Sunday 7th July 2013 and the alarm clock goes off at 04.30 – What are we doing? Are we crazy?
Today would be an early start with a two hour trip up the M6 to the Junior National Open Championships 2013 to be held at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre, Newport in Shropshire. The car was packed the evening before, so it was just a case of quickly getting ready, grabbing the last few bits and bobs and we hit the road at 5.10.
Being and early Sunday morning the A14 across to the M6 and also the M6 itself were both clear and we made good time. Whilst Lauren caught some Zzzzz’s I followed the Sat Nav using the postcode provided. All was good until we reached Newport and the Sat Nav asked me to turn off where the signs for the sports centre pointed straight on. Giving into the command emanating from the dashboard i did as I was told and turned off. The Sat Nav appeared to take me to the driveway for a private golf club, so I hastily backtracked to the main road and followed the signs to the sports centre.
On arrival, we proceeded down the long two mile or so driveway lined by huge Rhododendron bushes and then towering conical shaped trees. Arriving at the main centre we spied a notice for the Archery Range and duly followed the sign post.
Mistake number one of the day. This takes you to the ArcheryGB practice range with the pod that Bradley often gets to shoot from when the weather is not so good. Luckily a couple of the judges came into the car park and I followed them around to the main shooting field. It transpires, that I should have continued through the golf course gates and down their drive to the field. I know for next time.
The sun was already shining and the grass, wet with morning dew, would dry pretty quickly. We parked the car, grabbed what we could carry and headed over to the field. already bathed in the early morning sunshine the 70 bosses looked highly impressive and the stretched the whole width of the field. Today was going to be a good day.
As is often the case, Lauren and I had been invited to share Katie’s tent and unlike most shoots it was still pitched from the day before. With Katie staying locally and not arriving for another hour (nearly), Lauren and I took our time to unload the car, setup her bow and scope and triple check everything. With everything secure, people beginning to arrive and Lauren warming up, we ran through the advice given to us from Geoff during Saturdays welcome coaching session.
The equipment line quickly filled with people and equipment, the line of tents stretched out the full width of the field and four deep in places. The published assembly time of 08.30 was pushed back to 09.00, so Lauren and I headed over to buy her 2013 hoodie, this would be her one and only Junior Outdoor Nationals (as last year it was rained off and she’ll be 18 before the next tournament).
So, with the sun getting stronger, the field in immaculate condition the archers were brought together for the assembly at 09.00. After the usual introductions, rules and reminders everyone settled down to a single end of sighters.
The venue was completely new to Lauren, so a small disadvantage to her over those who had shot the day before, but then she was fresh from only a three hour practice session, rather than a full grueling tournament in heat the day before – the playing field was therefore leveled. With only six arrows on which to check here sights she needed to get off to a flying start and that she did with two arrows low and then the other four nicely central in the red and gold. Sight Set = Done.
Both Katie and Lauren were to shoot second detail, so it was back to the tent to sit and prepare for the first end.
I have to apologize to you because I don’t have the breakdown of Katie’s shoot at the time of writing but I will be listing out Laurens briefly. However, to get the difficult part of the day out of the way, Katie was still struggling with her fingers with yet another blistered cut on her draw hand and one that was difficult to plaster owing to the movements needed in her hands. This put Katie at a disadvantage from the off and as the day progressed the heat rose to nearly 30 degress (my car showed 32 early afternoon) and she struggled to cope with the heat despite drinking and using wet a towel to cool down.
Despite everything, Katie battled on and completed the tournament with a nice 887 for the Bristol II, which included 141 hits and 22 golds and 16th place overall. A tough character building day.
Last year, it was Lauren who was struggling with the heat and my day was all about keeping her cool and helping her to stay focused. Heather’s heads up about the buckets of water and advice to bring a spare towel was invaluable and it made a huge difference on the day.
So a few tips to add to the usual things for hot weather shooting; take two towels and a bucket of water. One towel to hang over your bow handle to stop it from getting hot and making your bow hand perspire and therefore slip during shooting and one additional one to soak in the water to drape around your neck, wash your face and (in Lauren’s case) put around your shoulders to wet your top and help to keep cooler.
So back to Lauren’s scoring. She shot mostly red and yellows with occasional blues throughout the day with only 13 blacks, two whites and no misses. Remember that this time last year she was just trying to get scoring arrows and you can see how she (like Katie and a lot of the AoR archers) has come along.
A Bristol II is made up of six dozen arrows at 60 yards for Lauren and Katie, and this reduces to 50 yards for another four dozen and then a nice easy two dozen at 40 yards to complete the round. Laurens opening dozen saw a nice round 70 posted and she would build on that to shoot an 84 , 76, 64, 82 and 92. Following a short comfort break, the 64 dozen included the only two white (1’s) scoring arrows that she would shoot all day. With the sun climbing and the temperature rising evening faster, it was a welcome break for lunch whilst the bosses were brought forward to 50 yards.
Fortunately, one of the few shady spots was just behind Heather’s tent, so we hastily moved the chairs and food into that shade and enjoyed a 50 minute break from the sun and heat of the day.
Refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon sun the girls stepped up to the 50 yard distance. Lauren began with 76 for the first dozen, with only one blue. She then posted a wonderful 80, 80 and smashing 90 to complete the distance.
As warned by both Geoff and Heather, Lauren had to make a small sight change as the afternoon worn on. This was both owing to heat exhaustion which was now beginning to take its toll on everyone (spectators and archers) and also the heavy air as it got hotter and closer as the day wore on. Again, some very sound advice.
Whilst the sun beat down all day long and the temperature became unbearable for most of us, there was some respite in a slight cooling breeze that wafted around the tents and across the field. Otherwise, the venue and conditions were close on positively perfect for shooting.
So into the last part of the day and a nice easy two dozen arrows over 40 yards. Lauren would stay red and gold throughout this distance pulling only one blue during the second part of the first dozen. So a nice 96 for the first dozen in the bag and knocking on the door of a Junior Bowman score she completed the round (achieving her JBM) with a 98 for the last dozen.
So, 468 for the 60 yards distance, backed up by a 326 for the 50 yards and a nice 194 for the 40 yards and she secured 9th place with a brilliant 988 – 144 hits (no misses) and 41 golds.
Now, talking about the shoot and Lauren’s objectives she said that she would like to:
1) Try for a personal best – DONE
2) Manage the heat better than in previous tournaments – DONE
3) Try to get into single figures on the leader board – DONE
All in all a very successful and highly enjoyable day. Now, Katie and Lauren only have to do it all again next Sunday when they will be shooting another Bristol II at the NCAS 2nd Caswell over at Targetcraft.
Talking of Targetcraft, I should not forget Daniel. Daniel has been working hard on his new distance this year and he went on to score a wonderful 977 for the Sunday round with 143 hits and 42 golds. Better still, out of 22 entries he secured 10th place overall – a fine, fine achievement (by all three archers) given the talent and standard of archery right along the shooting line.
The results from the whole weekend can be found by clicking here.