Channelling my inner-Robin Hood, I stood tall with my bow and arrow as I aimed at a duck that had strayed into my path. Releasing the arrow - it strikes, straight in the kill zone.
No need to worry, no real ducks were harmed.
I spent a morning with the King’s Lynn Field Archers (KLFA) learning how to aim high, shoot straight and most importantly, how to beat the photographer.
The club has only been up and running for 18 months, but already boasts nearly 50 members who range from four to 95-years-old, with around 30 members meeting every Sunday to practise on site.
National Field Archery Coach, Colin Bonfield, said: “We are very lucky to have the land that we do, it was gifted to us by Middleton Aggregates and it is perfect shooting ground.”
Set in 20 acres of wild quarry near Pentney Lakes, the archers have created a course, much like a golf course, but with life-size game animals, made out of foam, to shoot at.
Victor Sanders, 67, has been a member for 12 months. He said: “If you go out on the course, it’s made up of undulating ground, trees and bushes with plenty of hidden targets to test your shooting skills.”
My first attempt at field archery goes well, after a short lesson with Mr Bonfield, I manage to skewer both a duck and a bear, showing very little skill in comparison to the national champion standing next to me.
Fourteen-year-old Tom Izzard scooped the title of National Boys Junior Champion in September after only picking up a bow and arrow for the first time 12 months ago.
His coach, Colin Bonfield, said: “Tom is one of our instinctive shooters – he has a real talent.
“He shoots a hunting tackle with wooden arrows on a recurb bow, which is one of the most traditional forms of archery.”
Tom discovered his love of archery when he found a bow, which used to belong to his father, David, in his garage at home and started playing with it. Mr Izzard was a target archer who was preparing to compete at the Olympics in 2000 when he broke his shoulder.
Tom found the KLFA website and decided to join around a year ago, he has since taken part in seven competitions and a further three which secured him the title.
He said: “Everyone should give it a go, it is a lot of fun. We have a lot of in-club competitions which is good because there is always someone you want to beat. But we also go away a lot and compete against other clubs.”
Mr Izzard said: “Kids just don’t get the chance to try out traditional sports like this any more and they don’t get the chance to learn how to use these weapons in a safe and competitive way. By coming here, they get the chance to go out and play and shoot in the woods all day long and it is really good for them.
“We have plenty of kids who come here every week and love it. It is a very addictive hobby and they much prefer coming here to playing on their games consoles.”
The group also welcome families and those who have recently retired, Charlie Dearman joined the archers for a second session. He said: “The group made me feel so welcome and got me straight out with a bow and arrow. It was just one of those things I’d always wanted to try.”
The KLFA is a non-profit group, but with financial support from West Norfolk Sports Council to pay for equipment, the group is now able to offer free training from a national coach.
To join the field archers for a Sunday’s shoot, it costs £4 per person and equipment is available to borrow for the session. Membership for the year costs £60.
Go to www.kingslynnfieldarchers.co.uk for more information, or call Colin Bonfield on 01485 570286.
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