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What a great experience!

Brian Dean writes about attending the IBO Traditional World Championships in the USA during July.

>> The author (on the left) with three of his fellow archers at the IBO Championships.

It started with a click on the IBO website. I was in the throes of planning a work trip to Canada and the USA, when I saw the dates – 15 to 17 July 2011: IBO Traditional World Championships to be held in Nashville. I couldn't believe my eyes. All I needed to do was switch the Canadian and American dates and I'd be able to go! My lovely wife and travel companion didn't put up a fight as she understands my passion for traditional archery. In fact, she made it quite clear that I'd be a fool to miss out on the opportunity.

After a few e-mails and flight, car and hotel bookings, we were all set to leave the fair shores of South Africa.

<< The author with "one of the few X's" he shot at the competition.

I have heard a few horror stories of interrogated archers and bows nearly confiscated in Amsterdam, so the three- piece recurve was packed securely in a check-in suitcase that could accommodate the arrows as well.

I'm a pastor by calling and the first three weeks flew by as we travelled from churches to conference and to churches again. In the process, unfortunately, I never once got to shoot an arrow till our final week. But I was going for the experience primarily – or so I kept telling myself.

Two days before the competition, I had another ace up my sleeve. I had arranged to visit Rick Welch, former multiple world champion, in Little Rock to give me some archery pointers. We sweated it out for two mornings in 40 degrees Celsius heat, Rick chasing me around with a video camera and later his own bow, followed by detailed scrutiny of my form. Change is difficult, especially when it has to happen two days before a big event. But the advice was invaluable – and will, I hope, bear fruit as new muscle memory is developed.

>> Some course attendees learning to knap flint.

We made our way to Nashville, booked into a bed-and-breakfast and then went straight to the venue. It was a traditional archer's paradise. TradTech and 3 Rivers archery supplies as well Primitive Archer Magazine had stalls, together with a plethora of other suppliers and bowyers. The hosting club has a large area dedicated to the making of bows, arrows and all things related. Over the course of the weekend, we saw renowned bowyers giving tips and demonstrations to anyone interested. There was even a group of flintknappers, demonstrating the art of making stone broadheads and knives.

I signed up for the IBO competition as well as the Hunter's Challenge. The IBO event consists of two 20-target rounds to be shot before the Saturday evening, the top 10 competitors in each category then shooting a final 20-round on the Sunday. The Hunter's Challenge was a 25-target round that could be shot by all classes throughout the three days.

<< Famous bowyer Gary Davis demonstrating how to cut a bow stave freehand.

The courses were challenging, presenting numerous angled and often fairly long shots. The scenery was breathtaking amongst beautiful wooded areas of red oak, maple and hickory trees. Archers from primarily across the USA teamed up in random groups, shooting in a relaxed, yet intentional atmosphere. This mix worked really well, as it does at local ABO shoots. Two scorers and attention to detail make the boundaries very clear, leaving the shooters to enjoy the company, the conversation and the competition.

Unfortunately, my shooting suffered from severe schizophrenia. In the IBO competition I had average rounds, missing a few 3Ds in the process and finally placing 44th in my category. However, the Hunter Challenge went much better and my 14th place out of 92 in my category and an overall position of 33rd out of 275 archers somewhat settled my underlying competitive nature. I found the level of skill – especially amongst the top scorers - quite phenomenal. Those who have shot an IBO/ABO round will understand the level of proficiency required to score an average of 180+ over three rounds – without sights!

>> The author (in the middle) shaking hands with Ken Watkins, IBO President (white shirt) and Mike Stitt, IBO Vice-president (floral shirt).

I had the privilege of meeting with Ken Watkins and Mike Stitt, President & Vice-president of the IBO. Great guys who are very committed to archery. This was the IBO's third World Traditional Archery Championships, gathering over 300 trad-mad guys and girls in one place.

<< One of the shots in the non-championship "hunter" round where one could choose the farther target for bonus points, or the closer one for standard points.

With the competitive rounds behind us, we had the opportunity of wandering around looking at everything that appeals to a traditional toxophilite. Then came the prize-giving ceremony. There were numerous categories, many of which we don't see in South Africa – purely because of numbers. I even managed to 'win' a beautiful leather quiver with black-bear skin lining – for the competitor who had travelled the longest distance to be there.

>> The author with Rick Welch, who has won over 45 World and US Traditional titles.

What a great, and hopefully not once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 9:33 AM



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