Carol Davies reports on the highly anticipated return of competitive VI archery after a two-year break because of the pandemic

The excitement and happiness of the archers to be back shooting was palpable. Last September, supported by the Primary Club, members of the British Blind Sport Archery Section came from all corners of the UK to Lilleshall to compete in ‘The Worshipful Company of Fletchers Disability Championship’, hosted by Archery GB. This was the first competitive shoot for nearly two years.

Podium finish: (left to right) Peter Price with guide dog Kirby; Steve Prowse with wife and spotter Lesley; and Phil Tranter

The following day, visually impaired archers competed in the World Archery 30-metre competition, shooting six dozen arrows on an 80cm face to decide the ranking order for the head to head rounds. This means that the lowest ranked archer will compete against the highest, and so on. It can be quite a challenge for the lower ranking archers but anything can happen if you can hold your nerve.

There were some very close head to heads and the results did not reflect how close and nail-biting some of them were. To add to the pressure there were a large number of spectators watching and supporting their favourite in the shoot off.

Roger Rees Evans and Stuart Rodgers competed for a place in the final. In a head to head each archer shoots three arrows: the highest score is awarded two points, for a draw they get one point each. The first to reach six points wins. Stuart won the first two rounds giving him a four-point lead before Roger fought back to draw level. It was all on the final round of arrows to decide the winner or, if they both had the same score after shooting their final three arrows each, it would go to a one arrow a piece shootout. Roger held his nerve winning the last round and a place in the final.

Clive Jones and Roger Rees Evans: after shooting a personal best in the World Archery 30-metre competition Clive went on to win his head to head 6-0 against Trish Greysmith to take him through to the final against Roger Rees Evans. The first two rounds were taken by Roger gaining him a valuable four-point lead. Clive was now playing catch up but was not going to let this put him off and managed to pull back the next two rounds levelling up the points to 4-4. After the next round, the score was 5-5 and it was now down to a one arrow shoot off. Clive prevailed, taking the gold medal and his place in the GB team for the World Para Archery Championships in Dubai in February.

By the end of the weekend archers and spotters alike were all feeling pretty tired – two competitions in two days after a near two year forced break will do that! But everyone did tremendously well to rise to the challenge.