The Speak Trophy 2016
Sunday 11th September saw a team of archers travel up to Wakefield to defend the right to claim Robin Hood’s birthplace. (Nottinghamshire, as opposed to the alternative version of events, which has Robin of Loxley, which is in Yorkshire, actually being born in Yorkshire, possibly even Wakefield.)
Being a Londoner myself, I have to admit to being neutral on this matter, but I was happy to compete on behalf of the club in this merry frivolity that has now become a standing tradition between Sherwood Archers and Wakefield Archers for over one and a half decades. (It also helps that it is free to enter, and there is free food involved afterwards!) And once again, I believe for the third year running, the honours go to us.
Our team comprised myself (MAC), Martyn Smith, daughter Charlotte Smith, and David Salmon, all on Recurves, Susan Stankovic, grand-daughter Ashley Buckland, and Lee Waterfield all on Compounds, and Richard Gentle, George Brown, and Mario Stankovic all on Long Bows. Also joining us for the day, but shooting at shorter distances, were Mario and Susan’s grandson, Reece Buckland shooting longbow, and Alex Hawley in his wheelchair shooting uncontested at Bare Bow.
Before I go on to talk about the “team” results, a special mention of these last two, who both shot outstanding ends against their normal expectations. Reece put it down to no real pressure, as he was only dragged along for the day out, having been entered without his knowledge!
The Wakefield “team” was slightly fewer than ours, but their numbers on the field were boosted by the moral support from numerous other club members, mostly novices and juniors, who were along for their annual club championships. The format of the tournament takes the best two scores from each side for an Albion round (3 dozen each at 80, 60 and 50 yards) for each bow type (male or female), then adds all those scores together to determine the outright winner. In theory therefore the team only needs to consist of two Long Bows, two Recurves, and two Compounds. Wakefield, in their wisdom, only fielded two Compound archers against us. They had three recurves against our four, and I’m not sure how many long bows there were as the demarcation point was blurred, perhaps only two? They were further down the field and the numbers were confused with novices and such shooting along-side Reece. Perhaps when George publishes the results that will become clear.
At the appointed hour I met up with David and we shared a ride up there. The Stankovic / Buckland clan had more than filled one vehicle with Blue the dog also in tow, and of course the Smith family duo were sharing a ride, so it was all quite ecologically sound! Pop-up tents from both the afore mentioned obligingly popped up, and I got out my new dome style gazebo thingy and had it assembled with help from David in fairly short order. Initially the minimum of tent pegs were used…
The weather was bright with a few clouds, and for the initial distance of 80 yards, as hinted above, was not particularly breezy. All that was about to change. As we moved the targets to the 60 yards line, Charlotte announced that she had a problem with her sight. It seems a thread had jammed or stripped, preventing her from dismounting the sight and adjusting it further out for her standard sight marks. The experience of Dad was quickly brought to the fore and an alternative sight mark was suggested with the sight still at the short length. Obviously there were a few arrows required effectively as “sighters” even though there were actually no sighters allowed at the new distance.
The wind quite suddenly picked up and I figure we were right on the edge of a strong weather pattern that kept shifting around us. The tent and gazebo guy lines were quickly deployed. The sun was gorgeous. Definitely single layer weather for most of us, despite the wind, but the sun was also causing some problems, with Ashley and Susan getting reflections in their sight glass that put them off. Ashley noted “When that big dark cloud came over I was banging them in!” but was seeking (and receiving) lots of sympathy from her Grandma, complaining about the reflections. Susan even cobbled together a shade for her site from some other piece of kit, held on with a rubber band.
The wind remained quite strong and persistent, but could not make up its mind which direction it was blowing, changing completely between one set of three arrows and the next! We were very lucky if there was a significant lull when it came to our turn to shoot. It undoubtedly depressed lots of scores that day. David and I both know we could have done better. Although I have no previous record to judge by for an Albion, I know I should be able to better 252 at 60 yards and significantly beat that at 50, but I was struggling. The sheer number of arrows shot also takes its toll, and half way through the 50 yard set I was starting to get cramps in my left arm. – remember I shoot left handed. David, shooting on the other hand, was complaining of similar in his right.
I understand that Charlotte was doing OK at 60 yards, but it seems that when we changed to 50 yards, even though Martyn gave her another starting point for the new sight mark, the equipment failure seemed to be affecting her usual performance. On recent previous experience we were all expecting Charlotte to be filling the team second place spot on recurve, but not this time. Unlucky, Charlotte. We hope the shop will be able to fix your sight for you!
And on the subject of equipment failure, there was a major blow for the Wakefield compound team effort with one of their number having the string come off the cam. We could not see any obvious damage, but that is not the sort of thing that can be put back on in the field. And besides which, it would be too risky to attempt without a full inspection before-hand. So that was their compound team down to just the one entrant. We could have been sticklers for the rules and insisted that we count two scores against our best two, but it would obviously have created a walkover for the totals, so we very graciously agreed that we would only count our best single compound instead, i.e. Lee. So sadly Ashley managing to beat her grandma on this occasion did not get to count – shame.
We handed in our scores at the end and packed away, but instead of the usual hanging around for the results, we all retired to a very convenient local pub where the Wakefield club were treating all participants to a roast dinner. There were two long tables arranged to cater for about 18 to 20 people each, and we filled the back room space exclusively. The number crunching was done while we waited for the meals to be served, but we had to wait until after the meal for the results to be announced. Roast beef was partaken by nearly all except for a few awkward folks (like myself!) and apple pies and custard all round went down well except for a few awkward folks (like myself!). I did not notice anyone else having the same problems as me, but I was getting cramps in both arms from holding the cutlery, so although I was enjoying my roast turkey, I took a little longer than most to eat it. All but two of us had the apple pie and custard. I had apple pie without the custard, and Reece had custard without the apple pie. Reece seemed to wangle double helpings of custard, but I only got a standard helping of pie, – ah!
Then we came to the important part, and although I had more or less figured it out already from asking about the others’ scores, I was still a little surprised to find my own name announced behind Martyn as the second scoring recurve from our team. Our top scorers, Martyn, Lee and Richard were all significantly ahead of the Wakefield efforts. In the case of the recurves, and theoretically for the compounds if they had been able to continue, the relatively poor second scoring places on our team still added up to enough to beat two good scores from Wakefield. Richard, on long bow, was also way ahead, but George’s score added to his was not enough to give us the clean sweep against two very closely matched top scores from Wakefield. So when all five qualifying rounds were added up, Sherwood Archers once again took the trophy home. We all agreed it was a superb day out. Thanks to George for organising our side, and thanks to our hosts, if they get to see a copy of this. I am definitely looking forward to next year’s event, when it is our turn to host it.
P.S. Apologies to George and Richard for mixing up their official club positions in my last posting. – I did say that I’m relatively new to this club, right?