Fellow members of the Pendle and Samlesbury Bowmen Helen Brown and Kim Doherty, self-confessed “archery bezzies”, are not archers inclined to rely on coincidences. Despite the coincidence that they both come from the same sleepy road in the Lancastrian village of Newton-with-Scales (population 1,442) near Kirkham, their sharp shooting trips are all about precision.
“I got into archery after a friend who was caring for her mother with dementia found herself with a weekend off and invited me to a practice session” , says Helen. “She asked me if I wanted to come, so I said I would and I was absolutely terrible! But I still had a lot of fun and so I registered on the spot for the initiation course.
“Since then, I’ve been addicted,” she adds. “It was pure luck that I decided to try archery, but I liked it because it was just something a little different. And I was never into sports, so finding a sport that I was good enough at and that I liked was really nice too. From the start, I was hooked. »
“I used to travel a lot with work and spend a lot of time in the States going back and forth, so when I knew it was coming to an end, I thought it was time for me to take up a hobby, otherwise I’ll come back to Earth with a bump,” says Kim. “I had tried archery once when I was at Girl Guides there. Years ago, so I signed up for a beginner’s archery course.
“Archery was just something I had tried and never really thought about, and even when I started the beginners course I would never have said there was so much of interest!” She keeps. “It’s amazing how things change: from a desire to try something new and different, I got hooked very quickly.”
Having met seven years ago during an introductory course with Spartan Archery at Much Hoole Village Hall, Helen and Kim were soon well and truly enveloped by the world of archery and the vibrant social scene who defines it. They joined the Bowmen together and over the next few years established themselves as two of the UK’s top archery talents.
“While I sucked at the start – literally missing more than I was hitting – I loved shooting, which made me want to keep going,” says Helen. “Kim can attest to that, she was much better than me when we started training and training together and learning from each other. But, as I got better, people at the club m encouraged to compete.
“Because I was improving and being fiercely competitive, I was like ‘go ahead, I’ll give it a try’,” she adds. “But, even though I love shooting, it’s people who do it – I’ve made so many friends and shooting helps me forget the day I just had. I can just focus on the target in front of me: it’s a real question of mental well-being for me, so I continued.
Kim agrees, calling the Bowmen of Pendle and Samlesbury people “fantastic”. “We were lucky to find the club,” she explains. “There’s such a good mix of people of all ages and backgrounds and it’s nice to mingle with such a wide range of characters because I’ve spent so much time with similar people in the past through the work bias.
“When I started shooting I wasn’t too bad – I started with the basic ‘try and pop that balloon’ and when you got there it was so exciting,” adds Kim. “But, even then, I was quite averse to competition initially because I had never played sports and took up archery as a hobby and a way to meet new people. But, as your scores improve, you start to wonder.
Both proponents of the uncluttered discipline of barebow shooting as opposed to recurve bows with their stabilizers or compound bows with their pulleys and cables, Helen and Kim extol the virtues of simplicity when it comes to technology.
“I love how the barebow is just me, my bow and my instincts,” says Helen. “Then it all depends on my form. With the barebow there are no stabilizers or sights, it’s your decision and where the arrow lands is up to you rather than your kit. While I can’t compare the disciplines directly, I think you get a bit more satisfaction from using a barebow because it’s all up to you.
“I’ve tried a bit of a recurve bow but, for me, the more stuff you add to the bow, the messier you end up making,” adds Kim. “It was just about aiming and shooting with faster results. It’s all stripped down – getting your arrows where you want them takes more work, but it’s very satisfying.
And so, rightly given the theme of archery, in Nottingham. In mid-September, the bucolic Wollaton Hall on the outskirts of the town hosted the National Tour Finals and a close final between Lancashire archers. fight fought.
“This is the first year they’ve had barebows at the National Tour finals, so we were honored to be invited in the first place,” says Helen. “Then for Kim and me to reach the final together was very special. We train together so we know what each other looks like and how they shoot, so we knew we were never going to make it easy for each other.
“It was always going to be tight, but it was really fun,” she adds. “Just being there was amazing – among the other compound and recurve archers in the competition there were national and Olympic champions taking part, so being barebow there was such a great opportunity. I hope we have encouraged others to try.
“Nottingham was great and I wouldn’t have wanted to be there with anyone else,” Kim said. “It was the most nerve-wracking experience I’ve had in a long time, so it was great to be there with my archery bezzie. It was such a great experience – throughout our training we trained together so when we had to shoot one-on-one we had already done that.
“Having barebow archery included was fantastic as it is a growing aspect of the sport,” she adds. “It was an honor to be part of such a prestigious event and I have my fingers crossed that it will be repeated. I hope someone else sees us, sees how much fun we are having, decides to give it a try and eventually follows in our footsteps!