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Archers Talkin' Archery - An Interview with Val Sleith

1 – What is your favourite dinosaur?

As I do not actually know any dinosaurs personally I hesitate to venture an opinion on this species, but the Tyrannosaurus Rex would be a front runner, on account of its dentition.

2 – What club are you a member of?

Ballyvally Archers, Banbridge. And formerly the Archery Club of Montreal, The Archers of St Rose and the Cupidons of North Montreal.

3 – What is your preferred shooting style?

Longbow, followed by Traditional, Barebow and American Flatbow.

4 – How did you get into archery?

I read a historical account of the Battle of Agincourt and wanted to be an archer.

5 – Who is your favourite fictional archer?


6 – What is your favourite competition type?


7 – What is your favourite shooting venue?

White’s Estate, Loughbrickland for field, Boucher Road playing fields for target.

8 – What is your favourite weather to shoot in?

Not too hot, not too cold and always dry.

9 – Would you rather do archery whilst riding a unicorn or a pegasus?

Unicorn; the wings would get in the way if you rode a pegasus.

10 – What is the oddest thing you have seen during a competition?

A recurve archer falling down the entire length of a mountainside. And walking away.

11 – What is the highest level of competition you have shot in?

The All British Field Championship

12 – What is the best shot you have made in a competition?

During the Northern Irish Clout Championship, shooting Barebow, I hit the flag with my second arrow. That is 140 yards distance.

13 – Which fictious archers would you want on your side for a team match?

Legolas, Aragorn, and Faramir

14 – What are your goals in archery?

At the moment, recovering from surgery and injury, my goal is simply to be able to keep shooting.

15 – What is your proudest achievement in the sport?

Winning Ladies Longbow Champion in the All British Field Championship, the Northern Ireland Field Championship, the All Ireland Field Championship and the Scottish Field Championship all in the same year.

16 – What is the best advice you have been given in archery?

Shoot for the love of it, not just to win.

17 - How do you think you would have fared in the stone age with a bow and arrows?

Well. I’m a longbow archer.

18 – What is the one thing you really enjoy in the sport?

Shooting in a forest or open target field on a sunny day with friends.

19 – What one thing in the sport irritates you the most?


20 – What would you like to see in terms of improvement within archery as a sport?

Archers who are no longer beginners often struggle to access good coaching. They are not receiving beginners’ instruction but as yet lack the skills to seek out good coaching or equipment for themselves.

21 – What do you think would make a great mascot for the sport of archery?

A hawk

22 – Who is your most fervent supporter?


23 – If you could shoot another bow style, what would it be?

I can honestly say that every style I liked I have shot up to competition level.

24 – Any advice for girls/women in archery?

My advice to the ladies would be the same as to the gents; two things matter. Technique and hard work. You need to practice, practice, practice. And then practice. But it is not much good unless you first get your technique right. To do this you need good coaching and that is not as simple as it sounds because every archer is unique in physical build and mental attitude. One size fits all coaching is not suited to archery, especially traditional archery. Try various coaching methods and choose the one that you feel comfortable with and which gives good results. Do not just train to win but to achieve good archery technique. Above all enjoy your archery and the company of the people you meet in the sport, archers, officials and supporting friends. Shoot strong!


Photo credit, all photos - Matt Latimer

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