Tomorrow, weather permitting, I will be attempting to have a go at archery. The Olympic archery discipline is contested by shooting at targets 70 metres away. As so often, I’m going to turn to Dave Wallechinsky’s Complete Book of the Olympics to set the scene:
Archery targets are four feet in diameter. The bullseye is 4.8 inches across. This is the equivalent of shooting across three tennis courts laid end to end and hitting a grapefruit.
I think we all know from experience how tough that can be. Only this morning my grapefruit had made it almost to the end of the garden before I managed to get a shot off.
Archery made its first Olympic appearance at the games of 1900, but after the 1920 games it was dropped as an Olympic sport for want of a uniform set of international rules; presumably the French turned up having prepared to shoot grapefruits, while the Canadians were adamant they had been told to practice shooting at bananas. The French-Canadians arrived with a quiver full of arrows, a fruit salad, and their newly appointed national coach, Carmen Miranda.
Fifty-two years later, the archers of the world had settled on a set of rules (and a type of fruit) and the sport made a comeback in 1972 at the Munich Olympics.
Archery is one of the events at which I will cheat ever so slightly. It accounts for two of the 136 events I could have a go at – the individual and the team contest – however, as the team event is merely a replication of the individual event, I’m only going to do the latter.
I’m also going to cheat in the same way I did when it came to shooting clay pigeons (or were they kumquats?); that is to say, I am not going to shoot quite as many times as the athletes at the Olympics do. To win an Olympic gold, an archer would have to first shoot 72 arrows in a qualifying round and then win 6 matches of 18 arrows each.
Assuming there was no need for any playoff arrows to be shot in the event of a tied match, that’s a minimum of 180 arrows, and to my mind, that means just one thing. I'm not going to waste everyone's time by reconfirming how bad I am at archery 180 times.
My hosts tomorrow are the Windrush Bowmen, who shoot at Witney Rugby Club. If you’re in the area, I’d suggest you run away as fast as you can just in case I don’t quite get the hang of it from the start.
This will be my first event since the fencing in November. The lay off has been largely due to bone idleness, but I’ve also been somewhat hampered by my knee injury. I promised an update on that in my last entry, but to be honest there isn’t much new. My knee still hurts if I try to do much with it, but it gets a little better every time I try. I hope and suspect tomorrow’s antics won’t put too much strain on it.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Posted by John McClure at 9:51 pm