Essex County FITA Championships - 20th July 2008

This was a new venue for these championships, Writtle College Rugby Field, Fox Burrows Lane, Writtle. This is the ground that Chelmsford Tudor Rose is now using. The approach, along a narrow lane, inhabited at this time on a Sunday morning by the “Keep Fit” fraternity, mainly cyclists, or so it appeared to us as we gingerly made our way along the lane. However, once we had located the car park and reception desk, we had a warm welcome from the CTR work party members and could smell the bacon sarnies under preparation in the pavilion. The weather was looking promising, although the weather forecast was that we could have showers and wind as the day progressed.  This must be one of the largest grounds I have ever shot on. Less than half the ground was being used, but this still gave room for nearly 30 targets to be set up, and the overshoot beyond the 90m targets was in the order of 50yds, before we reached the Rugby pitch. However, due to a slight misunderstanding with the groundsman, our target, No1, was placed outside of the carefully marked shooting lanes.


The proceedings were launched by Paul Clark thanking CTR for their help in setting everything up at short notice and welcoming the contestants. He then introduced our judges for the day, Tony Ikel on timing control and the lights, Graham Sibley, Mick Pearce and Keith Darkins, all under the Chairmanship (control?/) of Robin Frost. He also introduced us to the Lord Paramount for the day, Luke Willet, recently selected for the GB International Team.


Shooting then commenced under favourable conditions, but it soon became obvious that the forecast was right and black clouds rolled in, accompanied by blustery winds. Being on Target 1, (together with Nigel Norris and Richard Pilkington) we were about 25yds away from the boundary hedge and trees. Archers further down the field reckoned we were being protected from the wind, but we didn’t notice this and in addition our ears were constantly being assailed by the wind rushing through the trees with a noise like an express train full speed through a station.


After the first two distances, six dozen arrows, we had a leisurely lunch break in preparation for the afternoon’s shorter distances.


After the break however, the wind started blowing more strongly, but at least the distances were shorter. For the final distances the targets were moved down to 30m, but due to a lack of a marked shooting lane, our target was displaced sideways and made shooting even more difficult until after the first two ends it was repositioned to its correct location.


The rain, which had held off all day, finally came over as we packed away our gear and prepared for the raffle and awards ceremony. Fortunately, it dried up in time for this to take place. The ceremonies were unusual, as by this time we also had a Lady P to join our Lord P, in the person of Lynne Burton. Lynne had been chosen for the Paralympics in Beijing, but her health had deteriorated and she had had to withdraw while she waited for a new liver transplant. This is a misfortune for her, after all the hard work she had put in to qualify, so we can only wish her well for a successful operation and look forward to seeing her in London in 2012.


After the presentations it was just left us to make our way home, in the best weather conditions (for archery), of the day.


Our thanks to the organisers, work parties, catering staff and judges for a good days shooting, let’s hope they can repeat the exercise next year





Mitch Vaughan (Mayflower Archers)