After the deluge which was the 2008 Essex Field Championships, I was relieved at 5.30am to see that it wasn’t raining. That theme followed the rest of the day.
Crisp but at least dry, the day started well. A record entry was expected on the day. Normally a shoot such as this has a maximum of 96 archers (24 targets with 4 people in each group) but such was the speed with which the entry filled up it would have been sad to have to turn people away, and so we had accommodated an additional 8 archers by introducing two waiting groups. The downside of this is that you have more shooting groups than you have targets, which risks slowing down the progress of the tournament.
One aspect of field archery is that because each group starts on a specific target the shoot only progresses as quickly as the slowest group, so after County President Marlene Hutchins graced us as Lady Paramount for the day and with exhortations not to waste time in their ears, the 104 archers left the compound at around 9.30.
One of the provisos under which I organise the shoot in conjunction with Robin is that I get to take part. Therefore, I set out after the rest of the archers to join my target group which this year comprised Steve Glass, Mitch Vaughan and Hannah Brown. When the whistle went to start the tournament, we all settled into a routine of shooting, and moving on to the next target. One aspect of Field is the continued process of shooting as a group, and quite quickly the group becomes very supportive of each other through the good shots and the not so good.
The archers were fortified during the day by the efforts of Vi and George Fincham who fed and watered everyone as they came through the refreshment area. Even my request for a burger and sausage sandwich didn’t phase them!
Such was the discipline of the archers that there were very few hold-ups during the day, despite the large numbers, and by early afternoon the groups started to return.
There were a couple of incidents during the day, like Adam Stevens from Eastbourne, who Robin-Hooded his own arrow at 45m, shooting Barebow!
In the end, the results showed that we had two new national Records, and a good number of Arrowhead Claims, despite the fact that I had posted the wrong qualifying scores, and therefore leaving us with a few non-qualifying scores (my apologies to those affected)
Thanks must go to the team who made the shoot work; to the team who turned up on Saturday to lay the course, to Vi and George who fed us, to Claire Stanford who looked after the trophies, to Kath Miller who did the entries and the scores at the end of the shoot, and of course to the archers, who made it all worthwhile and who let me off the hook when I got the results for the Ladies Freestyle totally wrong on the day.
I must also take the opportunity to thank the County for my Red Tassell award, given to me on the day, and which is reported elsewhere.