An Abergele school has become the first in North Wales to offer classes in archery.
Students at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan are on target to gain Duke of Edinburgh awards with their bow and arrow skills.
The after-school classes were started by two teachers after they went on an official instructors’ course – and they are hoping to eventually offer it as part of a GCSE in physical education.
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins said: “This class has proved popular with the Year 11 students who are completing their Duke of Edinburgh courses and we are looking at extending it as an after-school activity to learners of other ages.
“It’s important that we continue to offer a wide range of sports that encourage young people to be active and to aim to achieve their best.”
Teachers Jon Backford and Danni Whittingham run the classes in their own time for around 20 pupils aged 15 and 16 in the leisure centre alongside the school.
“I’ve always been interested in archery and we got the chance to go on an archery leadership course,” explained Mr Backford. “We were successful in bidding for cash from the school budget to buy the equipment we needed.
“Initially, it is to provide one of the strands for the Duke of Edinburgh award, but I would like to one day make it part of the GCSE course in PE. I would also eventually like the school to enter archery competitions at county and national level, just like we do for football, rugby or netball – though that may be some way off yet.
“Not everybody enjoys taking part in team sports so it’s important to be able to offer a variety of activities so learners remain interested in exercise. Archery is also very good at developing skills in dexterity, aim and upper body control.”
Emily Roberts, 15, from Kinmel Bay, already does modern dance and ballet but wanted to add to her sports skills while completing her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze level. The award is made up of four strands: physical, skills, volunteering in the local community and an expedition.
“Archery is something that’s completely different to anything I’ve tried before, but you get a real thrill when you manage to hit the target where you want,” said Emily, who is aiming for a career in dance.
“I have already helped out with a multi-sport summer school for children from nearby primary schools for my DofE award volunteering section, plus we went on an expedition in the Clwydian range, which was hard work. The archery will enable me to complete the skills section, while my dance covers the physical strand.”
Another regular at the archery after-school class is 16-year-old Ryan Hulse, a keen footballer and Llandudno Academy striker who would one day love to play for Manchester United.
“You need totally different skills to do this, it’s not easy,” said Ryan from Kinmel Bay, who also runs five-a-side clubs for younger pupils on the schools astro-turf pitch at lunch-times.
“I am competitive so I’ve love to be able to take part in archery competitions when I’ve got a bit better.”
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan, which dates back to 1899, has more than 1,100 learners with 140 teaching and support staff. In summer 2014 it had its best ever set of exam results.