Archery: Rikki Bingham caps great few months with county title
Rikki Bingham rounded off the indoor season in style as she took the county compound title at Braunstone Leisure Centre.
And although her score of 586 points from a possible 600 was just one shy of a national record, the Bowmen of Birstall archer has plenty of cause for celebration from the past few months of peppering the target.
Bingham claimed her first national title when she clinched the indoor crown at Coventry's Ricoh Arena before Christmas, while more recently she represented Great Britain at the Indoor World Cup in France.
It is a long way from her first taste of the sport some 23 years ago which came during a holiday at Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest.
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Though originally Bingham shot a recurve bow – reaching a high level with that – she switched to the compound seven years ago and has continued making outstanding progress.
"I got to a high level with the recurve bow and made it into the Olympic Development squad, but that was before all the lottery funding came into the sport," she said.
"When that came in it was hard to compete against someone who was full-time while you are working. It became impossible to compete at the level I wanted to because I couldn't afford to give up work."
She has got back to that level with the compound bow and a real breakthrough came with national championship success at Coventry.
Bingham, whose husband James won the men's county title at Braunstone, has no doubt about one of the main reasons for that – the birth of her first son, Harry, 15 months ago.
Any new addition to a family is of huge importance but Harry arrived three months early and that has helped the Binghams look at life in a different way. "I think, mentally, I have made big strides," she said.
"My nerves are not as great as they used to be. I have had to readjust the way I train, too. Now it is about quality rather than quantity and trying to maintain strength as much as I can."
With the outdoor season just around the corner, Bingham is hoping to earn a place at the World Championships, while domestically the national series is one of her main goals.
She has twice been third in that competition and, last season, was runner-up to her sister and Birstall team-mate, Christie Westman. One place better this year would suit her just fine in what is increasingly becoming a family affair.
The sport in this country is governed by Archery GB. Foresters Friendly Mutual Society is proud sponsor of Archery GB, www.forestersfriendlysociety.co.uk