Fort George August 2013

By: Adnan Akgun

I think they like me here! Why do I think that? Because Mick jumps with joy from his chair when he sees me and shouts “Oh, its Adnan!”, while Wally shakes my hand with “Good to see you, brother…” and Richard keeps trying to involve me more and more in the archery scene of the UK. Thanks to Richard I am now a member of the Longbow Heritage Club headed by Carol as well as a member of the NFAS (National Field Archery Society). Richard also was kind enough to (relentlessly) talked me into attending this weekend’s event organised by Longbow Heritage. So it was that I ended up being the first thumbring shooter ever at an NFAS event this Saturday, 31st of August 2013.

I had been working myself to exhaustion when Richard contacted me last Monday through Facebook, to invite me to the event at Fort George. He convinced me that a little “bow and arrow therapy” would do me good. I concurred but couldn’t give him a definite answer until it was midweek. See, I had a deadline for a project I was working on and the review on Wednesday would determine whether I would have to work through the following weekend or not. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

So, I boarded a Friday evening train from Waterloo at 19:50. 90 minutes later I was welcomed by Richard and Collette at Salisbury train station. Salisbury is a medieval town in the southwest of England. It looks like a place I definitely would like to explore a little further at a later date. Apparently the tallest spire in the UK belongs to Salisbury Cathedral. It is quite an impressive sight and even at night time its intricate details are visible from afar. After a nice pizza eaten at the town square, we made our way to Fort George in Romsey.

Imagine little boys playing Cowboys and Indians, building forts out of cardboard boxes. Now imagine those boys growing up and building an actual fort! That is what Fort George is, a boys fantasy as well as a venue for wild west en-actors. Mick – whom I secretly nicknamed Yoda, because he turns from this senior person with walking difficulty to Yoda with a light saber when he is about to shoot his bow (or when he is excited) – told me at the campfire that Fort George was actually built 25 years ago. I guess its just another example of how seriously people take their pastimes in this eccentric country. After a few Belgian beers with Richard, we decided it was time to call it a night. On the way to my tent I did get a chance to marvel at the sky, absent city lights. Although I am no stranger to the experience, it always amazes me not being able to find a starless spot on the black dome.

I woke up early next morning with a slight headache (read hangover) which subsided after breakfast and disappeared before Carol’s starting whistle for the competition. The course was laid out in the forest surrounding Fort George and contained 2 rounds of 20 targets. The shots were taken from taken the usual three peg system. Kill shot from the first peg 20 points, wound 16. Missed your first shot, and you move to the second peg for 14 points for a kill, 10 points for a wound. Missed that too, and its 8 points for a kill and 4 points for a wound from the third peg. Our team was made out from Richard and Collette with longbows, an excellent Welsh archer named Garfield with an American flatbow and me with my fiberglass Turkish replica. I had great fun throughout the day, meaning I actually shot well despite this occasion literally being my third or fourth time shooting this year. According to Richard, if your total score is around 10 points times total target number, that means you basically shoot well technically but are out of practice. I scored 456 points. Not bad at all, considering my lack of training. Richard was well into the 500’s. Collette became third and Garfield won in their respective categories. A great memory I will cherish when the results were declared, is the fact that I was given a medal in for winning the “Thumbring” category. Despite being the only archer competing in that category that is…

Towards 18:00, I said goodbye to old friends as well as new ones and Richard took me to the train station to begin my journey back to London, sweet London. Many of the archers, including my team mates, stayed another night for an event planned on Sunday, the pre-championship warm up shoot. In short, I had a great weekend. However there is one thing that troubles me. How will I manage to adapt back to daily life after so much fun?

Here are a few pictures from the event: