Tonight was the first gathering of the archery league contestants. I had very little idea of how this was going to work before walking in, but fortunately, the coordinators spent about 20 minutes going over the rules and answering questions.
Each week, we will compete only against one other archer, loosing three arrows at a 40 cm target from 18 meters. We do this ten times, and the person who has the best total score (adjusted for handicap) wins. Pretty simple, eh? It was decided that the handicap would be 80%, and the dumbed down explanation for people like me goes like this:
My score tonight was 200. A perfect score would have been 300. Three hundred minus 200 is 100, and 80% is 80. So my handicap adjusted score is now 280. (Although – and this is important – I won’t actually know what my handicap is until after the fourth week, when they will calculate them based on the average for these first four weeks.)
I’m sure you have already calculated that somebody who shoots a 201 will still have a better handicap adjusted score than I do, even if only by two-tenths of a point. The only way that I see the handicap system working is if the archer improves over the course of the league competition. Of course, the better one’s initial score is, the less room there is for improvement.
This handicapping system is supposed to equalize the competition between disparate levels of technology. Most of the archers who participated tonight had compound bows with all the various attachments available from 21st Century engineers. Several had recurves that were nicely accessorized. One person had a recurve with only adjustable sights. Then there was me with my NWB (Naked Wooden Bow.) Shooting a 200 with a bare bow is near the limit of my current skill level, and I do not expect to perform better than 220. One advantage that recurve shooters had over compounders, is that the compounders had to use the FITA Vegas three-spot target which does not score anything less than six points.
Now, to give you an example of how much technology has improved upon the ancient art of the bow, my game tonight was against the man who was using the recurve with sights only. He has been doing archery for four months, and our scores were very similar.
Now, I was quite proud of my score, let there be no doubt about it. However, it was a little disheartening that somebody who is still new to this sport performed as well as I did with the most basic of aids. And he is still on the steep part of his learning curve, while mine has flattened out considerably.
I’m already thinking ahead to the next competition, which is more my style. A neighboring barony is hosting hunt using 3-D animal targets on Sunday. Everybody will be shooting bows that were considered high-tech when the Magna Carta was signed.