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Case study – Gloucestershire School Games

Archery in schools across Gloucestershire is flourishing with many after-school clubs established and regular inter-school leagues involving both primary and secondary schools. This year the county has also seen archery included in the first level 3 School Games competition.

In Gloucestershire, the competition started back in May with district competitions to determine the County finalists. Gloucestershire is split into four districts, and the School Games Organisers, the Community Sports Partnership, Deer Park Archers and Xperience Archery worked together to provide the required training and agree the format for qualification. The Cotswolds district opted for a dedicated school day held at Cirencester Rugby Club where both Primary and Secondary Schools competed in a range of sports. The Primary Schools competed in mixed teams of nine, shooting in details of three, using mini-genesis bows provided by Deer Park Archers and shooting as many ends as could be shot in two hours. The senior schools, using the same format but at a greater distance on an 80cm face, used a range of bows either provided by Deer Park or using their own equipment. Recurves shot on the 80cm but compounds used a three spot face and each archer shot three dozen arrows in the

The senior schools, using the same format but at a greater distance on an 80cm face, used a range of bows either provided by Deer Park or using their own equipment. Recurves shot on the 80cm but compounds used a three spot face and each archer shot three dozen arrows in the two-hour time limit. Kingshill Cirencester and Archway Stroud, both with well established after-school clubs, progressed to the County finals. The other districts opted for a virtual competition, shooting the same format but shooting at their after-school venues during an agreed week.

Unfortunately, the demand for participation far outstripped the capacity to provide the necessary coaching and volume of equipment required. This will not happen next year as by the end of this year three Level 1 courses and a Level 2 will have increased the coaching capacity and an extra 20 genesis bows will have been purchased.

The County final took place on a blustery but mainly dry Saturday at Cheltenham College and the facilities were excellent. This would be an ideal venue for the regional final to take place. The organisational skills and commitment of the School Games Organisers together with the level of publicity, medals and general support were exceptional and the local papers gave excellent coverage leading up to and following completion of the event.

The finals day saw both school team and individual (Compound and non Compound) competitions with a large crowd of supporters, parents and school staff. The revised team scoring system worked very well. Following all nine archers shooting three arrows the team score for that rotation was added up and one point awarded for the highest score, two for second etc. This was done after each complete rotation and kept the competition close, again over the two hours each archer got to shoot 12 ends of three arrows. The individual competitions were done on total scores and they were not decided until the last three arrows!

The schools have taken this competition very seriously and for example, Balcarris School from Cheltenham have a well established after-school club, three teachers have gained their Level 1 this year as have two of their pupils who attended the 15-18 year old Level 1 course supported by Archery GB/Sport England funding. Kingshill Cirencester finished second and they had organised additional training sessions to ensure they were well prepared! Over 50 pupils were involved in the final, well over a 200 in the district competition, not counting the schools that did not have clubs that did not get to compete at that stage!

In summary, this annual event was a great success and our sport can only benefit from the inevitable increased levels of participation, and the volume of work also gave many of our coaches a great opportunity to develop their coaching skills. The School Games certainly tapped into new areas, many of the participating pupils were representing their school for the first time and for some of them it was the first sport they had enjoyed!

To capitalise on the introduction of Arrows, the new AGB product to be used in primary schools, the county needs to put in a similar Level 3 competition for primary schools. Arrows is the suggested format for competitions within primary School Games competitions. The quality of the competition in the team event was undoubted and it is a shame that those schools could not progress to the regional level. Perhaps next year!