Where Are You Based?
Our indoor training takes place in St. Mary’s Hall, which is on the Dublin Road in Portlaoise. We train there twice a week in winter, but try to keep outdoors where possible in the summer time – we’re a field archery club after all!
We also have a permanent outdoor course in Clonkeen, which members are invited to use at any time, as long as they’re with another person. Beginners are not allowed to use the course without a coach until they’ve finished their course.
Where Do You Compete?
As a field archery club, the overwhelming majority of our shoots (and those attended by our members) take place outdoors in woodlands. Our club and individual members are all affiliated to the Irish Field Archery Federation (IFAF). This means we can attend any IFAF shoot across Ireland, and plenty of shoots held by other Irish archery organisations!
By being part of IFAF, we are also affiliated to the International Field Archery Association (IFAA). This enables us to compete at any international event held in association with the IFAA – including the UK and Ireland Field Archery Championship (UKIFAC), the European Bowhunter Championship (EBHC), the World Field Archery Championship (WFAC), IFAA Mail Matches, and many more besides. There’s plenty to do for us!
However, the main thing for us is to make sure people enjoy themselves. There’s a hugely social aspect to field archery, and the potential to make new friends is just as important as the competitive aspect of the sport. For this reason, we don’t require our members to attend shoots, although we do encourage it as it’s great fun for all who do.
Can i Attend Training?
Any member of Laois Archery is entitled to attend any training session we hold. We encourage people to attend, as practicing will help you improve, but we don’t require it – there’s no fun in shooting if you don’t want to be there, and having fun is the most important part.
Our training sessions are closed to the public – they’re a chance for our members to receive coaching between competitions, and for some people it’s a great way to relax and shoot in a stress-free environment. When the hall is set up, there’s not much space for extra people to be milling about, and the woods can be dangerous if you’re wandering around untrained.
If you’re an experienced archer looking to attend our training, and you’re registered to IFAF or another archery organisation, you should contact us so we can work something out.
Can I Attend a Competition?
Anyone who’s finished their beginner’s course and received an IFAF number can attend any of our official competitions. We also allow competitors who are affiliated to ITFAS, SIFA, NFAS, IFAA, or World Archery, as long as they can provide proof of membership (that just means bring your membership cards folks!).
We sometimes hold members only shoots, which can be attended only by Laois Archery members, though these aren’t official “record rounds” and are just for fun and some competition experience.
We ask that curious onlookers with no involvement in the shoot don’t attend them – there’s a lot of moving parts (and flying pointy things) and it can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, so if you’re interested in visiting us you should contact us before-hand so we can arrange something.
Can I Join The Club?
Our club is open to anyone over the age of 8, of any ability, and with any level of experience. There’s no max age, and there are plenty of older people across Ireland who enjoy the sport just as much as the kids do!
We offer a full beginner’s course, which is IFAF-approved and will take you through the basics of the sport, covering everything you need to know. This course costs €100, and that covers your hall attendance fee, all equipment you will need, and your coaching. We typically ask that you pay €50 deposit, and then €10 per week. After this course, you’re fully eligible for membership both of the club and IFAF. This enables you to participate in a huge number of competitions, both nationally and abroad.
Our courses tend to be in high demand, so if you’re interested please contact us as soon as possible so we can accommodate you.
If you have experience of archery and are looking to join, you should contact us so we can chat to you about our club. As long as you are registered with a recognised archery organisation, you won’t need to complete the course to join.
Can I Book an Archery Event?
As we’re a volunteer organisation, we don’t accept bookings for private events or courses. Our coaches and members all devote a significant amount of their free time to the club as it is, and we don’t want to take advantage of that.
If you have a group of people who wish to do a beginners course together, we recommend you contact us as early as possible, so we can try to ensure that you will be able to train together. However, we can only coach a limited number of people per course so depending on the size of your group, it may not always be possible.
If you’d like to attend a Have-A-Go event, we can always be found with a stall on St Patrick’s Day in Portlaoise, and at The Old Fort Festival.
Is Archery Safe?
We make sure that archery is practiced as safely as possible. However, it is a potentially dangerous sport, based on the use of weapons. This is the reason we don’t accept members under the age of 8.
We train our members to use the safest techniques for both themselves and those around them. This is why we have trained coaches at every training session who are more than happy to help people improve their form safely. This is also why we don’t accept members who haven’t undergone a safety course either with IFAF or another recognised archery organisation.
We’ve set up our indoor training sessions to eliminate risk, and our outdoor course undergoes regular maintenance and safety inspections so as to make sure no one gets hurt.
All of the equipment we use is specially chosen to make sure no one can get hurt while using them. We also strongly encourage members to speak to a coach before they buy their own. We will not allow an unsafe bow, arrow, or even arrow rest, to be used in the club or at any competition, no matter how much it cost. There’s a lot of dodgy equipment out there, and in order to avoid wasting money you should let us help you before you hit the order button.
What Equipment Do You Use?
The basic equipment a person needs for archery is a bow, some arrows, a quiver, an armguard, and a fingertab or glove. However, there’s a lot more to it.
The type of bow or arrows you shoot with influences your competition category, so it’s important you do your research before you buy. We train all our beginners in the same style for their course, but after that many will experiment with different styles until they find the one they like the best. This is why we don’t recommend anyone buying their own equipment until they finish their beginner’s course.
In field archery there is a wide range of categories, going from the most basic Historical (using an entirely wooden traditional bow to shoot wooden arrows) to Freestyle Unlimited (using a compound bow with sights and balance bars to shoot carbon arrows). There are categories to fit every style in between too. This can be confusing at first but it doesn’t take long before you can recognise any category just from looking at the equipment.
As part of a beginners course, we provide all the equipment you’ll need, and we teach you how to properly use and maintain it. After your course, you can continue to use our gear until you decide which style you’d like to move forward with. And don’t worry – if you change your mind after a few months or years, we can always help you make the switch!
Can I Hunt With A Bow?
It is illegal to use a bow and arrow to hunt animals in Ireland. You absolutely cannot do it. Any member of our club who hunts animals in Ireland with their archery equipment will be reported and can have their equipment confiscated. The same goes for any non-member we hear about doing the same thing.
We do shoot animal-shaped 3D targets as part of field archery, but this is not meant as an encouragement to shoot live creatures or as instruction on how to do so. It is purely to provide a more realistic experience when in the woods, and an opportunity to shoot something other than a paper target face.
Occasionally you may see references to things like “Bowhunter” and “Hunter Trails” in Irish archery. These refer to shooting styles and competition formats, not the act of hunting creatures. It is very important to make that distinction when you’re learning about the sport.