Burscough Archers

Burscough Archers’ Theory Night hosts John Stubbs MBE, Paralympic Archer

23 members of Burscough Archers (a record number) enjoyed the penultimate Theory Night of the season delivered by John Stubbs in a local Ormskirk pub.  He had lots of tales about his exploits in the world of Olympic archers.

John suffered a very serious motor-cycle accident when he was 24 and lost a leg.  He became very depressed following the accident and it took him some time to get through it.  His interest in sport took him to a sports complex where he spotted people taking part in archery. The coach spotted John watching and invited him in for a try and, as they say, the rest is history.  He took to archery and, in his first Hereford competition, he scored 1202 out of a possible 1296.

Beijing 2008 medal

While at Stoke Mandeville, he qualified as 4th place for the European Championships in Belgium and came second winning a silver medal.

In 2005, it was rumoured that compound bows were going to be introduced into the Olympic games which really interested John.  He was shooting in the World Championships in Italy at the time and came up against the Italian in the final.  John beat him and the Italian lost his sponsorship.  

In 2006, funding arrived for the Paralympics and the games were the first to include compound bows. John was determined to do well and, where archers are expected to shoot a minimum of 150 arrows every day, John used to shoot 300 every day for 6 days a week.  In between sessions, he would work in the gym.

Reverse image of medal Rio 2016 medal

John talked about how he used to psych out his opponents before competitions and said that really his opponents were psyching themselves out of winning.  Throughout his talk his theme was very much about mental attitude towards training and competition.  

In the Beijing Paralympics 2008, John competed in five able-bodied competitions and won five gold medals as well as medalling in the Paralympics.  He had experienced a long and troublesome journey to get to Beijing and competed in his matches feeling extremely unwell.  Following tests at the end of the games, he was admitted to hospital in Beijing with a deep-vein thrombosis and wasn’t allowed to fly home for four weeks.

Theory night image 1

By the time of the 2012 London Olympics, John was on top form and highly tipped to win gold as he was the reigning World and Paralympic champion but practicing on the evening before, he ruptured his C5 vertebra. He shot in the competition but didn’t do particularly well. Following the Games, he had to undergo surgery to repair it.

Theory night image 2

John was the flag bearer at the Tokyo Olympics (2021) alongside Ellie Simmonds.

John now coaches in Archery World on some days of the week and goes into schools and works with ex-service people suffering from PTSD. He can’t stress enough how big a part mental attitude plays in sport and life.

Theory night image 3

The pictures show some of John’s medals that he brought to show us, John and some of the members during the session.

A request for feedback on John’s presentation produced the following results:

What I got from the theory night with John Stubbs was that he shoots more arrows than me every day, which must make you a better archer. So, I’ve been shooting more arrows when I have the time. One session I shot 312 arrows, some at 20 yards and some at 30 metres.


We wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the talk with John. It showed us that Archery can be for everyone and disabled archers can compete at the very highest levels against able-bodied and disabled alike. Positive Mental attitude is the key. Archery is truly an all-inclusive sport no matter age, gender or ability. Great stuff!

Fraser and Lorraine

John Stubbs, an Olympic archer and mental toughness coach, recently gave a talk about how to cultivate mental resilience in sports and in life. His insights were inspiring and practical, and I took away several key lessons from his presentation.

First and foremost, Stubbs emphasized the importance of staying focused on the process rather than the outcome. He explained that while it's natural to want to win or achieve a specific goal, fixating on the end result can be counterproductive. Instead, he suggested breaking down the process into small, manageable steps and focusing on each one in turn. By doing this, he said, athletes can stay present, stay engaged, and ultimately perform better.

Another key takeaway from Stubbs' talk was the importance of self-talk. He stressed that the way we talk to ourselves can have a profound impact on our performance and our ability to bounce back from setbacks. He encouraged athletes to cultivate a positive inner voice, one that is encouraging, compassionate, and focused on growth rather than criticism.

Stubbs also spoke about the power of visualization and mental rehearsal. He explained that visualizing success can help athletes build confidence, reduce anxiety, and improve their ability to perform under pressure. He encouraged athletes to practice mental rehearsal regularly, imagining themselves executing their skills flawlessly and achieving their goals.

Finally, Stubbs emphasized the importance of developing a growth mindset. He explained that athletes who believe they can learn and improve from failure are more resilient, more motivated, and ultimately more successful than those who view setbacks as proof of their limitations. He encouraged athletes to embrace challenges and to see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Overall, John Stubbs' talk on mental toughness was both informative and inspiring. His insights on staying focused on the process, cultivating a positive inner voice, visualizing success, and developing a growth mindset are valuable not just for athletes, but for anyone looking to build mental resilience and achieve their goals.


Burscough Archers started the six-a-year theory nights many years ago, an innovation from their champion, Sarah Holland. They are held once a month through the winter and were started as a means of keeping in touch when the club had no evening shooting. (Now there is a weekly indoor session through the winter.) The event is partially social, especially as a means to help new members get to know the more experienced members and also a learning opportunity.

Topics have included:

  • - Exercise and nutrition in sport, especially in archery
  • - Physiology of Archery
  • - String making
  • - Arrows and Fletching
  • - Basic bow tuning
  • - Insurance matters
  • - A presentation on becoming a judge
  • - A regular Christmas quiz
  • - A Q&A session with a panel
  • - Buying equipment
  • - Rules of shooting by a judge.