Development Scheme

What do you want out of archery? It’s a tricky question to answer, some people want to just sling some arrows and have some fun, others want to compete and improve their PBs, whilst some people are not quite sure. Whatever it is, archery is more fun when you know what you’re doing.

The development scheme is designed to help lay out a series of guidelines on how to improve your archery overall. To be a better archer you need to shoot and train, be strong enough to shoot without injury and if you want to, compete and improve your PBs. For each section, Train, Exercise and Compete, there are a series of recommended aspects which are detailed below, though this list is by no means extensive!

CUB runs regular equipment seminars on Friday evenings 7-8pm at the sports centre to help improve your equipment knowledge, which are well worth attending. The arrow award scheme is also a great way to improve your knowledge and archery abilities whilst obtaining shinnies along the way.

The key to develop is to be deliberate with your archery, think about what you are doing and how it will help achieve your goals. Our Development Officer will be happy to have a chat and help you decide what you want to focus on with your archery and how to get there.

The development scheme offers regular coaching sessions with qualified coaches which will work on improving your archery. To attend these sessions you must be working to improve, so we have the guidelines set out below to quantify this. If you want to improve and be part of the development scheme but have a problem with anything on the list please contact our Development Officer for assistance. Sign ups for coaching sessions will be announced before each session.

  • Shoot regularly, at least twice a week, ideally more frequently.
  • Score at least one round every fortnight and submit it to archr.
  • Sign up regularly to attend competitions where possible.
  • Attend the club’s weekly strength and conditioning sessions.
  • Attend the development coaching sessions and equipment seminars.

To improve your shooting, you shoot more. Simple enough, but to really improve your training needs to be more targeted than just slinging arrows. You need to organise your training sessions so that you are working on improving and progressing towards a goal. The way in which these goals are structured is also crucial to success. To help you get there, focusing and structuring your training is key. This can be aided by getting coaching to improve your form, though peer-to-peer mentoring can be a great first step here.

Organised training

How do you structure your sessions? If you are an experienced archer maybe you shoot at the range on Monday and Wednesday, the sports centre on Friday and then compete in a BUTTS leg on a Sunday every second week. Each session should have its own goal and routine, not just ‘shoot arrows’. For example, on Monday you might score a round yourself, then on Wednesday you may get coaching or focus on improving a specific aspect of your technique like your release. Friday may be relaxed fun shooting and socialising to solidify your form before your competition on the Sunday. Having a purpose for each session is key to getting the most out of them.


What are you trying to achieve? For some this is just an overall improvement, for other they want badges whilst some want glory. It is worth having a short term goal you are actively working on and a long term goal you are striving towards. Make these measurable and achievable at a push, SMART goals offer a great guide. Short term goals might be shooting 30 arrows in practice with 75% feeling ‘good’, whilst a long term might involve a score, handicap or badge. Whatever it is, set a goal and write it down in your notebook!


To improve you need to know what to work on. Some things we can see ourselves, but other things we need help noticing or knowing how to fix them. In archery, you need to ask for this help! We have organised coaching sessions you can sign up for with certified coaches who can help a lot. We also have peer-to-peer mentoring on Friday evenings if you want a few suggestions without a full coaching session. Even just asking someone to watch you for an end or film you shooting and watching it back can be really helpful! Aspects of your form you may need to work on include bow hand, shoulder position, release, alignment and rotation, back tension, mental strategies, with support being available through the development scheme on all of these.

Archery is all about getting a consistent, perfect shot, which relies on your muscles being well trained and strong enough to support the shot for a whole competition. Therefore exercise is crucial if you want to be a good archer. Archery exercises like bow drills and reversals strengthen your ‘archery muscles’ with your specific form and are a great way to improve this. However adding a layer of gym work is crucial to improving your overall strength, which will improve your archery and allow you to make changes to your form without having to restart the strengthening process.


The club offers Strength and Conditioning (S&C) sessions at the sports centre on Thursday mornings 7-8am, with exercises specifically tailored to archery. They’re a great friendly environment with support from a trained instructor to help you improve and avoid injury. If you want to develop you should attend these sessions as a minimum. Including your own gym work during the week as well is a great way to improve even more. If you cannot attend S&C but still want to improve please talk to the Development Officer to discuss an alternate exercise routine.

Bow Drills

A great way to improve your strength is to push it! Bow drills involve a set of holding drills and are best performed at the end of each training session, though they are useful performed whenever. You can download the soundtrack or join in with other members at the end of the session. Use of an elbow sling is recommended as is warming up beforehand. These can also be performed with a resistance band, doing them in the morning as you wake up is great!


These are great for doing in your spare time with either a bow or a resistance band. They involve holding for x seconds, then resting for y seconds, then repeat for however long your Netflix episode is. As you improve, increase x and decrease y, eg x may start at 3 secs with y as 30-x secs. If using resistance bands you can start at a lower weight to get exactly the form you want, then increase the weight up to and above your draw weight to strengthen your archery muscles.

To track your progress and work towards any score goal, scoring rounds is really important! These scored rounds can be done during a practice session for personal tracking or as part of a competiton. Participating in an actual competition is a great way to involve yourself more fully in archery and can offer a really interesting experience. Archery competitions are unique, since you compete against yourself so the atmosphere is generally very friendly and sociable with a lot of down time to chat. If you are not sure whether you want to do a full competition, the club run target days are a really good first step, since they offer a scored round with badge and record claiming potential, but are in the comfort of your home ground.

Personal Scoring

This is the easiest way to access a scored round and actually makes a great addition to your training. By scoring a round within your own training you can track your progress and work on your goals. It also offers the chance to focus on shooting to score without the potential stress of an external competition, which will help you be more focused and relaxed at an actual comp. Just be sure that the session you score in has enough time for the round you want! Portsmouth rounds are great, but they’re a bit long for Friday sessions, maybe opt for a half Portsmouth or a Bray I with a Worcester thrown in for fun every now and then.

Target Days

These are club run scored rounds, in which you shoot a round to time and score it. They offer the opportunity to participate in a competition without having to travel beyond Cambridge. Participating in any actual competition allows you to claim club and county records and club badges, all of which are great! The target days are relaxed and fun and definitely worth being involved in.

BUTTS legs

These are our university competitions and the best way to get into competing at actual competitions. They pop up regularly through the term and generally involve a Portsmouth round. For the BUTTS legs we compete against other universities so there is a team selected to attend each time and unfortunately you may not always be selected. They are still great to apply to and a really good way to take part in a real competition whilst still having the support of the university in organisation and travel. You also have the opportunity to be on the Cambridge University team and maybe even win some medals, as well as records and badges, both from the CUB and BUTTS schemes! If you are interested in competing but unsure the Development or Tournaments officers can offer advice and support.

I am a beginner/novice, can I take part?


Of course, the scheme is open to anyone who wants to dedicate the time to improve, no matter what your current level of ability. The only requirements are wanting to be the best you can and being prepared to put in the work to get there.

I don’t have the time for all of this, does that mean I can only shoot on a Friday?

Not at all. As described above, the elements of the development scheme are all already available to all CUB members, this just brings them together in to a structured framework for those wishing to dedicate their time to the sport. Any member can attend any open session.

I have saturday Lectures and can’t make some competitions, can I join?

Of course. We acknowledge that Cambridge is principally a place of education, and whilst those who participate in sport tend to have improved academic performance we do not want to take you away from your lectures. Provided you let us know in advance and sign up whenever you can you can still participate.

I am ill and can’t make a session, will I be removed?

No. If you cannot attend a session for some reason (illness or away at a conference etc.) please let us know in advance but it is not a problem. Members should be present for at least 75% of sessions.

I really want to become the best I can but I am away from Cambridge at times or there are other complications. What can I do?

The development scheme is all about assisting archers to achieve their sporting ambitions. If you have any unusual circumstances but would like to take part and become the best archer you can please let us know and we will try and accommodate you.

I want to be an Olympic archer, but don’t have time for all of this. What do I do?

That is perfectly understandable and OK. Cambridge has a diverse range of people with a wide range of interests. If archery is just one of your many activities and you see it as a hobby that is absolutely fine. We are both fortunate and challenged in that we are a club that caters for both those who want to participate in a relaxed activity and make friends all the way up to those representing the university at the highest levels of sport. If you don’t want to commit to this level of training at present we would still encourage you to do as much as you feel you can to work at your shooting. If it hasn’t already been made clear above, sessions can be attended by any members of CUB of any level of ability.