UEA was a part of archery history on 18th October as it hosted the Beiter Hit-Miss tournament, the first of its kind to be held. The usual concept of archery involves the famous white, black, blue, red and yellow colour scheme on a target with increasing point values the closer an arrow lands to the centre. This tournament, however, operated over a much shorter distance (across the width of the main hall in the Sportspark) with the Danage Domino target design – named as such due to consisting of two sets of three yellow circles on a black background, resembling a domino. From our vantage point in the spectator area it proved a challenge even to see the smaller circles, yet the talent on show managed to hit them consistently, in a remarkable demonstration of skill and precision.
For the knockout rounds, where things became exciting, new targets were introduced, which made a satisfying popping noise when pierced. They did, unfortunately, introduce the hazard of arrows bouncing back off the targets, but they certainly added an extra element of entertainment value to a tournament that could be criticised only for its repetitiveness.
What immediately becomes clear after just a couple of minutes in a hall full of archers is that this is a sport for the eagle-eyed, whether you be a spectator or a competitor. It really is a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it discipline, whether you’re looking at the bow or the target. Trying to follow an arrow would give you serious-whiplash.
It’d be easy to have the perception of archery as a quaint sport, played by those whose interests are geared more towards Sylvan elves than sports. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This is not a discipline to be taken lightly. The hall was positively suffused with expensive-looking, top-range carbon fibre bows, and sponsorships aplenty. It is honestly frightening to see the speed at which these arrows fly from the bowstring, and you would certainly not want to get on the wrong side of someone who can hit a 20-mm diameter target from 30 paces.
For such a hotly contested event, it was one of the most welcoming atmospheres we’ve had the pleasure to witness. Most of the participants were on first-name terms with their direct competitors, and would even exchange a few words with their opposite number whilst their partners loosed their shafts. Even when a member didn’t get the highest of scores for their pair, their other half would almost always be ready and waiting with a hi-five and a smile. It is a rare pleasure to be in a hall full of people who love what they are doing, are supremely knowledgeable of their discipline, and have in spades the skill to back up that knowledge.
In a tournament constituted by a frankly bewildering array of winners/losers/anything in between, it was hard not to latch onto one team and follow them throughout. Stumbling upon what were certainly two of the more talented and motivated people we’ve met was the biggest pleasure of the day. The affable duo were Alyssia Tromans-Ansell from Staffordshire on the recurve bow and David Taylor on the compound from Lichfield. The pair, known by their team name Funtastic Two, were one round from reaching the quarter-finals, putting up a valiant final display. They had to contend with getting to that stage via a coin toss, the tournament’s recourse after a repeat sudden death, which David admitted was “a bit strange”.
Tromans-Ansell’s pathway to archery was a unique one to say the least. After having had an anaphylactic reaction during a gymnastics session, she had to find a new sport: one that wouldn’t “wreck all [her] joints”. Taylor’s avenue to the sport was through an archery event at primary school, and he had “wanted to do it” ever since. Concrete certainly wasn’t able to tell that David had only made the switch from recurve to compound bow a mere three years ago.
Both of the components of Funtastic Two had unsurprisingly impressive plans for the future. Taylor and Tromans-Ansell both intend to try out for Team GB, something that Tromans-Ansell had tried last year. The pair also had their sights set on the nationals this year too, and Tromans-Ansell, not wishing to limit herself, wants to participate in “the indoor and the outdoor.” She “might do the masters again – I want to win that if I do”, and win the youth festival a second time. And of course, she wants to “come back here next year and win!”
In the end the tournament was won by team Napoleon Dynawhite – presumably an allusion to the melanin levels of both members – who rarely put a shaft out of place. All in all, the first Beiter Hit-Miss Tournament was a rousing success – a “hit” if you will – and bows and arrows are an excellent way to spend the day.