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These are the voyages of the TIFAM Reporter Stringfellow…

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

The fickle twists and turns of fate can be subtle and the turn of events following a curious dabble can change everything. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith, suppressing a fear, or maybe the wonderful opportunity to fulfill a dream. To do it alone is difficult, but with friends and family not so much and a precious thing to appreciate. This is where the leap of faith comes in and where, though perhaps scared and isolated, you so very much need to push yourself at first maybe even facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles both internal and external.

On Sunday, 27th. March a trip to Drewstown House in County Meath for the 2x 14 UAR being held by White Wolf Archers meant a visit to a course that saw its’ first shoot in about 2 years. It’s wonderful to see so many clubs recovering with enthusiasm and steely determination following the travails and curtailments of lockdown. What’s more heartening though is the support being correspondingly shown by archers, new and experienced, by travelling and taking part, adding a value to and appreciation for the tremendous effort made by the organisers or these events.

So, this Sunday, so early in the year, had the sun shining and the sunglasses out. A great turnout was already apparent early on as the carpark filled. I was looking forward to this shoot having heard so much about Drewstown House and its’ beautiful setting and grounds.

As we gathered around the registration table, in front of the majestic lawn, Marjan Boers welcomed everyone, explained how the format of the day would proceed and advised us to pay particular attention to the pathways given the dense spring carpet coming into bloom. Myself and Olivia were shooting with Lynn Ellingworth and Karl Curtis. Lynn was shooting Bowhunter Recurve and Karl Bowhunter Unlimited. It was a pleasant grouping and an education too as Karl giving us a history lesson on Drewstown House up to the present day.

Karl Curtis AMBU, perfect form, magnificent background.

Lynn Ellingworth AFBH-R, unperturbed by this obstacle laden wildcat target.

L-R, Lynn Ellingworth, Olivia Reynolds, some groupie who wandered in and Karl Curtis.

So off we set. While this range may not have the joint-wearing ruggedness of some others, that lent itself to a specific direction for the layout. Full use is made of the dips and hollows, the tight tree-lines and of course the emerging colourful camouflaging carpet not to mention the lake.

The Group 1 standing bear is a perfect example of this, placed as if stepped out from behind a tree, causing you to momentarily doubt yourself, and shooting to the right.

The Group 2 wild-cat again at the end of a meandering tree-line proving to be more of a distraction than an actual obstacle. Group 3s and 4s such as the hare and fox were placed not, as is often case at the end of what is clearly a shooting lane, but very much in such a manner as if they were actually happened upon and surprised in their natural habitat. There in lay the skill and imagination in the layout of this course. You might be within the well-maintained park-like grounds of Drewstown House but there was nothing than appeared formulaic in the positioning of the targets or clinical in the delineation of the routes and lanes.

Some things best left unsaid. Nonetheless, grateful to Laszlo Jenei for retrieving my arrow from there too.

Partners in crime, look of innocence indeed, pffft!Some use a rake to find arrows.

Karl does it with style!

It was a refreshing day, with a certain giddiness in the air and amongst the attendees, only partially captured in the photos taken.

Why was the day such a success? I could just say check out the photo below and leave it that, no explanation needed. From planning to course setting, registration, logging and presentations a massive thank-you goes to Jim, Kerrie, Marjan and Pauline. When you’re in the field or on the range it is sometimes easy to forget the immense amount of work that goes into managing a competition like this. The fact that you do forget sometimes is not necessarily a testimony to a lack of consideration on your part but to the behind-the-scenes support that makes the day pass by with such enjoyment and a fluid ease. One word of many springs to mind…..efficient. Had great fun and really, really appreciate it guys.

L-R, Marjan Boers, Pauline Conroy, Jim Conroy, Kerrie Leonard. AKA The A-Team.

The following week, it was just up the road to the legendary Swan Lake Archers for their 2*14 3D UAR. I’d heard a lot about this course and its’ quirks and was exceptionally eager for this one. Once again, we were graced with glorious weather. Once again, the familiar faces gathered for a later than usual start of 11:00am. This wasn’t a problem for me anyway as it allowed a member of my contingent catch up with a member of another. Word has it that it was the biggest ever turnout at 52 archers, a credit to clubs and their affiliated organizations gathering to support each other. The groups were called, and this time Olivia and I were shooting with Tina Verity AFBBC and Roy Verity AMBU. So off we set. This is a course of variety. Extensive use is made of the extremely steep hollows and the various structures along the route.

The resting deer within the walls of the old factory was a deceptive one. As was the crow, a group 4, but at such an angle one had to take a separate path to reach it. The meerkat at target 8 wasn’t much better. I’m thinking now that the group 4 targets serve to provide a certain few within the coarse-setting element of the archery community an opportunity to release their roguish vivacity. This however is also symbolic of their desire to create something fun and imaginative for their visitors. I can just imagine them walking back, thinking “yeah, that’ll bug them”.

Roy Verity taking it steady. Show of support from that fellow ‘what’s his name’.

From up there…

To down there.

Yaay!! Look what I found, it’s mine, I’m sitting on it and I’m not sharing it.

Sean JMBHR and Alan AMFSR O’Grady, Laois Archery.

Fantastic work goes into the prizes and medals.

And yes, just to beat the Black Castle guys to making a big deal about it, I did leave my bow behind…twice, so now I have to work on living that one down with that lot and I’ve a feeling it won’t be easy.

Disappointingly I couldn’t make the Mayo shoot at Massbrook Woods on the 10th. April. I know a lot of effort went into making it a special day and it’s great that it was reciprocated by the sheer numbers that turned out. Next time.

The 1st. of May saw myself and Olivia returning to Black Castle Archers in Thurles, County Tipperary for their much-anticipated Single Big Game 2 * 18 round. Now this course I have found almost has a personality of its own. Unlike many others, the forestry and cover are extremely dense, and this always makes for the impression of exploring new territory for the first time.

Tanya Embleton & Joe Witherow keeping the show running smoothly.

Arriving for registration at 08:30am for the 09:30am start you’re immediately made feel welcome with the steel whistling kettle on the stove already on the boil. There was a fantastic turnout as the eager word had it there were some tweaks and alterations to the course since the last shoot.

Arriving for registration at 08:30am for the 09:30am start you’re immediately made feel welcome with the steel whistling kettle on the stove already on the boil. There was a fantastic turnout as the eager word had it there were some tweaks and alterations to the course since the last shoot.

Fonsa Foyne providing amazing back-up.

The groups were called, it was a rolling start, and myself and Olivia were placed with Ivan Cummins and Diane Cummins of Ashgrove Archers along with Aishling Smee of Black Castle Archers. So off we set starting off at the white wolf. Brilliant use is made of the meandering narrow trails, small hills and leaning trees to provide what is actually quite a demanding almost maze-like course. I think word has it that one has walked about 8km by the time they’re finished. So, this isn’t a case of simply moving from one target to the next. There’s a bit of a ramble in between which has the effect of rattling your rhythm a little, not necessarily a bad thing. Even though it is very well marked and signed, and routes are very well defined, this course nonetheless has the effect of giving you the strong impression of your group being the only one out there and therein lies an under-rated skill of an experienced course-setter. So, when you arrive at say, the raven, you lean on your bow, catch your breath, consider yet another awkward shooting line, you actually have to collect yourself to remember things like the differences between the target groups.

The stork proved extremely tricky in the both rounds, with one having to line up and sight between the V-shape of two trees. The spread-eagled Group 4 eagle one would think would be a doddle, but how we missed it is to this day remains a frustrating mystery. The duck and the meerkat on the edges of the lane again by virtue of completely different peg standpoints for each round meant it did not get any easier. The stegosaurus positioned at the end what seems like an unused retired ditch gives the impression of both you and it being trapped in a valley and only one of you is going to make it out.

The tiger target needs a special mention. This character is becoming a legend in its’ own right and anyone who hasn’t tackled it is missing out on a true exercise in subtle subterfuge with it nearly always dominating the conversation during the breaks. On realizing what they created the ever-imaginative crew at Black Castle Archers now content themselves in tweaking, developing and altering this particular one to fine tune the level of deception it poses. So, when you arrive, before heading out they’re already saying to you “wait’ll you see what we’ve done with it now?”, (cue an extremely satisfied grin). Shall I reveal its mystery? Nah!! For sure, this is one you best try for yourself….. if you dare.

Martin Conroy

Aishling Smee, Black Castle Archers and Olivia Reynolds, Laois Archery. The ‘gigglees’ as Diane Cummins, with admirable patience, named them.

A very special mention for Ivan and Diane of Ashgrove Archers providing most affable and relaxed company for myself, Olivia and Aishling, making for a fun and much needed relaxing day, thank-you very much.

And a big thank-you too to Laurent Vuille for the photos. If it were left to me there’d be missing limbs and close-ups of feet.

Says it all!!

So earlier, I was babbling about dabbling and the fickleties of fate. Having long been intrigued, from following their competitions and chatting with archers from that discipline, earlier this year I signed up with Archery Ireland and joined Dolmen Archers in Carlow. Little did I think then how it would end up enthralling me and sending me off on a tangential journey that I’m embracing more and more. At the Presentation College in Graiguecullen, County Carlow where Dolmen Archers hold their club night on a Tuesday, I started off with the 80cm FITA face at 18m. Now having been practicing the IFAA 20-yard indoor rounds for several weeks beforehand in helping a friend prep for an upcoming competition, I found that I settled into this distance reasonably comfortably, not that I was great at it or anything like that. And so therefore my interest was piqued. The shooting calendar was still fairly quiet and there happened to be an upcoming bit of March mania in the form of a double WA18 jointly hosted by Cuchulainn Archers and Dundalk Institute of Technology at the DKIT Sport center in Dundalk. Not having the faintest idea of what to expect, I registered. The guys at Dolmen Archers were very helpful in providing me with guidance, a rule summary, some coaching and shooting line tips. Thank-you Pat Lyons and Ronan Wall. The legendary Jim Conroy had also been pushing his legendary patience to its’ limits in his endeavors to make a semi-decent archer out of me. I am not an easy student, stubborn, not prone to listening or paying attention and immensely fond of doing the opposite of what I’m told. Arriving at DKIT, I recognized some faces from the previous IFAA indoor shoot in Craigavon some weeks previous. The DKIT center is an impressive venue. Just off the N52 from the M1 this is a modern, well-laid out, not to mention enormous, facility catering for many indoor pursuits. From the main entrance it was a good 5 to 8-minute brisk walk to where the competition would take place at the other end of the building. I had pre-registered so arriving at the desk outside the shooting arena I was greeted by Eamonn and Christina Rogers who had my scorecard and line position already prepared. My shooting partner was to be Ann Marie Murray aka, Smiler, of Cuchulainn Archers. Entering the arena, the targets were being erected and the bleeper was being tested.

On the ground in front of the shooting line, about half-way along the floor was a large digital display that would serve not just as a count-down timer but to indicate which archer pair were to step to the shooting line for each subsequent end of 3. There would be groups of four archers for four faces, archer A, archer B, archer C and archer D. Two archers at a time would shoot their ends of 3. The shooting order would be AB then CD then CD then AB then AB etc. Being a Double FITA 18, this would mean 120 arrows in total, so 2 rounds of 60 arrows at 30 arrows per set, 10 ends of 3. The archer would have the choice of the 40cm target face or the vertical triple face.

I was expecting this to be very much like the 20 yard indoor IFAA round however on reading the rules it important to avoid any complacency in paying attention to the many differences, like no-face crossover at the end of a set and if you drop an arrow, you must not retrieve it no matter how close it is. You can shoot your spare arrow instead. The archer also needs to mark arrow locations on the face with a pen before retrieving so that in the event of a bounce back the hole with no mark is logged in the scoresheet. In the IFAA rounds a bounce-back is regarded as a target failure and so another shot is granted.

I was shooting bare bow. Again, there are many similarities in the bow requirements between that of IFAA and IA. However again one needs to watch out for the subtle differences if exploring both disciplines. For example, under IFAA rules you can use a draw-check device (providing it doesn’t extend above the arrow). Under IA rules so such device is permitted at all. It’s such little things that could catch one out.

Anyway, the rounds got underway. There is a strict adherence to the time and line discipline. There’s two minutes to shoot an end 3 of arrows. You will get a warning beep 30 seconds of the end of the time slot. If you do not shoot all your arrows within the allotted time, no mercy. As this was a record round there was an independent judge from Archery Ireland to oversee proceedings. At the end of the first round we broke for lunch. On returning, it’s not so much that I was getting tired, I was a bit, but I started to ponder the kind of physical and mental discipline one needs to settle into if doing these competitions on a regular basis. This is an aspect I’m hoping to explore and return to in greater detail.

Prior to and throughout the competition I was laying on a barrage of questions to those unfortunates nearby. I owe a big thanks therefore to Neil Keeble, Ann-Marie Murray, Christy Banks, Claudia Heinze and Eamonn Rogers.

Compound — 50+ Men, L-R Hugh Murphy (AAC Athboy), John Keenan (Cuchulainn Archers), Christy Banks (Cuchulainn Archers).

As one travels to different shoots and meets archers of various persuasions and affiliations you can often get a sense of some of their feelings and views on the various disciplines out there. Unfortunately, some opinions can be quite judgmental if not sometimes bordering on the disparaging which is unfortunate because each avenue has so much to offer different archers depending on their abilities and preferences.

Tired but happy.

I rapidly found with World Archery, and therefore Archery Ireland, there is a physical, mental and technical intensity involved in preparing for and taking part in a competition. What I mean by that is everything is put to the test, simultaneously, sometimes to the precipice of breaking. This very quickly became for me an unexpected exhilarating personal challenge.

Compound — Men, Eamonn Rogers

Barebow (the best) — Women, Left: Claudia Heinze. Right: Ann Marie Murray.

As I write this, I have just completed the 2-day Senior Pre-Season Double 720 hosted by Harbour House Archery Club, Athy. I won’t chat about that now as there’s a bit of a journey to it and I want to properly acknowledge it and those involved.

Subsequently, I have fallen for this avenue of archery in a big way and have just returned from the 2022 Irish Open Field Championships at Dargle Valley, hosted by Wicklow Archers. More on that below.

Barebow men, seniors. Centre: Michael Higgins 1st. Right: Neil Keeble 3rd. Left: A fly in the ointment…2nd.

And so therefore, the finale for this month (‘bout time, I hear some of you say!). Sometimes on returning from an event, competition or even meeting someone, one can be afflicted with the mental wranglings of trying to remember and capture so much of the experience for transcription. There is in essence often an overburden of information and one can worry about missing out on one the many fine details that made the experience so special. Well if ever such an internal personal struggle was pushed to the limit it was on my return journey from the Archery Ireland Open Field Championships as hosted by Wicklow Archers. It’s one thing covering a competition which I thoroughly love on so many levels. This however was a whole other dimension to the field of archery. This absolutely was not just a competition. This was an all-round experience, perhaps even something approaching a pure definition of what archery should and eventually must be about.

As well as being the championships this was, notwithstanding league shoots and practice sessions, the first competition hosted by Wicklow Archers since the beginning of lock-down. I have been following the meticulous and dedicated work gone into the development of the clubhouse over the last number of weeks. And this is where I must start my story because early on, I noticed there was something about this project that for me captured a magnificent solidarity, a camaraderie, an appreciation and love of company, friendship and a shared passion. Having been relying on the nearby lodge and a horsebox for a base and, in preparation for the upcoming championships and the steady return of archers to the field, works began in early April on upgrading the clubhouse and facilities. That this work was undertaken while simultaneously juggling another group of new beginners, running their field league and taking registrations for the field championships gives pause for thought. The site was cleared, and levelled, new picnic tables were built, and target faces pasted on the range back-stops. Throughout April the work never stopped. The gravel was imported and levelled, the plinths set-up for the new clubhouse, the existing storage container cleared and re-arranged while a new wooden storage shed for the range was delivered and assembled.

Then on the 19th. April the new clubhouse arrived. Using a combination of their own funding, grants, sponsorship, local business and members support, work continued unabated. This spot would eventually serve as the administration office, medical and break / congregation hub.

Crown Paints donated the paint for the new club house, storage shed and container area. The grand opening was on the 30th. of April, with music, food, archery fun shots, and an almost carnival like atmosphere pervading the cozy canopied enclosure despite the rain.

And so, the tone was set for how I believed I would perceive this club nestled in the captivating Dargle Valley under the watchful eye of the Great Sugarloaf. I would not be disappointed, quite the opposite in fact on so many levels. As I type I can only hope I’ve enough time to try and clumsily, hurriedly capture and portray the essence of my experience here, because as mentioned before, this turned out to be not just a competition.

So, moving on to the Championships and the intense weekend of shooting that would entail. To give the full and proper title this was the Irish Open Field Championships hosted by Wicklow Archers (WWA) at their Dargle Valley Field Course, Tinnahinch, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. This was a two-day event on a world record status course. The course itself was designed by Rohan O’Duill of Wicklow Archers. Rohan and his team deserve huge credit for creating what turned out to be an exemplary, standard setting reflection of a course incorporating the required challenges in aiming and shooting as the tradition of the discipline required. The physical and mental limit of the archer was intensely tested but never broken. Using every possible aspect of the terrain this truly was a reflection of very finely tuned and honed course setting skills. Without delving too much into the technicalities, the course, with three arrows shot per target, was a combination of marked and unmarked distances. This was the way for both days with some subtle adjustments made for the Sunday. There were four coloured pegs at varying distances to reflect the shooting locations of archers of different styles.

The shooting pegs were of different colours, corresponding to each group of categories as follows:

  • Blue for the Barebow, U18 Recurve and U18 Compound;

  • Red for the Recurve and Compound;

  • Yellow for the U18 Barebow.

There was a white peg for the younger competitors.

The faces comprised the 80cm, 60cm, 40cm faces and 20cm (*3) bunnies all of 1-point to 6-point rings, the 6 being also the center spot.

Registration kicked off at 08:30am. Listings of the respective names, groups, affiliations and clubs along with their starting pegs had been printed and erected on target boss stands beside the club house. A steady stream of coffee and tea had been established. The score cards were distributed and subsequently filled in with names, bow styles and the usual details.

Before getting underway we had the obligatory inspection by the judges of all the equipment including spares and accessories that each archer intended to use during the competition, including things like binoculars and even finger tabs.

Then when that was completed we mustered at the entrance to the range and this is where things really started to get interesting. Laid out on the grass were numbered pegs representing the starting target number for each group. Once competitors had found their pegs and correspondingly their group shooting partners we waited while the organisers gathered on the adjacent mound. We were then welcomed by Tom Fox, Wicklow Archers Club President who extended thanks not only to those who made the journey but to his own dedicated team for the work they put in bringing this venture to fruition. Rohan O’Duill then proceeded to give us what could very much be termed a health and safety briefing. The three first-aiders were introduced, water bottle stations were identified, and course etiquette was emphasized.

And finally, the two independent Archery Ireland Judges Barry Brophy and Peter Walsh outlined their roles and responsibilities in supervising proceedings and ensuring that the competition was conducted according to the World Archery constitution and rules. They covered everything from equipment inspection to conduct and their responsibilities in handling any potential disputes and queries.

L-R Peter Walsh Archery Ireland Judge, Rohan O’Duill Wicklow Archers, Barry Brophy Archery Ireland Judge and of the World Archery International field & 3D judging committee.

When that was finished, we were led out by both judges breaking off to our respective starting points. The whistle sounded and off we started.

I was shooting with Neil Gordon of Ballyvalley Archers, Stephen Kerr of Archery GB and Alessandro Di Bella of Wicklow Archers, all of whom were fellow barebow archers.

From early on indications were that this was going to be no run-of -the-mill field round. Agreed that any target can be positioned on inclines, declines, recesses and at angles. A good course setter will toy with these scenarios, read and get the best from the terrain as presented to them while remaining considerate of the abilities and perhaps patience of the archer. However, what was becoming clear from this course as the day progressed was that the limits of the archer were constantly being tried, not to breaking point of course, but certainly to levels rarely encountered in the field. There was not a single target that could be described as having being positioned to solely lazily adhere to the required distance alone. Every one of them had incorporated an element of the terrain and forest for contension. The bunnies were located high and low and at angles. The 80cm faces were positioned at the bottom of slopes at the clearing end of wooded areas or on the other side of a gentle hill completely disorientating your depth perception. The 40cm and 60cm faces provided a generous mixture of both. The standing positions were often a challenge too. Then there was that one particular target, the one they talk about, dread or eagerly anticipate. At the bottom of what can nearly be described as a shear drop of perhaps 25m was an 80cm face, at such an angle one had to step up close to the edge and peer almost directly downwards to detect it. In the end from checking the photos afterwards, it would appear one needed to adopt no more than a 45-degree shooting angle. However, on top of that slope the impression was presented of almost shooting toward the ground.

The full gamut of 24 targets were shot, with no break in between which was fine. We gathered at the club house at about 4pm where there was a BBQ in full swing.

So, there it was that I took the opportunity to meet and chat with some of the key players. And this brings me to next segment of my story and in many ways the most challenging. Because here I’m presented with pondering how best to adequately portray the cheerful, open, welcoming almost family like atmosphere reverberating within and around the clubhouse.

Some history of the club first Wicklow Archers began life as two separate clubs: Woodbrook Archery Club, which formed in 2001 in St. Brendan’s college, Bray; and Garden County Archery Club, formed in Wicklow town in 2006. In June 2012, the two clubs combined to become Wicklow Archers.

Wicklow Archers has been the largest Archery Club in Ireland for several years. Their members excel in the organisation and running of local, national and world scale archery events.

The club ordinarily holds Wednesday night indoor, and Sunday outdoor shoots and competitions across a number of venues in Wicklow, all around the Bray/Greystones/Enniskerry area. This includes regular training, field, target, and 3D events across all disciplines of archery. Many archers in the club have also gone on to compete at both national and international level.

Sitting there chatting to people I got to meet Colm Griffin, not only of Wicklow Archers but of his own Glencree Field Archery Club, just down the road and deeper in the valley. Colm is a true story teller, a boat-builder by trade he has this knack of being able to slide effortlessly from one tale to the next. I sat there cradling my cooling coffee and listened, completely enthralled. He offers coaching at his club with a particular focus on field-craft. He has kindly and very firmly insisted we pay a visit and I’m so looking forward to taking him up on his offer.

Colm Griffin, Wicklow Archers & Glencree Field Archery Club, barebow.

There was Padraic Donnelly, Tony Murphy, Shay Fitzsimons, amazing characters passionate in their pursuit radiating such a friendly warmth I felt so much at ease, often not an easy thing for me to achieve.

Padraic Donnelly, Wicklow Archers, longbow. (Note the tee-shirt and watch that space)

Tony Murphy, Wicklow Archers, Recurve.

Shay Fitzsimmons, Wicklow Archers, barebow.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Luke Power and Grace Donnelly (Paraics’ daughter) of Wicklow Archery. They’re engaged to be married. Sharing a passion for archery and coaching they quickly came to the realization of the support vacuum encountered by so many beginners particularly in the area of equipment. An all too familiar and increasingly regular discussion then ensued on mismatched arrows and strings, their quality and the impact this was having on potential competitors. This is where the conversation took a turn and became quite interesting. Rather than remain in the grumbling back-ground shadows, Luke and Grace are endeavoring to rectify this and the more I chatted the more I admired them. Luke is venturing into area of wooden arrow making and not just solely the fletching and pointing and off-you-go bit. This is a ground-up project where arrow shafts are brought in and spine tested, tuned, pointed to the correct FoC and fletched and not just stacked there but to suit the needs of a specific archer who may have approached them. They have their day jobs of course, and I could detect the nervousness and perhaps a bit of uncertainty about what they were embarking upon. However, for me they represent a large part of what archery should be about. They noticed a problem that archers were having and they’re setting about helping them, teaching themselves along the way, and that strikes a personal chord for me for a number of reasons, which I may expand on some other day. Then Grace had to bring up strings and how she hoped to move into that area too for the same reasons, and sure off we went again going on about continuous loops and Flemish twists, strand counts, serving padding, yada, yada, yada! I do hope they contact me in the future if they think I can be of any assistance. Their little outfit is called ‘Archery Workshop’ because…..that’s what it is. The very best of luck for the future Luke and Grace.

Luke Power and Grace Donnelly

That evening we pitched our tents nearby on the edge of the course and kicked back, relaxing in the dusky haze on the northern slope of the valley, the Sugarloaf overlooking us from the other, Marion as ever hard at work until late in a nearby poly-tunnel. The deer came out to wander amongst the back-stops, the cans cracked (except for me, don’t drink, long story) and we pondered the tones and lyrics of The Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones as they drifted across the air, competing with the evening birdsong chorus. In the declining light, in the open, during the pauses, subtle sobering reflections can creep in on the evening contemplative wanderings of one. They can touch like a pin or press like a weight depending on a direction of thought and the effort then is to try and acknowledge their presence and meaning without succumbing to their imposition.

L-R Kevin Heaney, Ballyvalley Archers, longbow. Joff MacPherson, Wicklow Archers, instinctive. Mark Young, Lough Cuan Bowmen, instinctive. One of these guys snores!

The following morning it was the exact same format. The burca was set up, the coffee and tea started flowing and the notice for the fresh groups was attached to the club house door. I would be shooting this time with Brendon Craig of Wicklow Archers, barebow and Mark Cunningham, Wicklow Archers, Recurve. Again, we gathered at the range entrance, briefing, safety-talk and lead in. I had taken the time to study a bit more the tolerances of the distances for the differing target faces and the coloured pegs. Brendon very kindly gave me a spare laminated distance card. At the end of the second round I was up 19 points on the previous day and I was most happy with that. The difference made from an understanding of and a bit of thought on the distances while at the set position was incredible and I’m itching to get back here and put that further to the test.

That afternoon we gathered for the medal presentations. Someone had made a dash for ice-cream and that went down very well. Tom presented the medals on the various classes and divisions for Recurve, Compound, Barebow, Instinctive and Longbow. It’s interesting in that I think nearly a third of participants were of the Instinctive and Longbow classes, so perhaps think about that a little bit. Everyone received a commemorative pin too. I encourage readers to go to the Wicklow Archers facebook page for a perusal of the photos. There are some fantastic shots there courtesy of Gerry Edwards.

Particular credit is due to Tom Fox for overseeing a successful event. It’s no small feat carrying the final burden in bringing something like this to fruition and that there was such a communal effort from the club in the preparation is testimony to his leadership. It was my pleasure to help repay the debt in some small way in the privilege of taking part.

Tom Fox, Wicklow Archers, Club President.

If you want to get more information on Wicklow Archers then you’ll find them on Facebook where Jane Ward the club PRO, and a longbow shooter, does incredible work in keeping everyone up to speed on works, events, competitions and anything at all relevant and still finding time to shoot.

Jane Ward, Wicklow Archers, PRO. Longbow

So, thank-you Wicklow Archers for such a wonderful experience. it’s clubs like yours that help maintain for me anyway my faith in the activity and in people too. Well done.

One last thing, I have an e-mail address now, So, folks, feel free to send in photos, anecdotes, corrections, updates and event details. If it’s relevant to you, it’s relevant to us. If you want any of the TIFAM team to cover a competition or do a piece on your club or write about anything of interest to our readers, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Many, many thanks…

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