Banbridge archer Joanne is the new British champion

Banbridge AC's Joanne Walker receives her trophies after claiming both the All British Title and the Open title.
Banbridge AC's Joanne Walker receives her trophies after claiming both the All British Title and the Open title.

It takes just eight years to go from total beginner to British Champion.

Well, that’s if you’re as talented as Banbridge AC archer Joanne Walker.

Banbridge Archery club members at their Have A Go stand at the NI Countryside Sports Fair.

Banbridge Archery club members at their Have A Go stand at the NI Countryside Sports Fair.

She became the first NI lady to win the All British Title and the Open title in a delightful double at the All British and Open Field Championships, which took place at Greenmount recently.

Joanne is Northern Ireland’s most successful ladies barebow archer and shot superbly over the two days of the ABO, achieving a personal best and taking the two titles.

“It was so nice to get the win, particularly to do it at home,” she told the Leader.

Joanne took up the sport as recently as 2008 and that’s a decision that has surely paid off.

“My children wanted to try it so I really just went along with them,” she said.

“We went to Shane’s Castle and another club were hosting a ‘Have A Go’ day. We did that and we loved it. We found a local club and that was it. The boys don’t actually shoot anymore but I’ve taken to it.

“It’s a great sport for all ages, anybody can try it.”

Anybody can play - but not everybody can be British champion. Joanne is now hoping her new titles, which add to her current NI and All Ireland crowns, will see her safely onto the GB squad for the forthcoming World Championships, which take place in Bray.

The local archer has represented GB twice before, during August 2010 in Hungary at the World Championships and last year in Poland for the European Championships.

There, she achieved an individual overall ranking of 12th and took her team to fourth place, narrowly missing out on a bronze.

Also at the ABO, new Banbridge AC member Philip Fitzpatrick was rewarded with a respectable ninth place out of 27 in a strong gents barebow class. Philip, who only returned to archery in April, has also represented GB at international level.

BAC were also very busy on the 28th and 29th May, when they held a Have a Go stand at the ever popular NI Countryside Sports Fair at Scarvagh House.

For info on Archery GB recognised beginners courses contact club secretary Lisa McConnell at lisamcconnell52@hotmail.co.uk 

Club sessions are open to any archer who currently is affiliated to World Archery.