- Melbourne, Australia by Rick Stonebraker
I will make this brief as I will knock out a more complete story later. In a nutshell, the first ever FITA World Masters Championship was held in conjunction with the World Masters Games and there wasn't too many problems between the two organizations. The FITA judges blended in quite well and didn't push a lot of tick-tack rules so it went pretty well.
The indoor gymnasium was dimly lit and I didn't bring my contacts so I was basically aiming at the center of the target 'cause I couldn't see the ten-ring. I didn't have an exceptional round but I shot the best 60 arrows that I could. I was behind with six arrows to go before I strung out a 30 and a 29 and edged it out. That accounted for a GOLD medal in the World Masters Games and FITA recognized it as the first ever World Indoor Masters Championship for FITA. So, after coming within one point of winning a World Championship in 1974 in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, I finally won a world title. ( actually three world titles).
The indoor round was held at the Werribee sports complex and comprised of a single round of 60 arrows. The outdoor rounds were held on the grounds of the Werribee estate, which encompasses a 60-room mansion, a spectacular ten-hectare grand garden, 142 Australian species of flora and fauna, a rose garden that displays 5,000 roses to perfection, and an adjoining open range zoo spread out over 200 hectares. One fine archery venue if you asked me! (A hectare is 100 meters by 100 meters)
Initially, the first FITA Target World Championship for the Master division was to be determined on the FITA round but FITA decided to keep in the flavor of the current FITA World Championships and decided to determine the World Championship by a match-play elimination round. I could not have been more pleased as the wind was atrocious on the long distances. The World Masters Games shoots 70-60-50-30 for the 50-59 age group and 60-50-40-30 for the 60-69 age group. As FITA recognizes the masters division as 50 and older, FITA decided to use the 60 meter distance as the common distance for a qualification round. Get this, the wind was so bad, the winning score on the FITA round was 1217 and I had an 1187. For the 60 meter distances, I could only manage a 287. FITA used only the top four scores for the match-play. The reason was a time factor and this was shot at noon and before the other age-group divisions shot their rounds. This is all new so they did well in the inaugural event. Things will go much smoother the next time. This was also "be patient". More like a "adapt, improvise and overcome" type of situation.
Anyway, the top four scores were: 304, 304, 287, 286 and 286. The latter two had a one-arrow shoot-out to get in the shoot-off. and BTW, I managed to nail a 56 on the last end to get the 287. Any less then my best at all times would not have been good enough. It was very frustrating shooting in this kind of wind, very frustrating. Think of the Texas shoot-out only with a cross-wind. Every shot was a mixture of guess-work and skill. I saw a lot of frustration on other archers but not from me, even though I would have much preferred to take them on with better conditions and pure skill. So, a mere two points less and I was out.
In the semi-finals, wind again and I was one point behind with one end to go and I was shooting the guy from Finland who won the gold for the FITA round - and he was using X-10's. I found a hole in the wind and the last three arrows were 29. I won by 2 points and into the finals.
In the finals, I battled the guy I edged indoors. We were tied with one end to go and all I could muster in the wind was a 9, 8, 8. He had 2 nines up there with an arrow to go. He needed a seven to tie and eight to win (this is at 60 meters. He shot a six and I won by a point.
I did two things to allow me to win the gold so pay attention: I won the coin toss so I made him shoot the last arrow as I knew this was his first match-play so he was at a dis-advantage. Also, it was cold but I chose to shoot in a sleeve-less shirt to minimize the possibility of catching any clothing. Whether you are shooting your best or not, you do whatever you can to maximize your chances. I found out later that he hit his jacket on the last shot. He was toasty and warm under all those clothes and I was freezing my ass but I warmed up quite nicely with a gold and another world title and the first ever FITA World Masters Target Championship.
The World Masters Games shot a IFAA field which is NFAA style. It was all in the open and the same winds as the day before and nothing to stop it. I shot a 484 which is not too bad considering I hammered a very nice 526 at the NFAA nationals in 2001 and I won another gold with points to spare. This would be the only round where there wasn't duplicate medals as FITA doesn't recognize this round.
The IFAA field range meandered through a sparse forest but mostly out in the open areas of a volcano-like crater that had many up-n-down shots, and the ever-present wind swirling about. The FITA field was mainly a flat course through light woods and a blooming apple orchard. Aiming at a target with a giraffe, rhino, zebras or wildebeest in the background was a study in concentration.
The fifth and final day of competition was the FITA field and I found out shortly before shooting that FITA was going to recognize this as a world championship for the masters as well just to keep everything in line. The top shooter was on my target so I could keep an eye on him but after the half, I was distancing myself and decided there may be others out there so I kept my nose to the grindstone. Even though the course was relatively flat and by that I mean the TSAA state field was much more competitive than this course was. Anyway, I shot a strong 333 with only one three the whole course. Second and third was 304 and 300 so I won my third world FITA title in the masters division. I also got another gold from the world masters games.
Another lesson to learn. On the next-to-last target, 40 meters, I shot a good first shot and Dave called it: "five, just below the X." He had been calling arrows all day and was doing a so-so job. YOU MUST know your arrow-caller. Anyway, he said just below the X-ring. I shot another good shot and he said right beside the first one. The third arrow was right down the gut so I was expecting a 15. I got down there and it was a 5-4-4. The 5 that was just below the X was 3" below the X and barely in the 5-ring. The one right beside it was a four and the other one a four also. The group was the size of a 50-cent piece. KNOW your arrow caller and if you do not, scope them yourself. You may say this sounds irrelevant because I won by 30 points but in field archery, a 2 point swing can be deadly. So, file this lesson away and if you paid close attention to this note, there are about a half-dozens lessons above.
The oldest archer at the games was 87 years young but the spryest was Tina Hall at 85. Tina has a sharp wit about her, which she displayed at the awards ceremony. When she received her medal, she said she preferred the handsome 54-year young presenter instead.
So, the medal count is: