The World Family of Archers

The world family of Archers

As written for Magazine publication  December 2011

The Archers of the IFAA are indeed becoming closer with every event in fact every World IFAA Championships is becoming more like a family reunion as archers from around the world meet and renew old friendships.

The 2011 IFAA World Indoor Championships in Pretoria have been another wonderful example of The World Family of Archers coming together again. Heather (my wife) and I arrived knowing that we would meet friends from previous competitions but were surprised at just how many. With the South American archers taking to the IFAA format with great enthusiasm Argentina and Brazil have shown their commitment by sending good size teams to South Africa. Most of these archers we had met at the 2009 World Indoor in Buenos Aires and now know to be IFAA family members as well as firm friends. India has also embraced the IFAA by sending a strong contingent of young archers for their first foray into the WIAC with considerable success, demonstrating the growth and popularity of archery in India.

The Pretoria World Indoor was truly spectacular from start to finish; the venue was excellent to shoot in with everything you could hope for at a world Championships. The South African organisers Leonie Oosthuizen (SANIFAA Vice President), Marietjie Fryer (general Secretary) along with Petrus van Breda (entering the scores) and their band of Volunteers who had thought of everything we could possibly require making it a wonderful shoot. The first couple of registration days gave all competitors plenty of time to renew old friendships and start many new ones. The separate practice range worked well and gave plenty of time and space for that final adjustment or to just check over gear and form after a long flight to South Africa.

Another aspect of a good shoot are the target buts these can destroy a competitors scores not to mention an archers arm, for this shoot we had targets that caught the arrows and didn’t wreck your shoulder pulling them out thanks to Juan Spies and his team of workers from Allycat industries. Also in the equipment line we had at least three local bow shops on site not just to sell but to do all those emergency repairs without gouging you on prices. I was just one of those to be helped when after our bow case arrived 2 days late I found that my stabilizer was smashed, within minutes of Petrus making a call had a new X10 on the way, this is just one example of how well we were looked after.

A few things looked a little different to past World Championships one being the flags, bunting and posters leading into the hall and decorating the venue. Most archers have seen the IFAA logo before but this time it was joined by the World Family of Archers logo this also is not new to many but adorning this was a simple statement reading Patronage by TAFISA. This in itself will not seem earth shattering to many but it marks a new direction for the IFAA as we are now officially recognised by a world sport governing body through TAFISA patronage. TAFISA “The Association for International Sport for All” as the name implies TAFISA supports, promotes and gives patronage to national and International sport, with their patronage the IFAA and the increased number of IFAA member nations, we are now really making it onto the world stage.

TAFISA conduct a world games under their name, the next being the 5th TAFISA World Sport for All Games to be held from the 5 to 11 July 2012 in Siauliai, Lithuania. Now can’t you just see yourself competing in an IFAA sanctioned competition at the TANISA World Games in Lithuania?

For the start of the Championships we were treated to weather that could only be described as magnificent just adding to the wonderful feel of this event. For the opening ceremony all national teams marched behind their flag bearer into the University of Pretoria Indoor Sports centre (the Rembrandt Hall). After a short welcome by Loet Smit (president IFAA), Steve Kendrick (vice President IFAA) and Stefan van der Linde ( President SANIFAA) we were all invited to take part in the informal finger food lunch featuring many uniquely South African delicacies. When combined with a very generous supply of exquisite South African wines we all had the feeling that this competition was about to become a very memorable experience for all involved.

After you have competed in a few World Championships as we have, the competitions are all very similar in the makeup of competitors, or so I thought as South Africa still had some surprises up their sleeve as SANIFAA have changed the appearance of the WIAC yet again. YOUTH yes young archers, SINIFAA have managed to bring many cubs and junior archers into the game and what’s more many of these young archers are displaying excellent skills and their dedication to archery shows through in the score sheet for the 2011 WIAC. With SANIFAA’s ongoing commitment to supporting their next generation of archers I am sure South Africa has a long and achievement rich future in our wonderful sport.

Day one of competition delivered the same mix of emotions for the archers as normal, from exhilaration to tears but then this is sport and as such it brings with it all the emotions we humans are capable of. The planning and hard work of the organisers was paying off with no real problems as all went off like clockwork and this pretty much sums up the way the entire competition flowed through to the closing ceremony. Day two was on us and as those who have shot this format will attest by this time everyone has settled into their routine with some classes starting to show a leading score or two however this time a significant number of archers looked like making it through to the shoot off at the end of day three, this was also evident in the youth classes.

Day three carried on into the night as the shoot off was by far the largest I have seen with competitors from all age divisions shooting off to become the new 2011 IFAA World Champion in their respective divisions. I won’t go into the scores here but suffice to say that this was a shoot off to remember. Day three is not only about the shoot off,  it brings to a conclusion all the  training and build-up that has led to these championships for some it has bought with it disappointment for a select few the elation of becoming the new IFAA World Champion in their division.

Day four brings with it the medal ceremony and Banquet again the South African’s have set the bar to a high level with a magnificent afternoon, SANIFAA supported by the South African Lottery delivered a sumptuous  Banquet as you can see from the photos.

 As we entered the Rembrandt hall we were greeted with an enamel mug containing Amarula a uniquely South African spirit that gave all who partook a warm glow, especially those who tried more than one. The hall was unrecognisable due to the drapes and African themed murals, the feeling was euphoric with all present being friends or might I say it part of The World Family of Archers.

Another competition to mark on your calendar will be the  2013 World Bowhunter Championships to be held in South Africa at the Die Oog,’ Mineral Resort just a short drive from Johannesburg, set in the magnificent South African Bush with an abundance of wildlife. But more about that in my next article along with some photos when I will also be giving you a tourist’s eye view of the Famous Mullenborn field archery ranges, the site of the European Professional Archery competition in Germany.

Last and far from least I would like to thank my sponsors who help me to assist others in this wonderful sport, Vortex Optics, Ontarget2 Software for archers, Shibuya sights, Tru Ball releases, Trophy Taker rests, Twister Bowstrings and the US and International archer magazine for publishing my ramblings.

Peter Bourke

Archery Consultant for www.archeryfix.com