Archery prodigy Abbie Spinks (17) of Spalding is set to deliver on the promise shown as a junior after firing a message out to her rivals in France.
The Silver Spoon Bowmen markswoman impressed in her first overseas competition, the Indoor World Archery Cup in Nimes, France, where she was part of a 49-strong Archery GB squad.
Abbie just missed out on the quarter-finals of the women’s compound competition after qualifying for the last 32 in 12th place with a score of 557 out of 600, just one point off her personal best.
In the head-to-head round, Abbie was narrowly beaten 142-140 by Yasemin Begum Topkarci of Turkey who went on to finish sixth.
Abbie said: “I’ve always wanted to enter a competition overseas and so I chose to enter Nimes as my Christmas present for last year.
“It’s a big shoot that happens every year with more than 1,000 archers and you can just enter it as a competitor on your own.
“But some archery friends asked me if I wanted to go along with them and it was a lot of fun to shoot abroad for the first time.
“I didn’t think I’d be a threat to anybody and so it was good to compete against people I didn’t really know and see where I belong in the grand scheme of things.
“In qualifying, my first half wasn’t my strongest because I was particularly nervous and I’m working on some new techniques with a new bow.
“But in the end, I didn’t do that badly because I outqualified some people that I know.”
The junior successes were good at the time, but I’m aiming for different things now and moving on to bigger and better targetsAbbie Spinks (17), Silver Spoon Bowmen of Spalding Archery Club
Abbie, now in her second year of A-levels at Spalding High School, first came to light as someone to watch in archery when she won both national indoor and outdoor junior women’s compound titles in 2010 and 2011.
Club, county and national titles came within two years of taking up the sport, with her mum Lisa, despite having been diagnosed with an eyesight condition at the age of five.
Abbie said: “The junior successes were good at the time, but I’m aiming for different things now and moving on to bigger and better targets.
“Everything works in stages and it’s taken me a little while to get too where I am now.
“I feel as though I’m taking archery a little bit more seriously now and I’m capable of going further.
“In my opinion, it’s about shooting well and the points will come.”
The opportunity to shoot in France was the latest event in a life-changing 12 months for Abbie in which she moved up from AS to A-level studies at school and came eighth in the Archery GB national senior women’s compound event at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Abbie is now ranked inside the top 30 of ladies’ compound archers in Great Britain, joined by clubmate and close friend Emily Must of Swineshead.
“It’s more of a friendship thing with Emily because our scores are very similar,” Abbie said.
“I had no expectations when I went to Nimes because I didn’t know anyone who was there and, therefore, didn’t really know how I’d do.
“At a club or regional shoot, you know roughly how other people score and where you score alongside them.
“But I went into the Nimes shoot a bit blind and had an amazing time, getting to know people as people and not just archers.
“Before the head-to-head with Yasemin, her second half of qualifying was quite equal to mine and after the first three ends, we were neck and neck.
“But in the last two ends, she put in a better score at each end.
Abbie diary for 2016 is headlined by the annual Archery GB selection shoots in the spring and training camps with the British junior development squad.
“If I get into the top three, I can go on Archery GB’s tour of Romania as part of the British team.
“There’s also some residential training with the Archery GB junior development squad to look forward to.”
Training will take place with Abbie having secured a sponsorship package with Loughborough-based Merlin Archery Ltd and associates MYBO Products, as well as Reign Bowstrings of Derby.
“I’ve known the people involved in Merlin Archery for a while and they were quite informed about me and my technique,” Abbie said.
“I think the people at Merlin see me as having the personality to talk to other people about their equipment and to be a good ambassador for their products.
“They are so good and caring about me, not piling any pressure on but keeping things relaxed which is good for me.
“A lot of things have happened to me, like getting my Archery GB selection scores which has changed my mindset a bit.
“I also passed my driving test in August which has been quite good for my independence.”