If The Hunger Games taught me anything, it’s that a bow and arrow can get you out of a tough spot. It’s with this undeniable logic in mind that I decided I wanted to test my archery skills. Luckily there are many archery clubs in London but one stuck out for me. 2020 Archery offer a ‘Have a Go’ archery session specifically aimed at people who may never had tried archery and would like to be walked through the whole process before having a go in a relaxed environment.
A few hours of basic archery training and a friendly competition. Great group activity but the location is a bit out of the way.
Archery requires a lot of space, so it’s unsurprising that 2020 archery need a location a bit out of the way not not only fit their archery range but also be able to afford the rent. Whilst not particularly central, the building that hosts 2020 archery is fairly easy to locate and is about 15 minutes walk from London Bridge station.
2020 Archery is located in the Downside Centre, which is a kind of general sports centre. Go to the main reception to sign in and you’ll be shown where the archery is taking place (just up a few flights of stairs).
The archery room is pretty basic, almost like a school sports hall, but it has everything you need. There were about 25 people in the archery group and 3 instructors. The session lasts roughly 1.5 hours with half an hour of instruction and preparation and an hour of practice and competition. The hall can get really hot so don’t wear a thick jumper, or at least wear something underneath so you can take it off.
Having a go at Archery
I have only attempted archery once before and I was no Katniss Everdeen to say the least, so I was grateful that the instructors teach you everything from the ground up. How to hold the bow, how to stand, how to aim, how to not get shot by anyone else.
Archery is dangerous and the arrows you use are sharp, so they take safety pretty seriously. Still, as long as you don’t run to pick up your arrows while 20 other people are still shooting you should be fine.
The equipment they offer seems to be of a high standard, not that I’m an expert on bows and arrows. There are left handed versions available which, as a lefty, is highly appreciated.
How difficult is it?
Is archery hard? Hmm. Is it hard to load the arrow, pull the string back and fire? No. Is it hard to hit a bulls eye three times in a row? Spectacularly. Archery is all about accuracy and consistency. You do need a bit of strength to pull the string back enough, but out of 25 people I only saw one or two struggling.
The instructors were all very helpful. If they saw you doing something slightly wrong they would come and correct you; although they do have 25 people to look after, so don’t expect 1 on 1 tuition for the whole session.
I am the new Legolas
Not one to brag usually, but I’ll make an exception in this instance. It turns out that I’m pretty bloody good at archery! By the end of the practise session I scored this blinder.
Mine is the centre right. Each round you get three arrows and you need to try and get each one as close to the centre ring as possible. Each ring represents a certain amount of points. As you can see I hit the centre yellow ring all three times so that’s a pretty high score.
Unfortunately I peaked too soon and during the actual competition I didn’t manage a repeat performance. The competition is a friendly one and see’s you split into 3 large groups. You then get three rounds to score as many points as possible. At the end it’s all added up and the person with the highest scores wins a prize.
I managed to place 5th overall, which I was pleased with, although the competitive side of my would have liked a medal position. The whole session seems to end really quickly, which is a good sign that it’s fun.
Archery is fun, it’s competitive and has a low learning curve. The good thing about it is that even if you are awful it’s still an enjoyable activity. The guys at 2020 archery made the whole process pretty easy and by the end of the session I came away hungry for more. The centre offers a 5 week course where they will teach you how to shoot from a greater distance and a variety of advanced archery skills, but obviously no obligation to join.
If you are just curious about archery or want a fun group activity then I can’t think of a reason not to recommend 2020 archery. It’s fun, relatively inexpensive (for London) and it might introduce you to a new hobby.
You can book a place at a 2020 archery have a go session on their website: http://www.2020archery.co.uk/lessons-courses-2/have-a-go
Related: Active Days Out in London