September 12, 2023

Empowering Deaf archers: Pascal's Journey

Pascal is a Deaf archer who has overcome obstacles to pursue his passion. He shares his story, his desire for inclusive resources and the formation of the Deaf Archery Group, aimed at uniting Deaf and hard of hearing archers to address common challenges in the sport.

My archery journey initially started when I was introduced to the sport at school.

I was about 14-15, shot for a year and half and loved it. From there on I had this dream to return to archery one day. However, my busy role as a graphic designer and family got in the way so it was not possible until I retired a few years ago.

It is rare to find an archery coach who signs and as a Deaf person who uses British Sign Language, I was faced with a search. As luck would have it Guildford Archery Club had one. From early on after the beginner’s course I was encouraged to enter archery competitions, and this really spurred me on, especially as I was successful with winning some medals.

However, I realise there was so much to learn. Slowly I started to build up my knowledge and challenged myself to watching hours and hours of videos to understand how to improve my archery skills. At times it was very frustrating as I needed the information and subtitles to be translated into BSL, my first language. BSL has its own grammatical structure and own word/sign order which is unlike written or spoken English, and I quickly discovered there are no archery resources in BSL. This prompted me to produce some leaflets on a few signs to make communication easier. I have been distributing them ever since and have been very encouraged by meeting lots of archers who have been very welcoming and even learning a sign or two.

However, you cannot learn archery in isolation, and I sought out other Deaf and hard of hearing archers and was lucky to find Bowmen at Harrow Archery Club had one and there were two more at Laleham Archery Club. I even discovered one of the national judges could sign. I am sure there are more Deaf/ hard of hearing archers out there somewhere!

We set up the Deaf Archery Group as an informal group that meet at competitions and discuss the lack of suitable resources, feelings of isolation and communication issues for Deaf archers. We decided to approach Archery GB to see how we could work together and tackle some of the issues facing Deaf and hard of hearing archers and to get other like-minded people be involved with joining the Deaf Archery Working Group.

Pascal has kindly allowed us to share his booklet, Archery Terms in British Sign Language, with our members for them to print out and use at their clubs. You can find it in the Member Resources section behind member sign in.

Starting in October, we are running a series of in-person Session Coach modules at the Bowmen of Harrow’s range that will be supported by British Sign Language interpreters.

Module dates:

  • October 8: Starting Your Coaching Journey & Empowering Archery – Tutor: Lloyd Brown
  • October 15: Introduction to Technique & Creating Engaging Sessions – Tutor: Trish Lovell
  • October 22: Using your Coaching Skills – Tutor: Trish Lovell
  • December 17: Supported Practice and Coach Presentation – Tutor: Trish Lovell

The range address: Bowmen of Harrow Archery Club, John Lyon Sports Ground, Sudbury Hill, Harrow, HA1 3SB

Any Deaf or hard-of-hearing archers who would like to take part in the course should email Gayle Pink and register their interest. If there is greater interest than spaces available, we may consider running another course supported by BSL interpreters. 

The Deaf Archery Working Group and Archery GB are looking at improving their support for archers with hearing loss and would like to hear from Deaf and hard-of-hearing archers across the country. They are interested in finding out how many archers might be Deaf or hard of hearing, the barriers they may have faced and ideas to overcome those barriers.

The link below will take you to a survey about your experience of doing archery with hearing loss and the support available to you.

Deaf and hard of hearing archers survey

The survey also offers any interested archers the opportunity to sign up to be part of the Working Group.

Gayle Pink, Head of Participation at Archery GB said: "We are really excited to be working with Pascal, Kathy, Nadine and Irene from the Deaf Archery Working Group to understand the barriers archers with hearing loss may face and how we can all work together to identify solutions to help make the sport more inclusive for all. If you are a Deaf or hard of hearing archer, we would really appreciate your help in completing the survey. Understanding how many Deaf or hard of hearing archers are already involved in archery and the barriers they face will be a really good starting point to our work in this area.

"We would also like to thank Bowmen of Harrow and Trish Lovell for all their help and support in organising the Session Coach (Level 1) course which will be supported by British Sign Language interpreters starting next month."

UK Coaching have more information about coaching archers with a hearing impairment. UK Deaf Sport help to provide opportunities for more Deaf people to participate in sport throughout their lives and have more resources on coaching and Deaf awareness in sport. 

For more information on the Session Coach course, click on the link below: 

Becoming a coach

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