photo: Tom Morley
What inspired you to take up archery?
Becky: I did it at primary school. My archery club offered a beginners course – I tried it and liked it.
Brad: I was on holiday, had just finished swimming and saw it advertised on a sign. I had a go, and didn’t stop pestering my parents when I got home. I went and joined my local club at school – which I didn’t even know was there – and here we are.
Have you found balancing school, friends and archery a struggle?
Brad: There’re definitely things that – I wouldn’t say I’d rather be doing – but stuff my friends will go to that I can’t. But at the same time, I’m training for the Olympics so that outweighs anything else. There are plenty of opportunities to go out with your mates. This only comes around once.
Becky: We tend to have really packed schedules and it’s hard to fit other things around it. With education, it’s challenging when you have that and friends and archery. We don’t get much time. During my A-Levels, I was sort of lucky as I had an injury so I wasn’t competing. Exams are right in the middle of the competitive season – when I was doing my GCSEs, I had to miss an exam because I was away at a competition, but there are facilities and staff that try to help us sort it out.
Most inner city schools in Nottingham probably don’t have archery clubs for kids to get involved in. Do you think archery needs its profile raising?
Brad: Definitely. We’re not a big sport like football or cricket, we’re pretty low key. If I hadn’t have gone on holiday that year and found archery that way, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Having it in a school, it’s open to hundreds of kids straight away, and there could be someone there who’s the next big thing.
photo: Tom Morley
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Becky: I won a gold medal at the Youth World Championships in China, 2013 as part of the cadet mixed team. That was awesome.
Brad: Competing in the Youth Olympics [China, 2014] was great for me. I didn’t medal – I think I came top eight – but just to go, because obviously the Olympics is the big thing, and this was just a little step down, was good for me to know what it will be like in the village and all that stuff.
You must have been sixteen, Bradley?
Brad: Yeah I was.
Becky: I was fourteen when I went on my first trip to Italy.
Brad: We probably go to about four or five countries a year.
Becky: Easily. If you make the junior and the senior team, you can definitely go to at least four.
That’s mad. What’s the best place you’ve been to?
Brad: I really liked California, we just came back from there in January. Any warm country with good food, really. Turkey is next level.
Can you take me through the basic rules of competition archery?
Brad: Hit as many tens as possible.
Becky: We shoot at a seventy meter range onto a 122cm circular face. The scoring goes from ten to one. In each game, we shoot 72 arrows. After we do that, there are head-to-head rounds. It works on set points which are a bit complicated.
Brad: In a head-to-head match we have a waiting line that’s a metre behind the shooting line. We shoot under timing, so if we cross the waiting line before the timer starts we get either a five second penalty or you have to walk back across the waiting line and go again. Also, if you shoot too many arrows then you get the highest score deducted from your points.
Becky: Those are the kind of things we should never do. Hopefully!
Have you ever had any accidents?
Brad: We were doing a competition and it was proper windy – the arrows were going everywhere. We were walking up to the target to score, and I leaned down to pick the scoreboard up and got the knock of an arrow stuck right next to my eye. It only just missed my eyeball.
Becky: That’s the thing, the other end of the arrow is actually sharper than the point. I’ve had one stuck in my arm before.
An extreme sport. Is it easy to get into if you’ve never played before?
Becky: You just have to go to the Archery GB website, find a club and sign up to a beginners course. It’s a six-week course and they teach you all the basic rules and safety then let you play.
photo: Tom Morley
How often do you train and what does it involve?
Becky: I shoot six days a week and I go to the gym pretty much every day. We do strength and stability work as it’s important when we’re playing in windy conditions to have strong core muscles to keep us upright. The bows are quite heavy as well so the strength stuff we do in the gym helps us with keeping that up.
Brad: At this level, every archer has the same sort of training programme.
Tell me about the bow – it’s advanced from a wooden bow with a bit of string…
Becky: We have a handle called the riser. The bits that stick out the top and the bottom are called the limbs. The riser is made out of aluminium or carbon. The limbs are made out of either a carbon and wood or carbon and foam composite. We have a sight on a bar to aim at the target, and stabilisers that stick out. The string joins the two limbs together, so when you pull the string back and let it go, the limbs shoot back to their original positions. That’s what propels the carbon arrows.
Have you seen an increase in people taking up the sport off the back of Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and the like?
Brad: Definitely. I’ve noticed just from members in my club, the amount that have come through since the Hunger Games stuff who’ve said, “Oh yeah, we saw it on TV and thought we’d come and give it a go.” From what I've seen, so many more people have joined the sport just through it having more of a profile.
Becky: I think the fact that The Hunger Games and the Disney film Brave’s leads are both women really helps. Archery is quite a male-dominated sport, especially at the top end so it’s good to get little girls passionate about it. It can definitely be a sport for both genders.
Could you see yourselves taking up an acting or stunt archery career after the competitive game?
Becky: They tend to go more for archers teaching the actors how to shoot.
Brad: We look at those films and think, “No, you don’t do it like that!”, so maybe we’re not what they’re looking for.
Robin Hood and his Merry Men v the GB Archery team. Who would win?
Becky: People still do longbow archery, and even the best people at that are no way near the level of the recurve archers just because it’s not as technical. They have wooden bows and arrows and it’s a lot less precise.
Brad: If he thinks he can beat us, he can come and join the team.
The European Archery Championships, Highfields Park and Old Market Square, Monday 23 - Sunday 29 May 2016, £7.50 - £12.50.