Under grey skies, a small group of dedicated archers turned up to shoot what is, arguably, the Club’s most entertaining competition – The Long Haul. Devised by the late Nev Mason, the round is unique to the Isle of Man and consists of three dozen arrows shot at each of two distances – 60 and 40 yards but uses metric scoring and is restricted to traditional and bare bows only – no sights or shooting aids. The usual etiquette goes out the window and club members are actively encouraged to barrack one another to ruin their concentration. At stake is the Long Haul Trophy – a miniature replica of a Long Bow, complete with quiver and properly fletched arrows.
Pete Mumford, Barbara Harris, Danny Cowin, Dave Moore and defending Champion Dave Berry lined up under the amused gaze of Joy Gough, who had come to watch the floor show and score for the juniors taking part in the kids version of the shoot, dubbed the Short Haul. The two Daves took the whole enterprise far too seriously. Dave Berry was desperate to retain the one trophy he has any chance of winning for a third year in a row. Dave Moore sick of being of runner up was determined to take the title off him and rocked up with specially made all black arrows. Pete Mumford, a tad grumpy after locking himself out his car, quietly went to work with a bow that looked like something he found in a skip. The ray of sunshine that is Danny Cowin, grumbled continually about how much he hated the round, right up to the point when he realized he wasn’t going to be as bad as last year and Barbara Harris resigned herself to the wooden spoon after Rhys Moore ‘threw her under the bus’ (his words) by taking himself off to shoot in Edinburgh.
It was obvious from the start that Dave Berry was out of luck. He lost so many arrows that the metal detector gave up the ghost and had to have it’s batteries replaced. His aim was so wayward that, at one point, he put an arrow into the scoreboard he had left underneath the target. Dave Moore put in a respectable first dozen, but Pete Mumford was on fire, putting himself 25 points in the lead. Danny put his first 6 arrows into the grass while Barbara scored 6 with her first half dozen arrows. She recovered a little with the next six but her shooting was erratic to say the least – upon going to collect arrows, found one of them tangled up in the flag on top of her boss. Pete kept up the pressure with the second dozen putting himself 36 points clear of Dave Moore. Dave dismissed the Records Officer’s comment that Pete had it in the bag, confident that he could reel Pete in. The only thing Barbara Harris was confident of was last place. At the halfway stage, Harris was wondering if she would even break 100. Dave Berry was wistfully thinking of 2016 when he took the trophy with a score of 418. Danny Cowin found himself inexplicably in third place, and while Pete Mumford was still first, Dave Moore had cut his lead to just 9 points.
At the second distance it was Barbara’s turn to put her first six arrows into the grass. A resurgence in the second dozen was cut short after the leaf she was using as an aiming point blew away much to the hilarity of the rest of the squad. Dave Berry began to show some form and recorded the only X10 of the senior shoot, which won him the privilege of buying the first round at the Christmas party. Mr Berry leapfrogged Danny to finish a respectable third. Pete Mumford started well enough at the shorter distance, but the misses began to mount up and by the end of the first dozen Dave Moore had a 3 point lead. Never one to give up and with a Brady Ellison tilt to his hat, Pete reclaimed the lead with the second dozen. Unfortunately, Pete put two arrows into the grass saw his chance of winning disappear. Dave Moore had no misses at the second distance and finished with a flurry of 10’s (if two 10’s can be described as such) to win the Long Haul for the first time. Pete had to settle for a new personal best and second place.
Juniors Tilly Ashton and Nathan Kinrade went toe to toe in the Short Haul. They shot in the same spirit as the seniors. Both children kicking the clumps of grass they thought each other were using as aiming points out of the way every time they went to collect arrows. Nathan carefully replacing his on the way back. Tilly did everything she could to put Nathan off and he reciprocated good naturedly. Tilly scored the first X10 of the day and had a 27 lead by halfway. Nathan found the second distance more to his liking and scored with all 36 arrows. Tilly struggled to get a feel for the second distance; four misses putting her 10 points behind. She cut the deficit to just 2 points going into the last dozen but Nathan saved his best for last and riding out the winner by 9 points to end a light-hearted and enjoyable shoot. Nathan added 29 points to his pb as well as lifting the Short Haul Trophy.
Results Nev Mason Long Haul – 1.D.Moore 368/2/0, 2.P.Mumford 338/2/0pb, 3.D.Berry 281/2/1, 4.D.Cowin 235/1/0, 5.B.Harris 235/1/0. Short Haul – 1,N.Kinrade 389/4/1pb, 2.T.Ashton 380/1/1.