A blog entry! 2014 - 2018 Part 1.


Wow... I?ve written a blog entry. First since September 2014! I?ve tried numerous times to do this over the last few years, and this is made up of several parts of several previous attempts.

In reading back through a lot of my old posts, I?m so glad I started this blog originally back in November 2007. Despite the terrible spelling, grammar and the general poor writing (I?m thinking of the time Ian Hannaford told me that it read like a student blog, hahaa). It?s really great reference, and there?s no way I would have remembered most of what I had done unless I had written about it all. Recalling a lot of the details about individual shoots, the fun both competitive and just silly. Realising the amount of work it took to get the scores I achieved, and the general ups and downs including eventually reaching a point where I couldn?t really give it enough time and effort to further improve. And of course picking my bow again, and yet again.

So where do I start!? At the end of my last entry I put: ?Another reason for me wanting to shoot quite a lot right now is that I don?t know how much I will get to shoot next year. Heather is due to have our first baby in early Feb, which we?re over the moon about. Hopefully I?ll be a dad before I reach 40? but it might be tight!? It wasn?t that close in the end. Harriet arrived three weeks early, in the very early hours of 17th January 2015, almost a month before my birthday.

2014 shooting wise was quite a frustrating year. Having gotten back into things I was hoping to get my scores back up towards MB again, but despite plenty of practice for one reason or another I couldn?t get there. The main reason was probably momentum. I shot constantly year on year before getting MB in 2009. And it was fairly easy the following couple of years because I maintained the level. Having hit a bit if a wall in early 2012 and deciding to take a break, I can see now that?s obviously where the momentum would naturally stop. But it really was the right thing and what I needed at the time.

In the gap between my last entry and Harriet arriving I did a number of shoots. I shot terribly on 14th September, finishing 4th in the 2014 Northants outdoor champs at WOAC with 983 for the York. From what I can remember it was quite a breezy day, but it couldn?t have been that bad as Shahram scored 1116 to win it.

Next I think was the Tri-counties match on 5th October, hosted by Targetcraft Archers at Desborough. I can?t remember much about this one to be honest, other than talking to Jamie briefly about how his dad was doing. Chris was currently in hospital with what at that point had been a fairly short battle with cancer. Chris had told me at a county meeting earlier in the year that he had been diagnosed. He was going to have a hard road ahead of him. I realised from talking to Jamie at the shoot that it wasn?t looking good at all already at this stage. The day is a bit of a blur after that. From the results I scored 1123 for the Hereford round, again coming 4th overall.

Chris Mason passed away just five days later. From the day I joined WOAC in the summer of 2004, Chris was always the life of the club and of the county. One of those people who?s done almost every job role going from Club Equipment Officer to County Chairman, which he was at the time he passed away. He was ever present at the club, county meetings and at all the local competitions. When he wasn?t competing he would still be there, and even when Jamie wasn?t shooting, he?d be on hand just to help in general. His infectious enthusiasm, especially around the juniors is one of the main things I?ll always remember. Pointing at them on the shooting line if they were chatting or not concentrating and telling them to ?get back in your bubble?. His nickname and Archery-Interchange username of ?Cuddles? says it all? gentle giant of a guy. Archery in Northamptonshire couldn?t be the same without him around.

He would have been so proud of what Jamie has gone on to do. I know how proud he was when Jamie won the National Indoor Champs in 2013. His achievements in just 2018 are incredible. European Team Gold Medallist, National Tour Winner, EFAA National Champion, and No.1 in the UK target rankings, finishing above most of the guys he had looked up to for years and years. Watching him win that gold medal with the GB team in Poland live on the BBC website was just AMAZING. A proper ?I know him? moment.

Most of the best times I?ve had in archery have been with Jamie. From just having fun at the club and shooting at each others targets without the other noticing, to pushing each other at competitions. Jamie shot recurve quite a lot back then. Compound was always his main thing, but because of his sheer size, he?d often have problems with equipment not being big enough. Having to try different cams and order custom made strings and cables, often meant he?d get fed up and switch back to recurve just to shoot. Even on a recurve he?d need a 27in riser and extra long limbs which I think KG made for him. The 2011 county indoor champs was such a fun day. We had both been shooting well going into the shoot, both regularly shooting mid 580 plus Portsmouth?s. Jamie had the county record at that point of 586. I had a slightly better start, but Jamie then shot 26 10?s in a row! It literally came down to the last two arrows. I can?t remember which of us shot their last end first, but Jamie somehow finished with two 9?s and I won by a point, scoring 590 for the first time. Really great times.

After the Tri-counties match in October, it was the county match against Bedfordshire on 23rd November 2014, which we won and very much dedicated to Chris. I don?t remember too much about it other than it being quite close between me and Craig Wickham for overall first place in the open shoot. I shot too many nines and Craig ended up two points ahead 575 to my 573.

Next was Targetcraft?s Portsmouth on 7th December. Again I don?t remember too much about this one other than it being quite close between me, Paul Bond and Simon Stubbs. Simon ended up finishing really strong with 581. Again I had too many nine?s with 574 just two ahead of Paul with 572. It was good to finally do a shoot with Paul. He?d had quite a long break from archery since at least the early 2000?s I think. He was this sort of legendary county archer, in my mind anyway. Jamie would tell me how he once shot over 590 for a Portsmouth in a county match, but couldn?t claim the county record because he hadn?t paid the entry fee to have the score recorded on the open results. Paul had actually won the county indoor champs the year before in 2014. He?s still got the county Stafford record of 682, which I couldn?t get near.

By the new year, Heather was now heavily preggers. The baby was due in early February so the AOR Portsmouth on 11th January would likely be my last proper shoot for a while. I had tried to shoot as much as I could over the Christmas break, having a few sessions at Chiltern. I wanted to enjoy the shoot, with not as many archers at this one I felt less pressure to score well. Scored a decent 583. I?ve just remembered that I shot a set of MK Korea Vera limbs at this shoot. I can?t remember how long I had been shooting them at this point. This were great limbs. As close in feel to the Petron Pro?s as I?ve found, but a bit quicker!

Two days later, Heather?s waters broke early, and a few long days after that, Harriet arrived.

The next year or so brought other big changes too. We moved house and I changed jobs in June 2016, moving to a design agency based closer to home in Northampton. This of course meant no more shooting at Lutterworth in the mornings before work.

Going back a bit, to 2015 still? a year before I changed jobs, the county organised a Charity shoot to remember Chris Mason on 18th July, which was to be a Dawn til Dusk shoot comprising of as many Windsor rounds as we could manage. I really wanted to be a part of this so I bought some 30lb limbs from Chiltern, dug out some old XX75?s and got myself to Lutterworth most mornings for 3 weeks or so before the shoot. The day itself was fantastic, a really good turn out and everyone came together to raise over ?4,000 smashing our ?3,000 target. Shooting wise it was a challenge, I wanted to shoot around 500 arrows but the pace of the day meant to managed just under 400, shooting 4 Windsor rounds. A truly special day.

Continued in part 2...