"Do you know what you do with a longbow? You throw it in the fire and pick up a recurve." - Susan Agnew
In spite of the above comment, I am friends with Susan Agnew of Banbridge Archers. Yes, she may be a recurve archer, some archers are into that, but nonetheless we get along. Susan has been doing archery for almost two decades, and was already an established presence and well known shooter when I first started.
What follows is an account written by Susan about her bold and exceptional shooting - not to mention her sage shooting mentality that many, including myself, can learn from - earlier in the year at the World Field Championships in Estonia.
9th to 13th August 2022 saw the World Field Championships take place in Parnu Estonia after a 2-year delay (thanks COVID!) I made the decision to travel there quite late on, it wasn’t in my plan for the year but a few months out the opportunity came up and I decided why not?
I set myself the goal to come home with a medal, I didn’t care which colour, I just wanted one!
I have been in archery for 17- years, over the years I have become addicted to say the least! I have worked my way up learning as much as I can about recurve archery from technique to tuning and everything else in between. I have always been a World Archery archer, in 2015 I decided to try something different and add IFAA archery to my repertoire.
For those of you who are new to IFAA, a short explanation. For old hands, skip ahead…
Outdoor IFAA rounds usually consist of a Field round and a Hunter round. For the major competitions there are 2D animal rounds involved as well. Four arrows are shot in both the Field and Hunter rounds.
The Field round has a black and white target face (5 ring, black, 4 ring, white and 3 ring, black). The distances range from a bunny face shot at distances of 35, 30, 25 and 20 feet to a 65cm face shot at 80, 70, 60 & 50 yards.
The Hunter round also has a black and white target face (5 ring, white and 4 & 3 rings, black). The distances range from an 11-yard bunny target to a 65cm face shot at 70, 65, 61 and 58 yards.
The 2D animal round is different again. If you hit the animal with the first arrow (either a kill or a wound) you do not need to shoot another arrow at that particular target. There are 4 groups of animal sizes shot at different distances.
Flying out on the Saturday we got into Tallinn airport quite late and after a small detour found the hire car. I have to say driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time at 11 o’clock at night is certainly an experience! Made it to the Airbnb in one piece though.
Sunday was time to get supplies for the week and visit the venue. At Registration you get your welcome pack and equipment is inspected. Practise targets were available to double check the sight marks. During the day there was a talk set up for women in the sport. This was based around good nutrition for competitions. Definitely food for thought and a quick edit to the shopping list was required! We had the Opening ceremony there as well. There was the parade of nations and welcome speeches. Quick team briefing and off to prepare for the following day.
Monday was Field day; I shot the blue course. I had a few short targets to start but found I couldn’t get going. The start of the second half everything started to click and I could see the improvement. I didn’t shoot the score I was hoping for and knew I would have to massively improve if I was come home with the medal I wanted. I ended the day on 422 and that placed me 5th out of 6 (I really hate this sport sometimes).
Tuesday was the first Hunter round of the week, my favourite round, and red course today. I shot with 2 historical archers who made the whole day so much fun. I felt myself relax a bit more and remember to shoot my shot. I finished the day on 443, still a little lower than I wanted but going the right direction. I moved from 5th place to 3rd.
Wednesday is a relatively shorter day as it is the animal round. Today we were on the green course, the longest one so a good day to be on it… or so we thought, we started in at just about the furthest corner of all 5 courses! (suppose someone has to) After a minor mishap on the first target (brain fart) I really started shooting well. Scored 520 in the animal round which smashed the previous Irish record, plus a PB and solidified my 3rd place. I was confident now that I would come home with a medal. Now off for a quick visit to the beach!
Thursday, is one of hardest days, long days of loads of archery you start to get a bit tired, but I was buzzing my preparation was paying off. Today was the yellow course and the second Field round of the week. Today everything clicked, shots felt amazing and they went in the middle (maybe this archery isn’t so bad after all!) I finished the day on 470, a new Irish record, plus a PB and I reduce the gap between myself and 2nd massively.
Friday, the final day, orange course for us and the Hunter round. I needed to beat second place 26 points to move up into silver. First arrow of the day, went through the clicker, instead of getting down I told myself that’s ok just a slip, keep shooting the way you have been and see what will happen. As I said Hunter is my favourite, I just enjoyed myself and trusted my sight marks. At one point we had a run of the longest walk ins and of those 3 targets, I dropped 5 points. As the day went on, I could feel myself getting tired, the effects of spending 5 full days competing. I scored 463 (another Irish record) and made it into second place. I was over the moon.
Saturday was prize giving, with the amount bow styles and age groups, this takes some time. The organisers called up everyone by bow style then by age group to the podium to get presented with their medal. I have to say one of the best ways to do this I have seen. I have to say a massive thank you to the organisers of this competition, everything went smoothly and was excellently organised.
Team Ireland had a great week, there was 12 archers competing and came away with 6 medals. Those that didn’t also came away with PBs and multiple Irish records were broken (along with a few world records). We all came away with something and achieved what goals we came here with.
Before heading home there was time for a couple of hours sightseeing in Tallinn. A lovely city in a lovely country! Would highly recommend it for anyone looking for something a little different.
Looking back in my competition I can say my preparation allowed me to achieve my goal. I worked hard getting bow fit and getting the right sight marks. I also did good bit of work on my mental game. I decided that week to take my time, focus on every shot. I walked up to the target, read the information on each target, double checked every distance before I shot an arrow. Everything was deliberate and focused. This got me through the week along with believing in myself and my shot. I could not have done this without the support of my sponsors and family, friends and club members. My biggest thanks go to Patrick Huston who I have been working with for some time and could not have got as far as I have without the help and support.
Now time to prepare for the World Indoor Championships in Kent in 2023!!
Entries still open for anyone who wants to give IFAA a go!