April 06, 2024

Embracing the fun of the Grand National Archery Meeting

The Grand National Archery Meeting is more than a competition – it's a celebration! As GNAM returns from 31 May to 2 June, Suzanne shares her experience of what it was like to enter GNAM for the first time in 2023.

As the curtains rose on the 168th edition of the Grand National Archery Meeting (GNAM) at Lilleshall National Sports Centre on 3-4 June 2023, I was hugely nervous – GNAM was my first national competition.

However, I really didn’t have anything to worry about.

The event, a melting pot of diverse bowstyles and skill levels, stands as a testament to the inclusivity that defines the archery community. With varied rounds accommodating different preferences, age groups, and experience levels, GNAM ensures a level playing field where everyone can find their place.

Upon arriving at Lilleshall the day before to set up our tent, the field seemed relatively quiet. However, by the next day – the first day of competition – the atmosphere transformed as dozens of archers descended, and suddenly the range was alive with laughter. Despite the full field, an air of friendliness and openness permeated the surroundings.

I hadn’t been having a great season, so on sign-up, I chose a round in the lower end of the Bristol rounds, one I knew I could manage comfortably. Everyone was so accepting of each other – not a single person commented on my “easy” round, and instead genuinely cared about how I was getting on.

Archers roamed around, admiring each other's bows, engaging in friendly banter, and sharing their passion for the sport. It wasn't just about hitting targets; it was about sharing stories, experiences, and forging connections within the archery community. A few people we knew from other clubs came over and sat with us in front of our tent between ends and rounds, so it really felt like meeting up with old friends with a little bit of archery thrown in.  

The relaxed ambiance of GNAM has left a lasting impression, and all year I have been recommending it to new and experienced archers as a fun weekend with friends.

A tip for any future GNAM adventurers: bring snacks and drinks – it’s a long day and you’re going to start flagging. Between five of us, we ended up bringing enough snacks to feed the entire line, so if a few of you are going together, maybe coordinate the snackage?

I also burn very easily, so being in the middle of an open field in the middle of June can be like asking for trouble. My advice would be to liberally apply sunscreen. And if you need to get out of the sun, you can always come hide in our tent!

With its storied history and welcoming atmosphere, GNAM is the ideal inaugural competition for someone venturing into competitive archery. It's more than just a test of skills; it's a joyful congregation of novices and seasoned athletes alike.

This year GNAM returns for three days from 31 May to 2 June, and you can bet I’ve already booked my spot. How many of you will I see there? Don't miss your chance to make memories, forge connections and have an absolute blast. Place your entry now at the link below.

Join me at the Grand National Archery Meeting

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