By Ciara Griffiths
When I was in Year 6 on a residential trip, I held my first bow. When it was my turn to shoot, I walked up to the target, thinking I was Robin Hood. When I released the arrow from the string, I heard a splat. The arrow had hit the blue. I thought to myself, I will do this as a sport one day, I am now shooting with my university and have been an archer for five and a half years.
By the time I was in secondary school, my dad was a golfer, my brother played rugby, my friend was on the school netball team, another friend did horse-riding and the popular girls were on the hockey team. I wanted to be part of it all. I joined the netball team in Year 7 and stayed there for a year. As Goal Shooter, I scored a few goals – only a few. But I was not satisfied. I was glad to be supporting the school through sport, but I got no enjoyment out of it. When I left the netball team in Year 8, I was back to longing to be a part of sport. I had an eye for horse-riding, as there was something oddly romantic and adventurous about riding a horse. My mum was, understandably, not so keen, for she feared that I would damage my vision if I fell and hit my head, so that was out of the equation. Ice skating was a thought, and so, believe it or not, was skiing! In Buckinghamshire!
Looking back, all these prospective sports came with challenges, which was what drew me to them. I could never settle on a ‘conventional’ sport like netball or hockey because I did not feel the challenge. I wanted to show people that despite my disability, I was capable of anything they were. That was when I came back to archery.
My mum found Little Abbey Bowmen, a Buckinghamshire-based club that shot in Amersham in the summer and Chesham in the winter. I held my second bow and started a three-week beginner’s course. My visual impairment was a hurdle, but the club never treated it as one that could not be jumped. After completing the beginner’s course, I became a member. I then held my third and current bow. In April, I won the Handicap Achievement Cup. Many people think archery is simple and does not require much effort. There is more to it than hitting a target. It requires muscle memory, good posture and concentration. More concentration when you are visually impaired. Despite the challenges I face every day, archery has taught me that being visually impaired is not a barrier I will let block my path.
With Little Abbey Bowmen’s permission, I have attached the link to their website - Little Abbey Bowmen.
Image description: Ciara has long blonde hair, she is wearing black roundish glasses and is wearing a white top with red edging at the top and has a gold necklace on. She is smiling in the picture