Despite living with restricted mobility, Nicola West, 41 from Dursley in Gloucestershire, has achieved her BHAA Club Coach qualification in horseback archery, helped by her off-road TGA Supersport mobility scooter.
Nicola has ridden horses from an early age and is a member of the British Horseback Archery Association (BHAA). Horseback archery is a relatively new sport that is experiencing a rapid increase in participants keen to challenge themselves to a mixed discipline. Nicola lives with disability due to nerve damage following abdominal surgery; however her commitment and ability to engage with the sport have not been compromised as she us able to use a lighter weight bow to shoot with. Horseback archery combines the skill of trotting or cantering without rein control, whilst shooting at the targets as you pass. A special horsebow is used, which is shorter, lighter and without all the attachments as on the ‘recurves’ you will see in events like the Olympics.
As she has restricted use of her left side and independent walking is very painful, Nicola is able to conserve energy by using a mobility scooter at archery training, events and in daily life. Her 8mph TGA Supersport is nicknamed the ‘Harley Davidson’ of scooters due to its non-traditional black and chrome motorbike styling. It is a reliable and rugged 3-wheel machine built for challenging rural terrain, urban streets and town centres. With high levels of traction, manoeuvrability and stability, Nicola has the ability to access the countryside with ease – essential for her equestrian lifestyle.
Nicola says: “Being newly qualified as a horseback archery coach proves that despite disability, you can still achieve goals and ambitions. My TGA Supersport has helped me in this quest. Without its dependable performance I would not have been able to participate in horseback archery, both from a fatigue and accessibility point of view. It is quiet so I can lead the horses without them getting spooked and even if it is a bit muddy my Supersport won’t get stuck. I also shoot from a sitting position on my scooter at target archery club, as it gives me stability for a more accurate aim.”
Nicola works part time in the marketing department of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and also contributes to the ‘Leg up for Talent’ Facebook community. This social media page aims to support equestrian competitors through shared information, advice and a commercial sponsorship programme.
Nicola continues: “Before I bought my scooter I did look at other off-road alternatives but they did not come up to scratch. They were either not robust enough, not easy to turn or the controls didn’t suit me. My Supersport has lever control, not a twist grip, which I find easier to use as I have limited dexterity. Away from archery I am a keen countryside explorer and record my adventures with my 12-year-old Staffie, Tess, on a handlebar mounted GoPro camera. Being able to take Tess on more interesting walks was one of the original reasons why I sought an off-road scooter. I am also a member of the Disabled Ramblers Association and have joined the group on several expeditions to the Peak District, Pembrokeshire and Stonehenge. It is fantastic to ride with so many wonderful people, many of whom also choose the Supersport for dependable independence. Mine has heavy duty batteries for a 30-mile range.”
Nicola concludes: “I probably push myself too far sometimes on my scooter as I am used to the agility of horses but I enjoy the thrill. The TGA Supersport is a vital part of my life and helps me achieve so much more, whether competing, training or adventuring. Tackling the Brecon Beacons with the Disabled Ramblers is the next challenge for me.”