Charles Mechin: “Crossbow shooting is first of all a tradition!”
Crossbow shooting as passion and life work – the IAU ex-president Charles Mechin told us how he got to know this amazing kind of sport. Interesting details and facts, valuable recommendations as well as an authoritative opinion of a highly qualified specialist about development and modernization of crossbow shooting – all these things and many others can be read about in an exclusive interview at www.iau-crossbow.org.
- How did crossbow shooting appear in your life? Please, tell us how and when you started crossbow shooting?
- I started shooting in 1981 with the usual ISSF disciplines. The Field crossbow was introduced to France in 1985 and one day it was necessary to shoot a Field competition for which only one person had the knowledge. It dates back to that moment, when everyone wanted to judge only the so-called “noble” disciplines. The IAU was not among them. Then I joined the French team on the trips to various international matches, and it was in Zwewegem that I met the judges of that time and we’ve been friends since then. They showed me everything I needed to know and I quickly learned everything I needed to do in St-Petersburg with Pavel KASZONIY.
- To your mind, what is special about this kind of sport ? Why is crossbow shooting attractive for athletes ?
- The first thing that impressed me was the aspect "tradition". Do you know another discipline that before the first shot says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I salute you”? The attractiveness comes from the fact that it is shooting in the wild, silent compared to shooting with bullets, suitable for any population (men, women, the young or veterans), not stressful in relation to the power of firearms, the dress code in white…
- We have to admit that unfortunately, crossbow shooting is not equally well-developed in all the countries - IAU members. In your view, what is this phenomenon connected with : the history of the development of crossbow shooting, financial support, or maybe something else?
- It is obvious that the development of a discipline is linked to the financial support of a country’s sports authorities. In our European countries in particular, development depends on a Federation that gives objectives, directions and, therefore, money. In order to get their financial support you need a core of active shooters, as well as a large number of shooting clubs with a dynamic leadership team.
- Which factor, in your opinion, influences the development of crossbow shooting all over the world?
- If we speak about the whole world, it is the International Union that must inform, support the organizers of the event, organize international competitions.
- At the moment the IAU has entered a modernization stage : the rules in Match and Field divisions as well as the formats of holding the IAU competitions are changing. For example, on December 8, 2018, there took place the World Cup Final in Field division in Orel, Russia. The WC was held according to the new rules including duel competitions. To your mind, what is this tendency for modernization connected with? Is it necessary for further development?
- Sometimes it is good to make changes or introduce new things. This does not mean taking away from the “royal” discipline of IR 900 what it exists for (endurance, shooting in any situation, concentration, wind), while remaining friendly and respectful of sports ethics. If we take into account the endurance and hardiness of young people, let’s create a special discipline for young people! New rules are therefore written according to the changes desired by the majority of the appropriate Committee (they were to arrive by 17 november) and tested during the different World Cups. Further development therefore depends on whether one wants to be political or sporting, if one wants to make it a game or an Olympic discipline. Of course, nothing is easy, but it is not by considering oneself THE leader that we succeed.
- You’ve recently been to India where you visited the International Crossbow Fest -2019. Could you, please, share your impressions of this competition and the country itself?
- Indeed, I was invited as an IAU Ambassador to this shooting party at the International crossbow Fest 2019 (thank you Facebook for having communicated!), in the Agra region. I have known the organizers for four years, and I know everything they do for the development of the crossbow. With all of this, I proposed them to join the IAU, and I was told, "I’m now considering the possibilities of joining IAU." The problem is not simple in India. It seems that there would be 4 federations (to check). Concerning the people who organized this holiday, they understood for a long time that it was necessary to attract young people (what I demonstrated in 2010 at an international meeting in Paris and no one has understood the idea yet). Demonstrations took place in several schools, with up to 200 students who immediately felt enthusiastic by this discipline. The competition is not yet under control, although there are participants at the Ennigerloh event in Germany, but many want to shoot the Crossbow Target. I have no news on the activity of the part of India that has officially joined IAU. On the other hand, in Agra, there is a powerful communication force that one would like to have, with many advertisers who are very fond of this sport, with experienced media.
- You were an organizer of lots of IAU competitions and championships for a number of years, working in the IAU. Which of them is the most memorable to you? Why?
- The most memorable competition I have seen (and also certainly for all the shooters I think) is that of Ulan-Ude in the Republic of Buryatia in 2015. At that time, I was still considered as President. I had a first visit of the site with lots of attention. A shooting system for 30 meters Match Crossbow firing was specially created for this occasion in one month, showing the russian know-how. The local tour was very enjoyable (Buddhist temple, Lake Baikal…). Then we had an incredible Opening Ceremony along the very large Lenin Square where opera singers, acrobats, gymnasts performed. The speech with the President of Buryatia and the television, everything crowned with an amazing fireworks display. Evening program was guaranteed for all shooters where eating and dancing was organized. Mini-ceremonies in the city with local shows were held, and there was a visit to the Lake Baîkal for everybody with a dinner on the bank. The quality of the shooting sites was widely appreciated, for example, this giant screen for field results. It was a nice demonstration of financial support for the good of the IAU. No one is to complain, but unfortunately no nation will be able to achieve all this.
- Which of the divisions “Field” or “Match” is more preferable for you? Why?
- Personally, I prefer Field Division. Match crossbow requires a lot of skills that I don’t have. The dressing code recalls the ISSF completely, and Winzeler’s monopolistic character becomes expensive. The field has this rural feeling that does not prevent the technical qualities of shooting, a traditional dressing code in white, a respect displayed towards each other.
- What is your occupation now?
- When you have passion in shooting, there are of course disciplines that can interest you in other aspects and qualities. I am an international judge in ISSF A, in metallic silhouettes, in IAU and Jury para-shooting. I have enough knowledge to diversify the assistance I can provide in judging. I am in France a referent for the crossbow, as well as for the IAU judge training, and I also provide training and attract new shooters in ISSF for my League. I finally shoot in the European guilds with a traditional crossbow and a crossbow with balance weight. I am the President of the Paris Committee, and a member of the French Federation Committee.
- What advice would you give to future organizers of the IAU championships, young athletes and all the crossbow amateurs, being a person with an extensive management experience and a professional in crossbow shooting? What should be done in order to popularize crossbow shooting? What aspects should the attention be paid to?
- Clearly, future organizers should not try to do everything in the exceptional way. The desire to organize a championship must first respect the sporting aspect, with usual conditions of access. The overall budget must be studied well in advance, according to the actual cash flow and possible subsidies. Guidelines must be followed to prepare thoroughly for such an event. When it comes to new shooters, you have to know how to keep them in collectives in order to train them continuously.