September 16, 2020

Distance-coaching success for grassroots archery

As we roll through UK Coaching Week, which celebrates the contribution the nation's coaches make to our communities, we caught up with Philippa Lowe, Lead Coach at the Heart of England Coaching Group, who is successfully distance-coaching junior archers.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be back at the range, never mind shooting and competing, but Lead Coach Philippa Lowe (pictured above) is making it work both on and off the range.

Philippa said: "Once archers were able to get back to the range, we worked with the limitations of the booking system, ensuring a parent and AGB member shooting on another lane were present for the juniors. Keeping archers engaged and motivated without their usual regular one-to-one slots has proved challenging for everyone - but my Heart of England Coaching Group rose to the challenge and I'm really proud of each and every one of them.

"It's tricky to set challenges for a group as a whole when the ages range from 10 to 50. Abilities and experience are diverse, and shooting access and limitations are equally varied, but I managed to set weekly challenges and came up with a Lockdown League that was all-inclusive. Each week points were awarded for every challenge completed - with spot challenges and prizes thrown in to mix it all up. At the end of 12 weeks, the 15 archers who had started full of enthusiasm were still with me and more had joined in. I have to admit I thought I'd lose most by Week 4.

"Doing drills and skills has been a big eye opener for most - reviewing archers' videos made me realise that all too often lip service is paid to this vital set of skills. The importance is massive, and several archers have admitted that having quality time to work on these has really helped - I mean, whoever says that?! We've shot on novelty faces (eggs for Easter), we've had scored rounds on tiny faces at 5m, and even a fun baking challenge. We've done planks, press ups and fitness challenges and even some virtual head to heads. It's been hard work but fun. New virtual friends have been made, and I've enjoyed the challenge of thinking up new and innovative ideas that have relevance and benefits for the archers' skill set.”

However, what stands out most for Philippa is that: "Without exception each and every archer has come out of strict lockdown better than when we started. Some have mastered skills that they were unable to before, and some have actually rebuilt their shot, which is a serious challenge by video links only. Fitness has improved, bow cases are tidier (allegedly) and the cliniband has suddenly become the archer's best friend! The proof is in the pudding as the saying goes, and now most archers are able to get back to the range, scores, groups and techniques are testament to the hard work they've put in over the lockdown weeks. Many PBs and club records have been achieved back at the range which is so encouraging!

"So we will keep the group running because it works. We're thrilled that new archers are joining us all the time, including ‘Team Jersey'. With any luck, post-Covid, the virtual challenges may become real ones - a trip to Jersey has already been requested for some point in the future. Archery has always been about forging new friendships alongside learning new and improved skills. This has and is happening. To say I'm proud is an understatement. I'm actually, for once, proud of myself for navigating such tricky waters in such testing times and am unreservedly proud of my archers. They all deserve every success. Importantly, should another spike or lockdown hit, we're ready!"

Philippa is keen to hear from potential new members, so please drop her a line if you're interested at:


Keen to get into coaching? Find out more about archery coaching, or visit UK Coaching.

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