National Series Stage 3 & 4 - Another great weekend for Essex and Suffolk
Essex/Suffolk had a strong presence at the ArcheryGB National Series Stages 3&4, hosted on 12/13 July at Clophill, with county archers and judges taking position on - and supervising - the shooting line.
The judging team included Richard Pilkington, Paul Clark and (making his national tournament debut) Paul Body - all helping to keep the nearly 200-odd competitors in order and the two-day shoot running smoothly.
These stages of the National Series comprised a 70m/50m 720 ranking round followed by head-to-heads on both days. For those taking part in the National Series, vital points were up for grabs so most of the ArcheryGB senior team were in attendance, including Nicky Hunt (Deben Archers), West Essex’s own Simon Powell shooting in the Para squad uniform and Mayflower's ArcheryGB representative Michael Judd. Joining them were Stephen Morris, Anna and James King from Colchester shooting barebow and compound, Oakfield’s Jaspreet Sagoo, Braintree's Paul Ramos and myself.
Saturday’s qualification started under leaden skies but rising temperatures. After 72 arrows, Michael was seeded 10th, Simon 21st, Stephen 70th (with a new PB), Jaspreet 20th and I placed 28th. Despite some disappointment in the main round, the set system H2Hs provide an opportunity to regroup and improve standings - and so it transpired: although Jaspreet and Stephen were unfortunately dropped early, Simon and I were pitched against each other in the 1/8ths but I eventually emerged victorious and continued on (incredulously) into the quarter-, then semi-finals, then into the final against Essex team-mate Michael!
After a 5-set battle, the match was tied and decided by a single arrow shoot-off. We both shot into the gold, hitting the 9 ring - Michael’s arrow an inch closer to the centre putting him on the top step of the podium for Stage 3 and making it an Essex one-two.
Nicky fought through to the semi-finals in the women’s recurve competition but was stopped in fourth place by fellow GB squad member Jeanetta Braun (the competition was eventually won by Amy Oliver).
The shoot reconvened on Sunday ready to start over for Stage 4. All of the Essex contingent (joined today by Paul Ramos of Braintree and Deben’s Jack Nobbs, Ollie Voss and Stuart Ross) improved their qualification scores (except Stephen who was only 5 points off his previous day’s PB) just before the rain arrived during the break. After a few ends of practice, the H2Hs began in earnest. Stuart from Deben was dropped in the 1/32s while team mates Ollie and Jack, and I, made it as far as the 1/16ths. Jaspreet made it through to the 1/8ths and Nicky went all the way to the final, eventually losing out to Amy who made it a clean sweep for the weekend.
Simon and Michael pressed on in Gents recurve, both eventually losing out in the 1/8ths after some very strong shooting.
All in all a fantastic weekend - the competition was brilliantly organised by the Clophill crew and the atmosphere amongst the field team, judges, competitors and supporters made it a really enjoyable shoot, all the more memorable after such fine performances from the entire Essex/Suffolk contingent. Well done everyone!