There have been a number of times recently when I have felt that coaching was too much bother. Rushing around like a manic frog to the club on a Friday straight from work is bad enough, but if that struggle is not enough, it gets compounded when you have to coach people that are really not that interested. As I have been reminded many times, the majority of people just want to come to the club, shoot a few arrows and go back home, they don’t aspire to be a great archer, nor to push themselves to their best potential nor strive to be the next gold medal Olympian. However, those are the people that breeze in and out like the wind on a gusty day but they help to spread the message about archery and they add a few much needed coffers to the club funds.
However, once in a while something special happens and it makes it all worthwhile. On most courses there are one or two people that really try, despite the odds being stacked against them and I find that it is those people that give back to me just as much (and sometimes more) than I can give to them.
Many of you that have been around for the last few years will know how Louis and I worked together and helped each other to get over bad weeks at school and work and to put those frustrations behind us, have a great weekend and to set each other up for the week ahead. Louis outgrew me and moved on to better coaching and to become an even better archer. We remain friends and I watch his progress from a distance these days. Then, I recently had the pleasure of introducing a visually impaired lady to the sport. Session one was an unknown for us both, but Deb has gone from strength to strength and is now aspiring to compete beyond county level. Her attitude to a difficult sport under difficult situations is an inspiration that keeps me coming back on a Friday evening for the coaching sessions.
Then we have this weekend. Just ten weeks ago, I met a young lad called Archie. The first session was more to see whether he had the maturity and discipline to undertake the full course at his young age and whether he wanted to step into the world of archery properly and leave his plastic compound bow at home. Today, I turned up at the field to help set up for our outdoor tournament, only to find mum helping to set out the field and Archie setting up his bow. Just a few weeks ago we were seeing whether he could handle the course and now he was shooting his first tournament.
Geoff has been working with Archie since he finished the beginners course and he has helped him to get to grips with his new aluminium bow and those lessons have paid dividends. That said, Archie was as nervous as they come and I was really grateful to Ruby and Ryan (experienced young juniors) who helped steady Archie’s nerves and made him feel welcome on the shooting line. Archie’s sighters were all missed but he dug in and managed a couple of arrows on the target (from memory) for the first end. Now I know plenty of adults who would have thrown the towel in right there and then and stormed off back to the car park.
Not young Archie. Yes Geoff and I worked with him for the first few ends, but we can all take a good lesson from his attitude. He dug in, kept plugging away and he got better and better with every end. Now remember, this is a young lad of just 8 years of age, who has only been shooting for ten weeks and who wanted to shoot so much and fit in, that Mum was sent out all over Rushden on Saturday afternoon to make sure that he had a bottle green top and black trousers for the shoot. It’s not mandatory for archers to wear their colours in the first year, but this just shows how much Archie wanted to do well.
Unfortunately, I had to leave at lunchtime but I left Archie smiling, eating his lunch and having a great time. The score sheet was looking better all the time and I’m dying to know what he scored in the end. I know that he scored a personal best (which is ace for his first tournament) but I also understand that he went away with both a shiny gold medal and the trophy for his age and round.
Ten weeks from picking up a recurve bow, working hard at what he was taught and going home with his first medal and trophy. Now that hard work, dedication and attitude is something that every single one of us can draw on in our daily lives. I know that my week will be much the better for the inspiration from this little young lad.
Thanks Archie and keep up the good work – Ace job and you’ve made at least one of your coaches really proud.
Oh and notice the image at the top of this posting. Yup, that is an arrow in the gold at one of Archie’s further distances. Reward in itself.