This year saw the return of the European Bow Hunter Championships (EBHC) to the Saalbach-Hinterglemm region of Austria.
The ‘bow hunters’ comprise of four days of shooting over five days of competition in the IFAA 3D animal rounds; two Unmarked Animal (3 arrows) and one each of the 3D Standard (2 arrows) and 3D Hunting (1 arrow).
The team charged with running EBHC 2016 on behalf of ÖBSV, the Austrian field archery association, had a lot to live up to following the events’ huge success in 2010 when it last held in Austria which, at the time, was the largest attended IFAA Bow Hunters with 1100 competitors.
The organizers learnt from and built on the success of 2010. By taking on a business-like approach to this years’ competition they covered everything from event promotion and branding, proactive pre-registration (over 300 pre-registered at WBHC 2015!), website design and social media up to the location for and facilities at the ‘archery village’ and, not least, the courses themselves.
In fact, the only thing not planned for was the level of interest a place at the competition would command! The demand was unprecedented and after having
to initially close-off registration in January, because the courses were full!, the team applied to the IFAA and were granted permission to increase capacity by laying-on two additional courses. The final number competing at EBHC 2016 exceeded 1700 archers; it’s a massive achievement and deserving of much kudos.
All IFAA championships start with an Opening Ceremony beginning with a parade through the local town or village and this year was no exception. Members of each nation turned-out in force, in spite of the down poor which lasted the duration of the parade. It’s clear to see that the wet weather didn’t dampen spirts and may have in fact made certain nations, like Ireland, feel particularly at home… even if the rain was warm rather than cold, like usual!
This year saw 17 archers from IFAF travel to Austria to represent Ireland. For some it was a return to international competition and for others it was their first-time experiencing the spectacle of the bow hunters on and off the range. And, for many, this year the courses were something quite literally above and beyond compare to those shot previously (1500m plus above sea level!). The terrain, with spectacular views and many accessible only via ski lifts, presented a particular thrill in terms of getting to and arriving at base and the challenge of not only making the shot but walking up to, and remaining upright, at the peg!
For all it was a great opportunity to meet, socialise and get to shoot with archers from all over Europe. Friendships made at these events can last a lifetime. It’s a special thing to be able to return to competitions like these and see familiar faces, greet old friends and exchange news and stories from the past year or more and feel as if no time at all has passed by.
Further information, including results and photographs, can be found on the EBHC 2016 website.
Lynn Ellingworth, IFAF PRO (July 2016)
Photos provided by Doc Smith, George Howlin, Mary Nolan, Sharon & Tony Eady and EBHC 2016