left plenty of time for a good chat.

I was initially a little intimidated by the size of the bow, but my instructor was calmly confident that I was up to the task. Drawing back my arm till my hand brushed my cheek, I let fly.

Extraordinarily, the arrow thumped satisfyingly into the target and I immediately felt a huge sense of satisfaction. After a few more attempts I quickly realised that hearing the arrow bed itself into the target was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Upon returning to the line, I proudly paraded my new status as a ‘target-hitter’, basking in my brief moment of glory.

The Cambridge University Bowmen cater for all abilities, and the beautiful thing about archery is that everyone can give it a good go. Varying the distance of the targets can significantly alter the challenge, meaning novices are not overwhelmed by targets that are worringly far away.

Moreover, doing archery at Cambridge is something that you probably wouldn’t have such a good opportunity to do anywhere else: even as part of the novice squad, you’re able to hire expensive bows for a fraction of their standard cost. And, of course, there’s always the Varsity match against Oxford to satisfy any competitive instincts you may harbour. Despite the persistent drizzle I was quietly enamoured by my brief archery experience and I was assured that in the winter the club retreat to an indoor location before returning to the outdoors for a glorious summer of shooting.

Fancy a go with a bow? Get in touch with the Cambridge University Bowmen on cub-captain@srcf.ucam.org, or visit their website at http://cub.soc.srcf.net