The grading system originally involved a system of “pressure events”. This rule has now been removed because it was found to be too complicated. I have to say that I liked that rule, so I shall tell you a little bit about it. The essence was that to get HA3 and above you had to have shot some of your scores under pressure.
My original plan was to require actual competition scores. This would have been impractical in some places, notably the USA, since there are not enough competitions available. We therefore said that pressure events could be shot either at competitions or at special “pressure grading events”. These would produce pressure by the simple means of reducing the frequency with which you could attempt them: if you don’t shoot a good enough score at that event then you will have to wait for a month before trying again.
I had two reasons for wanting to implement this. First, I think it important that people be able to perform under pressure (I am hopeless at all sports under pressure). This is a competitive sport (and for those who view it more as a traditional event than a competitive one, remember that our forefathers were under a lot of pressure as they rode into battle!).
Second, it helps to level the playing field between those who have horses and those who do not. Let’s say that you need 4 scores of 60pts for a particular grade. If my average score is about 50pts then I might manage 60pts every now and again but if I only shoot once per month then I probably won’t get 4 scores of 60pts. You, on the other hand, might have horses and shoot every day. Your average might be 45pts but if you are shooting 20 times each month then you will probably reach 60pts 4 times. This is the law of averages in action. You may not be as good as I am but you will get a higher grade. Of course you are likely to become better than me pretty quickly with all the training but you should not get the higher grade until you are genuinely better rather than just giving luck more opportunities.
Pressure events were to be events that could only be shot once per month or in competitions. This would have reduced the advantage given by the opportunity to shoot more often. It would also test the ability to shoot under pressure because the archer would know that if they didn’t make the grade this time then they have to wait a month.
Extensive testing in the USA revealed two things:
many people found the rules about pressure events confusing;
people feel that they are under pressure as soon as they start to keep track of the score.
We therefore decided to remove the section abut pressure. Grades may be obtained at any venue so long as you shoot according to the rules, keeping times and scores, and you may submit one score per style per day.
In the long term I would like to see the pressure system introduced. That is probably some years away, however. Imagine a world in which there were enough competitions everywhere in the world to allow us all to enter as many as we want. For this we need the sport to grow. I hope that this grading system will help that to happen.