This piece is by 2020 Archery Club Member Kim Li – huge thanks to Kim for writing this account of his experience at the European Archery Festival.
Friday 24 January 2014 – Day One
7.30am – It’s an early start today as I have to pick up Roger and Sarah from the station for a three hour drive to Telford. Sarah’s just texted to say they are running late as Roger has forgotten his ID so the day is already off to a good start…! Half way into the journey I have a sudden panic attack. Did I pack all my documents? I know I have my GNAS card and photo ID on me but what about my entry ticket? Do I turn around? Not likely. Professor Sarah wisely points out that we can check at a service station. 20 mins later my worries are gone. I packed it after all. I’m already a nervous wreck and I haven’t even arrived at the venue yet!
12.30pm – Wahay! Mr SATNAV has not let us down. We arrive at our hotels and the International Centre in one piece. We’ve plumped for the hotels which are right next door to the venue. Sarah and Roger are in the International which is about a 4 minute walk from the venue. I’m another minute down the road in the Holiday Inn. The rooms are pricier but it’s so much more convenient. And the hotels are very well kitted out. There’s a bar, restaurant, gym and pool. I can see I’m gonna like it here. However, check-in isn’t until 2pm. So, what do three young archers do at their first competition? They go shopping at the trade fair! Bring on the new kit!
OMG! We’ve just seen the targets and the shooting line. The targets look so small and miles away. What have we got ourselves into? Maybe entering the competition wasn’t a smart move.
12.45pm – New finger tab acquired. Hello Fivics!
12.50pm – Bump into Claire Conner and Richard Poole. They are busy getting some arrows downrange in the practice area. They are scheduled to be first in our group of intrepid archers to shoot in the competition. Claire looks relaxed. Richard … well I don’t think relaxed is the word I’d use. Only two nights ago we found out that Richard had been assigned the target face between Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski. No pressure there then!
Hey look it’s Fadil, another 2020 member. He’s not here to shoot but has made the journey to support us. Good man! We do our best to persuade him to buy some gear. I think he’s got his eye on the KG Archery stand …
13.00pm – Brady Ellison! The man himself has arrived … we’re all staring at him! Ladies and Gents, we’re in the presence of an Olympian and World Champion! We also spot Aida Roman of Mexico. Sarah is due to shoot right next to her! No pressure Professor!
As Claire and Richard go off to the main hall others from 2020 start to arrive. Trent, Karine, Akos and others all arrive with various levels of nervousness and trepidation. Well, maybe not Karine. She’s done this thing before. My first and only foray into the food offerings of the International Centre leaves me … hungry. Next time I’m bringing a stove and a wok!
2.00pm – Claire and Richard shoot their first arrows whilst we check into our rooms. I must admit, I like the Holiday Inn. The rooms are very well fitted out and the facilities in the hotel are top notch. There’s even a spa and pool!
2.05pm – Danielle Brown! I swear I’ve just spotted Danielle Brown in the reception area getting a beverage from Costa.
2.08pm – Rick van der Ven! On the way to the hotel we bump into Rick van der Ven in the car park. He seems to be in a hurry to get to the practice range. Both me and Roger are showing unheard of levels of excitement at the Dutch archer’s presence. Such a moment necessitated a fist bump!
I return back to the main hall to catch Claire and Richard finish their sighting rounds and start scoring.
That’s Richard sandwiched between 2 archery legends!
Rather than sit up in the stands I decide to hover behind the coaching line and provide moral or logistical support wherever I can. Both shooters seem OK. Richard is doing an exceptional job despite his position.
5.50pm – The next session starts. Sarah, Roger, Trent, Akos and Bryn are all up for their moment of glory. Again I hover on the coaching line to add my support. Bryn is first to flag me down, about half way through the session. He needs chocolate. Unfortunately I am not in my usual archery setup so I have none to hand. A quick visit to the food hall results in water and kitkats for those who need it. Then Akos throws a polite come hither at me. He needs a pen to mark his arrows. Again, my casual spectator setup doesn’t include a pen. In an unusual moment of clarity I decide to visit the expo stands. Surely one of them has a pot of pens to give away as a freebie … nope. Not a single one. We have wristbands and t-shirts but no pens. Luckily Bow International save the day and kindly donate a biro.
Wow, Brady Ellison has come down to watch and support some archers. I find myself standing next to him … AWESOME! I even get to exchange a few words with him.
I sneak in a cheeky photo op with the big man himself!
9.00pm – The final arrow of the night is shot. I’m not there to see it as I am at the station waiting for my beloved Ceri to arrive. The weather has moved on from slight drizzle to heavy rain. Just another day in Telford then.
That’s more than 3 hours for 60 arrows. I’m beginning to feel concerned as it usually takes me 2 hours at most to shoot my 60. And I know my own endurance levels will only last for two hours. Thank God I’m not shooting today and I have until tomorrow afternoon to gather my energy. I think I’m gonna need it.
9.30pm – Dinner at the Beefeater is not what we hope for. With beef in their name you kinda hope that they know what they are doing. Turns out we were wrong. A handful of rib-eyes turn up looking … microwaved. There’s no hint of heat on them and they look greyer than the sky earlier today. Sarah and Karine are vocal about their discontent and we manage to get both meals refunded. The beers are flowing thank god. We won’t be back here tomorrow night.
Saturday 25 January 2014 – Day Two
8.00am – It’s early and Richard Parker, James and Jeff should be on the line getting in their four sighter rounds. I am still asleep so I miss most of their arrows. I only get a chance to see Richard during the second half of the shoot. Seems fatigue and timing has hit the silver fox (his own words). It’s not going well.
10.00am – After a nice hot bath and a filling breakfast I am ready for my turn on the line. Ceri is curious about how I will do (it’s her first time seeing me shoot arrows and she is intrigued by the kit).
10.30am – I manage to shoot 18 arrows on the practice range and my kit is inspected by the judges. All is good. Time to control my nerves for the qualification round. A few 2020 members pop over to wish me luck. I’m now a nervous wreck.
12.00am – Here goes nothing. I’ve got my bib and my number is attached to my quiver, I’m ready to shoot some arrows.
Boy I’ve got my anchor sorted!
I’m shooting next to Josh from Scotland and someone who is waaaay too young to be left alone with a pointy stick (little did I know… ). Josh takes up the paper scoring duties and I get to play with the electronic scoring device. My first shot feels strangely natural and hits the target. Maybe it’s all gonna be alright on the night…. ?
28 arrows in and I’m feeling pretty good. I haven’t missed yet. I’m on target to beating my PB and maybe beat Roger! I’ve got plenty of water and chocs in my belt and nerves don’t seem to be an issue. I’ve got Ceri and Sarah cheering me on. What else could a man need? Refocus, arrow 29 is ready to fly. I adopt the freedom stance (my own name for my rather wide stance). Arrow 29 is nocked and lined up. I draw back and take aim ….
I don’t believe it. My first miss! Calm down and reset for arrow 30.
I adopt the freedom stance again … Arrow 30 is nocked and lined up… I draw back and take aim ….
Phew. I can live with one miss. So I end my first 30 arrows with 245. That’s higher than I have ever shot. With a bit of luck I might be able to nudged 500!
5.30pm – 30 arrows later and it’s all over. I don’t bother looking at my final score. I know I missed 6 times. I haven’t performed as well as I had hoped but that’s the reason I’m here. Where else will I get the opportunity to learn what it’s really like on the world archery stage? Today has shown me that endurance also plays a key part in your performance. I need to be able to last more than 2 hours and where necessary adapt my shooting when things go wrong. Lessons identified. Lessons learnt.
So it’s back to my room for a shower to relax and then drinks at the bar in the Holiday Inn. The silver fox – with James and Jeff in tow – turns up for a few drinks too. Eventually the whole gang is in the bar chatting about the day’s events and archery in general. Somewhere in the conversation we learn that Brady Elllison has been knocked out of the competition and ranks 5th in the final scores. That’s a bit scary given he’s just set a new world record with 593 in the qualification round. But that’s not important now, we’re all a bit dejected and down after realizing that not a single 2020 member shot within their abilities.
9.00pm – A quick trip back to the International Centre through the cold night leaves us in shock. The men’s recurve second chance shoot is tomorrow morning at 7.30am! OMG! That’s the final smack in the face. Someone has a rather dark sense of humour in Archery GB and Telford.
10.30pm – Well that’s an early night I guess. See you all at 6am!
Saturday 26 January 2014 – Day Three
6.00am – There’s no way in hell anyone should be up at 6am and contemplating shooting arrows. Even if it is only 15 arrows. But that is exactly what I’m doing. Having not made the top 32 cut-off for the qualifications round I have automatically been entered into the Second Chance competition. If I can score well with my next 15 arrows I might be in with a chance of getting some of the goodies in the prize fund.
6.30am – I’ve trudged my way to the main hall thinking of nothing but wanting to go home. It’s early, dark and cold. My beloved Ceri is still snuggled up in bed. We didn’t really see the need for her to be there as this’ll all be over in about 30mins.
Entering the main hall I see just about every archer who didn’t make the top 32. I thought this would be a nice quiet affair. Boy was I wrong. I might as well make the most of this experience. We’ve all travelled many miles to get here so why waste it? I guess I better man up and string up!
9.30am – I’ve shot my last arrow for the competition. And I must admit, I had more fun shooting in the Second Chance competition that in the qualification round. Most of the archers were there to have fun. The targets were unfamiliar (a triangular Vegas three spot with all three targets overlapping) and most shooters didn’t really stand a chance (I saw some county champions there). So the arrows were flying and so were the jokes. Good times.
Here’s me shooting my last arrows. The guy on my left ended up with no arrows with a full set of vanes. Hell he was shooting a bareshaft!
9.45am – Last chance to support the team. Karine is still setting up whilst Claire is ready to shoot her first round of sighters. Karine waves me over and needs a bow stringer. She’s left her kit bag in the bag area and has only just realized her string is on upside down. Fortunately, I’ve just completed my shoot and have everything on me. One red bow stringer to the rescue!
10.30am – Myself, Ceri, Claire and Richard Poole settle down to our last breakfast in Telford. We chat about our experiences and what is happening in the archery world next week. Of course I don’t miss one final chance to rib Richard about his position on the line between two Olympians.
12.00pm – Checked out and homeward bound. I didn’t feel like queuing up and watching the finals, ArcheryTV will be showing that later on and they have better seats than me.
It was a pleasure to come and shoot at Telford. Archery GB came up trumps when they managed to steal the competition and host it in the UK. Where else will shooters of all ages and abilities get to shoot against the world’s greatest? I may not have shot my best but I’m not complaining. Next time (whenever that will be) I’ll be back…