Event report

The GNAS open head-to-heads, now in their fourth year, again proved extremely popular. Saturday's individual head-to-head was full more than a week before the closing date and at one point had a waiting list of around 30! Even Sunday's team head-to-head, which has always been less well attended — perhaps because the team matches don't count towards the National Rankings (although the ranking round does) — was just a couple of places short of being full.

We were able to offer about half of the waiting archers places as entrants withdrew from the event(s) during the last couple of weeks. With a dozen more entrants not turning up on the day, we could in fact have squeezed most of the rest in … had we but known in advance. (Hint, hint!)

For the second year, men shooting compound bows outnumbered those shooting recurve bows — both by entry and on the day — though the number of women with recurve bows was about twice that for compound.

Individual head-to-head

The weather during GNAM had been inclement at times, but cleared for a balmy Friday afternoon and evening. This proved to be the calm before the storm, however, as Saturday morning unleashed heavy rain and strong blustery wind. Despite the challenging conditions depressing scores across the board, eight archers claimed FITA Target Awards. Thankfully, the weather began gradually to ease off during the afternoon.

The individual head-to-head matches ran smoothly, with the eventual winners being: Men / Recurve: Mark Spruce (Wolverhampton CoA), beating Tim Hazell (Llantarnam AC) in the final on a single-arrow shoot-off; Women / Recurve: Helen Palmer (Welbeck A), beating fellow Olympian Naomi Folkard (Dunlop AC) in the final; Men / Compound: Jonathan Mynott (Redditch CoA); Women / Compound: Emma Parker (Chorley B).

In addition, Tom Firth (Wealdstone AC) claimed a European (Masters Men / Recurve) record for his 12-arrow match score of 106.

Team head-to-head

Sunday's team event followed the same pattern of a ranking round in the morning followed by head-to-head matches in the afternoon. Although variable and far from perfect, the weather was much kinder than Saturday's; this was reflected in the scores, with a further sixteen FITA Target Award claims.

Olympic round teams comprise three archers. Normally there would be four categories, but to deepen the match-play schedule at this event there were just two divisions: archers shooting recurve bows, and archers shooting compound bows. (Within each division, all archers competed together regardless of age or gender.) So that everyone would be able to shoot in the team head-to-head element, we also extended the match schedule (rather than "cutting" to 16 teams, as should strictly be the case), with the highest-ranked teams receiving a bye through the resulting 1/16 Elimination round.

To create as level a playing field as possible for the competition — and to make the team matches closer and more exciting — the organizing committee allocated archers to teams of roughly similar combined standard (based on their track record / anticipated 70m performance).

Last-minute team re-assignments

This does mean, however, that no-shows, last-minute withdrawals and retirements pose a particular logistical challenge. This year was no exception, sadly, as for various reasons six of the compound teams found themselves short of a team member. We re-assigned the available archers as best we could, forming four new teams just in time for them to compete in the afternoon's Olympic round head-to-head.

The eventual winners in the compound division were team E – Echo [Chris Bedford (Brixham A) / Mike Bridges (Cleve A) / Stephen Dixon (Savile B)], who came from behind to beat team L – Lima [Barry Collinson (B of Pendle & Samlesbury) / Sheila Harris (Redhill A) / Richard Wilkins (Deben AC)] by 234 points to 232 in the closely-fought final.

Olympic and Paralympic recurve teams

Team GB members Naomi Folkard, Helen Palmer and Alison Williamson and GB Paralympic Team members Anita Chapman, Maggie ParkerBoth individual and team head-to-heads again. and Kathy Smith had asked whether it might be possible for them to shoot together as part of their preparation for the team events at the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Given the high profile and importance of these events, the organizing committee were keen to support them in this way. At the same time, we were concerned not to unbalance the competition unduly as a result. (Indeed, the prospect of an 'unbeatable' so-called "Dream Team" was the very reason that we decided to allocate archers to teams at these team head-to-head competitions, so as not to discourage any potential entrants.)

In the case of team P – Paralympics 2004 [Anita Chapman (Harvester A) / Kathy Smith (WAMDSAD) / Margaret Parker (Sherwood A)], their combined standard was close enough to that anticipated for recurve teams — slightly weaker, if anything — that we foresaw no problems including them as a team. On the day, team P – Paralympics 2004 were seeded 17th of the 18 recurve teams.

In the 1/16 Eliminations, they shot against 16th seeds team L – Lima [Jane Burnham (B of Burleigh) / Hilda Gibson (Club AZ A) / James Folkard (Dunlop AC)]. After a close-fought match, team L – Lima won narrowly by 186 to 183.

Handicapping the "Dream Team"

It was clear, on the other hand, that team O – Olympics 2004 [Naomi Folkard (Dunlop AC) / Helen Palmer (Welbeck A) / Alison Williamson (Long Mynd A)] would be considerably stronger than the 'average' recurve team. (Indeed, on the day they proved stronger than the best three other recurve archers!) After examining various alternatives, we eventually decided to handicap them down to the level of the best of the organizer-allocated teams.

On the day, this meant awarding their opponents 18 points per match (fed in as six points per end so that both teams and onlookers would have a fair sense of the match situation). Recognizing that this might put our Olympic archers in the impossible position that even a perfect performance would prove insufficient if their opponents managed to score highly enough, we offered them the opportunity / incentive to reduce their handicap through a bonus point for each X they scored (up to a maximum of the 18 they were being handicapped, of course).

As can be seen from the match results below, these adjustments made team O – Olympics 2004's head-to-head matches far more competitive — one match was tied, and the margin of another was just a single point. (Along the way, three of their four opponents outscored them on at least one end.)

As top seed, team O – Olympics 2004 received a bye through the 1/16 Eliminations. In the 1/8 Eliminations, they met team L – Lima (who had knocked out team P – Paralympics 2004). James Folkard of team L – Lima tried arguing that team O – Olympics 2004 should be handicapped by 18 points per end, rather than per match, but his sister and her team mates weren't feeling quite that generous! In the end James' plea was to some extent vindicated, with team O – Olympics 2004 winning comfortably despite the aforementioned handicapping: 230 + 1X → 231 to 177 + 18 → 195.

Team O – Olympics 2004's next opponents were team C – Charlie [John Dodge (B of Bruntwood) / Ursula Hawke (Bournemouth AC) / Paul Limb (Assheton B)]. 9th seeded team C – Charlie surprised team O – Olympics 2004 with a great first end of 80 + 6 → 86 for a lead of eighteen points! Team O – Olympics 2004 then fought back with two strong ends to tie the match at 221 + 0X → 221 vs 203 + 18 → 221. The resulting shoot-off (one arrow per team member, all three to be shot in one minute) was also close, with team O – Olympics 2004 scraping through with 26 points to team C – Charlie's 25.

Team O – Olympics 2004's Semi Final was another tight match, with them beating team N – November [Becky Green (Durham City B) / Mark Peace (Sellafield B) / David Wilson (B of Chesterfield)] by just a single point after handicapping: 222 + 0X → 222 vs 203 + 18 → 221.

In the Gold Medal Final, team O – Olympics 2004 met 2nd-seeded team Q – Quebec [Paul Hawthorne (GB Paralympics Squad) / Mark Jones (Puriton Gold) / Timothy Pratt (Exmouth A)]. Since it was to the level of team Q – Quebec that team O – Olympics 2004 had been handicapped, this should have been a close match … and so it proved. After the first end, team Q – Quebec led by 77 + 6 → 83 to 77 + 1X → 78. Team O – Olympics 2004 responded by closing the gap to two points with a second end of 79 + 0X → 79 vs 70 + 6 → 76, and then showed their class with a superb final end of 84 + 2X → 86 vs 70 + 6 → 76 to win by eight points, the match result being 240 + 3X → 243 vs 217 + 18 → 235.


The Tournament Secretary and GNAS National Tournaments Committee would like to thank Lilleshall NSC and GNAS Office staff; friends and family (and several competitors) for field / work party activities; the team of judges, ably led as always by Graham Potts; and, last but not least, our Guest of Honour: Sergei Rodionov, GNAS Head Coach.

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