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Club Spotlight: Orkney Archers

29 Apr 2024

Orkney as an island has over 22,000 participants, a rich history spanning over 5,000 years and is located 10 miles north of Caithness in the mainland.  Within the area, they have a thriving an archery club based in Kirkwall – Orkney Archers who provide opportunities for the local community to come together, have fun and enjoy the sport.

Helen Corsie, the club’s Treasurer gave us a brief background on the club and where they are currently at:

‘‘There has always been archery clubs in Orkney area and our club is based in Kirkwall the main town within Orkney.  After COVID, our numbers dwindled and we were at 15 members.  As of last year we started running a Have a Go’s and we have seen an increase in our membership.  We have a few venues we can shoot in the season. 

In the winter time, we are in our local community hall which is about 12m long – which we are grateful to have access to from St Andrew’s Community Association.  Then we can shoot outside in the Summer at the  Pickquoy Sports Centre in Kirkwall this allows the club to shoot up to 90m.  We are lucky, we also shoot at a local riding centre where we can rent the hanger for 1-2 hours at 50m. 

We have an active club committee and officials and currently have one qualified coach however we have 4 coaches currently completing the AGB Session Coach Level 1.  The club has mainly Recurve and Compound bow types with some members shooting Barebow.’’

The club are hoping to start up and travel to the more outer islands and there has been some interest from the communities:

‘‘Our plan is to support these communities to develop local activity with help from our coaching team.  We were also contacted by the Ladies Ambulance drivers and we provided their staff with a have a go session, which they thoroughly enjoyed with archery being such a unique activity. 

More recently we delivered activity for Orkney young carers, as part of their monthly meets.  It was great to see everyone enjoying themselves throughout the session.’’

It is an exciting time for sport in Orkney with the International Islands Games in 2025 – the biggest multisport event the club are set to host where 24 islands across the world come together to compete.  Helen explained the club’s involvement and potential impact of event:

‘‘We are leading on organisation of the archery event which is a weeklong competition.  We are fortunate to be hosting this event and bring exposure to Archery in Scotland and are working in partnership with the Northern Area to deliver this.

We are doing the initial organising including figuring out costing of equipment, travel and accommodation and collecting entries.  The event will include Compound and Recurve bow styles. 

We are hoping to see a positive legacy from the event with the coverage and exposure that the event will receive and locals will have the opportunity to spectate and be inspired hopefully to take up archery.  It is a great opportunity to showcase the sport in Orkney.’’

As being based in a rural area and on an island, she highlights the challenges and realities:

‘‘Cost and time of travel for competitions is a huge barrier.  It’s a huge commitment.  If it is a weekend we need to get 3 nights of accommodation and find a way to travel too.  You can fly or drive and take the boat.  Regardless it is quite costly.  We currently hold an annual 2 day Inter-County match between Orkney and Shetland which we thoroughly enjoy.  We might be able to host more events in the future to encourage people to travel to Orkney to compete and as a legacy of the 2025 Island Games’’

Helen emphasised the good community spirit within Orkney and how people pull together in order to help achieve success.  This is part of why she is involved, volunteers her time along with the committee and coaches:   

‘‘Seeing the enjoyment people have when they attend makes it all worth it.  Keeps me busy and occupied.  Guess a sense of giving back to the community.  It is great to see the positive impact it has on people’s lives.  People will come along and say ‘I am not sporty or can’t do archery’.  Anyone can do it - it is open, inclusive and accessible to everyone especially when you are in a small community and sometimes there are limited opportunities’’

Thanks Helen for sharing, you find more information about the club here and to find out more information on the 2025 Orkney Island Games, click here.

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