What a fantastic time I had over in the USA when I travelled for the 2015 Easton JOAD Championships which form part of the whole US National Championships with almost 1000 archers of all ages taking part.
Travel wise I think I experienced pretty much everything that could go wrong! We got kicked off a flight because KLM hadn't paid Delta for our leg of the trip (so much for their alliance!), got delayed due to technical problems and missed our connecting flight back to Amsterdam, and our luggage was lost on the way home - still waiting for our suitcase as I write this.
However, the tournament more than made up for all the hassles.
We arrived on the Sunday and had 2 days before official practice on the Wednesday so we went to the Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville which was brilliant, and saw lots of the Apollo rockets and modules as well as lots of other interesting stuff. I then went and shot a handgun on an indoor range. My dad had to go to Wal-Mart to get a hunting licence so that I could shoot!
We then went to the venue to suss it out - wow what a fantastic place. A purpose built soccer venue which had been divided into 4 separate shooting fields and a finals field. Whilst there we were interviewed and filmed for the local TV!
The weather was hot and humid, and it rarely dropped below 86F (30C) and often was well into the 90's. We has lots of rain and the ground was permanently sodden. There were also lots of thunderstorms and lightning strikes too, which delayed the start of the qualification rounds, which meant that on day 2 we ended up shooting under floodlights - a first for most people including Brady Ellison!
I met some great people and made lots of new friends from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. There were archers from all over the USA including a large group of Korean americans, archers from Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Canada and me from GB! Everyone was so friendly and helpful. and the tournament was so well organised and the judges were brilliant (and funny).
In qualification I shot 1306 which was joint second (but I was ranked 4th as it went down to X's), and there was only 12 points separating 3 of us on 1306 and the leader. On the second day of qualification I shot a PB score of 660 which was the highest of the day which was pleasing.
I came away with the gold medal for the highest qualification score by a visitor, and an individual bronze medal for the elimination round.
On the Sunday was the team event which was great fun. All the archers in each category were assigned two team mates selected according to qualification so that in theory we were all pretty equal. One of my team had gone home the night before so we were drafted in a Barebow archer!!! Anyhow he was pretty good and had it not been for the wind getting up in our semi final match and blowing one of his fletched arrows off to the left we would have been shooting for gold. The semi went to a one arrow shoot off and our arrows were just a little bit further away from the cross. The bronze medal match was close but we just lost out - but it was fun all the same.
I had a brilliant time in the USA and had I been a US citizen I would have been awarded the title of JOAD Supreme Champion for my age category (under 15), so I came home really pleased with my performance.
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