Match 1 of the 2014 Albion League campaign started at Bowmen of Ardleigh’s field, shared somewhat disconcertingly with a bunch of football teams.
Amid howling winds and under threatening skies, tents were hastily thrown up and lashed down – everyone convinced we would be imminently dumped upon as the Heavens opened…
The start of the shoot had been delayed as football matches ran into extra time – the pitches beyond the range had to be cleared…but something more serious had caused some panic (and hilarity): Jim discovered he had left his bow at home…a mad dash to South Woodham Ferrers (1hr 15min round trip) in a borrowed car and he was back and ready to shoot. But only after downing a ginger beer to steady his nerves.
The wind had picked up to very strong, unpredictable gusts as we finally started shooting at 80yds. Archers were buffeted on the line and arrows corkscrewed (or took a crazy path) down range towards the targets: behind which footballers were running – a very worrying sight picture for those not used to shooting towards people.
Concerns for maintaining decent scores were soon abandoned as everyone helped search out lost arrows. It was clear this was a test to endure.
Relief finally came as we completed 80yds, had a quick comfort break and resumed at 60yds. Only now the temperature had dropped and the wind had increased – rolling over the hedge on our left and pushing arrows way off to the right. Mercifully, the rain held off for this stint too – it seemed like only a matter of time, however…
Andy will be washing up for the foreseeable future…
50yds proved no less of a challenge. Despite the closer proximity of the target, arrows (and archers) were still being treated to the full force of the breeze. A beautifully executed and placed shot was easily swiped off course by the next gust. Spirits were high, however: no rain so far and the team had risen to the challenge (Rayleigh were rumoured to be in a comfortable lead). Really, it was a joy to be shooting outdoors after what seemed like an endless indoor season.
The sun itself made an appearance as we completed the shoot…tents and kit dismantled and bundled into cars as the scores were totalled and we were treated to a lovely tea of sandwiches, quiche and cake. We had started at around 12.00pm and it was now close to 6.00 – surely the longest Albion so far?
Our hosts Ardleigh graciously conceded defeat by 300 points. We had won through. Last time we had met they were victorious – this time they ‘repaid the compliment’. We would like to thank them again for their warm welcome and generosity.
Individual scores for this (brutal) opening match as follows:
Ian M: 772
Grant B: 692
Jim (No Bow) Bernard: 648