ARCHERY: Ballyvalley Archers hit the target at Coolnacran classic

Valerie Sleith taken aim during  Ballyvally's Coolnacran Mixed Fita field shoot in Loughbrickland Woods recently.
Valerie Sleith taken aim during Ballyvally's Coolnacran Mixed Fita field shoot in Loughbrickland Woods recently.

Ballyvally Archers hosted the final of their three annual classic Coolnacran record status Fita Field shoots in Loughbrickland Woods recently as upward of 40 hardy field archers of all ages and styles turned out on the coldest weekend of the year.

The competitors were rewarded with a testing but wholly enjoyable course, breaking at half-time for hot food refreshments, kindly prepared by Tilda McMath and her club helpers.

Tom Mehaffey  takes his warm-ups seriously before start of shooting at Ballyvally's recent Coolnacran Mixed Fita field shoot in Loughbrickland Woods.

Tom Mehaffey takes his warm-ups seriously before start of shooting at Ballyvally's recent Coolnacran Mixed Fita field shoot in Loughbrickland Woods.

Although a deep frost lay on the ground on both days the woods were full of bright winter sunshine and competition was keen, especially in Ladies and Gents Barebow, always a major category in field shoots. The respective fields of eight and six saw Steve Benton of Lough Cuan Bowmen take gold in the Gents with Joanne Walker of Banbridge Archery Club claiming gold in Ladies. Ballyvally Archer, Kim Pegrum, took top slot in the Gents Recurve while Morgan Russell-Cowan not only helped run the shoot but also took gold in the Ladies Compound Unlimited.

Elsewhere Ballyvally’s Marion Patterson claiming gold in Compound Barebow while the class of Gents Traditional was won by Glenn Thompson of City of Belfast Archers who despite the icy conditions set a new Northern Ireland Gents Trad record.

In the shorter distances, Fergie Toland and Robin Houston turned in respectable scores and in Junior Gents U18 Barebow Ballyvally Junior Squad member, Tom Mehaffey - still shooting strongly since his win in the All British and Open this summer - scored an impressive 493 for the two days.

In the Gents U15 Compound Unlimited, Stuart McCullough continues to progress with a score of 554 and amongst the other Junior short peg medal winners were Eden McMath in U18 Recurve, Kathryn Morton in U15 Barebow and Michael Toland in U18 Barebow.

As well as a Northern Ireland record in Gents Trad, the shoot saw mother and daughter barebow archers, Nikki and Sophie Benton of Lough Cuan, respectively win white and silver Arrowheads, proving that Ballyvally’s autumn Coolnacran is an event to bring out the very best in field archers, whatever the conditions!