Archery Fit: London’s unique indoor club
Roman Godkin and Kate Zalyubovskaya moved from Russia to London in 2011, with the idea of starting a business.
Kate, a professional archer with more than 15 years of experience as an athlete, started looking for archery clubs to join in the capital of the UK. While doing so, the pair realised that there was a lack of real indoor clubs in the city.
It was an opportunity they couldn’t pass by.
Built from the ground up (or down, the club is in the basement) and with a modern, bright and funky design, Roman and Kate created Archery Fit, an indoor archery club that opens 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, in West Greenwich – that’s in zone two of London’s transport system. (Which, if you know London, is pretty close to the middle!)
“Archery Fit is the best indoor archery club in London,” said Roman. “We offer everything for both beginners and professional archers. We have two separate 18m ranges – one extendable to 30m – all types of bow for training, storage for the bows and much more.”
Since its official opening in April 2015, Archery Fit has welcome more than 2,500 customers, and half of that in the six months through the summer of 2016.
The growth, explained Roman, comes from the company’s strategy of promoting archery as a modern way to stay fit, relieve stress, do something different and be part of a community.
“More people visit us each month, more people do beginners courses, and more people remain as regular members,” he said.
“Being the first dedicated – and full-time – indoor archery club in a big city like London is both our blessing and curse. Having a big market with few competitors is a blessing, having a big market that doesn't know about your product, however cool it is, is a curse,” Roman added.
“That’s probably our main challenge: making the public aware of archery as a fitness activity, as an opportunity to spend time in a relaxing or competitive style, or learning something new.”
Archery fit has six employees, including owners Roman and Kate, that operate the club. From those, three work as archery instructors.
“We’re a family made up by different – but, at the same time, similar – people with a lot in common. We are all lucky enough to be combining our hobby and expertise in a family business, making new friends on the way,” he said.
“People don’t only come to the club for archery but for our vibe! Some of our club members also help us from time to time.”
Constantly developing parts of their business to make it accessible to the London public, Archery Fit uses an online booking system – just like a gym – to manage attendance, and ties in with up-to-date digital content from the Olympics, international events, games, movies and politics to stay relevant.
“At Archery Fit, experienced archers get a comfortable venue for training which is open long hours, and a separate range from beginners to shoot at their pace. Beginners receive comprehensive coaching, learning safety measures, equipment basics and shooting techniques,” he said.
And Kate – whose family run archery ranges back in Russia, is a good coach.
“Every student must score at least 6 consecutive arrows in a 40cm World Archery target (20cm for compound) from 18m before starting to shoot independently. First-timers have fun popping balloons and shooting in a short competition at the end of the session, with medals for corporate teams,” Roman said.
“We also have advanced Hawkeye course for traditional archers.”
Archery Fit is, unmistakably, different.
The club has become so popular in London, that they are regularly contacted by PR agencies and video production companies interested on filming video shoots for TV and online projects.
Archery Fit even engaged in a major partnership with Universal Studios for the Warcraft movie DVD release campaign through October 2016.
“They were looking for an activity to support the campaign and we were happy to help. We had one of our ranges branded World of Warcraft style, which means cut outs, bunting and special Orc target faces, and we had a lot of DVDs to give away,” Roman said.
London’s unique archery club, Archery Fit, is something new. It’s a fresh, exciting take on the traditional club, and it’s making the sport available in a way that simply appeals.
Archery Fit is open now in Greenwich High Road, London, offering beginners courses, corporate events, facilities for experience archers and runs eight competitions a year, four for students, two for kids between 8 and 17, one open team fun shoot and one open championship.