Maybe something new might refresh your motivation?27th August 2021
Having been shooting for 3 years and half of that in a pandemic and the various happenings of 2020 my goals slid and for various reasons I sat down in several occasions with the very real question around quitting everything related to my sport.
I have always enjoyed competing (my first season saw me shoot 26 competitions) – it gives me focus on the days I don’t want to pick up my bow to practise.
I am not interested in beating others – just in pushing myself.
So 2021, I managed to start to settle with the changes I had been forced to make to continue shooting but I needed to find competitions, I enjoy going to new clubs, new places – whilst I have met some people with “interesting” views the majority of archery clubs and archers are an incredibly welcoming and I find you don’t feel like a stranger very often.
With the current situation, many clubs have had to cancel or postpone competition which is very understandable. So I threw out a request on social media with some dates I had no plans for.
I was quickly given some ideas and the one that really sparked my interest was a suggestion I could step outside my comfort zone and try flight archery. The offer came via Ian Norwood of Riverside archers who assured me that I would be very welcome and supported if I turned up to the competition having never shot a flight arrow and I could enter the target bow category.
Some quick research made me realise that with little adjustments I could have a go and test my boundaries and generally just have some fun!!
So Sunday 15/8/21 I found myself on the airfield at Church Fenton to learn to shoot flight at the national championships!
What can I say? It has been amazing day spent with fantastic people who have the most positive attitude towards our sport! No grumpy faces just a genuine anticipation of what may be achieved during the day by those who are on the line. And we saw a world record taken with a shot at over 900 metres!!
I say we saw – as a target archer it’s a little unnerving that we don’t actually see anything – we fire the arrows into the sky with no hope of seeing where they are going you cannot possibly follow them with your eye!
We are also used to the “no coaching from the line” rule – so to stand on the shooting line and as you draw an arrow a voice calls out “Helen I’ve got you” and the chaos of voices vanishes as you focus on that one voice who guides you to try and ensure that together your arrow is released at the optimum moment – truly team work.
I was adopted by Riverside archers before the day and they were amazing in their support of me, but for anyone wanting to try and knowing no one when you arrive don’t worry about that – they are the most welcoming group I think you will meet.
With no disrespect, as I am a target archer, and I fully understand the mindset – can you imagine arriving at the national championships having never given it a go and being asked by the tournament organiser if there was anyone there who had never tried? To find yourself surrounded by people who will then help you achieve your best on the day?
So, as there were no other female compounders I came away with 4 gold medals and being declared national champion in 4 categories. I had gone to the event with the aim of taking on category C – target bow compound.
I was encouraged to play with the other 3 categories so I did, these would definitely have belonged to someone else had there been entries with relevant kit.
My category C? Well we’ll never know – had another lady arrived with target bow and arrows it would have been fun for sure to have someone for comparison.
I know I was short by some way of the record for the distance shot in that category, but I also know my score would have been valid to earn a Merlin badge in the raptor scheme if I could achieve a second score to support it.
However, I now have to wait until next August to enter all 3 flight competitions – see if I can earn that badge in the award scheme, make some small tweaks to my category C kit and wonder should I consider another bow style to try in a different category! I have after all been playing recently with longbows!
I have to thank John Marshall for loaning me transport when my own car failed it’s MOT 36 hours before the competition!!
Benjamin Horner, Dave Leader and Daniel Smitton for their help letting me bounce around ideas and plans to prep and get ready. Most declared my plan to be lunacy so thank you for embracing my plans.
And the very best wishes to all at Riverside archers for the next 11 months and I will hope to see you all on the 7th, 14th and 21st of August 2022.