MARKSMAN Gary Barnes admitted he is still in shock after being crowned European Field Archery Champion.
The 35-year-old, who won the English title two years ago, entered the competition in South Wales against the best in Europe just really to test himself.
But he came out on top after five grueling days of competition and is now debating going for the World crown next year.
Eagle-eyed Gary, who lives in Huncoat, says he hasn't quite come to terms with what he has achieved.
"It hasn’t sunk in yet as I entered thinking it was way out of my league," said Gary.
"It was an unknown quantity for me as there were competitors from Scotland, Wales, Germany and more and I thought they would be more used to the terrain than me.
"I thought everyone would be so much stronger but I just wanted to give it a go. It was torture though!"
Gary’s five days consisted of three set courses through woodland, firing at 28 set targets each day from various distances and picking up points for difficulty.
"It was so hilly and really demanding. I was out from about 9.30 in the morning to 7pm in the evening and mentally it is really tough to keep your concentration."
Gary raced into a 20 point lead on the first day before dropping to 19 after the second day.
"Then on the third day the heavens opened so thankfully we had that day off," continued the sharp-shooter.
"Then it was head to head on the fourth day and I was in a group that had the people at the top so it was really hard. I lost my head in the morning and dropped 15 points – I think I relaxed way too much – but in the afternoon I held it together and it meant I had only dropped two points out of the day.
"By the fifth day I did shoot the wrong target once and dropped some points but I shot reasonably well and only had to hit two targets to win and they were relatively easy ones so luckily I did it.
"When it was over I just couldn’t believe it.
"I must admit, though, the whole event was torture but I am thinking about the World championships in Germany next year now – I might have a go."
The only blip was being unable to lift the Euro trophy during the presentation.
"The guy who won it last year was from Swtizerland and hasn’t returned it yet so I was just presented with my gold medal," he said.
Gary, an X-Ray engineer, trains at Read’s Oakleaf Bowmen Club and in Hebden Bridge but admits his preparations haven’t been all smooth running.
"I had to go to America with work and it meant I just had to keep fit.
"Then I came home and had probably about six weeks of intensive training before the competition."
Gary only took up the sport about six years ago after trying it out on holiday, enjoying it and then getting some archery equipment for his birthday and taking it from there.
"I became addicted then but never thought I would get this far. I thought being a national champion in 2007 was good and I would never go any better so to win the Europeans is amazing.
"I have had a few e-mails and texts telling me congratulations but also get a bit of stick. Someone I work with - his father competed in the Olympics and he brags that that’s proper archery and mine isn’t. It’s all a laugh though."
Gary will be having the last laugh if he does become the World’s best too.