Richard Powell -
In 2007, whilst watching my son being taught how to shoot at Devizes Bowmen, I noticed a club longbow propped up against the fence. I asked, tried it and that was it. A week later, in possession of a secondhand 64# longbow, I was back, keen to try it out.....only I could hardly draw it. After a few weeks struggling I noticed improvements. Alongside a good friend Mark Rudd, I trained regularly and entered a few competitions. My competitive nature came to the fore so I wanted to do this well. With tips, advice & encouragement on the longbow shooting line, things quickly improved. Our club chairman suggested I enter "Dunster". Somehow, I won the regional championships, the first of 6 consecutive years. Along with numerous wins at the UK Masters, National Indoor Championships, GNAM & British Target Championships, I managed to set a good number of National records during those six years. A friend (Dean Hirst) and I managed to get AGB to accept that Longbow archers should be able to have their own National rankings, which meant we also got shoot Head 2 Heads, just as other bowstyles. I also established the score levels required to claim English Cross awards for English Longbow archers wishing to shoot a 1440 (FITA as it was then).
I'd dreamed of wearing a GB shirt, but of course this wasn't possible shooting Target archery with a Longbow. Someone recommended a new challenge - Field Archery, where it may be possible to represent England. After a real struggle for the first year, I represented England for the first time at the All British & Open Field Archery Championships in N. Ireland. England won & I won the Longbow class. I went on to repeat this success in the following years. Whilst doing this I qualified for the World Archery European 3D Championships in Estonia 2014. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend. The following year I also qualified 1st for the GB team travelling to Italy for the World Championships. My Gary Evans longbow from Wales Archery finally gave up after many years continual shooting, so I tried out a flatbow. 4 weeks later I competed in Italy with it. What an honour. I've since attended other World & European Championships, shooting the American Flatbow. The class of competition at that level is utterly incredible! Due to moving north, I stepped out of competitive archery for 3 years. Then in 2021 I picked up the bow once more, winning the British 3d champs and the English 3d chaps, qualifying again for international duties. However, due to uncertainties around Covid 19 & continually increasing costs, with sadness I declined my invitation.
Instead, I entered a few Clout Archery competitions, as the quality of longbow competition is very high and I was missing the comradery of the longbow shooting line - being a longbow archer, I couldn't possibly spell it "camaraderie".
I have achieved almost everything I can with a longbow and American Flatbow in this country. GMB for many years, National, regional and county champs indoor & out, Target & Field, many National records and I believe the only longbow archer to claim all four Purple achievement awards. In 2022 I hope to buy a new Gary Evans longbow from Wales Archery and compete at Clout archery. Just maybe, there's a few records out there and I've never won the National Clout Championships or achieved GMB as a longbow Clout archer.....
Above any achievements, the thing I hold dearest is the friendships made in a sport where we treat each other with courtesy & respect.
I'm deeply saddened each time I learn of a dear friend lost (Terry Ives) but I smile inside when I meet those special friends at the start of a day's competition, perhaps for the first or only occasion that year. That's why I shoot, not for the medals.
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