Pattaya archers compete in Thailand’s top competition

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The three best archers of Pattaya Archery Club recently went to Bangkok to compete in the country’s most prestigious indoor archery competition.  This was the seventh annual “Princess Cup” which was held in the Island Hall, Kunnayow, Bangkok.

Allan Jones (England), Philippe Bache (France) and Somporn Kanakaew (Thailand) were the team that represented the club at “The Princess Cup” competition.  They went to Bangkok full of optimism after practicing for several weeks at the club’s range, with all of them posting high scores in the calm and unstressful atmosphere at the Hua Yai Shooting Park.

Pattaya Archery Club team: (left-right) Allan, Philippe and Somporn.Pattaya Archery Club team: (left-right) Allan, Philippe and Somporn.

Somporn Kanakaew had competed in last year’s “Princess Cup” competition, but for the two Europeans this was the first time either had ever shot outside of the club’s range.  Shooting in an away competition is always more difficult than practicing in one’s own range, as the mental and emotional pressure is enormous.

What made the pressure more so was that the “Princess Cup” is an international archery event, with teams representing Japan, China, India, Malaysia and Korea … five nations whose archers were well placed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Other teams came from overseas and there were many other archers shooting as individuals.

A congested shooting line

So the three Pattaya archers were up against very strong international opposition.  In fact there were more than 300 archers competing in various categories at the “Princess Cup” competition which was held over two full days.  There were 26 targets in the large hall, with four archers shooting at each target, so the congestion on the shooting line can well be imagined.

The “Princess Cup” entails shooting three arrows at a range of 18 metres at a very small Vegas target.  This target was originally introduced at an international indoor competition in Las Vegas several years ago and has become the standard for top-level 18 metre competitions.  It comprises three small targets in descending order on a narrow vertical strip, with the centre 10 score circle only four centimetres in diameter.

Each archer has to shoot one arrow into each descending target, so that an “end” is just three arrows, which have to be shot within two minutes.  Unsurprisingly several archers missed the time deadline, only shooting two arrows before the two minutes were up.

The first day’s qualification competition comprised ten “ends” of three arrows, so a perfect score of 30 arrows all in the 10 circles was 300.  The top male archer was from Hong Kong, with a score of 289, so Allan’s score of 262 was quite respectable, given the number and quality of the opposition, most of whom were considerably younger than the trio from Pattaya.

Philippe scored 211 and Somporn scored 242.  Unfortunately their two scores were below the cut-off point and so they were eliminated from the competition on the first day, as were many other archers.

At the end of this part of this part of the competition Allan was ranked 17th (out of 200) which enabled him to go forward into the next day’s finals.

All of the Pattaya archers’ scores in the competition were well below what each person had achieved in practice at the Hua Yai range.  Indeed, Allan’s personal best at that distance would have placed him in the top three in the competition, and Philippe and Somporn’s personal bests would have easily put them in the top ten had they shot their PBs in the “Princess Cup”.  But that’s what the effect of the pressure of an international competition does to most archers.

Olympic style knock-out

On the final elimination day the organisers changed the competition format to that of the Olympic style knock out … a totally different challenge which is even more nerve-racking and demanding than the previous day’s Vegas round.  The field had been reduced to the top 60 archers, many of whom would be at national level in their own countries.

The new Olympic round was introduced a number of years ago, specifically to make the archery competition more exciting for spectators at an Olympic Games.  The number of spectators and TV audiences for the 2012 Olympic archery competition illustrates how successful this new round has been in making archery an exciting spectator sport.

Each archer has just one competitor to shoot against.  At the end of three arrows the archer with the highest score wins two points, the loser gets zero points.  If their scores are identical they get one point each.  The actual scores of the ends are irrelevant.  The finishing line to win the knock-out is six points, so if one competitor wins each end he reaches the six points after just shooting nine arrows.  This compares with the 30 arrows shot on the previous day’s Vegas round.

Allan was paired with a 17 year old girl from Korea.  He beat her in one end, winning two points, but she eventually won the knock-out with a six – two score, thus eliminating Allan from the competition.  So he joined his Pattaya team-mates to just watch and enjoy the remainder of the competition.

The three archers returned to Pattaya empty-handed but with a wealth of experience from their entry into a prestigious international archery competition.  They have vowed to return to compete in next year’s “Princess Cup” so their appetite for this competition was not diminished by their performance with their bows on this occasion.

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.