My story began when I was eight years old. My dad thought it was a good idea to get me into sports, but not the usual sports. He had his heart set on having me take up archery, just like him. Archery was an unusual sport back then, but now there are over 52,000 archers in the United Kingdom alone. When I first started I thought it was a brilliant idea, and I really started to enjoy it. I made quite a few friends at the club.
But soon things started to change. After I shot my first tournament and won a trophy and a medal, I was in the paper. My friends started saying things about my hobby because it was unusual and different. I also got a bit more attention from the teachers after they saw me in the paper. My best friend saw it and said, "Archery is for wimps." I didn't say anything. I just left it at that. I wondered how she would know anything since she's never shot a bow and arrow before. Archery is quite a high-energy sport and helps build up the muscles in your arms. Walking is a big part too since you have to fetch your arrows from the target. Another friend also teased me about it, saying really hurtful things like, "Look at you now, sucking up to the teachers, is that why you get good grades?" But again I left it and didn't say anything. These comments started to become a regular thing and forced me to give up archery. I had to think of a way to quit my sport, but I didn't want to upset my dad, so I told him, "It just doesn't interest me anymore."
After that things began to get back to normal with my best friend and me. But when I moved up to secondary school, we didn't see each other anymore. I began to realize what a fool I had been. She hadn't been a friend to me, and I really missed shooting. I had missed all of those Thursday nights just to please a so-called "friend." I spoke to my parents and I have now been shooting for about two years. I shoot every Thursday for practice and some Sundays when there is a tournament. I was nervous about telling my new friends, but they're great about it. They think it's cool and exciting. But I knew in my heart no matter what they thought I was going to stick with it. I also shoot at a different club and have made loads of new friends there too. I have one really close friend there and we get on really well. I'm now fifteen and enjoying every moment of shooting my bow.
My advice to other girls would be to do what your heart tells you to do, no matter what other people think. You should do what is right for you. Everyone makes mistakes, but that's the best way to learn. Never be pressured into or out of something you either hate or love. Stick to what you believe in, and if your friends can't accept you for who you are, then they're not really good friends.