The 14th August 2021 will be marked as a memorable day for the families and committee members who were able to attend the event at Wood Sage Outdoor Activities centre in Cuerden Park, Bamber Bridge. Two significant factors made the day one to be marked in our calendars as remarkable. 

It was the first event that the YPC had been able to organise and hold since the covid regulations were introduced in March 2020. The restrictions on the number of persons who could meet meant that we had had to cancel all our plans for 2020 and the first eight months of 2021. After being given the countdown to the easing of restrictions in March 2021 the committee members discussed how we could restart the programme of activities that we provide for the Young People who receive support from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the East Lancashire Masonic Charity. The committee members decided that the first event in our programme should be an outside activity that would provide an element of fun, challenge and most importantly an opportunity for the families to meet and discuss shared experiences of life under lockdown and home schooling. Following a proposal by Chris Creelman that we should look at the facilities offered by Wood Sage at their Cuerden Park base the14th August date was set. Wood Sage is owned and operated by Simon Moorhouse, a member of Lancashire Lodge of Allegiance, with his wife Bev and daughter Ellen.

The event at Cuerden Park was attended by nine Young People and five parents / guardians. Simon had organised two activities for the morning session, archery and target shooting, and followed by a BBQ. The Young People and their parents / guardians were divided into two teams and allocated to their first activity.

The archery session was held in the Walled Garden and Target Shooting in Ice House Woods. Simon’s daughter Ellen was in charge of the Archery session and after the safety briefing and instructions on how to hold the bow, load arrows and aim at the targets the session began. Archery is not as simple as it would first appear. Safety is paramount, firstly you must wear a bracer to protect the forearm holding the bow, loading the arrow has to be done whilst holding the bow horizontal with the cock feather in the correct position, retrieving the arrows from the target (if you are lucky enough to hit it) and carrying them back to the firing line are all covered in safety procedures. The group divided into pairs to take up their places. Fact: arrows do not go straight, wind, atmospheric pressure and numerous other factors affect the flight. Not many people hit the target on their first attempt. Over time our groups built up on range and accuracy and after some were achieving a degree of competency it was time for Ellen to change the target. The balloon, even when attached to the target balloons move in the breeze and there is an element of luck in striking and bursting a balloon with an arrow. Although some committee members will claim otherwise. All too soon it was the end of the session and time to move onto the shooting range.

Air rifles and targets are not as I remember them. Air rifle shooting and targets have gone high tech. No having to reload after each shot and priming the air cylinder by manually pulling on a lever. Wood Sage’s military style rifles with electronic sights and multi shot capacity are amazing. The electronic targets not only record accuracy but also the reaction time from the time the target lights up to being hit. The guns and targets both communicate with an iPad giving an instantaneous read out of the shooters performance. No prolonged debates over who’s shot is closest to the bull on a paper target. After Simon’s safety briefing and instructions on how to handle, target and fire the gun it was time to begin the competition. Six targets were set out in the clearing. The contest used the targets in a variety of modes. Our first challenge was to hit a target when the red light appeared on a target. The lights appear in a random order total concentration is needed. The second contest was similar to the first except green and red lights were displayed at random across the six targets. The challenge is to hit red targets only. Green lit targets are friendly and considered a “blue on blue” strike. It was fascinating to watch the Young People quickly adapt to the equipment and some surprising results were achieved in that most accurate with most highest percentage of on target hits for shots fired was aged15 years leading all the adults and committee members by a large margin. The fastest reaction time to observing a target and loosing of an accurate shot was a 10 years old ( halving the reaction time of the fastest committee member). The last exercise was to experience the gun on automatic fire using metal targets set further back into the wood. The rapid fire capacity is truly awesome, 

After experiencing both of the target activities we met back in the Walled garden where Bev had prepared a BBQ of koftas, burgers and sausages accompanied by salads, sauces and followed by fresh fruits, flapjacks and an assortment of biscuits. During the BBQ the two groups were busy comparing their achievements on the ranges (we will ignore the committee members who claimed two balloon shots). The conversation was lively and new friendships were made by all of the group. The spread prepared by Bev was greatly appreciated, a morning outdoors activities build an appetite.

Everybody said that the event had exceeded their expectations and said that they would welcome more similar days. Our depart from the venue was hastened by the rain that began to fall.

The committee thanks are to Wood Sage for organising and delivering a fun filled, challenging event in a relaxed social environment and for the BBQ. The day far exceeded the objectives the YPC had set for the day. Thanks to the committee members who attended on the day and to Karen for contacting the families and ensuring they had all the information prior to the day.