An archery leader has been supporting care homes by delivering soft archery sessions to residents.

An enthusiastic coach and archer, Ged Laing of Ayr Archery Club came up with the idea before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is not until recently that his community service plan has flourished.

The opportunity has allowed older adults to have a go at archery within their care home setting and experience the positive physical and mental health benefits of the sport.

Ged said: ‘‘I am president of Ayr Archery Club, and we do as much as we can for the community. Earlier in the year I was sponsored to have my head and beard shaved for the SAA under 21 Pathway squad.

"Thinking about it, the only group, we have not helped was older adults not able to join our club - we have some very fit older archers at our club.

"I started just before Covid going into local homes and asking if they would be interested. I didn’t get a lot of interest to start with.

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"At a community event we were involved in we were spotted by a leisure coordinator at a local home and so contact was made.

"I asked the club for volunteers and we started with a demo.’’

When reflecting on his work with older adults, Ged stated:  ‘‘We learned so much, in that the elderly people may not be as strong, as they are not using their muscles.

"A lot of the groups we worked with had  dementia, so that is a lesson in patience. After a short time taking part in the activity, they opened up.

"Conversation is possible, so it's very rewarding. It's soft archery at a different level. No arm guards required and with the less able we hold the riser to allow them a try.

"The distance has to be short and usually indoors, so say 3 metres. If outdoors we can also do a clout type, but only if weather is not windy (some of the elderly participants do not like getting cold).

‘‘Once we got one home, the word spread and now we work across four homes.

"My goal is give the homes a soft archery set so that the staff can continue with the activity. 

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"I have yet to go back to the first home that I supplied the kit to, but I will as I am really keen to ensure it continues.

‘‘To convince other staff, I try to demo that you have to think when adjusting your aim, and again when you add up the scores.

"My big dream would be they form teams and compete against other local homes.”

Lyndsay Noon, CEO of Scottish Archery, added: “It’s fantastic to see clubs expanding their work into the local community and providing opportunities for older adults to try archery out with the club setting.

"This is a great example of a sustainable community based project set up to improve the lives of others through the fantastic sport of archery.

If anyone would like to advice on how to set up a project like this, then please get in touch with us below or I’m sure Ayr Archery Club would be keen to share more about their experience and learning."