Director’s chair: Controlling the clock in competition

There’s one role in every team of judges that flies a little under the radar. While the majority of the technical officials patrol the field, waiting to assist with line calls and applying the rules, there’s one individual sat out of sight.

The director of shooting has a critical job.

He or she controls the timing system, be it clock panels or traffic lights or whistles, to regulate the amount of time each end or set takes.

Graham Potts has been one of World Archery’s 70+ international judges since 2006 and director of shooting at six Hyundai Archery World Cup Finals.

In head-to-head shooting at the world level, there’s a lot for the timing controller to think about.

“It is about ensuring the athletes have the best opportunity to perform and being able to react quickly to situations that arise so that there are no disadvantages to anyone,” said Graham.

“I’m grateful to those who have trusted me to carry those duties out to the standards required.”

As well as controlling range safety, signalling the countdown and closing an end, a show-range director of shooting has to switch clocks during alternate shooting and keep tabs on team rotations.

“Communication with the judging team and the show director is one of the biggest challenges, together with concentration,” said Graham.

Considering how many on-site decisions the director of shooting makes, it’s testament to those who fill the role that so few mistakes are made.

Like most things in the sport, the technology available has advanced – although so has the job’s requirements, especially with the introduction of professional on-site and television production staff, all with a stake in how the competition runs.

Graham took up archery in the UK when he was six. He’s shot at least one arrow every year since 1966.

“[My dad] taught me and my brother how to shoot, and most Friday evenings we would do archery,” he said.

Frustrated with his own shooting inability, Potts began to assist his father and uncle as a judge – and later seized the opportunity to fast-track his international candidacy ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

He was on the field for the last gold medal match in London, which his father was able to see before passing away in 2013, and then served as chairman of the technical officials at Rio 2016.

Among the international travel, there’s one picture – closer to home – that Graham cherishes.

“We believe this is possibly the only time three generations of the same family have judged at an event together,” said Graham, pictured with his father and son, Robert.

Judges are the technical officials in archery, tasked with applying the rules and regulations of the sport at tournaments around the world.