Pattaya archer equals Olympic top score

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Olympic Games fever has come to Pattaya Archery Club and now club members are trying to compare their shooting skills with those of the Olympic archers they have been watching on their television screens.

The Olympic Games archery competition requires archers to shoot several sets of three arrows at a target 70 metres away.  Those readers of this newspaper who have watched the Olympic archery competition will have seen that even world-class archers don’t always get their three arrows into the gold centre of the target (“bulls-eye” to non-archers).  Many arrows were missing the gold and landing in the red zone or worse.

Somporn and his perfect score of 30.Somporn and his perfect score of 30.

The centre ring of the gold scores 10 points and the outer ring of the gold scores 9 points, so three arrows in the 10-zone is perfection!  However arrows in the red-zone score 8 points or 7 points, and at Olympic level, just one arrow in the red can, and has, spelt the end of an archer’s Olympic dreams.

To everyone’s amazement … and his own … Somporn Kanakaew, a Thai member of the Pattaya Archery Club, recently shot a perfect score of 30 points with his recurve bow, shooting three consecutive arrows, each one embedded in the ten-zone … which is just 12cm across.

This was at the Olympic Games distance of 70 metres and was the club’s first-ever perfect 3-arrow score at this distance.

However what is most impressive is that Somporn had never shot at a target 70 metres away before!  He shot six “sighters” (non-scoring, range finding and sight adjusting arrows) and then followed by this amazing three consecutive 10s.  Never seen before in Pattaya Archery Club.

Somporn joked that maybe he might be good enough to shoot for Thailand at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil … but with such an auspicious start, maybe he is not joking.  Who can tell?

As well as Somporn there are a number of recent newcomers to Pattaya Archery Club who are developing their archery techniques, and so it won’t be long before they, too, start getting Olympic fever.

Somporn at full draw.Somporn at full draw.

Somporn’s introduction into archery

Archery is quite an under-represented sport in Thailand, and so it is interesting to see how Somporn has managed to develop his archery skills to this enviable level.

Several years ago the Redemptorist Vocational School in Pattaya asked if Pattaya Archery Club could coach some of its students to a level where they could compete in the annual Thailand National Games for the Disabled.  Since then the coaching of archery by coaches from Pattaya Archery Club has been a regular feature in the Redemptorist Vocational School’s programme.

Archery is one of the few sports where disabled people can compete on equal terms with able-bodied archers.  Indeed, a disabled New Zealand lady, Neroli Fairhall, qualified to compete against able-bodied archers in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Somporn’s interest in archery is a result of the coaching he received by the club’s involvement with the disabled students of the Redemptorist Vocational School.

Since then he has bought his own equipment and regularly practises at the club’s range in the Pattaya Shooting Park in Hua Yai.

Olympic archery equipment

As television viewers of the Olympic archery will have seen, the modern Olympic-style recurve bow has a sight, front and side stabiliser rods and multi-layer high-tech limbs.  The string is made from specially woven man-made material and the arrows are narrow aluminium tubes covered with a carbon layer and are incredibly straight.  The fletchings are curly-shaped plastic and less than 2 inches in length.

All this is a far cry from the longbows of Robin Hood’s time.  In those days the bow was a bent stick with no sight, the string was usually made from linen, and the arrows were made of wood and might have been semi-straight (if one was lucky).  The fletchings were made from turkey or goose feathers and could be 5 to 7 inches in length.

All of the archery equipment recently seen at the Olympic Games is easily available and can be delivered within a week of ordering.  Mastering it will take a bit longer though!

Trying archery in Pattaya

Pattaya Archery Club shoots on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning at 10.00 am and finishing at about noon or thereafter.  Anyone % Thai or farang, young or old, man or woman % is welcome to come along to the Pattaya Shooting Park in Hua Yai and find out what it is all about.

Beginners’ Coaching is held on a Tuesday and/or a Saturday.  The Coach’s services and the use of the club’s bows, arrows and other equipment are free for beginners, and so it costs nothing to see if this challenging sport is for you.

For more details visit Pattaya Archery Club’s website at www.pattayaarcheryclub.com, or telephone Eric, the club’s President, on 089 535 1193.