In December 2013 we at Royston Heath Archery Club started shooting a 252 scheme. It’s an unofficial but popular outdoor awards scheme used in various forms by many clubs. It is similar to, but much simpler to administer than the ArcheryGB Junior Progress Awards Scheme, and is open to all archers, not just juniors.
The idea is that you start at twenty yards on a 122cm face, imperial scoring, and have to score 252 or better in three dozen arrows after sighters (that’s recurve, other bow types have their own required scores). If you get the required score twice, on two separate days, you can claim a white award. Only when you have a white award can you go on to attempt the next distance and award, thirty yards for a Black, etc. The award colours follow the colours of the target: White, Black, Blue and Red, then instead of just Gold it’s Bronze at 60, Silver at 80 and finally Gold at 100 yards. You can also submit the first three dozen arrows of a longer imperial round as a 252.
That’s the basics of the scheme, but the club has made a few changes to fit our needs better. Firstly we’ve introduced a very short, optional and junior only Green award at ten yards. We have some very young junior novices who would struggle and might get despondent trying to get a White 252 at this early stage and we wanted to give them a sense of achievement early on. Secondly we allow the round to be shot after the main round of the day, without sighters. Thirdly, we allow the next, longer distance to be shot after the shorter one, on the same day, without sighters. Lastly you can shoot the same distance twice on the same day with different bow types.
As for the awards themselves, we’ve opted for something a little unusual, which you can see in the photo above. When you get your first Green or White, you get a badge on a cord that you can attach to your quiver with a green or white bead on the cord. Subsequent awards are just the different coloured beads that you can slip on to the cord. There are different badges for each bow type with the required score and the bow type shown on them, so if you like you can try with a different bow type and collect different awards.
Here’s our scheme in a table showing the distances, the awards and the required scores for the different bow types at each distance:
To cut a long story short, the response so far has been phenomenal! Members who might have left when the main round was completed are staying on to shoot a 252 afterwards, or choosing to shoot a 252 instead, and practically the whole membership is shooting them. Our records officer has noted that whereas in the past he would on occasion have to chase people for score cards, with the 252 everyone is making very sure he gets them, properly signed, dated and witnessed. Our more experienced archers enjoy taking up the extra challenge of shooting a clear round at the shorter distances, and the look of delight on our junior novices faces when they get their Green 252 is priceless. Moreover, those more experienced archers who usually hang around at the “deep end” (as one of our members eloquently put it) are mixing with newer members to shoot the shorter distances.
We feel that it is of great benefit to everyone because it helps us to focus on scoring and grouping instead of mere distance – 252 in three dozen imperial is an average score of 7 per arrow, so you can’t be missing the target. It’s more fine grained than the outdoor classifications, yet more of an achievement than a handicap improvement, and it’s a specific number to beat.
It’s early days yet, and we’ll have to see how things pan out as members reach their current limit and start to struggle to get the next award, but we expect that struggle to result in more handicap improvements and more new classifications in the official rounds. We’re planning to make the 252 the first round that our novices will shoot after joining, and to keep them company we will be encouraging our existing members to “have a go” with an unfamiliar bow type.