This competition was held for the first time on the shooting ground at Sparrow Hall Farm, Edlesborough, Nr Dunstable, Beds. This is the home of “The Archery Warehouse” and “Silver Arrow Archery”, who were co-sponsoring the event, together with a number of other local businesses (who seemed to provide most of the food and drink).
Graham and I had not been to this venue before, so allowed ourselves a generous amount of time for the journey from Basildon. This was very fortunate, as I managed to miss an important turning off the A41 and ended up in Aylesbury, rather than Dunstable, but a quick turnaround and careful navigation by Graham got us to Edlesborough with time to spare. This enabled us to get a parking spot close to the shooting area (and the Portaloos), so we did not have too far to carry our gear to the waiting line. In a very short time the majority of archers arrived, some needing assistance with transporting their gear to the line. There was quite an array of targets set up, from 90m for the Gents FITA down to 30m for the Burntwood rounds for the VI (Visually Impaired) archers.
The first day included a number of FITA and Burntwood rounds, to suit the various disabled classifications shooting. Graham and I, as able bodied archers, were on the same target with wheelchair archers on each side. We started off with three quarters of an hour’s practice, a short break and then the real thing. It was a cold dull day, with a sharp but not too powerful wind skittering around to prevent the archers becoming too complacent in their shooting. This made things so chilly that one of the judges came out with an anorak and a pair of bright red gloves in an effort to keep herself warm. There were sufficient targets for there to be only one detail per target, which kept everyone very busy, just shooting, scoring, shooting, scoring, etc. Fortunately there were breaks after each 3 dozen arrows, with a longer one after the first two distances, at which time a generous free buffet was available in the marquee.
As the day wore on, more and more people managed to trip on the thin red wire being used to mark the shooting line (the three metre line was of the same material and had had to be removed before the main shooting commenced because one of the judges had tripped on it). At the start of the final 30m distance, Graham took a real flyer, landing heavily on his hands and knees. As a precaution he was taken to the First Aid Point for a check up. He soon returned and caught up with his lost end. From then onwards his shooting really picked up and he started scoring heavily with 9s, 10s and even ”Xs”. Perhaps he should have tripped earlier; it would have done his scoring a great deal of good!!!!
A novelty to me was that between ends, we had Dave Hinton serenading us with his disco system, at least it made the walk to the target for scoring more interesting.
Another novelty was that there was no raffle at the end, so to fill in time while Dave worked out the results, the staff of Silver Arrow Archery brought out a selection of longbows and arrows and invited competitors to “Have a Go”. They even included a “Barn Door” as a target for those who thought they couldn’t hit one. This was so tempting that even Graham had a go and enjoyed himself very much
The day ended with the presentation of medals and trophies and we returned home, leaving our tents behind ready for the next day.
For the second day we started out a little later, but got the right turning this time, so still arrived before most of the others coming over from Stoke Mandeville. Actually the numbers were down on the day before, as the VI archers were not really catered for in competition with those capable of shooting 70m.
The first thing we noticed was that the red wire had disappeared and been replaced by red spray paint. This was a good start, as was the sun shining through the clouds. There was however, a much stronger wind, which everyone hoped would drop during the day.
First of all we had the 70m ranking round and again with plenty of targets only one detail was needed. This was when we found that the wind was a big factor in shooting and scores were generally low. Again we had disco accompaniment between ends. This took us up to lunch time and another generous free buffet in the marquee.
For the afternoon’s elimination rounds we were split into just two groups, Recurve and Compound, no separation into male/female, standing/seated or abled/disabled. For this we had a target each and runners were provided to score and collect arrows (although the more able did go along to check for themselves).
In the head to heads we shot 12 arrows alternately, 30 seconds per arrow and being timed by a judge.
In the first round I came up against Chris Christopherson, a standing disabled archer (and organiser of the event). A score of 106 for the 12 arrows was enough to put me through to the next round. In this I came up against Pippa Britton, a wheelchair archer and member of the GB Paralympics squad. This time I could only score 93 against Pippa’s 96. This left Pippa to go into the Gold/Silver final and me to shoot for the Bronze. This time I was shooting against David Cowieson, another wheelchair archer (who had earlier put out Graham). In the first end I shot a rather poor 18, letting Dave take the lead. This he maintained until the final end, when my 26 was good enough to give me an accumulated score of 95 and the Bronze medal, by one point.
Pippa however, went on to win the Gold medal, shooting against Sarah Beamish a disabled standing archer, who had come second to Pippa in the previous day’s Ladies FITA.
The event closed with presentation of medals and this time instead of a raffle we were all given a small “Goody Bag”, courtesy of the local Waitrose store.
All in all this was a very friendly and interesting event and thanks must go to the various sponsors, the organisers, the judges, Peter Morris, David Page and Mrs Jean Page and the work party provided by Beacon Archers.
Mitch Vaughan, Mayflower Archers