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Not quite Robin Hood, or men in tights

The Pattaya Archery Club had its humble beginnings around 2006 when the founder Eric Hearn used to practice on his own, or with a friend, on waste ground alongside Siam Country Club Road. Passing motorists would stop out of curiosity. Some of these people became involved and the numbers of participants began to slowly rise.

It was quite devastating for these enthusiasts to find the area they were using was due to be developed. One of those who had stopped previously to watch was the owner of Pattaya Shooting Park, and in a timely intervention offered the archers facilities at his premises.

The archery range at the Pattaya Shooting Park is completely enclosed and members can choose the distance over which they wish to practice. The targets are positioned at 18, 30, 40, 50 and 70 metres, the latter being the distance over which archers shoot in the Olympic Games. All the targets are mobile, so can be moved to accommodate the requirements of members.

The shooting positions are covered, so practice can be held whatever the weather. The

facilities include toilets, storage and the availability of refreshments.

As part of my monthly review of sports available in Pattaya, I was invited along by Eric Hearn. It is always quite daunting to be trying out a new sport for the first time, but Eric put me at ease, taking time to explain the differences between the types of bows used at the club and the varying techniques needed to use them.

I had no idea shooting an arrow in a straight line was so technical. I had a bow made up with a sight for me to use. So many things were completely different from what I had assumed, even down to the way the bow is held. In my defence, the last time I had a bow and arrow in my hand, the arrow had a rubber suction pad on the end of it.

After a simple test to establish which of my eyes was the ‘dominant’ one, and which I would use for sighting, I was shown the correct way to grip the bow. More importantly I was shown the positioning of the bow string against my nose and cheek, with the hand drawing the bow string being firmly under my chin.

We then moved to a shooting position on the archery range. Here I was taken several times through the 10 points that must be completed prior to actually shooting the arrow at the target.

1. Stand with the body at 90 degrees to the target, feet parallel about shoulder width apart.

2. Load the arrow onto the string, and this has to be the correct way around -no, not just the pointed end to the front-, but so that the flights are positioned in a way that they do not foul the bow once the arrow is released.

3. Grip the string, two fingers below the arrow and one above.

4. Take up a slight tension on the bow string.

5. Reposition the hand so only the first finger and thumb hold the bow. The other fingers on the hand are made into a fist.

6. Ensure the body is in an upright posture.

7. Turn the head to look at the target and lock the neck.

8. Slowly raise the bow until the sight aligns with the target.

9. Pull back on the bow string until it comes into the correct position against your nose, chin, etc.

10. Release the string, and in one motion take the releasing hand quickly behind the neck so it is taken completely away from the bow string.

After going through this routine several times, it was deemed time for me to actually shoot an arrow.

My first arrow missed the target, but was just below it. For my second arrow I compensated for being too low, but my arrow again missed the target, veering to the left. Having got the height correct I needed to compensate again, but I must say it was a complete surprise to me, and eric when my third arrow hit the centre ‘gold’ and what would have been a top score of 10.

Eric asked if I’d like to try some more arrows. I declined, as I’ve always thought one should quit whilst ahead, and for me having just hit the ‘gold’ things could only go downhill from now on.

The club boasts a regular attendance of around 30 members from different nationalities and includes some very skilled lady members. New members are always welcome, and the club does has its own equipment that can be used free of charge.

Should a member wish to purchase his or her own equipment this can be done through the club from a world famous supplier in the United Kingdom. Advice on the most suitable equipment is also freely available.  

Coaching assistance is willingly provided to newcomers by Mr. Hearn or other experienced members. Mr. Hearn coaches the disabled archery team from the Redemptorist Vocational School in Pattaya and they have won many competitions and awards in disabled games.

The club wesbite is www.pattayaarcheryclub.com and contains a wealth of information including membership fees, practice times, picture gallery, contact numbers and email addresses for dealing with enquiries in English, French, German and Dutch, as well as a map giving directions to the range.