Before I begin this report, I would like to say a huge thank you to a couple of people.
Firstly to my wonderful husband Tony. Without his support and patience I could not attend these wonderful competitions and would not have achieved the things that I have, not to mention his brilliant driving skills, I've been told (I'm usually asleep !!) You are AMAZING!! Thank you xxxxxxx
Secondly thank you to my coach, Matt Webb, without his guidance and expertise I wouldn't have a clue! He is always at the end of the phone, in good times and bad! His knowledge of archery is second to none and I really appreciate all his help ....... thanks Matt!
DAY ONE - BATTLE OF BASING AND VEGAS SHOOTDOWN
We left home on Friday evening, late, drove to Basingstoke in record time and went straight to bed. Unbeknown to us the Noak Hill massive had arrived earlier on Friday afternoon and were out eating and making merry!
After a hearty breakfast and some shopping for supplies for the day we arrived at the venue, a swanky hotel just outside the town and where, we later discovered, the Noak Hill lads were residing!
The area was already set up for the Vegas round that we were shooting that afternoon and, with 50 bosses set out, looked quite overwhelming.
Already in the hall were Allan, Brian and his son Andrew, all Noak Hill archers and then there was Graham ...... (who was, apparently, their guest archer for the day, listed to be a member of Pontefract archers!!??) together we became Team Essex!
So the fun began, shooting from 18m on a triple spot face, in a triangular format, a first for me and the Noak hill boys. The round is shot in two halves with a short break after two and a half dozen and scoring, what is known as Old Basing rules! This is X for the x ring ( not normally acknowledged indoors) ten for any arrow landing in the gold, then 8,7,6, so scoring 9 is not possible! This took some getting used but was a good focussing tool!!
Before we knew it the 5 dozen round was over. To go through to the shoot down you have to finish in the top 7, the 8th place decided by the remaining archers shooting off together in one massive head to head!!
To my surprise I had finished second! I was safe for now!!!
We caught up with the rabble from Noak Hill to find that Andrew, the most junior member, had shown the “grown ups” how to shoot a Vegas!!!! He had finished above the other 3 in 15th position!!
Well done Andrew! Full results of the qualifying round (and everything else) can be found at http://ianseo.net/Details.php?toId=4620.
So ...... next stage for the boys left, after the top seven had been taken out as automatic qualifiers, was the head to head, en mass!!
27 archers lined up on the shooting line, their quest to shoot, just one, arrow into the gold......... the shots are made ( apart from Allan who was timed out,!) and the judges, with the archers, walk along the targets and check who is in and who is out!
Both Brian and Graham had made it through. Next stage .... to shoot, just one arrow again, but this time in the ten ring! And then there were 3, Brian, still in, Graham still in and only one other ...... so exciting!!
Their final challenge to shoot, one arrow, closest to the centre!
Nerves began to show, all three archers on the line took their time and all three arrows went left, from behind the line it was very difficult to tell who was nearest to the centre! The judges deliberated and Graham had done it, the joker was through to the final eight!!
We were now informed that the ladies joker had also been decided but we were so wrapped up in watching the hero of the hour, Graham that we had missed knowing who the lucky lady was!!
The announcement that the ladies shoot down would happen next jolted me back into the competition and after a short time to re arrange the venue to enable spectators to watch more closely, the top 8 ladies were called to the line.
We were each required to shoot three arrows, one in each of the faces on the Vegas face using the Old Basing rules X, 10, 8 etc. Highest score must be matched by other Archers or you are eliminated.
After the arrows are shot the judges go up to the targets and score the arrows, each archer having to show their score on the score pad above their face.
I had scored 30!! And only one other lady had done the same, so just two surviving ladies. I think the next three arrows were the most nerve racking arrows I’ve ever shot but such an adrenaline rush!!
Same again, highest score had to be matched using the X, 10, 8.
Arrows shot , up to the targets with the judges and again we had both shot perfect 30 scores!!
Now the rules change ...... three arrows scoring with 9’s as in normal rounds, last chance saloon!!
With nerves rising inside, the last three arrows were shot and to be honest I’m not sure of my score, I think it was 29 but I know my opponent, Hannah had an arrow or two in the red! I had won the shoot down and a prize of £75 of vouchers!
Next came the men's shoot down, Graham lined up with the other 7 ready for the off!!
Unfortunately there were two 30's scored, as there had been in my shoot down, but in this case Graham was not one of them and his crazy afternoon was over ...... but his fellow club members would not hear the last of how he got to the shoot down for quite some time!!!!
NERVES OF STEEL
On Saturday evening after watching England lose at rugby and having some fuel, in the way of a fish finger sandwich and chip supper swiftly followed by a G and T ,we made our way to the bar for that evening’s fun. "Nerves of steel," we all had the T shirts but none of us had been there and done it.....yet!!
I had been a spectator last year so I was aware of the format. Two archers at a time standing side by side on the carpet, in a bar, shooting through a narrow slit in a Perspex window into the shooting venue behind a total distance of 18m.
The challenge becomes apparent when you approach the window and see that a steel plate covers the target face with just the centre, out to the eight ring exposed. Each archer has just one arrow in their quiver once its damaged, or more likely smashed to pieces, it's gone!
We began to watch, in awe, as one after the other archers gave it their best shot, some hearing nothing and being congratulated by all, others hearing the smashing of steel on steel swiftly followed by a roar from the watching crowd!!
I was first, in the Essex posse, to be called to do the deed, (I think the others were secretly pleased it was me.) I gathered myself and got to my position, trying not to think about the worst that could happen. I raised my bow and shot my shot...…. silence, I had escaped the steel plate, phew!! My arrow was handed back to me with the comment that it had been the best recurve shot of the night, so far!!
Soon Andrew took his turn, only to be greeted by the smash and roar outcome. Next Brian took his place, his arrow making a soft "ting" sound as it held on the boss, unfortunately it had brushed the steel and was deemed to be unshootable by the judges, a close call indeed.
In the meantime, the banter was building between the Noak Hill crew, Allan was referring to Graham as characters from Star Wars, declaring that there was a similarity between Graham and Yoda!! HILARIOUS!!
Next both Graham and Allan were called as a pair….. perfect ! They took their places Graham, in front of Allan and I took up a position where I could video the spectacle.
Allan didn’t hang around, he quickly raised his bow arm and drew back, as he loosed the arrow a resounding clang was heard all around the bar, at this point Graham lost control he could not shoot he was giggling away to himself, as he had been saying, all day he would when that happened to him. He shot his shot…… silence…. he had avoided the steel and hit center, he and I were through!
Now the size of the hole is reduced to the gold only, the 9 ring!
The archers were smashing arrows left, right and center now so my turn came quickly.
I took my place trying not to think of the worst that could happen but nerves got to me, as I drew my bow back to anchor, I held, just a second, too long and I was rewarded with the smash and roar from the bar instead of the silent reward and the arrow protruding from the boss.
Finally Graham was called forward for his attempt at the second wave, he wasted no time and quickly shot a positive shot, it landed silently, in the gold! Graham then treated us to, what can only be described as a “grandad dance!” I think he was thinking victory dance!? He was through, with only 6 other recurve archers.
Graham’s head was growing by the second, he had managed to get further than the other Noak Hill archers, and me, which he was very keen to tell whoever would listen!
The banter continued, the rest of which I feel is not appropriate to mention in my report! But it was all good fun!
So now only an arrow in the ten ring was safe and as archer after archer smashed into the steel Graham waited nervously for his turn. Graham was the last recurve standing but as he shot his arrow the all too familiar smash filled the room, the steel had claimed its last recurve victim!
The final 7 recurve archers were out, so how would they decide where the booty would go? All 7 were keen to sacrifice another arrow but as it was after 9.30pm and compound archers where still in the game the organisers decided that the booty should be split and so Graham won a total of £10! We really enjoyed the evening but had every sympathy for Allan, Graham’s roomy that evening as I’m sure the evenings successes would be repeated deep into the night!
Something that was a big surprise to us was that two longbow archers took their turn to shoot at the steel plate, one of them getting the biggest cheer of the night when his arrow hit the gold, in the first round, he didn’t get any further that that but neither did I! What a great achievement!
DAY 2 SCAS INDOOR COMBINED 25m and 18m
Sunday morning 8am and we are back in the hall preparing for the SCAS indoor battle.
Myself and the mob from Noak Hill we’re close together at the far side of the hall, apart from Graham, who for some reason was about ten targets away, maybe because the organisers had him down as an archer from some other distant club, by mistake …….or was it.
He was still reeling from the previous evening’s success so it was slightly easier to bear with him being further away…… ha ha ha!
The shoot was so well organised, with close to 200 archers shooting on the second day, they still managed to complete equipment inspection and assembly on time! At 9am the battle commenced.
The format is 60 arrows on a triple spot 60cm face at 25m, split into two halves with a fifteen minute break after two and a half dozen and a 45 minute break for lunch before the same amount of arrows at a 40cm triple spot face at 18m with the same break after two and a half dozen ……. a very long day!
After some more Noak Hill banter and an Essex team pep talk we got into position on our various targets.
I began the round, still on a high from Saturday, shooting strong shots but my arrows didn’t seem to like the ten ring first thing! Maybe a bit early for them? I finished the first two and a half dozen slightly disappointed with my score and lying in 7th position.
We had a quick team meet to discuss our performance thus far and to relive, AGAIN some of Graham’s greatest moments, from the previous day!!
Second half of the 25m was more rewarding for me, my arrows suddenly finding the centre and bettering my first session score by 20 points, I felt much more satisfied with that, I had come 2nd in that session.
Next was lunch break and after some fruit, yoghurt and granola and a cup of tea I was ready to go again.
I took my place ready to start and at this point Tony, my husband, noticed that the Lock father and son combo were not in the hall?? I quickly informed the nearest judge and Tony went off to find them. They were casually finishing their luncheon, thinking that the shoot restarted at 1.30pm as it said on the prospectus, but the judge had announced, before the break that we would re-start at 1.15pm……. so much for your fellow club members looking out for you!! Personally I think they were trying to avoid Graham, so as not to have to relive the stories of the previous day AGAIN!!
Suddenly when faced with a target at 18m it looks strangely close after 25m but unfortunately the faces are somewhat smaller!
I started strongly, my sight mark being almost perfect from the previous day, ending the first half of the afternoon 3rd in that session.
I have to add, at this point, that I have no idea of my position at the time of shooting, knowing where I am in the placings during a competition does not work for me, too much stress!!
Last session of the day and I am beginning to feel tired, and the competition seems to be taking forever to finish! But only a few hiccups with equipment failures in reality.
I suddenly felt very wobbly and light headed and asked Tony if he could find me some chocolate. Typically the machine ate his money with no reward! But the duty manager kindly found me some very sweet lemonade and a couple of cakes from the kitchen! That was it sugar restored, I was cured!
I managed to finish the last session in second place, which meant that I had finished the competition in second place overall, I was thrilled.
As we were packing away it came to me that we actually had enough archers from Essex to form at team and suggested to the others that it may be worth them waiting to see if the team was placed. It turned out that the team finished a fantastic fourth!
Well done to the Essex (mostly Noak Hill Archers) Team, Allan, Brian, Andrew and Graham for their fantastic individual efforts, it was a pleasure shooting with you and Tony and I very much enjoyed your company over the weekend, although Graham did get a bit tiresome towards the end, ha ha ha !
Andrew medalling, finishing 2nd in the junior male class.
And dare I say it, Graham, finishing top of the Noak Hill gents, needless to say, someone got their ear chewed off on the drive home!!!
Thanks for reading this report, if you made it to the bottom!
I would like to thank the organisers of this event Andi and Andy Caine, and their field crew for all their hard work in making this a fantastic, smoothly run event.
I hope this will inspire some of you to give this weekend a try, it really is a fabulous experience and a chance to try something different.