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Rochford Archery Limited
Interview with Annette Salmons of Rochford Archery Ltd
(October 18th 2010)
Just a bow and arrows?
I met Annette in her shop in Roche Close in the new part of Rochford. Without realising it, I was in for quite a learning exercise!
RL: A question I tend to ask most people, how long have you been here?
Annette: Two years this month. It was a completely new set-up. I have been in archery since 2000 and I enjoyed the sport and had to go to a shop up at Braintree which was a long way to go and thought it was crying out for an archery shop in this area. There was one over at Chalkwell that has now closed down and we just felt the area needed one, so I started here.
RL: Clearly there is a demand for archery otherwise you wouldn’t be here. How many clubs are there around this area?
Annette: King Edmunds does archery and there are four clubs around the area.
RL: Looking around the shop here, you have some seriously high technology bows. You also have, I see on the wall, some more traditional ones. And different sizes?
Annette: The wooden bows are the traditional bows, my main love in archery; they are so pure and simple. They can be any type of wood as long as the wood works together. You have laminates in a bow of different woods and they all work in unison with one another. The more laminates you have, the springier the bow and it’s easier to pull back. For size, I have one here for a child but usually what they used to do in medieval times was the length of the bow was the height of the person plus about six or nine inches, so the size of bow goes with the height of the person.
RL: For one of these nice looking traditional bows, how much would I be paying?
Annette: About two hundred and fifty pounds. For the other modern looking ones, complete kit, everything else, you’re looking at about three hundred and fifty pounds and bits and pieces on the string that you have to have.
RL: People aren’t going to go into this casually are they? They are going to do this, probably because they are joining a club?
Annette: Yes, that’s right. They can go into it casually or whole-heartedly. I do happen to have a bow over here that is only about seventy two pounds, which a lot of people get to use in the garden, but I always strongly recommend that they have half an hour to an hour in here because I am coming up to being a level two coach and I can see what they are doing and I can give them help and quick practise.
RL: Are there standard lengths in competitions, from you to the target?
Annette: It can be anything from twenty yards up to a hundred yards.
RL: Can we talk about arrows.
Annette: Yes, I have here a fletching jig for making a dozen arrows here at once. I can also give instruction on how to make them. The number of arrows a person uses depends whether it is indoors or outdoors. Outdoors is about eight, indoors is about six because indoors, against another person, you shoot three and outdoors you shoot six. In any one time it is best to shoot only three arrows because otherwise you are holding the bow out and your arm gets tired and that’s when the lactic acid comes into play and things can go all wrong.
RL: You clearly enjoy this work and this sport.
Annette: Oh yes. Archery is a leveller. Anyone can do it. Our best team at the moment in the last Olympics was the Para-Olympic team; they actually won the archery for us. There are people in wheelchairs or they’re blind or deaf, they’ve got limited use on their hands, but everybody can do it. It’s nice also for families. I know of a full family of six and the whole family used to come along and spend an evening together doing their archery and it brought them closer together as a family.
RL: You mentioned just now outdoors and indoors. At this time of the year, running up to winter is mostly done indoors?
Annette: Yes, most of it happens indoors. You can do outdoors as well; it depends how hale and hearty you are! There are other types of archery apart from target archery. There is 3-D archery which is done in woods, which is our closest thing to hunting in England, because it is illegal to hunt with a bow and arrow. There are different types of field archery. There is clout archery which is aiming your bow upwards and seeing how far you can shoot the arrow. For ladies it is up to about a hundred and fifty yards, gentlemen up to about a hundred and eighty yards. Roving marks archery was started in the time of King Henry VIII and is where you are in a plus forty acre field, and you are shooting up and over trees and lakes to the mark, which may be up to a hundred and eighty yards, and the objective is to get as near the mark as possible, and then you get scored points. From that particular mark you turn towards the next one and do it again, and you are just roaming around in a lovely great field. The Fraternity of St. George, which is based down in Kent was the forerunner of today’s modern T.A., founded by King Henry VIII (see www.longbow-archers.com/fraternity.htm). There is a lot of history in archery! It was not only one of the main weapons, but it did have its practical purposes; they went hunting for food. We have one bow here, which is a one-piece yew, which is a replica and the original was actually found in an Iron Age peat bog, and so a bow like this would have been used probably around the time they were building Stonehenge.
RL: What is the likelihood of someone breaking their bow?
Annette: When the bow is at full stretch, not the modern compound ones, but the traditional ones, when you are at full draw, that is just before the point of breaking so that’s when you have to be careful. I have an ash bow that I bought very, very cheap about ten years ago now, as a re-enacting bow and...
RL: Hold on... what is a re-enacting bow?
Annette: Yes, I am a medieval re-enactor as well. I used to do more in the past but you do it all over England, in Tewksbury, Battle, Cressing Temple, all over, the places associated with battles of the past. It’s all very well organised and they re-enact actual battles. We actually shoot arrows without points on for safety. There are a lot of expressions in common usage that come from archery, for example, ‘to keep something under your hat’: something hidden, a secret. They used to keep their strings under their hats to keep them dry. They were made of flax, linen hemp, catgut and if it got wet it became useless.
RL: You are an enthusiast aren’t you?
Annette: Oh yes, I really enjoy this. This is another reason I wanted to start this up. At one stage it used to be for the elite and I wanted to open it up to everyone. There is still a little bit of that in archery, but that is why I have such a vast range of prices, for I start nice and cheap for mums and dads buying their kids their first bow, right the way through to the experienced serious archer.
RL: Coming up to Christmas, do people buy bows for presents or is that not such a wise thing to do?
Annette: No, you really need to be in a club to be on the safe side. We had one lady who came in wanting to buy a bow for her daughter then and there and I said, I can sell you a bow of any kind that you wish but I do strongly recommend that you get her to join a club first. So the daughter came along to a club that I was in at the time, and she’s actually worked in here with Project Trident, and she’s got her own bow now and she loves the sport. Being a coach you do get a lot of people putting trust in you and you must be on the ball and you must know what you’re talking about.
RL: You only started archery ten years ago, so how did you get into coaching?
Annette: It was basically via ‘Have a Go’ days and I used to go out to schools and I’ve done work for Rochford Council and I did it to pass my enthusiasm on. There is a national association, the Grand National Archery Society which as recently changed its name to Archery GB (see www.archerygb.org)
RL: Well thank you; it’s been really good meeting you and, Annette, thank you especially for the time you’ve given me.
To see much more go to Annette’s own excellent site: www.rochfordarchery.co.uk
Rochford Archery Ltd.
2 Roche Close
Rochford, Essex, SS4 1PX
Bows & Bits. Where does one start?
Three Archers - Catherine, Andrew & Annette
(Near the end of the conversation we were joined by two archers, a young man and his aunt, who had come to see Annette, carrying a bow belonging to another member of the family!)
RL: You are...?
Christine & Andrew: Christine Higgins... and Andrew Devlin
RL: Andrew, so how long have you been doing archery?
Andrew: Ten years, since I was seven. I belong to a club in Hainault called Oakfield Archers (see www.oakfield.org.uk)
RL: And Christine, how long have you been doing it?
Christine: Over twenty years. I’m at the same club.
RL: Andrew, do you compete in competitions?
Andrew: Yes, we’ve been up to the Lilleshall National Sports Centre to compete. I’ve done the Junior Nationals and the Adult Nationals, and Christine’s done the adults. I’ve done it quite a few times and I’ve coming in, roughly, the top twenty.