WOW – WOW – WOW!!!!!!!

Archery Competition
Archery Competition

It was just on a year ago that I found myself using this blog title.  That time it was for one of Bradley’s amazing achievements, this time it is for three amazing achievements by three AoR archers this weekend.

This weekend saw the third in the three NCAS Caswell shoots.  Hosted by Wicken Archery Club the archers would be shooting Ladies and Gents FITA rounds with the juniors shooting the usual compliment of Metrics – from Metric I through Metric V.  There was also the option for archers to enter for the Long and Short Metric, but I don’t think that there were any takers this year.

Katie, Lauren and Louis would all be shooting the Metric II round and all on the same boss.  Like at the last Caswell, Katie and Louis would be shooting together with Lauren shooting with Jennifer (senior Lady) from Wicken.  In addition, Martin from AoR was also shooting and stepping up to shoot against the senior gents.  I don’t have a note of Martin’s score or copy of his score sheet, but he told me that he had done well and that he was pleased with his performance, despite one small learning experience.

Anyway, as usual my day would be spent making sure that the juniors had a good shoot, that they had some fun (thank goodness Leza left the Ronald McDonald shoes and wig at home) and that they enjoyed the day.  One day they will get fed up of my fussing around them, but until they say otherwise . . .

That said, I did relax half way through the shoot and unusually I found myself sitting back, simply enjoying watching the kids shoot and having a laugh with them, Leza, Mike and Katie Nixon.  Heather would be off working as Judge Candidate throughout the shoot.  It was great to have Daniel Nixon (Targetcraft) shooting on the next boss over and with their tent pitched next to Heathers.  It was even better to have the trio (Daniel, Lauren and Katie) joined by Louis and all four having a good laugh and a good shoot.  These competitions are not all about winning gold medals and some solid friendships have been formed and maintained behind the shooting line.

Wicken is a lovely ground and it is nestled in the village of Wicken, just north of Milton Keynes.  It is a picturesque village and the sports ground does not disappoint.  Turning into the ground you park along the left edge of the field and up behind the club house.  The field has a very slight uphill bias with trees behind the field (behind the tents), otherwise it is open and because it is used by the cricket team the field is impeccably maintained.

Lauren and I were up at 06.30 as I wanted to get to the ground early, unlike the mad dash across Northamptonshire last year.  Opening the curtains revealed a cloudy sky with plenty of blue patches and little to no wind in rushden.  Today was gonna be a goodun.

Car packed, equipment checked and we hit the road to arrive at Wicken just after 08.00 and a good hour before the assembly at 09.15.  Heather and Katie was about half an hour behind us but Leza and Louis were already there.  When we arrived at the field we found that there was a stiff breeze from the back of the field which felt quite strong up at the targets.  However this was favoured by the archers over the horrendous swirling cross wind of the week before.

With tents pitched, bows strung and arrows checked we gathered around the judges at 09.30 for the usual welcome assembly and rules rundown.  There would be about 20 minutes of practice which would equate to a couple of ends of timed sighters and then into the scoring round.

Louis was on the ball from the off.  Whilst setting his feet position pins he commented on the boss being out of line of the standing position.  The cricket perimeter rope had been left on the floor and (like we have seen before) it created an optical illusion that wanted you to line up one or two bosses over.  We quickly discussed the illusion and Louis would check the boss number at each end until he was comfortable.  I have to say that I think that was achieved by the end of the sighters, if not before.

The sighters were great for Lauren and Louis nailed them with a couple of small adjustments.  Unusually, my attention was immediately drawn to Katie who had the worst set of sighters that I have seen her shoot in a long time, if ever.  The first end saw only about half hit the boss and the constant sight changing made only a little difference.  A bigger sight change and the same result for the second end with multiple misses.  A quick check of Katie’s bracing height proved inconclusive, her sight was secure, button felt fine and everything look OK.  We had one small question about the lie of the arrow following her arrow rest change, but everything had been fine at AoR, so the reason for the sighters was never really ascertained.

The frustration of a big shoot where she was out to achieve her goal of 1,100 points for the round and to reclaim her trophy for the highest cumulative junior ladies score over the three rounds took its toll.  However, re-composed and determined to get back into the zone, she buckled down and with continual tweaking of the sight she posted a 39 for the first half dozen at 60m and a 36 for the second.  Some more adjustments, a few words of encouragement from those around her (not sure if I helped or hindered) and in the mind set to manage the situation, she bounced back with a fine 87 for the next dozen and she finished the distance with a nice 95 and 257 for the distance.

Given her sighters and her obvious frustration, she had really bounced back and recovered her performance in a remarkable way.  Whilst she made the recovery look easy, I have no doubt that it took real courage, determination and skill to turn things around so quickly and to save the shoot.

As for Lauren and Louis, well it was business as usual.  Following some really nice sighters, Lauren opened with a solid 84 for her first dozen and this was followed up by a 71 and 77 to make 232 for the distance.  The extra poundage applied on Thursday did not look to be a problem for Lauren and she looked smooth and controlled on the line.  No issues, no wobbles, looks like I was not going to be needed there.  Louis also looked strong, composed and in control to post a fine opening 75, followed by a 70 and then a magnificent 92 to finish the distance on a 237.

Now, anyone at AoR on Thursday will have noticed that Louis was struggling with scattered arrows and talking about giving the Caswell a miss.  A quick check of his bow resulted in a change to his clicker position (thanks to Geoff Denny for picking that one up) and he was back in the zone.  Sighters over the next few days put him in a more comfortable position, he was up for the shoot on Sunday again and the 60m distance quickly became a non-issue for Louis.

So, end of the 60m and we had Katie taking an early lead with 257, to Louis’ 237 and Lauren on a 232.

After a short break and the boss reset to 50m, Lauren stepped up to begin the new distance with a fine change over and an 89 for the dozen.  Katie was back in the zone and she posted her first triple scoring dozen of the day with a fine 102 and Louis had a good change over with a nice 76.  Lauren (97) and Louis (86) improved during their second dozen with Katie dropping to an 83 for the dozen.  The kids would finish the distance with a 91 from Lauren and more of her usual consistent shooting, Louis with an 83 and Katie with a nice 89.

So, end of the 50m and Lauren would pull a little back on Katie with a 277 for the distance, then Katie with a nice 274 and Louis with a fine 245.  With the boss being reset to 40m, everyone took a 20 minute or so break for lunch and a well-earned rest.  The clouds began to turn a little grey and there were a few drops of rain in the air and this would be followed by a couple of small showers during the afternoon, but nothing to cause any trouble for anyone or to disturb the running of the shoot – unlike last year where the shoot was halted for a time owing to a huge thunder and lightning storm right overhead.

Forty meters in a Metric round can be a funny distance.  Whilst it should be easier, a lot of archers claim it as their poorest distance.  I’m not sure if it is the change of target face to a smaller size that plays with one’s mind, but it is supposed to mimic the 60m challenge.  Well that being true, Louis and Lauren’s scores would prove to make interesting reading.

Louis would lead the trio with a great change over for the first dozen at 40m distance with very nice 88, followed by Katie with a fine another fine changeover and a 75 scored and another solid changeover for Lauren and a 69 scored.  All three would improve over the next dozen with Katie posting the highest score (86), followed by Lauren’s 79 and Louis with a fine 72.  The order would stay the same for the final dozen at 40m with Katie posting a 91, Lauren an 84 and Louis another solid performance and a 77.

So, at the end of the 40m distance Katie would add another 20 points to her total over Lauren with a 252, Lauren therefore posting a 232 and Louis with another fine score of 237 to take second place in the trio for the distance.  This would put Louis on a nice 719 for the round thus far, with Lauren on 741 and Katie on a 783.  All a little shy of their personal targets (Lauren and Louis shooting for the 1,000 and Katie for the 1,100), but still doable as we went into the 30m distance.

Remember what I just said about 40m being like 60m following the change of target face?  Well those of you that are following this blog posting closely will not have failed to notice that both Louis and Lauren shot the same score at 60m as they did 40m, Lauren with a 232 for both and Louis with a 237 for both.  Even Katie was only 5 points different with her 60m being slightly better than her 40m.

With the conditions settling down to a stiff breeze at the targets and which was running straight up the field, and the clouds remaining grey but blowing through before they could deposit their contents on the field, we all settled down to the final distance.  That included me.  Katie’s earlier troubles were far behind her, Lauren was in the zone and Louis was just doing what he does best.  So I sat back and left the kids to shoot.

As the distance wore on and Lauren’s goal became more and more achievable I did begin a new tactic of pushing her.  At the beginning of the season this was something to be avoided.  She never wanted to know her score or how she was doing against personal goals and other archers and often knowing resulted in her trying too hard and it had the opposite effect.  Despite being told to leave her alone (good advice given previous shoots), I decided to try something different.  Capitalising on Lauren’s new found confidence over the summer, I tried motivating and pushing her to aim for the 1,000.  This just needed her to focus more and really strive for the gold.  All we needed to do, was channel some of that new found confidence into her shooting.

Did she rise to the challenge – you bet she did, they all did!!!

Katie would prove to be the leading archer for the 30m distance.  Not dropping out of triple figures, riding on her re-found confidence and striving for the 1,100, she posted a 101 for the first dozen and increased that to a 106 and she finished the round on a fine 107 and a wonderful 314 for the distance.  Lauren was not to be outdone and she posted a fine 97 and then two triple score distances with a 108 and a 106.  Louis would also join the party with a triple score of 106 for the opening dozen and then, tiring a little and with a shoulder that was beginning to ache, he posted a fine 94 and 92.

That meant Katie taking the distance by just 3 points with a 314 for 30m and Lauren chasing her tail with a 311 and Louis not far behind with a fine 286.

Even the rain could not keep Leza away from the action.
Even the rain could not keep Leza away from the action.

I have to say that the entertainment was not from the shooting line during the last couple of ends (three arrows each end).  Like me at the 1st Caswell, Leza was on the tenderest of tender hooks.  With Louis on a very possible 1,000 scoring round she was watching every arrow.  I can’t recall the exact order but he went into the last half dozen (two ends) needing just 39 points.  The way Louis shoots, that should be a given.  However, to add a little drama to the occasions (not unlike that of a final episode cliff hanger TV series or major Hollywood blockbuster) he would score a 9, 8 3 for the first three arrows of the final half dozen.  A THREE, a THREE, he’d not been in the black all through the 30m distance and now, when it really mattered, he’d pull a three – Where did that come from – Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

No matter, Louis is becoming the master at resetting himself between arrows and I’m pretty sure that the end was a 9, followed by the 3 and then a nice recovery with a solid 8.

Anyway, with no idea of the turmoil and excitement he was generating back on the tent line, he went up for the final three arrows.  With Leza’s binoculars glued to her face, he banged in an X and a superb recovery.  This was followed by a 7 and a continued excitable running commentary from Leza.  Now we just needed 2 or more to achieve that wonderful 1,000.  Well we did not need telling, Leza had a wonderful quiet celebration yell on the line and waiting eagerly for the score to be confirmed.  A 7 had been shot to make an X, 7, 7 to close out the round and a double check of the totals and a 1,005 confirmed for Louis.

A fine, fine achievement for a young lad that only took his beginners course a year ago, who has only had his own bow for about 6 months, who has shot his first three NCAS county Caswells in his first year, secured his first county call up (and he has the shirt to prove it) in his first year and who continues to amaze me with his attitude and dedication to his archery.

However, Louis was not the only AoR archer to make me proud to be associated with AoR this weekend.  Lauren smashed through the 1,000 to post a fine 1,052 and a new personal best and Katie (despite some awful sighters) dug deep and posted a fabulous 1,097 for the round.  It was a shame that she missed her personal goal of 1,100 (that will come) but that’ll be yet another club record set and a (to be confirmed) new county record for Katie.  Both Katie and Lauren will now be chasing that elusive 1,100 for the Metric I, although Lauren will stepping up to join the seniors in a few months’ time, so time will be short.

Daniel Nixon (Targetcraft) is always a welcome addition to the party and Louis, Daniel, Lauren and Katie all get on really well.  So how was Daniel’s shoot.  Following the troubles of last weekend with too much poundage being put onto his bow, he was back in a slightly more comfortable place but still striving to reach the distances of the Metric I.  However, following a fine solid performance throughout the shoot, he posted a great 990 (I think) to take the gold for his class.  Some fine shooting from the young lad that I hope to aspire to one day.

So into the club house for scones and to await the awards.  Wicken always cater well for these shoots and with bacon rolls, sausage rolls and other delights available for purchase throughout the shoot and the complimentary scones in the club house, this is one nice shoot to attend.  Louis would take away a thoroughly deserved gold for the Junior Gents Metric II and Lauren would take another well-deserved silver for the Junior Ladies Metric II with Katie taking the gold.

A trio of personal bests, a couple of personal goals achieved and a trio of medals and a wonderful days shooting completed.  Like the title says, WOW – WOW – WOW!!!!!!!

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