Two years ago Rosanne Berryman (50) came along to the first lesson of an Archery Experience beginners' course having never shot a bow before. Last weekend she became the New Zealand Indoor Archery Champion following in the foot steps of such greats as Commonwealth Champion Neroli Fairhall, and Olympic Gold medalist Jo Sun Kim.
The 42nd Archery New Zealand Indoor Championships saw 108 of the country's best archers competing over two days at the Arena Manawatu, Palmerston North. The Waikato was well represented by a team of 11 archers from Hamilton's River Glade Archers, led by head coach and 2012 National Champion, Scott Collett. For a lot of the archers this was their first experience of a major National Tournament, but the Waikato archers showed nerves of steel to win 2 Golds (cross bow arbalist Max MacRae putting in a great score to win the second gold), 2 silvers won by Daniel Buchanan (junior mens recurve) and Daniel Oosterwijk (cadet mens recurve) and a bronze for Melissa Oosterwijk (junior women recurve).
The second day of competition saw the pressure hit new heights as the archers competed in a head-to-head elimination matchplay. The tournament organisers decided that the junior division archers would compete along with the senior archers to allow them to simply 'get some experience of shooting at the highest level'. But Hamilton's junior archer Melissa Oosterwijk had other ideas when she calmly whitewashed the NZ ranked number 1 senior archer Elizabeth Andrews (Auckland) 6-0 in the biggest upset of the competition. Melissa finally finished in 4th having been beaten in a close match by on-form teammate Rosanne Berryman.
Not to be outdone, Melissa's brother Daniel Oosterwijk swept away all challengers in the Junior mens recurve division to win gold with a dominant display of shooting.
The amazing performances put in by so many of the club members that are relatively new to the Olympic sport of archery comes as no great surprise to Head Coach Scott Collett “ We have a really great supportive archery club here in Hamilton. We have a few top archers and coaches that have the experience to help the many hardworking new archers reach the highest levels. River Glade Archers is already one of New Zealand's top archery clubs with a membership that has quadrupled in the last 3 years and we have archers with real Olympic potential and the dedication to back it up!”
As Neroli Fairhall showed when she became the first paraplegic athlete (in any sport) to compete in the Olympic games representing New Zealand in Los Angeles back in 1984, archery really is a sport for all. Newly crowned National Champion Rosanne Berryman (Te Aroha), like many parents initially came on the archery beginners course supporting her 12 year old son Rhys, but soon found that they were both hooked on the sport. Now even husband Mark has caught the archery bug and the family, like many others in the club shoot and compete together. Archery is one of the few sports that both sexes and all ages and levels of ability can be competing on the same field of play at the same time.
Archery as a sport has been on the rise over the last couple of years thanks to great coverage of the Olympic Games and many films and TV shows featuring this ancient sport. Archery New Zealand clubs and coaches can offer quality beginners' courses and will provide all the equipment needed to get started so there is no need to buy equipment until you are sure you are hooked and have developed a style that will ensure you can get a bow that suites you.
For those interested in taking up the sport or wanting more information about the club please see www.archeryexperience.co.nz or email Scott Collett at firstname.lastname@example.org