WORLD ARCHERY FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS, DUBLIN 2016.

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I’ve done reports on many of the big international field and 3D championships in recent years. Basically they’ve been a compilation of photographs, scores and general information from various sources. For this year’s World Archery Field Championships that hasn’t happened. The reason is that I was a little more intimately involved in this one as it took place on home turf.

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Consequently this is a very personal account and the photos aren’t to the usual standard. Dark woods and bright sunshine don’t help an amateur photographer using his phone as a camera.

 

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A light into bright sunlight shot.

 

My role in this undertaking was as volunteer field crew, a small role. The bulk of the organisation and work took place above my pay grade.  And what a job that was! You can’t really comprehend all that goes into an event of that stature until you’re in the middle of it.

transporting-kit

Transporting electronic equipment for the World Archery team- more prestigious than moving toilets in the dark.

To state the obvious, field courses had to be designed, built, rebuilt, taken down and returned to storage. The field crew consisted of three teams designated, green, white and gold (funny that!). Each team was assigned to a course of the same name.

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Field crew briefing from the Competition Manager.

The team consisted of a Course Designer, an Assistant Course Designer and three Field Crew working under the Competition Manager who oversaw all three courses and everything to do with the running of the competition.

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The first three courses for the Qualification rounds were built in the rain the week before the competition started and by the Day of Official Practice were ready just to put target faces out. The target butts used were from the manufacturer Eleven. They are made of a hard grey foam square with softer, replaceable, yellow cores. They are designed specifically for each type of target face with yellow cores in the appropriate locations.

getting-ready

The target faces were pasted with PVA adhesive onto pre-cut, sized cardboard a few weeks earlier.The pins were nails and washers painted black. They were hard to shove in and harder to pull out. The faces were in no danger of coming off!

The courses were designed from the start to reduce the work load during the event. The Unmarked course required very little work to set up for the marked round. Archers moved around the three courses and never shot the same target twice.

target-23-unmarked

On our course we hosted the compound archers on the first (unmarked distance) day and the recurves on the second (marked distance) day. We then hosted the barebow archers for the first and second elimination rounds.

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Between the first two days all that needed to done was move the red pegs around and put distance stickers on them. This also required repositioning the number plate. The top 12 targets of the 24 target course with a few butts repositioned formed the first Elimination round course. This took place on our course in the ‘Delta Force’ paint ball arena, adding something a little different to the shots.

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Courses designers and work-horses, Mac and Niall.

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Of the remaining 12 targets, 8 formed the second Elimination round course, with four removed to be used in the Individual Semi-Finals which were held on the same day.

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The second course was finalised while the first was being shot and the Semi-Final course, which took place on a section of sloping field, was built which the second course was being shot. The Semi-Final course was shot by all disciplines freeing up personnel to build the courses for the Team competitions.

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Barebow men, semi-finals.

 

My duties consisted of putting out faces in the morning, manning a Water Point (which included assisting archers send their scores by WiFi to HQ as they passed through) during the competition and doing whatever was necessary after the shooting was over to prepare for the next day.

water-point

Despite the strong sunshine there was a strong, gusty, cold wind on day two. It caused difficulties especially on the high, exposed shots.

This varied from removing faces and pegs, transporting dignitaries or supplies. Or even Port-a-loos. One evening was quite windy and we were there well after dark filling and placing sand bags to stop tents blowing away overnight. Starting times varied from 6.50 to 8.00 to 9.00 on the last day. You finished when the work was done, often after dark.

tidying-up

All good things….

At the end of the event all courses had to be dismantled, tents taken down and equipment transported away for storage. Other people were involved in ferrying archers to and from hotels.

The Day of Official Practice was the first day the volunteer field crew were present. After an introductory overview of how the next few days would go we were walked around the course to get to know it as we had to lead out shooting groups the following morning and later in the day replace faces, as needed, while shooting was still going on. The walk out routes were organised in such a fashion that the archers wouldn’t get previews of targets before they had to shoot them. This was particularly important on the first (unmarked) day of shooting.

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The archers muster before lead out in their groups at a numbered peg. A big group for each course.

 

lead-out

And they’re off…

We also needed to know the course for repositioning butts or, later in the event, dismantling the course.

Lunches were provided by the company employed to organise and run the event but it was no harm to bring your own to supplement those as the day was long. We also had access to a caravan which was our base and source of hot water for drinks.

best-field-crew-ever

Big letters and words of few syllables on the cardboard Barry but you never drew us pictures…

At times it was hectic as target faces had to be out early in the morning so the judges could walk the course before shooting started. Then it was quiet as you manned your Water Point before it got busy again in the evening after the shooting was over, repositioning butts and pegs as necessary, so again, the judges could check all was well for the following morning.

judges

A bench of judges…

The judges were brilliant. On our course they came from Australia, Croatia, Germany and one of the Nordic countries for our course. They caused us no hassle and often came up with useful suggestions as to how to do things. We worked with them and they with us. They put in some mileage with the number of times they walked the course. They guided us rather than ruled us, the way it should be.

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Practice field is empty after the Official Practice is over.

practice

A sunny morning in Ireland in late September. What’s wrong with this picture?

Despite being busy at times my role allowed me access to the archers that you couldn’t have gotten without qualifying as an archer for the competition. I got to meet several people I knew through the internet and get autographs from a lot of my favourite competitors. I was able to watch them practising and shooting for real.

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And the prize for the highest eyebrow goes to….

 

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They all impressed with their friendliness. Chantal Porte was a true lady. After asking for her autograph she sought me out and brought me a few nick-knacks as mementos. Needless to say I was very glad when she took away the gold.

The White and Orange courses were a mixture of open field and sloping forestry. The Green course had less terrain for the designers to play with. But they did. Mathias was counting the misses after the first day of shooting and was very pleased with the results. The courses were well received by the judges and archers and we received several comments, by mouth and in the media, that delighted the designers. The target pins for the 60 cm target faces were different to the 80 cm…. scaled to give the same relative size to add to the confusion.

pins

60 cm targets butts were also available in two sizes. One defending champion admitted that most of the time she wasn’t sure which face was which. I think there were very few ‘up’ shots until the finals but while none of the targets were extreme, none were easy. At least as far as I saw because being stuck on one course I never saw the others.

I was watching the forecast carefully in the two weeks leading up to the event. At first it was forecast as a dry week then the remnants of a dying hurricane came into the equation. Luckily that passed by without problem but it may have been responsible for the gusty conditions of the second day of shooting.

rainbow

The rainbow was nearly right… we got a couple of more days out of it….

The night before we were filling sand bags as the site is in a wind alley and there was a risk tents in the Athletes Village may have taken flight.

fog-rising

Rising damp.

Luckily the only rain we had was on the Saturday for the Team competitions. It was heavy and unpleasant for the morning but largely absent for the afternoon.

standing-in-the-rain

Standing in the Team Semi-Finals course with the Team Quarter Finals taking place in the distance.

If we had to have rain one day, that would have been the day for it. I felt sorry for the archers, I was standing out in it doing marshalling duties with a full rain suit on and I was still quite wet by the time it cleared.

The choice of venue proved to be superb. Kilruddery House and its gardens provided a majestic background to the finals of the event and the vast open spaces with varied terrain for the earlier rounds.

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 Killruddery House is one of the most successful EIizabethan-Revival mansions in Ireland.

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Looking down from the top of the rock out-crop.

 

There have been some great locations for the finals over the years but the rocky out crop of Kilruddery is going to rank with the best for a long time. What a location!!

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 World Archery photographer, Dean Alberga, is more usually found on the other end of a camera shot.

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 Digital clock gives the time remaining in seconds.

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When the final arrow was shot, it would be fair to say that there was a sense of huge relief. There had been very few problems and those had been minor…. The ladies Port-a-loos ran out of paper at one stage…the organisers hadn’t arranged for enough tents initially but the army came to the rescue.

In terms of volunteers and field crew, I think we had about 40 in total and some of those even came over from the UK to help out. I could be wrong on that but I do remember a comment that other Championships would have had about 100 more and not have run as smoothly. The Competition Manager was able to stay at HQ and have others do the running, something that doesn’t happen all the time.

The pressure the main men had been under was intense and they were visibly wilted by the time it came to taking everything down while the archers prepared for the Closing banquet. For those heavily involved it had been a long road. Most had donated their annual holidays to the event and would be back at work very soon. The budget for the championship was small, very small, for such an event of such scale and importance. It had to be organised to run on a shoe-string. And it was delivered on that budget. Months and months of meetings and preparation had paid off though.

field-crew-on-podium

It’s all over and the field Crew let rip.

In essence the Championships were mainly run by members associated to one club so they were a cohesive and experienced team. The biggest field competition that was held in Ireland prior to this, was a national level event that was held over three days with two courses. And it was the only one. So the organisers went from that to the World Championships in one leap without major mishap. I asked what was next. Rohan just shrugged. Where do you go once you’ve reached the top?

Some additional pictures:

 

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