28/10/12 – FITA 70 round – score 416 (max 720)
04/11/12 – FITA 70 round – score 363
18/11/12 – FITA 70 round – score 406
Shooting these three rounds, each one 6 dozen arrows at the Olympic distance: 70 metres on a 122cm target face, enables me to call myself an archer, second class, according to GNAS, the UK governing body. The threshold for second class for a recurve archer like me is 340, and for first class is 437, so a couple of the scores were definitely getting close to the next level. (Pleasingly, on the last round I had not a single miss – all 72 arrows hit the target and scored, which given that the last few ends were shot in gathering darkness with numb fingers, must count as a result). The next stage up from first class is Bowman, then Master Bowman, then the rare Grand Master Bowman, of which there are only a handful or two in the country.
I don’t want to be ‘second class’. Who the hell wants to be ‘second class’ at anything? (I could have gone for a third class badge a while ago, but… see above). If I’d had another couple of warm months on the year with daylight, maybe I could have shot for first class this year. But I’ll take it, and add it to the quiver, and be proud of the progress I’ve made. I know it’s part of the journey. As for where that journey is headed… we’ll see.
I realised a while ago that I’m not going to be heading for Rio in 2016, tearing it up for Team GB in the Sambadrome – much as I would love to. That is an immensely difficult and competitive path, and there are people infinitely better already and more dedicated to going down that road. But that’s OK. I’m just glad I found the sport. I know many of my friends regard it as just a slightly esoteric hobby. It’s a martial art, really. At the risk of wandering off… It speaks to something inside you, the part of you that likes to improve and calm and better. That likes to flower. I’ve spent chunks of my life pushing that seed back into the ground. As soon as I tried it, eighteen or so months ago, I knew it should be part of my life. It’s unforgiving, and sometimes horribly frustrating, but you know that on the other side of solving all these puzzles is… you. Only better.