A husband and wife from Eyemouth have become national champions in what they describe as sport’s biggest secret.
The modern day Robin Hood and Maid Marian, David and Lynn Ireland, came home winners after a weekend spent competing in 3D bow hunting.
Rather than standing in a line of fellow archers taking sight at round targets, 3D bow hunting takes people out into the woods.
Competitors follow a trail, loosing arrows at models of animals as they go - with what points for accuracy and what would be a ‘kill’ shot in real life.
“There are all sorts of models,” said Lynn. “Everything from bears and buffalo down to deer and even meerkats.”
Lynn is better known for her efforts on the stage, taking the roles of gunfighters like Annie Oakley, and David jokes that she has now progressed to another weapon.
“But the really ironic thing,” David added, “is that we’re both very strict vegetarians, and we both would ever be able to stomach anything that involved animal suffering.”
David first pulled a bow string at a ‘have a go’ event at Coldingham Gala four years ago. “That was it. I was hooked,” he said. Lynn also had a go, and the cheeky rivalry between them started immediately. “You outshot me that day, didn’t you,” David asks.
“Probably the only time,” Lynn answers.
Four years later and David continues to train religiously.
“Every day I practise,” he said, “Sometimes it’s two hours, sometimes it’s ten minutes, as long as I do some.
“One of the best things about the sport is it can be done 365 days a year, in sunshine, rain, snow. You just wrap up and go out.”
Lynn is slightly less keen on the cold: “I don’t go out in the pouring rain,” she says, “that’s just daft!”
Even on the coldest days, David has a way of training without leaving the house, firing from his living room through the open windows at a target set up in the garden.
He goes on:“It’s a really great sport - you feel the camaraderie as you go round the course.
“It’s very communal, and there can be groups of everybody from six to 60, men, women, kids.
“For example, this kid that we went around with, a little while ago. He was just a beginner, and the next thing we hear is that he’s winning championships in Europe a couple of weeks later.
“We went out with our two nephews. They’re aged six and 10, and they really took to it. A couple of hours of us showing them what to do, and then they were away.”
“It really is fantastic,” Lynn adds, “getting out in the fresh air, in these lovely woods.”
“People do call it ‘golf in the woods’”, David quips. The pair cannot believe more people don’t know about 3D bow hunting, though stapes are being taken to remedy that.
“It could really take off,” says David, “in part because it’s so simple and also because, the way it was put to me, it’s like a martial art, in that it teaches discipline as well as a little bit of a life skill.
“We are looking to take this into schools and things like that, because we’re sure that it could really prove hugely popular.”