It all sounds very innocuous; Watership Down, Bunnies, The Warren, beautiful views and great countryside but like the book, there is a dark side!
What am I talking about? Last weekend saw the annual Watership Down Field Archery Tournament put on by Peter Turner and members of Overton Black Arrows with the help of some friends from Wales. The views are fantastic but to see them you have to clamber up some steep slopes. After catching your breath back (no oxygen was provided) and taking a peep at the view it was time to shoot your three arrows at a target some distance below you before tumbling back down the slope to record the scores. You then scramble to your next shooting peg avoiding the holes that the rabbits had dug (I knew there was a reason for calling it The Warren!) and then you shoot back up the hill to another target. Repeat this for two days in high temperatures and equally high humidity and you can understand why I think there should be a new archery discipline - Extreme Archery.
There were some archers competing who seemed to know what they were doing, these were people whose names you read about in archery magazines. A few of them were heard to say that they considered 'The Warren' to be one of the most difficult field courses in the UK.
The course took you past a refreshment tent on several occasions where Betty from Ravens and her helpers did their best to stoke up our carbohydrate intake before sending us back into The Warren.
Talking of the refreshment tent, target number 7 was close by. It was different to the rest of the targets in that it was almost on flat ground but the scary thing about it was that each time I shot on it my arrows were mystically drawn into the ground by some dark force. I am sure it was put there for the entertainment of the judges while they were supping their tea.
Peter Turner laid on a refreshing shower about three targets from the end of the shoot. I was shooting at the time and the rain was so hard that I could feel the vibrations from the rain drops hitting the long rod. There is not a lot of shelter in The Warren so as you can imagine, things were a little moist after that! Still, we only had the last uphill 55mtr 45deg shot to do and after hauling ourselves up to score it was all downhill from then on.
Would I do it again? You bet, it was a great weekend and I couldn't have spent it with a friendlier group of archers.
Why don't you give Extreme Archery a try next year?
Photos taken by David Backers from Overton Black Arrows.