An Elgin fencing group believes a move to outdoor sessions because of coronavirus could become a permanent feature.
The Elgin Duellist Fencing Club was forced to suspend training for six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sport has a higher spread of infection than non-contact activities due to competitors facing each other while coming close to each other at times.
Indoor training for under-18s was allowed to resume in November, but older members instead took the decision to move outside with sessions at Elgin’s Cooper Park.
The sight of duels among the autumnal leaves next to Grant Lodge on Saturday mornings may have prompted questions and quizzical looks from dog walkers – but has proved popular with competitors.
The imposition of Level 4 restrictions this week has forced fencing to be suspended once again in Scotland but the club believes the move outdoors has helped grow participation.
Head coach Robin Paterson said: “There has been a long running joke that fencing is the perfect Covid sport since we always have to wear masks and protective clothing – but this is far the from truth.
“Because we are a contact sport, similar to martial arts, there is a very small but relatively higher risk than non-contact sports of cross infection and this has presented some particular challenges which we have successfully been able to overcome.
“It could be said that facing your opponent under the shadow of these beautiful old beech and oak trees is returning to the roots of this ancient art and it has been an enjoyable experience for us.
“After Covid is beaten and normal life resumes, we would like to continue with these outdoor sessions.”