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Archery

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No one was more surprised than me that I did actually manage to undertake some sporting activities last week, but I've yet to report back on my holiday activities in full, and as an historian (if you count a 2.2 in Contemporary History from the University of Sussex as qualification of this) I have huge respect for chronology.

For the second challenge of my European jaunt, I decided to have a crack at archery. I don't think it'll shock anyone to learn that I've not tried archery before and I wasn't expecting to excel at this event. So I set off for the venue with Simon and Nick, both of whom have previous experience in the archery world, heeding the sage advice of Uncle Becky: "Imagine you're in the Bryan Adams video, with the arrow, you know - the swoooosh!". Quite.

I'm not expecting the health and safety to be up to much, we are in France, after all, and my expectations are met by way of a simple safety brief from the instructor: "it is forbidden to shoot arrows at each other or up in the air". Simon is instantly injured on picking up the bow and we manage to obtain some sort of arm guard contraptions, which lend themselves to an air of professionalism/bird of prey handling. It's a good look.

Experienced archers Simon and Nick are off to a cracking start. Fortunately for me there is a fourth unwitting contestant, Margot, a French girl who I estimate is around 9 years old - something I identify as an automatic advantage to me. There is however also a risk, posed by the presence of her pushy mother, that she's perhaps some kind of child prodigy and could edge me out of third place to take the Bronze medal.

To my surprise, I'm not that bad at it, and if you've ever seen me play darts, this really is surprising. During the first round, there are only a couple of errant arrows that fail to hit the target altogether. I do however feel I've been handicapped by the strange positioning of the target which is on the left hand side of my board rather than centrally as is everyone else's. Nick gallantly offers to swap with me, but I'm concerned that should this happen, my handicap will be proven to be my complete lack of ability and I respectfully decline.

The first two rounds go well, and I'm mostly hitting the target, though Nick and Simon are doing significantly better. I'm feeling complacent and have taken my eyes off Margot's game. But disaster strikes in the third round when I not only miss the target, but many shots are punctuated by the peculiar metallic ping of arrows hitting something that is clearly not the board, at all. At this point Nick asks, and I believe it to have been a serious question "You are wearing your contact lenses aren't you Jen?", as if I might've taken the decision to fire sharp objects into the air without correcting my quite awful vision.

After rummaging around in the bushes to retrieve my arrows, the instructor helpfully manhandles my arm into a slightly different position. Suddenly I'm on fire. And by fire I mean, better than previously as opposed to actually scoring particularly highly.

The scores are tallied and my previous inglorious round nearly costs me dearly. Nick is the clear winner with around 1500 points, Simon a solid silver medallist with around 800, but it's tight at the bottom of the table and I manage to beat Margot by a meagre 10 points. My relief is evident and I'm a little embarrassed by how pleased I am to have beaten an actual tiny child. High on his win and ever the optimist, Nick generously suggests that an extra half an hour and I'd be well away. So my first bronze medal, which is almost pointless, is obtained and Nick takes his place at the top of the medal table.

To view aforementioned medal table and exciting pictures of the action, as it happened, have a look at my website.