It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this, mainly because I’ve been so busy since I got back but also partly because I wanted to let a little time pass so I could give a more balanced account.
The picture above is of our accommodation for the week, a small collection of holiday gîtes collectively known as La Logerie. There are three gîtes, Rose Cottage, Lavender Cottage and Camellia Cottage. There is enough space to accommodate 23 people, however there were only 12 of us on this occasion. They are owned and run by a lovely couple called Brian and Gill Jones. You can find more information about La Logerie at their website. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the Poitou Charentes region of France, I can’t recommend this place highly enough.
This would be my second trip to the EBHC, the last one being in Austria in 2010. This time out I was a little more prepared and I knew what to expect. I would also be shooting in a different style, moving from bowhunter recurve to Longbow.
With the competition starting on the Monday, our journey to Confolens started on the Friday night. We headed to Folkstone to catch the eurotunnel to France. This was my first trip on the tunnel and I have to say it’s much less hassle than a ferry, not to mention much quicker! I’m not a big fan of ferries personally and I’ll definitely be using the tunnel for any future trips to the continent. From getting on to getting off, the whole trip was about forty minutes.
We arrived in France at about 3:30am. A quick stop to top up the fuel tank and fit the headlight adapters and we were off. The drive to Confolens would take us about seven hours.
During the journey we received information that bow inspection would be open on the Saturday afternoon. It was originally only open in the morning. We decided to take advantage of this and get registered and equipment checked before getting to our accommodation, this meant we would have a free day on the Sunday. After travelling for 7 hours or so with the aircon at a steady 19C, we stepped out of the car in Lessac into 30c heat with 75% humidity, it was a bit of a shock!
Registration complete, we headed of to La Logerie to unpack and chill out for the rest of the day.
Sunday was mainly spent chilling by the pool with a bit of practice thrown in for good measure. Everyone was preparing for the start of the competition on Monday. I however wouldn’t be shooting on Monday, it was my rest day!
Sunday evening was the opening ceremony and as usual we were following zee Germans. The heat made it less than pleasant in the town square of Confolens. Soon after the ceremony was finished we headed off to find something to eat and some cooler air.
On the Monday morning, everyone was heading off to the archery village for the first day of competition. I decided to head down there with Kay to get my bearings and figure out what I needed to do the next day. Once everyone was on their way to the courses I headed back to La Logerie to figure out what to do for the day.
The weather had cooled a little and there were a few rain showers about so my initial plans of spending the day in the pool had to change. People had been talking about a village nearby called Oradour-sur-Glane. It was about an hours drive from where we were stopping and is known as the martyred village. Nazis killed the entire population of the village in 1942 and the village has been left untouched as a memorial since that day. I decided to take my camera and make the trip over there, but that’s a story for another post.
The competition proper started for me on the Tuesday. The first day for me would be a normal animal round, three arrows shooting till you hit. Very similar to NFAS but the scoring is slightly different. It wasn’t a good day for me. From the first five targets I only managed to get 20 points, pretty appalling! Things did pick up, but the damage was already done. At the end of the day, I had scored 382 points. This was only good enough for 51st place and put me halfway down the field, 100 points behind the leaders. The rest of the week was going to be a fight now, the best I could hope for was to get back in the top twenty.
The second day would be another animal round, and I’d now be shooting head to head (grouped with other competitors with the same score). The second day went better than the first day. I started to shoot much better, somewhere close to a normal performance for me. I ended the day with a score of 432, about 50 points in front of the rest of my group and good enough to lift me up to 36th place. Things were looking a little better but there was still a lot of work to do.
The third day was where things got interesting. Up until now, it had been standard animal rounds and the scoring makes it difficult to make up points. This would be a 3D standard round where two arrows are shot and both are scored. This removes some of the luck involved in the animal rounds and puts more emphasis on form as you have to make the shot twice. I had an extremely good round and ended the day with 257 points, this turned out to be the 4th highest score on the day. It was better than I hoped, it lifted me from 36th place up to 19th.
The last day was where it could all change, a one arrow 3d hunting round. I’ve only shot one of these rounds previously and that was in Austria in 2010. Despite the fact I knew what to expect, it still makes me nervous. After my great round on the two arrow I was confident going in to the last day and I wondered how much higher I could get now I was inside the top 20. I knew another good round could lift me up to the top 10. I had a great group on the last day, but unfortunately I think I was trying a little too hard and put too much pressure on myself. I put in a pretty average score of 190 for the day and ended up slipping back a place to 20th.
After some initial disappointment at my performance on the final day, I am actually quite pleased with how I shot during the competition (not including the first day). To finish inside the top twenty in Europe isn’t too shabby. Having played around with the results spreadsheet and removing my nervous performance on the first day, I actually would have finished in tenth place.
I’m looking forward to the World Bow Hunter Championships next year in Hungary. I will do a lot more practice in preparation for this, my only concern will be the heat. The average temperature during the day in France was 26 degrees, it’s expected to be 30-32 degrees in Hungary and I don’t deal well with heat!
I look forward to putting myself up against the best the world has to offer in 2015.