The Golden Archers - by Daniel Cartwright

We've had some great stories in from local schools, including the Excel Academy, St Joseph's College, Summerbank Primary School and - in this case - Hillside Primary School. Daniel wrote this after a Year 6 trip to Stanley Head Outdoor Education Centre last summer: it's one of two Hillside School Stanley Head stories in our Sporting Stories book published last month.

“Right archers you’re with me wear a long sleeve top and meet at the staff room!” shouted the crazy Mr. Wilson. It was my group’s time for archery and I was so excited. I do archery at the weekend at a school. I knew it wouldn’t be the exact same because they are different clubs but I thought it wouldn’t be much different - boy I was in for a shock! I sprinted at top speed down the path to the staff room, I couldn’t be late. As carefully as I could, I swung round the corner doing a ninety degree spin. Once I got there (just in time) the worst thing happened it started to rain! We had no idea where we were going so we were dreading getting wet. Slowly but steadily we picked up the bows and walked down the steep, extra-long grass (I don’t walk with a bow so that was new for me). Me and the other ten or so classmates tried to go fast to avoid the rain but we weren’t allowed to run. It was going to be a soggy Wednesday afternoon! I was hoping that we would be in some sort of bunker for archery because I couldn’t get my perfectly dry hair wet! Why did it have to rain on my favourite activity? We only wanted to do archery to learn about it. 

Two minutes later, we made it. There were two shelters one with the targets in and one empty where you can shoot in. We put the bows on cut cones because it was the perfect stand for it. There was a snippet in the cone to put arrows. Usually I would have a proper stand to put it on. Mr. Wilson told us how to stand on the shooting line and not to go over it when other people are shooting. You could only cross it when everyone else had finished shooting. Then he told us how to load the bow and how to hold it. To hold it, you have to put your left arm where the slots are. To load it, he told us to turn it flat and slot the knock into the string underneath the golden circle (I would hold it normally then put the knock on the string not what he told us to do). After, Mr. Wilson said to put your middle three fingers under the arrow I was taught to use a finger guard where you put the index finger above the arrow and the one next to it finger underneath, your pinky on the rest and your thumb in the air. Finally he told us to pull it back as far as we could. Pull back so that the string is on the indent on my nose and my hand firmly under my chin. Once he’d showed us how to do it he had a go himself and he hit the centre of the target (a gold). He was really good. When it came to my turn I was really nervous. I was thinking, what if I do terrible? I’ll be heartbroken.

I stepped up to the shooting line, did my technique, let go and- I hit the red! On my next go I did the same except I hit the gold! Finally, I hit the red again. My score was twenty three out of thirty. I was so happy. Joyful, gleeful and amazed I collected my three arrows. After a few more practice shots, we gathered around and were given a number. I was given number one. The first game was race to the sun. you had to get the colours in order to win. You start with white, go to black, then to blue, after red it was finally gold. However, both teams were struggling, so after ten annoying minutes you didn’t have to get them in order anymore. It was a lot easier then. It was tied four to four on colours; but you had to get the gold. Both teams were struggling to get it. Unfortunately, the opposition got it before the Golden Archers (my team was the Golden Archers.) The next game was bake a cake. I was used to this game because in my beginners course at archery we played it. We went up one colour; I got a blue. Sadly, we lost that game too! We started off in a good position with a flour, egg and water but we needed a red to get the cake cooked. The worst thing happened though- someone hit the black. It meant that the ingredients burnt and you had to start again. It gave the other team a huge advantage. As we had gotten our second colour we heard cheering from the other team; they had won. Their team was really good. Then we did an ‘every man for themselves’ contest on who could get the highest score. They now had four bows out so they went in fours to shoot. The scores were good for new people staring archery. When it came to my turn it was just me and Rebecca left to shoot. Once Rebecca had shot I was worried, it looked like she had a big score compared to mine. 

When we went to collect I added up my score and had nineteen. What I didn’t know was that Rebecca had the same. I went down to a ‘first to hit the gold wins’ contest. Unfortunately - for me - Rebecca hit the gold and I hit the blue. It was almost the end of the lesson when we had to do the challenge to hug a tree without touching the ground. As I thought - by thought I mean knew - I did terrible. Sam won out of our group with three minutes and fourteen seconds.
Once the session was over, I felt proud of what I had achieved. I was also looking forward to eating my tea with a knife and fork while people were dreading eating meat and potato pie with their hands because of the cutlery challenge. You had to eat your tea with (if you got the colours) white = drinking juice out of a bowl, black = having condiments, blue = knife, red = fork, and gold = spoon. I ended up with three forks. I did a few trades so I had a fork, knife and a bowl of juice to drink. I had really enjoyed the activity. The activity was full of fun, excitement and teamwork. Advice I would give would be: listen to instructors and don’t be scared of any activity because they wouldn’t let you do it if it wasn’t safe.