Australian field archers vie for spot at World Championships

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuggeranong, Canberra — The second day of the Australian National Archery Championships was underway today at the Tuggeranong Archery Club in Canberra, with the field shooting competition being one of the highlights, as Australians in several bow classes were attempting to qualify for the World Archery Field Championships in August.

Alice Ingley and Odette Snazelle at the Championships
Image: LauraHale.

Competitors need to meet a minimum score and finish in the top three in their class to earn a nomination from Archery Australia to go on to World Championship. The long bow class archers were competing for national honors because they are not eligible to participate at World Championships.

Long bow archer Dakota Smith
Image: LauraHale.

Twenty-four targets were used for the competition with enough archers in groups of three to four to cover almost all of them at any one time.

Eliza Banard, Trudy Scott, Leanne Strahan from Victoria and Frances Atkins from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) were some of the day's female competitors looking to qualify for the World Championships. Victorian Cliff Sharkey, and Canberran Mick Turner were amongst the male competitors, shooting with long or bare bows. Other male competitors included Bruce Lang, Joe Vardon and Rodney Cosolloe.

Cliff Sharkey
Image: LauraHale.

Mickey Fisher was a Canberra archer who smashed a national record on the first day of the competition.

Kirsten Filmer and her husband were one of several pairs of husband and wife competitors hoping to jointly gain selection to the World Championships. Archery Australia board members were also amongst the competitors today, including Jim Larven, the CEO of Archery Australia. While not eligible for the World Championships, he competed because he loves participating in the sport.

Strahan is a Victorian competitor on the state team. Unlike the potential female Olympic competitors in the target event, she works full time and can drive. She does not have a rigorous training regime, believing the route to success in archery is to shoot as often as you possibly can.

Field archery is not an Olympic archery event; only target recurve is. Recurve bows are used in field archery competitions, alongside long bows and compound bows, and bows with sites and bows without sights. In field archery, the bow type is important beyond just competition class; it also dictates the distance the shooter stands from the target. The archers with recurve and compound bows who were shooting with long bow shooters would shoot first as they had a greater distance to the target because their bows had greater accuracy from distance.

Kirsten Filmer
Image: LauraHale.

Archery fights to stay on the Olympic programme because of low spectator numbers and one of the smaller participation bases. After almost every Games, there are discussions about dropping the sport. As a result, there have been a number of changes designed to make the sport more spectator and camera friendly. Archery organisrs have narrowed the field to have only two lanes to allow spectators to be as close to the action as possible. They have also adjusted the distances for shooting. Archery improved their announcing at the Games to make the sport more accessible to a broader audience. They also reduced the number of eligible teams from sixteen to twelve in order to speed up the play.

A pair of Canberran archers prepare to shoot
Image: LauraHale.

In conversations with Stuart Atkins, the event's field manager, Wikinews learned there are few Paralympic archers in Australia, with none competing at the National Championships. Australian disability archers tend to do well in national competitions against able bodied competitors. Australia also has a few blind archers, who shoot with the assistance of a target that makes a sound to allow for targeting, and a sighted guide to retrieve arrows and score them.

Several archers were asked why they were involved with archery instead of shooting. Most said they preferred the physical nature of archery. They also said some archers did both sports, with a preference towards pistol shooting in shooting events. Legal issues with guns in Australia have pushed some sport shooters out of the sport and into archery. Archery has another advantage over shooting sport in Australia in that archery clubs can be located in a city center, while shooting ranges need to be outside city limits. Archers are hesitant to discuss this issue too much though, as they fear the government who have tried before will try to license bow owning.

The funding to host the National Archery Championships is largely shared by the club hosting the competition, as is the case with Canberra who received no funding from the local government for the event. In the case of the Australian Capital Territory though, the territory government has supported the building of archery related facilities including their current stadium purpose built as a 2000 Summer Games training facility. The government is also paying the majority of the AUD$2 million for a multisport facility in Tuggeranong.

The National Archery Championships will continue until Friday evening at the Tuggeranong Archery Club.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.