First archery range of international standard in Sri Lanka
To most people, archery means Robin Hood and Little John shooting at the Sheriff’s men in Sherwood Forest, but the sport has moved a long way since then.
The skill is much the same, but the equipment has changed a great deal. The old longbow has gone, to be replaced by bows getting their power from fibre-glass and sending their aluminium arrows at over 200 kmph.
The sport in Sri Lanka has caught up with the demands of modern spots with it being an Olympic discipline. Although archery has been in existence for about ten years in Sri Lanka, a permanent range has never been put up to train the talented archers.
Colombo Archery Schools a private club that was inaugurated in 2007 opened a range at the CR & FC ground last week. President of the club is Samantha Rajapakse who is the founder of the club and also a level III qualified coach in archery. He has represented Sri Lanka in three South Asian Games and is keen to produce high level archers to represent Sri Lanka in the future too.
Already they have Muditha Thotagamuwa and Nimantha Fernando who are also coaches and of national standing.
Presently, about 110 members train at the Archery Centre under the three coaches. Rajapakse says that it would take about three months for an archer to pick up the basics and become a good archer. They should be able to shoot accurately at the target which is 30 metres for novices.
This will depend on the determination, fitness and commitment of the player concerned. They should be able to practice with dedication once a day to polish up on their skills.
The distances for shooting range from 30 metres, 50, 70 and 90 for men and 30, 50, 60 and 70 for women. Archers aim to get more of their arrows nearer to the centre of the target. Each arrow scores according to where it hits the target.
In international competitions governed by FITA men shoot two rounds of 144 arrows. At the Olympics, a good total for men over two FITA rounds would be about 2500 for men and 2400 for women.
This archery range is only a stepping stone for more things to happen. The land belongs to CR & FC and is given out on a profit sharing basis.
This archery range is also of international standard. Such ranges are available only in Dakha and Kolkatta and now in Sri Lanka in the South Asian region. Rajapakse said now Sri Lanka can conduct an international competition in Colombo.
A total of 22 archers can shoot at the 70 metre target at the same time. Membership is open to anyone and a fee will be charged. However, scholarships will be offered to students who are good and unable to meet the fees, said Rajapakse.
By T.B. Rahaman