THIS GIRL CAN SHOOT:
On a lovely sunny June afternoon, I went to meet with Catherine Lowden at Newton Aycliffe Archery Club. I know very little about Archery so I was looking forward to seeing Catherine in action and find out more about the sport. Catherine is a 30-something mum of a lively two-year-old called William and it was great to meet them both. We walked around the field setting up the targets (alongside club regular, Alan and being ably helped by William!) and chatted all things bows, arrows and motherhood as we did so.
So what motivated you to try a sport like Archery?
“I was always that kid who was rubbish at sports at school, always picked last for teams, but I tried archery when I was in scouts (we were all beginners) and I loved it! When I came to Durham I joined the University archery club and learnt to shoot properly. Since then I’ve been County Indoor Champion two years in a row, I was in the County Team and I’ve shot for Durham and Northumberland 5 times. I’ve also achieved a national ranking”
What is it about the sport that you love?
“It’s great because anyone can do it! At the club we have two ten year olds on the beginner’s course at the moment and the oldest member is nearly 86 and only took up shooting this year! At a recent county tournament there was someone celebrating their 75th Birthday and still shooting! Archery is not only age inclusive, it’s gender, ability and body-type inclusive too.
I love it because it’s about you; your bow, your target and your score is your score, it’s your skill. There is a team element, (both at club and county level), so you can also play a team match. I like the mix of it being an individual sport and a team sport. You have to be part of a club so there’s a social side but it’s also about individual progression. There are different types of archery to get involved with – so for example field archery involves walking around a course, often wooded, looking for and shooting targets so there’s lots of variety.
But aside from the skill and the sport, it’s my thing! It’s my time, when I’m shooting and looking at a target I can block everything out, it’s my way to deal with stress”.
How do you juggle the demands of being a Mum with your sport?
Catherine told me that sadly women often leave the sport when they have a baby as it can be time consuming and tricky to manage. Catherine is lucky as her club has been really supportive in helping her continue with her sport even with a really active toddler (William seemed determined to escape the field during set up!). He can have a lovely time helping to set up and then can sit safely in his buggy whilst Catherine shoots. He was already helping to set up the bow and the bow stand and knew the names of the bits of the bow. We talked about how great it is for him to see his mum being active as hopefully that’ll influence him to find something he loves as he grows.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
“Long term I’d love to get back on the County Team and I’d like to continue developing my coaching’. Catherine completed her level two coaching course when William was one and she is currently coaching a beginner’s course. We chatted about how important that coaching time is for her – for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon she’s ‘Catherine the Archery Coach doing Archery’. Recent Sport England research reports that 61% of mums feel guilty taking time out to do exercise and although being mum is an incredibly important job we agreed it’s also important for all of us to have something else for us a ‘grown up’, not ‘just mum’. Sport England also stated that “children who have positive experiences of sport and physical activity early on are also more likely to prioritise being active in later life.” If that’s the case I reckon Young William will carry on being as lively as he was when we met!
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