The Irish National Archery Federation which was formed in the 1950’s changed its name to the Irish Amateur Archery Association in the 1970’s and is now known as Archery Ireland (AI). The association is affiliated to World Archery which itself recently changed it’s name from FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc). The current membership of archery Ireland now stands at 1300 full members and a further 3000 associated members. The associated membership is made up of the, Irish Student Archery Association, the Northern Ireland Archery Society and IFAF (Irish Field Archery Federation). As the governing body for Archery in Ireland, AI is responsible for governing all forms of archery including; Target Archery sometimes known as Olympic Archery, Field Archery and 3D archery, all of which are governed by World Archery rules.
First Olympic Medal:
Under the rules of the 1908 Olympic Games which were held in London, women were only allowed to take part in sport if they were fully clothed. As archery was the only sport where this was possible, Beatrice Geraldine Hill-Low born 1st Jan 1868 and from Ardee Co Louth, was chosen to represent Ireland. With archers shooting a traditional long bow, competing over two days and shooting 40 arrows at 60 yards and 24 arrows at 50 yards on both days, Beatrice took the bronze medal for Ireland.
Currently the majority of archers shoot either a recurve bow or a compound bow with speeds in excess of 400 feet per second. The recurve bow, often called an Olympic Bow which is used in the modern Olympics is shooting at a target 70mts away. The overall sizes of the target faces are 122cm, however the centre of the targets known as the X, measures 6.1 cm.
Unlike other sports; in archery all archers compete together on the shooting line, regardless of age, gender, or physical ability. Archery has gained some popularity as a minority sport in Ireland over recent times and there are Archery Shoots organised throughout the Island of Ireland most weekends of the year. Details of these may be found on the Archery Ireland website and via various social media sites. The most common type of competition is the Olympic style event however, field archery is becoming more popular and this year saw the first ever 3D event held in Ireland under World Archery rules. 3D archery is a sport which simulates hunting, and allows archers to move around a forest setting and shoot at twenty four rubber animal targets.
In 2010 the Irish Archery Association had five hundred members, which has grown to thirteen hundred in 2014. The growth can mainly be attributed to more TV coverage of the sport which has helped to increase awareness throughout the world, and also AI’s club development programme and assistance with grants to fund equipment for new club. There has been a wide range of people taking up archery with the youngest member of Archery Ireland just 4 years old and the eldest member over seventy.
Beginner’s lessons are available at all Archery Ireland clubs and generally run for six weeks. Participants are advised not to purchase archery equipment until after completion of the course. They are then directed to specialised retailers who can with assess the appropriate poundage and measurements of bows, so that new archers are set up with equipment that will safely allow them to reach their potential.
As with any sport; the more time and commitment that any individual puts into it, the more they will benefit. Regardless of whether archery is for them a form of relaxation, or a means of competing at a friendly or more competitive level, local clubs can assist and support every member. In order to become a high ranking archer in Ireland, and to attend international competitions, an athlete needs to train five days a week. On average a days training will consist of shooting approximately 350 arrows with a draw weight of about 44lb for each arrow. This will give a total draw weight for the week of approximately 30 tons. At this level, both body fitness and mental fitness play a big part in an athlete’s training. The amount time invested in psychological training compared to the time invested physical training will differ from archer to archer, however a generally accepted ratio would be 70% psychological and 30% physical.
In the 2013 World Championship held in Antailya, Turkey, acher Mel Lawton shooting in the ladies compound section came 8th which is the highest place ever achieved by an Irish archer in this category. While at the same event and in his 11th World Championship, archer Keith Hanlon came 11th in the gents recurve section. This is another highest standard achieved by an Irish archer in this category. The next major international event which many archery are currently in training for is the European Games in Bakue 2015.
For further information on archery why not visit our website, www.Archery.ie
Twitter – @ArcheryIreland