National County Team Championship 2014

Chris Horan [Castle Moat & Folkestone Bowmen].
The Kent compound team for the National County Team Championships. Michelle Sword.

The weekend of 28 & 29 June saw the second National County Team Championships take place, once again hosted by Lilleshall National Sports and Conferencing Centre, Shropshire.

Kent Archery Association were represented at this event in the Gents Compound division. The three archers comprising the team were team captain Chris Horan (Castle Moat and Folkestone Bowmen), Mike Kells (Swan Archers) and Steve Batey (Ashford Archers). Last year at the inaugural Championships this same team delivered a strong performance in finishing 4th out of 18 teams.

Due to the popularity and the success of the previous year’s event the 2014 championships saw an increased field in both the number and the talent of participants. The gents’ compound division rose to a total of 21 competing teams and it was noticeable that several teams were stronger than in 2013 with an increase in the number of international archers representing their county.

The format of the Championships consisted of two days of competition:

  • day one consisted of a 72 arrow ranking round, followed by a team head-to-head elimination match play event. For the compound teams, these events were competed at a distance of 50m, on a target that was 80cm in diameter, with scoring zones from 10 points down to 5 points.
  • day two would see competitors complete a WA 1440 round (36 arrows at each of 90m, 70m, 50m and 30m for men).

Points were awarded for each event based upon the teams’ final positions, with one point awarded for a first place, two points for a second, continuing down the entire list of teams. The number of points accumulated by each team would be totalled at the end of the tournament, the team with the overall lowest total winning the Championships.

Day 1

The first day’s competition for Kent’s compound team started with the 72 arrow WA 50m ranking round. The weather provided heavy rain to start the day, with this clearing as the morning progressed.

Before the start of the round, competitors were provided with a 45 minute practice session. This proved eventful for Mike Kells, as during this session he had to endure two equipment failures. However, these were resolved before the competition commenced and Mike managed to put these issues firmly behind him to post an excellent score of 694. To put this into context, this was a score only 26 points away from the maximum total of 720, a feat made even more impressive when you acknowledge that the ten scoring zone is only 8cm in diameter, at a distance of 50m.

This was a personal best for Mike, and a score which enabled him to top the individual rankings for the WA 50m round.

Strong performances from Chris and Steve, with 660 and 653 respectively, enabled Kent to secure 4th place as a team for this event.

The head to head elimination rounds followed the identical format to the events held at International and Olympic archery events. Each team was required to shoot ends of six arrows in 120 seconds - each team member would shoot two arrows, with only one team member being allowed on the shooting line at a time. The competitor is also only allowed to fully remove their arrow from their quiver once they are on the shooting line.

Each match consisted of four ends, 24 arrows in total. For the compound teams, the team with the highest cumulative total score wins the match. This therefore created a high pressure environment where successful performance required strong technique, good teamwork, calmness under pressure and important time management, as an average of only 20 seconds allocated for each arrow to be shot.

Kent’s 4th place seeding from the ranking round meant they had a bye in the 1/16 elimination round, before facing 13th seed Staffordshire in the 1/8 round. Despite a nervous start to the match by both teams, Kent grew in strength as the match progressed, with a highlight being a total scored of 59 out of 60 points in the third end. This lead to a comfortable victory for Kent, winning the match 218 to 209 points. Particularly impressive in the Kent trio was Steve Batey who, being the ‘anchor’ third person in the team, was required to shoot the last arrow with sometimes only 15 seconds remaining on the clock. He dealt with this pressure excellently to bring home the match victory for Kent.

The victory against Staffordshire set up a quarter final match against 5th seed Durham and Northumberland. This was a rematch of the 2013 quarterfinals, with Durham and Northumberland looking to seek revenge for the defeat Kent had inflicted upon them 12 months earlier.

The match started with both teams performing to a high level. Kent managed to pull in to a marginal early lead as the match progressed. However, Mike was unfortunate to sustain a further equipment failure and with two arrows dropping low on the target, the match swung dramatically in favour of Durham and Northumberland. A strong recovery in the final end by the Kent team saw the final score as 217 – 217. Match tied. The result would be decided by a shoot off.

The format of the shoot off was simple - one arrow per competitor, 60 seconds allowed per team. Drama struck for the Kent team almost immediately, as Chris Horan was shown a yellow card by the Judge. He was deemed to have removed his arrow from his quiver, before stepping onto the shooting line. This required him to step off the line and begin the process again, having the unavoidable effect of placing a time penalty on the team. Kent’s allocated 60 seconds was now down to 48 seconds.

The Kent team remained strong and dealt with situation calmly, recording scores of 10,9,9 for the shoot off. However, this was not enough to progress, as Durham and Northumberland posted 10,10,9 to win by a single point, 29 to 28.

This placed Kent 5th overall for the head to head elimination event.

Day 2

Day two saw the competitors complete a WA 1440 round. The weather conditions were particularly challenging in the morning, with archers having to deal with a strong breeze that constantly changed direction.

Kent finished 9th in this event, with the following scores; Mike Kells- 1331, Chris Horan- 1300 and Steve Batey- 1283.

When the final Championship results were posted, Kent’s compound team finished 5th overall.

This was an excellent result, which placed alongside the 4th place finish in 2013 confirms that Kent’s compound team are a competitive force at a National level.