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This week I will spin you a tail of epic adventure and archery, It started when we decided to head to Germany and experience the ETO or European traditional open. This was run by the sports organisation of the T.A.I. or Traditional Archers International. This competition is for traditional style archery only so no modern recurves or compounds, but carbon arrows are allowed in some categories.

The Competition would consist of 3 rounds: 2 courses 3-D hunting – 1 course 3-D sport. A course consists of 28 3-D targets, and each was set out over 3 eight kilometer trails in some fantastic woods and castle grounds.

Now this trip started with me hearing about TAI and the competition from our very own Marcin here at the magazine and he got me in contact with Eric Lindemann. And after speaking with Eric on video chat I decided to join TAI and book my place in the ETO. I booked my flights, sorted out the accommodation and was counting down the days. Just days before the flight I booked my rental car and here my troubles began. I was flying into Frankfurt Hann and after landing it took all of 5 minutes to realise my first mistake as I had booked the car from Frankfurt Main. A quick two-hour bus trip later I had my car and off to the tournament.

Turning up on the first day for registration I was stuck with the beauty of the castle and the surrounding grounds. The warm welcome from the organisers was fantastic and as with most archery competitions or tournaments everyone there was in high spirts and ready to go. As we walked around after signing up, we had the pleasure of meeting lots of people, there were teams from the UK, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Belgium, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia as well as Ireland. As we walked around, we discovered that there were also lots of stalls selling everything archery and had some very beautiful bows and targets. Only thing stopping me from emptying my bank account was the thought of trying to get things back home with Ryanair. After a pleasant day of mingling and chatting to some very nice people we set out for the march of nations. We lined up and held our flag high and followed a bagpipe troop with all the different nations, I believe around four hundred people marched up to the opening ceremony where we were welcomed and introduced to some of the board members of TAI, the mayor of the town and also the custodian of the castle and museum. Overall, the atmosphere was electric.

After much chatting and small purchases (must say that in case wife is reading this) we headed off to bed early in get ready for the big 1st day.

We started off on day one in the same group and on the yellow course, this was a two arrow round where both arrows count but a wound is only 2 points, so this meant points would be hard to come by…. let’s hope it’s an easy course... no no it wasn’t. They put a tremendous amount of work into their course building and any points would have to be earned. Our group consisted of myself, Jake Farrell my son, Dirk Hartwich, SureshKumar and Mike Niezold. Dirk and Mike are from Germany and Suresh was from India.

The weather was well into the high 20’s and it was only 10.30. We headed out to our first target and right from the start I could see the standard was very high. But as I stepped up take my first shot some wild deer ran across in front of us and then turned and sprinted past us. It added an enchanted aspect to the whole trip. But unfortunately, it didn’t enchant my shooting. As the day went on Dirk showed incredible skills and pulled well ahead with some fantastic shots. This course was not laid out to be easy with the rule of having to touch the peg or “FLOCK” as I think it’s called in German but I am most likely saying that wrong, some shots had to taken on knees or bend your body into unusual forms, not a course for someone who has to stand straight with feet in a certain way. This course asked for your best and if you didn’t step up it would eat you up. There were some targets themselves that were unbelievable realistic. Overall, this was a fantastic shoot from start to finish and it was only day one. The temperature reached 30 degrees and that and having to walk over 8 kms up and down hills and the snail hill where you follow a winding path to shoot across a lake and back down the winding path again really tested your endurance. A few quick beers later we headed off to get some sleep and face the new day.

Day two saw us all in new groups as we were placed by rank on the scores of the first day. Dirk went to the top group, Jake and Mike went a group below them and me and Suresh in a lower group with some new archers. Our new members were Herbert Pleuss, Ralf Koball and Sascha Loeser.

This again was a two arrow round where wounds were only 2 points, so kills and vitals are extremely important. The course was again not for the faint of heart and really tested you, with the temperature again in the 30’s I was melting and looking for shade or somewhere to lay down before I fell down. Our group was great fun and kept our spirts high while our bodies sagged, especially Mr. Kumar who was in the best form the whole time, hit or miss he was enjoying the whole event. Normally a Compound user, Mr. Kumar found the flatbow strange to him but he was improving as he went on. We all did well but not enough to move groups and we settled for having good company and a few well-deserved beers at the end of the day.

Day 3 . It was hot before we got out of the car, I have to be honest I didn’t think Germany was this hot, speaking of which some Germans didn’t know we have woods still in Ireland, and believed we were all green fields. I had great pleasure in showing off some photos from the great shoots and the many clubs around Ireland. So hopefully expect some visitors coming across from Germany for some of the weekend events around Ireland next year. The shoot was a three-arrow round with the first arrow to hit being your score. Again, some slight differences than here in Ireland but I was in a fantastic group that helped everyone follow tournament rules. I have to say that I found everyone here friendly and helpful as I don’t have any German I had expected to struggle somewhat or fray some tempers if I couldn’t understand what was being asked or didn’t know the etiquette, but to the contrary they were very understanding and willing to take time to ensure we were all on the same page. These were archers at their best.

There were some incredible shots to be made on this course and again you had to earn it. Mr Kumar really stepped-up inn this round with some fantastic first arrow kills but it was safe to say everyone had upped their game. I knew at this stage medals were far beyond reach but that didn’t stop a fierce battle emerging between me and Ralf as we were neck and neck all the way around, coming to a climax on the last two targets. A large bison stood tall in the long grass and I had to shoot first….. First dropped short, second just missed, and the third over, grazing its back. Ralf stepped up and no mistake got a first wound. This left me with the only hope of a first arrow kill and Ralf to miss to beat him on the last target which was a deer between some trees. Ralf went first and missed, missed again and his third arrow struck the kill. He was now on 320 points. I was on 300, I stepped up and pulled off my best shot yet sticking the spot first arrow (I do have a photo to prove it) , 320 points, a tie which was a fair result on the day. What a day.

Back to base camp and return the score cards and have some well-deserved food and drink and a little surprise for Mr Kumar, This man had been great fun all weekend and was the life of the group or as we say in Ireland great craic, so myself and Jake went and got our own trophy to present to him, #1 At having the Craic and gave it to him with some champagne at base camp. Everyone that had shot with him was there to congratulate him.

Later that day we had a banquet with super food and drink and then the medal ceremony where Dirk received gold in the Flatbow classic class with a fantastic 992 total points. The ceremony was great fun, and the music was very good, we asked everyone to sign our Tri-colour as a memento and we will be giving it to our club Laois Archery upon our return. All I can leave you with is go to the nest ETO, it is worth it in every way, and I will definitely be planning to be at it. Thank you, TAI, and thank you DBVD and a special thanks to Mr. Eric Lindemann for the invite and welcoming me into TAI.

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