Mark Rudd -
My first taste of shooting a bow was in 1986 at a game fair in Margam Park, South Wales, when some friends and I paid our pound each and were presented with six arrows to shoot from a beginner’s recurve bow. Despite having to cool down my forearm in a stream after hitting it with the string from a poorly released arrow, I was hooked and we all made arrangements to join Southgate Archery Club on the beautiful Gower Peninsular.
Our coach, Cliff Francombe, developed my recurve technique to a standard where I was able to win some medals at local archery tournaments and progressively push up my personal best scores at varying distances. It must have been about two years later that Cliff turned up to one of our club nights and proudly showed us his new purchase - an amazing piece of equipment with multiple ‘strings’ and a wheel at the end of each limb; it was my first experience of a compound bow. I soon purchased one myself and never looked back to my recurve origins - this was the bow style for me and what I wanted to devote my energy to mastering. I shot my compound in the ‘limited’ style as was the standard practise back then. After a couple of years of great pleasure shooting this way, I graduated from university in Swansea and moved to the north of England. Unfortunately, with the demands of my early career, the result was the bow being safely stored away for when I had more time to dedicate to the sport.
Nineteen years later in 2006 I was at Devizes Bowmen’s shooting field in Wiltshire taking my bow out of its case for the first time since I’d carefully packed it away. The first few shots were very intimidating after all that time, but I knew immediately that my ‘old’ sport was going to become an all-consuming new passion. Technology and technique had come on a long way since my absence from the sport. Many hours of practice were to follow and success in local competitions spurred me on and focused my efforts.
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