Longbow archer Sophie Twigg reports on the welcome return of Dunster Archery Week, held 14-20 June.
As the sun sets over the stunning location of Dunster Castle in Somerset, it's time to reflect on another successful Dunster Archery Week. Every June the Grand Western Archery Society (GWAS) holds its Annual Archery Championship Meeting in the grounds of the village's medieval castle. The week-long championship started in 1861 and moved to its stunning location in 1955. For me and my husband Rob (aka Twiggs), it is the highlight of our archery calendar - we first visited in 2015.
We arrived at Dunster in Millie' our T5 camper on Saturday 12th, as we were in charge of the field crew. The crew had a campsite situated on the field. It was their responsibility to ensure all the targets were set up and ready for each of the competitions. They also had countless other jobs to ensure the competitions ran smoothly.
Due to Covid restrictions, there were significant differences to how the competition ran. An increase in the spacing of targets meant fewer entrants. The rounds shot were shorter/modified due to the tent guidelines, and social distancing was in place.
The event officially starts on the Monday. However just before it begins, Somerset County Archery Association hold their outdoor championships on the Sunday. This is usually a York/Hereford, but this year it was a record status double long national/national.
Monday is usually a WA1440, but this year we shot either a ladies' or a Dunster 1440 (60m - 122cm face, 50m - 122cm face, 50m - 80cm face and 30m - 80cm face).
Tuesday was the 3D field round at Dunkery Bowmen.
Wednesday was a traditional two-way western (longbow only).
Thursday was an imperial clout.
Friday was a one-way western.
Saturday/Sunday was the Grand Western Archery Championships - usually a double York/Hereford. This year it was a double long national/national.
The watch words for the week were definitely match-fit' and competition-fit' as many archers had not entered competitions since the start of the pandemic. However, I believe there were five UK records shot and many regional and county records achieved. My husband and I managed to both win the Somerset County Championships, the week-long Victor Ludorum (overall Champion), and are both Champions of the West! Rob also won the field and clout rounds.
Thankfully, the weather was on our side for the majority of the week, with pretty much wall-to-wall sunshine. The atmosphere was amazing too, and it was great to see all the faces we'd missed over the lockdown.
[caption id="attachment_27752" align="alignnone" width="300"] Sophie and Rob's trophy haul from Dunster Archery Week 2021[/caption]
One of the highlights was shooting with my dad on the field round and longbow day, and having my mum watch us shoot the longbow day. My dad first introduced me to archery with a jelly bow in the back garden when I was about five years old. He recently restarted archery after a long break, and it was great to have the opportunity to shoot with him again.
It was a different Dunster Archery Week this year, but we all had such fun! We had really positive feedback from all the archers who attended. I'd like to thank all the volunteers that helped make the event so special. They all do such an incredible job, giving up their free time, and working so hard to ensure everything ran smoothly.
A special mention goes to Vikki Atkins, the event organiser, who worked so hard behind the scenes to ensure the event could go ahead.
I highly recommend taking part, if you ever get the opportunity to visit this special competition.
You can find all the results from Dunster Archery Week here.
Main photo shows (l-r) Rob Twigg, Scott Williams, Sophie Twigg, and Hannah-Jo Porter.