The 2006 Australian Field Archery Championships, held in Orange, have been dominated by the twenty three member team from Namoi Valley Archers. The Gunnedah club sent the largest ever contingent to represent the club at a National titles and their amazing performance in winning 15 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze medals across the three disciplines was the talk of the eight day event. Steve Jaeger proved beyond doubt he is the best Freestyle Limited archer in Australia winning his fourth consecutive ABA title, his second consecutive 3D title and dethroning former champion Randall Wellings to win his first IFAA Australian title in a stunning performance. The husband and wife team of Stuart and Jodi Dolbel have yet to settle who has bragging rights in the Dolbel household after they both finished with two gold and one silver medals. Bowhunter Limited archer, Stuart Dolbel, proved what a talented competitor he is winning gold in the 3D and ABA events and finishing a very narrow second in the IFAA event in his best ever showing at an Australian Titles. Jodi Dolbel put it all together when it mattered most to win her first Australian medals. Jodi blitzed the field in the 3D event, grabbed a silver in the ABA event and then saved her best performance for the IFAA event to grab a very hard fought gold medal. Ben Ireland realized his dream of defending his Australian ABA Freestyle Unlimited title with a brilliant performance. Ireland had watched his chances evaporate in the 3D event after an uncharacteristically slow start but made every arrow count in the ABA event to achieve the historically difficult feat of defending his title in a division where one poor shot usually ruins your chances. Outstanding junior, Wade Hudson, stamped himself as the best unmarked barebow archer at the Australian Titles winning the Advanced division in both 3D and ABA in very impressive fashion. Hudson handled the pressure of the big occasion with real maturity shooting brilliantly in every round to leave his opposition no chance as he claimed two Australian titles at his first attempt.
Australian 3D Championships.
The 3D event consists of four twenty target rounds held over four days with competitors shooting at life size foam targets set at unknown distances. Namoi Valley Archers 20 competitors won a total of 7 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals in this event with the previously mentioned Steve Jaeger, Stuart Dolbel, Jodi Dolbel and Wade Hudson all winning their respective divisions. Cameron Hill burst onto the national stage shaking off some indifferent from to win his first Australian title with a great performance across the four days in the Junior Bowhunter Limited division. The confidence gained from this win will no doubt help Hill in future events and was wonderful result for the quietly spoken young archer. Jamie Thompson also shot well to grab a bronze medal in the same division. A clean sweep of medals at a National event by one club is a fairly rare event but when the competitors are all sisters the feat becomes even more impressive. Katie, Jackelyn and Sammy Patrick achieved this rare honour when they swept all before them in the Cub Recurve D grade division in a fantastic result. Peter Stubbs shot personal best scores on his way to a bronze medal in Masters Recurve. Stubbs thought he was there to just make up the numbers but turned on a great performance to grab third place in the top grade. Michael Patrick showed his liking for the 3D targets scoring a very well deserved silver in C grade Recurve. Ken Thompson flew the flag in the barebow Compound ranks winning a bronze medal in a very hard fought A grade event with a polished performance. Christopher Patrick scored the silver in Cub Compound D grade and Shane Thompson won a gold medal in Cub Freestyle Limited with a typically determined performance while juniors, Keegan Patrick, D grade compound and Josh Dolbel, Freestyle Unlimited finished with well deserved silver medals.
Australian ABA Championships.
The ABA event consists of four rounds of twenty targets held over two days with competitors shooting at hand drawn animal targets set at unknown distances. All 23 competitors from Namoi Valley Archers contested this event winning 6 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals with the previously mentioned Steve Jaeger, Stuart Dolbel, Ben Ireland, Wade Hudson all winning gold with Jodi Dolbel taking silver in their respective divisions. The Patrick sisters were back in action for this event in Recurve D grade with Katie taking the gold, Jackelyn the silver while the youngest Sammy, just missed a medal finishing fourth in another great performance from the trio. Another of the club’s young brigade, Meg Jaeger, showed plenty of courage to finish with a very cherished silver medal in Cub Compound D grade. The outstanding performance for the youngsters continued with Shane Thompson making it back to back gold medals winning Cub Freestyle Recurve putting together four good rounds. Christopher Patrick added to the medal haul with a gutsy performance to take silver in Cub Compound D grade. Ken Thompson continued his fine form in this event taking the bronze in Compound A grade in a division widely considered one of the hardest fought in the barebow ranks. Recurve exponents Darrell Hudson and Michael Patrick renewed their friendly rivalry in Barebow Recurve C grade with Hudson finishing with the silver and Patrick grabbing the bronze. Ray Sweeney, Freestyle Limited and Josh Dolbel, Junior Freestyle Unlimited added hard won silvers to their trophy cabinets. Cameron Hill continued his fine tournament to take silver in Junior Bowhunter Limited with Jamie Thompson taking his second bronze of the weekend in the same division. Keegan Patrick rounded out his tournament with a silver medal in Junior Compound D grade.
Australian IFAA Championships
The IFAA event is vastly different from the ABA and 3D event with round paper targets set at known distances with competitors required to shoot four arrows at each of the 28 targets. In the ABA and 3D events the minimum numbers of arrows to complete the event is 80 but in the IFAA event the minimum number of arrows is a very demanding 476 with five rounds shot over four days. Namoi Valley Archers was represented by 8 competitors in this event finishing with 2 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals.
Steve Jaeger shot personal bests in virtually every round of the IFAA event leaving Randall Wellings, a multiple Australian representative who has made this division his own over the last few years, stunned as he watched Jaeger waltz away with the gold medal in Freestyle Limited. Ray Sweeney, also a former holder of this title also shot well to take third place. Jaeger was thrilled with the win and can’t wait to renew rivalries at the World IFAA Championships in June. Jodi Dolbel showed what a fine archer she is winning her first Australian title in Freestyle Unlimited with an outstanding performance over the five rounds and this confidence boosting win was well deserved. Stuart Dolbel had fought his way to the lead in Bowhunter Limited with just fourteen targets to go in the IFAA event but a simple mistake on target 16 cost him the title. Dolbel will have learnt a lot from this battle which will stand him on good stead for future events. Ben Ireland showed plenty of fight as he grimly hung onto third place in Freestyle Unlimited finishing with the bronze, his first ever Australian IFAA medal in a great performance from this talented archer. Josh Dolbel finished the championships with his third medal taking the bronze in Junior Freestyle Unlimited underlining his versatility and consistency in all styles of archery.
Knife and Axe
The Knife and Axe throwing events are always a keenly contested and fun filled part of the National championships and this year Steve Jaeger won the silver in the Knife throwing. Jamie Thompson grabbed third place in the Junior Axe event and Shane Thompson won both the Knife and Axe throwing for Cubs.