Wrecclesham archer Karen Lott has become a UK champion.
And she didn’t have to shoot her best to claim the record!
Karen, who represents Farnham Archers, shoots ladies’ over-50 barebow – “like they shoot in the Olympics but without the bits on,” she says.
Karen finished first in her session and third overall, but the score was enough to break the UK over-50s ladies’ record for the round.
A round is 60 arrows, shot three at a time, for a total maximum score of 600.
“How low the record was surprised me – I scored 458, shooting from 25 metres at a 60cm target,” said Karen, 55.
“My best score for that round is 515 and I did that the week before in practice, but with competition nerves and all that, I couldn’t quite manage that again.
“I did exactly the same thing at the national championships in December. I shot 514 the week before, with an 18-metre round on a 40cm target, and at the championships I managed only 469.
“It did get me a seventh place, so I wasn’t complaining.
“I’ve been shooting since 2011 and I started when I lived on the Isle of Man.
“I represented them in Olympic recurve at the Island Games in 2015, shortly before we moved back to Wrecclesham.
“I ended up at Farnham Archers, still shooting recurve, but for one reason or another I switched to barebow and it turned out to be a pretty successful venture.
“I first got into the sport because a workmate of my husband’s on the Isle of Man turned out to be a coach at the Manx club and we decided to do a beginners’ course. We liked it and it turned out I was quite good at it.
“My husband started shooting too but it didn’t really hold his interest – he’s a very good fly fisherman and now he goes out catching trout for the freezer while I go off and win medals.
“I don’t practise as much as I probably should – in the summer perhaps two or three times a week, but in the winter perhaps once a week if I’m lucky. More practice would make me a much better archer, I’m sure.
“I’ll be back next year to have another crack at it and try to make it a better score.”
Archery is the perfect sport for all ages, says Karen – you don’t have to be super-fit to compete at a high level.
“For an outdoor round you’re going to be walking up and down a 70-metre field all day, so you need a certain level of fitness, but it’s more about stamina.
“You also need a good level of concentration and that’s sometimes where I fall down, when I lose focus for a couple of ends during the day. I’ll be going along quite nicely and then lose focus and spread them all over the place.
“It’s a great sport for learning to focus the mind – we have seen amazing results with youngsters with ADHD where it teaches them to focus, and their behaviour and school work has improved. It’s a massive benefit to a lot of people.
“If you can pick up a bow, you can do it – there are blind archers and archers without limbs.
“There’s a man in America known as the Armless Archer who competes using his feet, and the only international gold medal he hasn’t won is the Paralympics. He’s phenomenal and will beat 99 per cent of able-bodied archers.
“You don’t need strength as a lot of it is technique – you’re not using your arm muscles, you’re using the big muscles in your back. I draw about 27lb at the moment, whereas an Olympic archer will be drawing 55lb. At that level there is a strength component as well as a massive endurance component.”
And Karen is delighted to be a member of Farnham Archers.
“They are absolutely brilliant and we have a very high percentage of participation among the members.
“Some other clubs may have a tremendous number of members but you may see only ten of them, whereas we have 100 to 150 members and we see 30 to 40 pretty regularly.
“We have some exceptional youngsters coming through and we’ll be keeping an eye on them.
“When they go away as a group to a junior competition they come back with a fistful of medals.”
Karen is also the outdoor 50m round over-50s champion in the UK, shooting at a 122cm face using 72 arrows.
“This year I hope to go for more records but it’s more about enjoyment, getting out there and catching up with people from all over the country. It’s enormous fun,” said Karen.