All loaded up and ready to go on the Saturday, I just had the simple job of picking up Malc, Boggy Marsh and Alan B on route and Sunday’s fun could begin.
We arrived at the Castle on a glorious Sunday morning to be greeted by twenty or so sheep having a quiet Sunday morning munch; a bit of shepherding to get them under the bridge and into the next field and we were ready to set up. The guys and girls started arriving and with their help the field was soon set up and ready to go for the days shooting. It was great to see so many club members turning out; the usual longbow veterans as well as some other club members including James Fishlock, Al Griffiths, Guy Murray and young James Golding amongst others taking up the challenge and trying the dark side for a bit of a challenge. A real welcome, too, was given to the archers from other clubs who turned up for the shoot; Bill Terry, Ross, Robin and Geoff Chenery amongst them.
A Bristol two was chosen for the day: 6 dozen @ 60 yards, 4 dozen @ 50 yards and 2 dozen @ 40 yards. We were set for a good day's shooting. We all assembled at 10:15am for a quick rundown on how the day was to proceed and to wish everyone good shooting. Sighters were taken at 10:30am and the shooting was underway. I took on the role of field captain for the day, ably assisted by an Acme Thunder, thoughtfully provided by Malc.
The first 6 dozen were shot before lunch. Apart from a few short sharp showers, small sheep invasion (which was repelled in short order by some British stiff upper lip and lots of shouting) and the usual longbow archers banter (some printable but most not), we finished the 6 dozen at 1pm, just in time for lunch.
The 4 dozen at 50 yards commenced at 1:45pm. The drop in distance was met with a relieved ovation from those shooting for the first time and even some of those who’d shot many times before. The 4 dozen was shot in short order and a quick tea break was taken while the shooting line was moved. The two dozen @ 40 yards was even more challenging than the 60 yards, as we all found our longbows a little difficult to shoot at such a short distance. If the French had got to 40 yards at Crecy or Agincourt we may have had another result entirely.
The round finished the scores were collected and given to Jeff to check and verify. Ten minutes later he handed me the bit of paper with the results attached. Jane Clarke was asked to present the prizes which she was only too pleased to do.
The ladies were announced first with Ross the winner with a great score of 513. Sue Vadencourt was second with a very creditable 371 and third was Al Griffiths who scored 218 (much to her surprise); no mean feat for a recurve archer attempting her first longbow shoot.
The gents were next. Geoff Chenery was the winner with 713 (there is some doubt to whether we ask him back again next year or not); I managed to sneak second with 528 - just in front of Malc Keene in third with 510. Jane Clarke presented Geoff with the overall winner's prize: two amazing presentation arrows made by Malc Keene, one to keep for good and the other to return next year as the rolling trophy.
If the shoot had ended there it would have been a great day, but it was to get better. With kind permission of Jane Clarke we had been given a chance to shoot from the north tower of Saltwood Castle down into the moat. A target was set on the ground and off we all filed, through the main gates and up into the castle. We all made it to the top of the tower - no mean feat taking a 7 foot longbow up a 14th century spiral staircase, but well worth it.
I had the privilege of shooting the first 6 arrows. I only managed one hit, which was unfortunate as we had a nearest the gold sweep at a £1 per archer to join. Everyone who wanted to had a go (some with more luck than others) and in the end Kev Golding took the golden prize with three amazing arrows. “ First thing I’ve hit all day” he retorted leading to many remarks from the others too rude or crude to print. Before I left I just had to have a last go off the tower, but this time off the wall itself; wonderful feeling and one I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
We all made our way back to the moat to check out our shooting and surprisingly we were all really close to the target and no one was disgraced.
I would just like to say a great big thanks to all those who turned up and helped, shot or just got in the way, with a special mention to Malc Keene for those wonderful presentation arrows. Oh! and the Acme Thunderer and also all those who put their pride aside and just had a good day's longbow shooting.
Let’s do it all again next year.