'Beat the Outbreak' online archery competition draws interest

PROUD: Pirie's Gregory Player, before the isolation, giving a proud thumbs up after shooting a perfect 60 at 50 metres.

PROUD: Pirie's Gregory Player, before the isolation, giving a proud thumbs up after shooting a perfect 60 at 50 metres.

While many sports have been completely shut down due to government-mandated restrictions, archers have found a solution in their own backyards.

Through an online community, archers around the world have been taking part in an innovative competitive league called "beat the outbreak".

The league, hosted by World Archery, has drawn interest from everyone from amateurs to experts. Backyard amateurs, a national champion from Port Pirie and a French former world champion are just some of the people who take taken part.

World Archery's Chris Wells said it was important that their community stayed engaged during this period of isolation.

"Especially if they can still participate at home - there are many benefits from staying active, not least that on general mental health," Wells said.

"Sport is positive and it's important for people's spirits, bodies and future that they stick with the activities they enjoy during this difficult period."

What started as a casual idea at World Archery has quickly grown beyond their expectations to include more than 4,500 members and more than 700 scores posted from around the globe in just the first week.

"We're probably not set up to really support the community that's arisen from the league properly but we're doing our best," Wells said.

"We're hoping to take it forward after this outbreak is over."

Port Pirie's Gregory Player, a national compound archery champion, has been taking part in Work Archery's "beat the outbreak" online league.

The tournament - based on an "honesty system" - has certain targets released each week for people to shoot short distances at home and post a photo of their achievements on Facebook.

World Archery then validates and celebrates the winners.

Player said the league was helping him keep a competitive edge.

"The farthest I shoot as an open male compound archer is 90 metres, so it is not the same, but at least it is giving us something to do," Player said.

"Some people are shooting in their lounge room or down the passageway, so they will get given a target which is scaled to their range of shooting.

"If they are five metres away, they will have a target the size of a bottom of a coke can, whereas if someone is shooting at 18 metres they will have the size of a butter plate."

For now Mr Player will continue to ride out the virus crisis by keeping up with his training in his driveway. But he said he is keen on getting back to the range once the restrictions are lifted.

"Once I get back out there I will be going at it hammer and tongs," he said.

World Archery is encouraging people who can still practising safely at home, often at short range to take part in the weekly friendly competition.

"The most important thing is the community not the results," Wells said.

"We just want people to enjoy themselves."

This story At-home archery draws interest from regional competitors first appeared on Barossa & Light Herald.