Olympics will introduce archery to the masses

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Back in the days when lords made archery practice compulsory, this ancient sport was one of this country’s most popular pastimes.

With its historical connections and literary allusions, archery is one of those special activities that harks back to ancient times.

In the past, most people would have been handy with a bow and arrow.

Before more modern forms of weaponry took over, the humble bow was what we used to defend ourselves.

It was also a useful tool for hunting, while target practice provided a leisure activity in the form of competitions on the village green.

It’s great then to see that modern-day archery clubs such as the one that meets at Fort Purbrook still receive plenty of interest from those who want to pick up a bow and arrow for themselves.

The waiting lists and beginners’ courses prove that archery is still popular.

And yet it is also true to say that there are far less of us who are competent with a longbow than there used to be. As we have become less reliant on the bow, it’s understandable that less of us have tried it for ourselves.

But the Olympic Games will throw a very public, very welcome, spotlight on archery and the knock-on effect of that can’t be ignored.

Many children will be inspired to have a go at hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and track events as a result of watching the Games unfold in London this summer.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of them decided to give archery, fencing or synchronised swimming a go too?

Sport brings people together. In terms of encouraging team work, it’s very hard to beat. The excitement surrounding this year’s Olympics gives us the perfect chance to introduce a whole new generation to a sport they may not have come across before.

Lord’s Cricket Ground will be a great venue for the Olympic athletes competing in the archery event. If it inspires more people to pick up a bow, the Olympics will have hit its target.