Vision impaired people in west Norfolk have been adding another string to their bow – with the launch of archery sessions being held in Downham Market.
As part of a new programme of activities for people living with sight loss run by Vision Norfolk, which has been enabled by a £2,497 grant from King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council, the monthly sessions are enabling around a dozen vision impaired people to take part in a sport which they may have previously thought was not possible for them to participate in.
The archery takes place in the Salvation Army Hall in the town, and is run by Andy Beer, a fully licensed and qualified Archery GB coach. After a warm-up and practice session, an informal team tournament is held each time, with vision impaired competitors and Vision Norfolk volunteers taking part.
“Vision Norfolk is very much about supporting people living with sight loss to find out what they can do, and for many that can be surprising,” said Zoe Tinkler, west Norfolk hub co-ordinator for Vision Norfolk.
“We tend to think of archery as being a sport where 20/20 vision is vital, but this is showing us that anyone can take part and enjoy it – and there are some surprisingly good archers among our clients.
“We are extremely grateful to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, whose grant means that we can offer these sessions free of charge – and to our wonderful volunteers, who provide transport to the venue for those taking part.”
Taking part for the first time at the February meeting was 66 year-old Paul Bloy from Wootton, who substantially lost his sight due to glaucoma in 1998. Although he can just about make out the outline of the target, he can’t see much more than that – but this has not stopped him from taking on the archery challenge.
“I like to try new things and see what I can do,” said Paul. “I came here not really knowing what to expect, but I have really enjoyed the experience. It’s also very sociable, which is important, because sight loss can be isolating.
“My advice to anyone who might be wondering if they could do something like this is to come and have a go – you have nothing to lose.”
That view was echoed by Simon Wordsworth, who was born with no sight in his left eye and only reduced sight in his right eye.
“Someone asked me ‘why archery?’, and I responded ‘why not?’ It’s fun, it’s sociable, and I enjoy the competitive element of it,” said Simon, who lives in King’s Lynn.
“Andy is a really natural coach who makes it seem the most natural thing in the world that vision impaired people should be doing archery.
“I like to try new experiences; I also take part in the shuffle board session which Vision Norfolk runs. Living with sight loss can make you feel a bit cut off, so the social aspect is an important part of it too.”
Anyone who would like to take part in the monthly Vision Norfolk archery sessions can find out more by visiting www.visionnorfolk.org.uk/archery, or by contacting Zoe Tinkler on 01553 660808, or via email at [email protected]. The sessions are free of charge, and transport is available if needed.