Our road back to archery

Posted: Thu, 13 Aug 2020 10:55

Our road back to archery

Bowmen of Glen have detailed their story on how they returned to archery following the national lockdown.

"When the country went in to lock down, we initially thought that we could carry on shooting, given the size of our field we could easily maintain all of these new social distancing guidelines. As the situation continued to worsen and the recommendation from AGB was to suspend all archery we quickly realised this would not be possible.

The committee took the decision to close the field to all members and changed the codes to the gate and clubhouse to reinforce this decision.

We had no idea just how long it would take and what effort would be involved in getting the club open again so we could all shoot.

As restrictions began to ease and AGB issued the phase 1 return to archery guidelines we all thought great news back down the club tomorrow!

The committee then held our first video call, along with most of the country, we had a few technical issues, but we were able to discuss what we needed to come up with a plan of action. We had 3 main areas to attack;

  • How we can get the field setup safely?
  • How can we get members ready to shoot with their own targets and target pins?
  • A booking system to book a time at the field

The overall goal was to avoid preventable spread of Covid-19 in sport and ensure the safety of our members and guests.

With guidance from Archery GB, the Government and informed by Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport - Clubs and Funding News Letters including recommended Web links helped in deciding our way forward; we were able to generate a risk assessment and put in place the necessary measures to open effectively and return to an initial level of normality.

The guidelines and risk assessment guidelines provided by AGB were invaluable in speeding up the risk assessment process and getting a set of rules and guidelines in place.

We looked for a booking system that we could implement quickly and provide the flexibility we needed to manage the bookings, at the same time our treasurer would look into how we could add a booking system to our own website. We looked at a lot of different booking systems, none were perfect, but we finally settled on Skedda as it met most of our requirements.

Amazingly, within a week, we were ready to reopen the club with our PPE in place; 4 of us set the field up, 15 bosses in total and we had our first bookings for the 17th May.

We started with the free version of the booking system, which would work for club members only; at another committee meeting via video chat we decided to open the field up to allow non-members to shoot for a small fee. This meant that we needed some of the paid features of the booking system.

This was a concern; while we wanted to let archers from clubs that could not reopen use our club, we did not want to run the club at a loss. Fortunately, we had a great response and we covered the monthly cost of the booking system within the first 2 weeks.

Requirements for maintaining social distancing of 2meters, required us to limit the number of targets on the field, to maintain distancing between archers on the shooting line, boss spacing was increased, from 2.5meters to 5meters, between each boss position. This still allowed us to place 15 targets on the field at various distances to accommodate members' requirements. Reminders and relevant posters have also been placed around the field, to reinforce and remind archers to adhere to all guidelines. This is the beauty of the Bowmen of Glen field being large enough to accommodate all the distancing measures and yet allowing an array of shooting distances.

We initially set the bosses out at various distances from 90m to 10m focused on 50m and 30m. After a couple of weeks we started to get feedback from our members asking if we could move some bosses to allow 252's to be shot as we had nothing set out for this. This was one thing we had overlooked when setting the field up. Another video call and the committee agreed to make some changes.

We had been running the booking system for a few weeks when our treasurer was able to add an improved booking system to our own website. This new system provided many significant benefits. It allowed archers from other clubs to book sessions at Bowmen of Glen, had greater functionality and flexibility and was vastly more cost effective. We moved all the bookings over and emailed everyone on how to use the new booking system. With a lot of hard work from everyone, the new booking system went live without any problems.

The booking system also provided the capability to track and trace as well as controlling members and visitation slots to the archery range. This not only controls the target bookings but also tracks visitor details, shooting periods and provides the ability to extract who else is on the range alongside each booking.

Initially archers could only book shooting slots 5 days ahead. Members feedback asked for this period to be extended up to 28days. However, this had the potential to clash with planned maintenance activities. It was quickly realised that we could use the booking system to also record and schedule our planned maintenance such as grass cutting. So, this unintended consequence had a positive outcome and the system was updated and live for the following day.

A key feature of the Bowmen of Glen, valued by our members and visitors, is the ability to shoot anytime during the day; every day of the year. Therefore, we needed to reduce physical contact and the necessity for cleaning schedules. To do this, we closed the clubhouse and have taken measures in stopping equipment sharing. Members have been provided with individual target faces and pins to utilise on their boss; alongside utilising their own hand sanitiser when appropriate. As the field is owned by Bowmen of Glen, we were able to leave targets setup in their positions limiting further points of contact and activity.

Resuming Beginners' Courses

We had cancelled our tournaments and beginners courses for the year; so when AGB issued the phase 2 of return to archery with guidelines, which included details on holding beginners courses, we took the next big leap and decide to hold a beginners course at the Start of August. We blocked out half of the field on the booking system for the weekend of the course. This still left a Covid-19 secure shooting area for our members, whist remaining compliant with Archery/GB's rules of shooting. We then started to plan what changes we needed to make to the way we normally ran our courses.

Again, the guidelines provide by AGB were a massive help in getting things ready. The club already had a day shelter that we used on our tournaments and have-a-go days, but as we could not use the clubhouse the committee decided to invest in another larger shelter to allow up to 5 participants to sit inside whilst maintaining social distancing measures. This allowed coaches to parse coaching material outdoors effectively via demonstrations, presentations and video tutorials. The two shelters have enough space to seat beginners far enough apart and go through the initial talks and presentations no matter what the weather. It is generally recognised that the risk of a Covid-19 infection is significantly reduced in an outdoor environment.

We adapted our beginner's course to take into account that coaches would not be able to physically interact with archers on the course. These adaptations included, but not limited to, our coaches developing and practicing, prior to the course, the skills of 'Coaching from a distance'. Each participant was issued with brand new, sanitised equipment that they used for the whole of the two-day course. Exploiting additional videos to show proper shooting techniques and the use of clingy bands. These control measures avoided any cross contamination, which could occur through physical contact or sharing of equipment.

The use of clingy bands turned out to be great and will now be part of our normal beginners' course. We had 3 people on the course which was great for the first time out with the new way of working as this allowed us to have 1 coach per beginner.

Having gained participants agreement, we used video cameras to record their performance, development and identify areas for improvement. Beginners could then also study their individual videos at home.

We had a great weekend and everyone involved agreed that it went really well.

We have another beginners course in September and a club day planned to replace our cancelled tournament.

The above demonstrates that the Bowmen of Glen have the skills, knowledge, inherent capacity and infrastructure to design, develop and implement a Covid-19 secure, robust and responsive capability in order to return to archery in a safe environment."

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