Aotearoa Adaptive Archery

Aotearoa Adaptive Archery

Making Archery Accessible For All

Aotearoa Adaptive Archery (AAA) is a sports organisation set up to enable every individual to participate in archery. AAA believes that archery is an adaptable sport that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of background, age, gender and ability. AAA aims to provide opportunities to all individuals  to participate, in particular to those who have been side-lined and excluded due to neurodevelopmental disorders, cognitive disabilities and physical impairments. AAA also delivers tailored and specialised foundation sessions and courses for children, youths, and community groups, and runs teambuilding sessions for corporate groups.


Purpose of AAA and What Do We Do?

Aotearoa Adaptive Archery is an archery organisation set up to support and include special needs and in-need individuals, in particular tamariki and rangatahi (children and youths) in the sport of archery with the aim to improve their physical and mental health, as well as increase their opportunities in other areas of their life through the benefits of archery. Our core purpose is to “make archery accessible for everyone”.

AAA works independently, but also collaboratively with the Christchurch Archery Club. AAA was a registered sole tradership, but after much support, AAA has decided to incorporate and is now a limited liability company.

AAA is a social enterprise. Aside from organising and running sessions for special needs and in need individuals, AAA also caters to groups and corporate events. Profit earned from these programmes are channelled back into AAA’s core purpose. When a group or organisation chooses AAA as their archery partner, they are helping us to bring the joy and benefit of archery to a special needs or in-need young individual.

    Who do we cater for?

    AAA caters for a wide range of ages and ability levels

    Who can join?

    Children, youths and adults who have been diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders and cognitive impairments such as autism, down syndrome etc., as well as physical disabilities. AAA also conducts one-on-one or small group coaching sessions for children, youths, and adults, as well as community groups.

    Age requirements?

    Must be at least 5 years and above. Younger may be possible but you will need to contact us to determine if your child meets the size requirements.

    Physical capabilities?

    AAA can adapt to those with specific physical requirements. We offer a free 30 minute trial to assess what we can offer you or your child.

    Why Join Archery?

    There are many benefits to archery.

    Physical

    • Calorie burning: Although a seemingly low impact sport, archers burn an estimated 100 calories for every 30 minutes of shooting. This is due to not only the shooting, but also the walking to collect arrows as well as the set up and tear down of the ranges.

    • Upper body strength: It builds upper body strength, particularly in your chest, hands, arm and large upper back muscles, and non-core areas of your anatomy like the rotator cuffs (shoulder support).

    • Hand-eye coordination: It improves hand-eye coordination as your hands are trained to aim and subsequently release based on the feedback received from your eyes.

    • Hand-finger strength and flexibility: Hand and finger strength also increases with constant archery training and this in turn increases hand and finger flexibility.

    • Fun fact: In France, doctors can prescribe archery to patients as a health activity!

    • How does it benefit?
      Many individuals with disabilities are unable to participate in sports either due to inaccessibility or lack of opportunity. This may lead to some leading a sedentary lifestyle. By participating in archery, individuals get to participate in a low-impact activity which burns calories, build strength, improves hand-eye coordination and increases flexibility.

    Mental

    • Focus: As any senior archer would tell you, losing focus for just a split second could mean losing a large number of points, or even losing your arrow! Ignoring distractions and aiming and firing arrows increase and improve focus. Long-term training in archery will help archers remain calm in high-pressure situations.

    • Patience: As archery is about maximizing accuracy and precision, being patient will definitely help to reach that aim.

    • Relaxing: When breathing, concentration, and nervousness are managed well, it helps with focus and remaining calm. The added benefit is helping the archer relaxed, making archery a relaxing sport. Releasing the arrow and seeing and/or hearing it land on the target also has a cathartically relaxing effect.

    • Confidence: Unlike other sports, the strongest opponents archers face are themselves. The results are easily measured and keeping track of improvements and progression increases confidence.
    • How does it benefit?
      Archery can help individuals with managing their emotions and teach them how to remain calm in high-stressed situations. Long-term and continuous coaching will train the archer to focus, while continuous progress will increase confidence in the archer. These will overall improve the mental health of the individual.

    Interpersonal Skills

    • Social: Although archers typically shoot on their own, archery is actually a very social sport. You are very likely to be standing on the line next to a different archer during every competition. Regardless of abilities, age groups, genders and number of years shooting, all archers stand on the same line and shoot at the same time.

    • Teamwork: There are also team components in archery such as team match-play, and this allows socialising while inculcating teamwork skills in archers.

    • How does it benefit?
      Belonging is an important aspect of human nature. Many individuals with disabilities often feel isolated and different. Joining the archery family will help build the social network of the individual and allow them to not only socialise but work together in a team.

    Additional Benefits

    • As archery is a repetitive sport, it will be extremely beneficial for those with cognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism where repetition is one of the key traits. This trait is a strength in archery, and this could help increase confidence in the individual both in archery and other areas of their life.

    • All the benefits stated will, most importantly, contribute to positive emotional health and this is especially important in an era where issues such as depression are at an all-time high. Through archery, one can not only have a healthy body, one can also have a healthy mind.

    About AAA

    The idea for AAA came about by chance when its founder, Hana, offered a coaching session to a neurodiverse youth, Sohrab Joy (name has been used with permission) who has been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder (autism). Sohrab, who is in his mid-20s has the cognitive level of a young child. Hana, a teacher and trainer by profession, and a volunteer archery coach at the Christchurch Archery Club, noticed the potential in the Sohrab. Sohrab demonstrated the ability to not only follow instructions, but to also observe the health and safety rules even though it may need reminding from time to time. Sohrab was also able to hold a bow, aim at the target correctly, pull the string and shoot arrows.

    ​Another thing that Hana noticed was Sohrab's focus while on the line. As a foundation coach who has trained many beginner archers, and as an archer herself, Hana knows how difficult it is to continue to hold in position (after pulling back to anchor point) and aim. But Sohrab was able to hold for a very long time, even when he could be seen clearly tired. His tenacity was so amazing that sometimes Hana had to tell him to release and shoot. This is when Hana’s beliefs were affirmed: a person’s physical or cognitive ability does not make them any lesser than a physically abled or neurotypical individual. They may be different, but not lesser. They are as capable, if not more, than any other individual if given the right opportunities.

    ​It was not long after that Sohrab's parents contacted Hana personally and provided her positive feedback. They indicated Sohrab's interest in continuing the sport, and their interest in enabling him to do so. Upon hearing this, Hana communicated to her club her interest in setting up a special unit within the club focusing on those with different abilities and she received positive support from a few experts. Hana decided to make archery assessible for all regardless of cognitive or physical abilities. As her mission is for archery in Aotearoa to be more inclusive and diverse, she also aims to promote archery to children, youths, adults, and groups that cater to different communities. 

    To do this requires a large amount of time and effort and after discussion and strong support from her partner, Hana has decided to delve into this full-time. After discussion with several experts of the sustainability, viability and long-term benefit, Aotearoa Adaptive Archery was set up in December 2020 and registered in January 2021.

      Updates: 07 June 2021

      Who Has AAA Helped Thus Far?

      AAA is a new organisation and only started officially operating in March 2021 when Hana was approached by a mother who was looking for a coach for her son, Theo. Theo has Mager’s syndrome and is partially deaf. Although AAA was registered (as a sole tradership) early in the year, it only started operating when Theo engaged AAA’s services.

      Due to Theo’s special physical needs, Hana and her team of “elves” have worked on finding the best way for Theo to enjoy archery. This includes changing from recurve to compound bow and getting Theo to sit instead of stand (due to Theo’s special bone and body structure). Adaptive archery is the way to go and it is still a work in progress as at 14 years of age, Theo is still growing.

      In spite of challenges, Theo has achieved great heights in archery. He won second in a Team Event organised by Christchurch Archery Club for the closing of summer (out of more than 10 teams!). Theo’s amazing archery adventure is followed and supported by many. Many members of Theo’s family has also decided to join archery in support of Theo’s passion and they often shoot alongside him. Do follow Theo’s Archery Adventures on AAA’s Facebook and Instagram #theosarcheryadventures.