The UK and Ireland Field Archery Championships (UKIFAC) is an annual two-day completion, usually held on the first weekend of July. This year, it was Scotland’s turn to host the event. Inverness Field Archery Club (IFAC), on behalf of the Scottish Field Archery Association (SFAA), opened their shoot grounds, located close to the village of Nairn, to competitors from the five member nations.
From the moment of entering the gate to the grounds, it was apparent IFAC were a very well-organised and well-established club.
Big-ticket items like the permanent catering hut-cum-admin base, practice bosses with dedicated shooting lanes and courses that meandered through beautiful woodland with targets linked by mown grass pathways were testament to the work put into the venue by the club. Small touches, such as benches with padded seating to watch/spot arrows from, bow stands and wonderful hand-made target signs bought finesse to the course.
Shoot administration was ran like a well-oiled machine by a small but efficient group who organized everything from parking through to scorecard issuing – a nice touch was colour-coding scorecards to match course colour – to the returning completed Classification cards at the end of the tournament.
Last, but by no means least, was catering. The team worked for the whole weekend to provide food, drinks and snacks from breakfast time to late afternoon. Everything was meticulously prepared and cooked to perfection and very reasonably priced. Good on-site catering makes life away from home very easy by not having to worry about packing lunches or preparing food.
This year 25 members of IFAF competed at UKIFAC out of a field of 151, 10 of whom shot ‘Pro’. IFAF’s representation was very respectable considering the cost-time-distance involved coupled with the fact that a lot of those who normally attend had been at EBHC three weeks prior.
As usual, day one of the Championship started with the Field round. The Field round, shot on the white face, has longer distances on average but has more static shots, with all four arrows usually being shot from a single peg.
Saturday was fabulous in terms of weather; bright sun and gorgeous blue skies. Temperatures, surpassing 25 degrees in the afternoon, proved perfect shooting weather and appeared to keep the midges at bay – thankfully! Also greatly appreciated was the SFAA’s provision of free water.
Sunday saw a slight dip in temperatures – but not spirits – for the Hunter round. The Hunter round, shot on a black face has slightly shorter distances on average due to the majority of shots being walk-ups or fan shots (one distance shot from four separate pegs).
What you gain on a Field round by being able to maintain a shot (or adjust to get it right) you may loose on a Hunter by having to reevaluate your shot on each peg. For many, the Hunter round is the more difficult of the two rounds to master.
The second day also saw archers go head-to-head in target groups of the same style, versus mixed-style groups on day one. Head-to-head shooting can bring on its own mental challenge in terms of ‘points watching’ as you compare your performance to that of your nearest rivals.
As the competition drew to a close the rain came. Everyone huddled-in under one of several marquees and enjoyed a well-earned rest whilst the results were calculated.
The camaraderie between those in attendance over the weekend was wonderful to see and experience. It did not apply to just those within their national group but extended across all nations. Sometimes, attending a tournament like this is the only opportunity people have to meet and reconnect with each other.
When it was time for the results to be announced everyone gathered around podium area. Every champion archer, medalist and class medalist received a round of applause from the crowd for their achievements. There was genuine good will to all those who had performed well.
IFAC were the perfect hosts and did a fine job hosting UKIFAC. The club have set the bar high for Championships to come. If ever you are in the area take the opportunity to contact IFAC and ask to shoot their grounds; you will not be disappointed by their courses or the welcome you receive!
The results table shows how well IFAF did considering ‘spots’ aren’t shot very often domestically!
The Team Results also show IFAF did reasonably well considering there were no archers in attendance shooting the Bowhunter Unlimited or Freestyle (Recurve/Compound) styles.
As per the UKIFAC Agreement, where there is no one available to shoot a particular style an archer can be moved up to a higher class (but not down).
There is also a Longbow/Historical bow category within the team. This year, to make the teams equal, because one nation did not have anyone shooting that style, the category was dropped from the team make-up.
In 2019, it will be the turn of the Welsh Field Archery Association (WFAA) to host UKIFAC. Having the Championship in Wales is a boon for us; travelling is easier with just a single ferry crossing.
Wales will provide a great challenge as the terrain adds an extra dimension to the competition.
In preparation for Wales next year, and Ireland in 2020 when it is IFAF’s turn to host UKIFAC, get practicing! As noted previously, if we can do as well as we do with little to no practice just think how strong we would be with a bit of work put in!