The Sport Of Archery
Before you join a club or buy any archery kit, most people attend a beginner’s course. SANAA discourages those trying the sport for the first time to buy their own equipment until they are confident and familiar with the requirements. All the equipment you need is provided on these courses so it is not necessary to purchase anything to get started.
The club training sessions vary from club to club and are typically two-hour sessions once a week over five or six weeks. The sessions will be run by a qualified coach and include essential information on safety and technique.
A formalised programme, called the Feathers and Arrows program, designed by the International Federation (FITA) is an excellent way to introduce yourself into the sport and to know what is expected.
If a beginner’s course is more than you want to do initially, then some clubs offer introductory events. To start the process, simply find a club in your area, and contact the secretary. SANAA has appointed accredited provincial coaches for this purpose.
Some archery retailers either offer their own beginners courses. Note that not all retailers are accredited by SANAA, and those who are will display their accreditation certificate.
Types of archery bows
In South Africa there are mainly two types of bows that are used. The Recurve (or Olympic) bow is made of metal and composites. The Compound bow, which is much more compact and uses cams and other mechanisms to improve accuracy still further.
Beginner’s courses usually teach the basics using the Recurve Bow as this is the most popular bow type, however you may well decide that you want to settle on one of the other types once you are more familiar with archery.
What happens in Winter?
Some clubs have facilities to shoot indoors during the winter months. This is why there is a break in the official archery calendar towards the rainy and winter seasons. Clubs have different events catering for their own provinces and are run under the provincial associations.
How much does it cost?
You can spend as much or as little as you like. You might get a basic beginners kit for around R750, but in most cases a decent recurve kit which will allow you to become quite proficient and is good enough to use in competitions would be around R2000. Of course, bows can run into many tens of thousands of rands.
On top of that you will have to pay membership to the club you belong to and the SANAA membership fee. By becoming a member of the Association you become part of the archers that are interested in growing the sport, and at the same time receive a number of benefits; ranging from insurance through to being able to participate in sanctioned events and receive a copy of the SA Archer – the official magazine of the Association.
And once you become proficient at our sport, as the only organisation authorised to award Colours, you could earn Provincial Colours.
Check with the club you are going to join on their costs. These fees cover the costs of providing the shooting ground, the targets, affiliation fees to the provincial association and the all important insurance.
How old do I have to be?
Any age really as long as you can prove your competence, although some clubs may not have members under 10.
What about disabilities?
Archery, more than most sports, is accessible to disabled individuals. In general you need good upper body strength in both arms and steady hands. Wheelchair users tend to use compound bows because of their compact nature, and can compete successfully on equal terms with able-bodied archers.
What about tournaments?
Tournaments are organised shoots, which are generally open only to members. To cater for those wanting to participate, a visitors fee of R50 (2008) must be paid. You are however limited with the rights and privileges as a visitor.
SANAA wishes to encourage tournament participation so it offers a number of opportunities for novices at shorter distances, but at the same time shooting the same number of arrows as advanced archers.
Archers are placed in the round appropriate to their age and gender. Some archers like tournaments – some don’t. It does not matter either way, but you should try it at least once. Many archers, particularly novices, think that they are ‘not good enough’ to go to a tournament, but this is a myth. Provided they are safe, and follow the basic rules of etiquette, there is never any criticism of archers shooting low scores. It is quite common to see members of the national team shooting on the same target as a novice, a great way to learn.
Is it dangerous?
Yes and no. Remember, the bow and arrow is essentially a weapon so it is, of course, dangerous. Because of this SANAA affiliated provinces and their clubs are strictly run under very stringent safety rules. Thus the sport of archery boasts one of the lowest rates of injury of any sport in the country.
What is a round?
A round is a specified number of arrows at a set range. For example the round known as a Men’s FITA consists of 144 arrows, with 36 shot at distances of 90, 70, 50 and 30 metres. Indoor rounds are shot at 18m, and typically 60 arrows are shot at an indoor event. SANAA has made provision to allow novice archers to participate in tournaments with special short distances being applicable, with what is known as a “standard bow” and the standard bow round.