There are times, though less often these days, when Wendy Lainchbury reckons she may have been better off sticking to knitting.
The grandmother took up field archery just over five years ago having seen the rest of her family – son Mike, daughter-in-law Linda and husband Lyall – rise through the national and international ranks.
"I realised one Sunday that I always seemed to be sitting at home on my own. There was no-one around because they were all out shooting, so I decided to give it a go.
"Most of the time it's fun," she quips, "but there are times, when the arthritis plays up, that I think I should have stayed sitting doing my knitting."
Truth be told, it's unlikely that Wendy will hang up her hunting kit any time soon. The 70-year-old says she is fitter than she's been for a long time and, if recent results are anything to go by, getting better by the day.
The sharp-shooting family pretty much cleaned up at the recent World Indoor Archery Championships, held in April in Wellington over four days. Linda (56) took out her ninth world title, Lyall (73) and Mike (50) claimed top honours in their categories, and Wendy, who holds one world title, placed third in the over 65 senior division.
While archery remains one of the oldest arts still practised today, field archery is often recognised as having its roots in medieval Europe.
It combines fitness, stamina, and mental strength as archers shoot at targets – including life-sized rubber 3D models shaped like animals such as elk, bears and skunks − at varying and often unmarked distances, typically in woodlands and over rough, uneven terrain.
Think golf crossed with Robin Hood and Sherwood forest, says Linda. She and husband Mike are living proof of the romance of archery, for it was Cupid's bow that brought them together.
"I had done archery many, many years ago when I was at Kerikeri High School," Linda tells.
"I shot one arrow and just loved the feel of the arrow leaving the bow. I thought then, 'I have to do this one day.'"
Life, as they say, intervened. But at 38 and "too old" to keep playing indoor cricket at super league level, the mum-of-two to Stacey (now 32) and Ben (30) picked up a bow again, meeting Mike (dad to 28-year-old Crystal) thanks to their shared passion for the sport.
"The first bow I got was a second-hand bow," Linda recalls laughing.
"I rocked up to a world championship event in Australia thinking I was just awesome, and then found out the accessories on it, like the sight, were rubbish.
"It was nowhere near what the top women were shooting with. I was told to go home and get some new gear."
She and Mike have since gone on to break records at the world's most prestigious tournaments, often with Wendy and Lyall along for the ride either as support or competing in their own right.
"It's given the family the opportunity to travel extensively together, to places that we probably would never have gone to if it wasn't for archery," Linda says.
Those places include Atlanta and Redding in the US, Peru, South Africa, Korea and the UK.
The most difficult courses are in Europe, where the World Pro Series, the "world cup" of archery, is held.
Participation is by invitation only and just 56 shooters compete. The gradients are steep, the angles extreme and the targets small.
Linda has been several times – "I've shot from a castle in Germany, and Luxembourg is just beautiful" – and in order to be at the top of her game, prioritises her practise sessions.
She's up at five each morning to train for two-and-a-half to three hours before work – she and Mike own and run a printing business and an archery shop.
If there's a tournament coming up, she'll also practise in the evening.
"Tell her about the hot water cylinder," Wendy chips in.
That would be when they've used the hallway of their home as a shooting range, with the target set up against the hot water cupboard, or at the top of the stairs that lead from the garage.
"The kids learned not to come out of their rooms while we were practising," laughs Linda.
Both she and Wendy say they have grown in confidence since taking up the sport, and encourage others to do so.
"I grew up in a hunting family," Linda tells.
"Hunting meant putting food on the table and, yes, I have hunted moveable targets [pigs and deer] with a bow.
"But archery attracts a real mix of people. There's a lot of engineers and a lot of medical people. Some archers are very anti-hunting or they are vegan − they don't even like shooting at an animal-shaped model target... they only want to shoot into round targets."
The Lainchburys also coach and mentor archers, and host overseas competitors, some-thing that's reciprocated when they are offshore.
"The kit is pretty cheap," Linda says.
"It's the travelling side of it that is expensive because there's no funding. But what else are you going to spend your money on? And we get to see the world!"
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