Yosemite National Park - article

National Geographic – old magazine, new memories

National Geographic January 1985

National Geographic January 1985

Ok so apologies first as this has very little if anything to do with archery, but I wanted to share it with readers.

So firstly here is a little bit of background history. When I was growing up I wasn’t what you could call the healthiest of children. In fact I think I spent more time in and out of the doctors’ surgery or hospital than at school. The up side of this was I got to spend a lot of time with two wonderful people while my mam was out at work, these being my maternal grandparents. During this prolonged absence from school, I developed a love for old black and white TV shows and movies that were shown on British afternoon TV. The downside of my absence from school, was my schooling suffered and I was bullied a lot when I did go back to school.

So what brought on this trip down memory lane and insight into my childhood?

Well my Mam has been clearing out some stuff from my family home and she has given me a few boxes to sort through, actually quite a few boxes. You know the sort of thing, old books, school reports and numerous magazines. I’m sure those of you that may have gone through something similar would agree that the process can bring back a whole lot of memories, some good and some bad, a few happy and a few sad ones. I found a folding penknife my grandfather gave me when I was about eight, he had an identical one. In the same box I found his penknife too, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP emblazoned on them both. I’ve given one to my Mam and kept the other.

pen knife

pen knife

In another one of the boxes was a collection of National Geographic magazines from the early 1980s. My Mam had been buying them for me as a child to try to encourage my reading and interest in nature and the outdoors. The first one of these I found had an article on Yosemite National Park in the USA and how it was trying to cope with the increasing numbers of tourists, whilst maintaining its natural beauty.

Yosemite National Park - snowy image

Yosemite National Park – snowy image

I found this kind of ironic since only a couple of years ago Sharon and I visited the national park when we were doing a short road trip in the USA. Who would have thought that 30 years after the article was published I’d find the magazine in a dusty old box.

Yosemite National Park Map

Yosemite National Park Map

Of course my clearing and sorting for the night stopped there and then as I sat and read the article.

So there I was reading the article but now I was remembering walking some of the routes pictured, having visited it, seeing the views and knowing first-hand the beauty of the land.

View form the top

View form the top

One memory it triggered was of all places based on the Parking areas, where we’d parked up and photographed deer grazing in the early morning long before many visitors arrived.

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

I recalled the sound of the thunder storm as it rolled through the valley, having just climbed down from the falls.

Yosemite Falls, seen from the valley

Yosemite Falls, seen from the valley floor

Life is strange as I have to say that when I first read this all those years ago I might have thought how great it would be to visit but doubted I ever would. I guess that finding this and reading this again, what it has showed me was a sick kid growing up on a council estate in North Wales can not only develop a love for the outdoors but also travel. So enjoy your travels and reading, you never know where it might take you.

Thanks for reading

Some of the wood carving in the fort area

Shoot Report – NFAS National Championships – September 2017

Some of the wood carving in the fort area

Some of the wood carving in the fort area

Sorry this shoot report is so late in appearing, works been pretty mad, with long hours and a restructuring, but enough of that it is an archery blog after all. So the NFAS National championships has come and gone in what seems like a blink of an eye last September. Has it really been that long ago?

The weekend long competition this year was held in the Usk area of South Wales and if you would like to, you can read a review from last year’s event here.

I have to say I wasn’t approaching the weekend with a great deal of confidence and yes this will probably sound like me making excuses. I’d not had time to do much practice due to long hours at work and not having the opportunity to practice at weekends. I’m not as disciplined as Sharon, who gets up early and practices before starting work. Guess that is an advantage she has of working from home at times.

Archers on the shooting line

Archers on the shooting line

I don’t know about you but I know the lack of practise and associated lack of confidence really affects me as I tend to doubt myself and second guess my shooting. It also tends to affect my muscles as I don’t feel as fluid in the draw up and release sequence. Not to mention the stamina required to shoot two full days of competition.

Archers massing for the start

Archers massing for the start

Anyway time would tell and more importantly onto the interesting bit, the shoot report. The NFAS National championship is an annual event, attracting archers from all over the country shooting under the NFAS banner. Unlike the 3D Championships held on the late May bank holiday, where all targets are 3Ds, the Nationals are a mixed competition meaning you will shoot both paper faces and 3D targets (approximately 60/40 split respectively) on each course.

This year we were lucky enough to find a very nice local hotel Llangeview Lodge only a five minute drive from the courses, so no need to pack the tent or have a long drive to and from the event.

As is the norm, competitors shoot two courses, one each day. Saturday would see us shoot B and Sunday A, with the courses having been set by Hawk archers club (B) and a group of volunteers (A).

So day one saw us shooting B course. This course’s woodland was quite dense in areas making for some quite dark shots. The woodland hosting the course also had a number of small ponds, which Hawk course layers used on a number of shots, such as the crocodile and brown bear.

Ian shooting 3D bear on B course across pond

Ian shooting 3D bear on B course across pond

It felt like I started in the hardest area of this course as our first shot was a 3D Velociraptor, followed by the infamous JVD artic wolf paper face that I tend to call the Chihuahua wolf as it is all fur, this was followed by then JVD deer all over pretty open ground along a path. Three longish shots one after another, but it wasn’t just me who would struggle.

Crocodile 3D across pond on B course

Crocodile 3D across pond on B course

Ian shooting turkey face on B course

Ian shooting turkey face on B course

I felt sorry for the young junior archer who I was shooting with who blanked several of the early targets and was getting quite despondent when we got to catering. An upside of the day though was that it was good to shoot with Ian from Artemis Archers who I’d not chatted with for ages.

Ian shooting 3D frog on B course

Ian shooting 3D frog on B course

I think it would be fair to say I didn’t gel with this course overall. I felt many of the shot’s difficulties or challenges were really based on distance rather than framing. If you could judge the distance then you were more than likely to be successful, but since at times I couldn’t make out if I was in or not I was often second and third arrows.

To be fair to the course layers, I spoke to some archers who loved B course, having to judge the distance and dead ground was right up their street, but to me it felt like most of the challenge was in judging the distance. Of course if I’d done more preparation I might have felt differently. I personally find it difficult to recover from a bad start and wonder in hindsight if that has affected my view of B course.

Well Sunday would be another day; my hope was my shoulders would be ok. The several second and third arrows I had been taking was tiring it, causing occasional spasms during the day. We left the venue and retired to the hotel for a hot shower, very enjoyable meal and early night.

Day two would see an early start for all, with Admin opening at 7 am to get archers out on the courses as early as possible. I have to say I was feeling a bit guilty not helping out in some way on Sunday morning. Saturday I had been able to do my bit in marshalling the practise bosses, but we didn’t get to the site until about 7:30 and by the time we’d gone through arrow checks and picked up score cards, there was just enough time to shoot a few arrows and grab some breakfast before we were off onto the course.

A course woodland - 3D deer by the tree

A course woodland – 3D deer by the tree

The woodland that hosted A course was very different to that of B course, being more open and situated in and around an ancient hill fort.

A course - in and around ancient fort

A course – in and around ancient fort

This offered some beautifully laid shots with a mix of open and framed targets.

Paper face fox target on A course

Paper face fox target on A course

I feel I engaged more with this course and I think that helped, the only problem was my shoulder. In fact this would be the biggest problem I had on the Sunday that of fatigue or rather muscle spasms in my shoulder. It resulted in my arm flinching on a couple of targets in the morning and more in the afternoon, with my shoulder gradually getting worse as the day progressed.

A course - 3D bobcat on the log

A course – 3D bobcat on the log

Those are the breaks I guess and I at least finished the day, though it is incredibly annoying to see an arrows fly at exactly the right height landing just left or right of the target due to arm twitching, which was the case on the big white Ram 3D.

3D frog target hidden in the undergrowth

3D frog target hidden in the undergrowth

I think the one target I really did not get on with was a brown deer/ mouse paper face round the back of the hillside. None of us in the group could make it out and even when we were up close it was hard to identify.

Quick general comment to make here is I’d like to express our thanks as always to the course layers on both A and B course, admin teams, site organisers and estate owners.

I found out on the day that the volunteers who set A course had never set a course before, which did surprise me as I think they did a grand job, as did the guys on B course. Thanks to all that work so hard on setting the course, running the admin and organising the site.

I think the archer of the weekend must have been Richard Davies, who put in a truly amazing score to win Gents longbow.  Congrats to Lee Ankers, fellow Briar Rose club member on his medal winning placing in Gents Primitive.

The full breakdown of the results and collection of photos from them event can be found on the NFAS website (http://www.nfas.net/home.asp).

Sharon - Ladies NFAS National Champion in American Flatbow

Sharon – Ladies NFAS National Champion in American Flatbow

Sharon did really well despite not feeling she was on form, improving on her second place last year to win Ladies American Flat Bow. As for me, well despite having a collapsing shoulder and not shooting much this year I manage to come in with a 3rd place in Gents American Flatbow, third year in a row.

My 3rd place medal for 3rd year on the run

My 3rd place medal for 3rd year on the run

More importantly for Sharon and I, we managed to retain the Nearest and Dearest trophy for the fourth year.

Thanks for reading.

Quick update on Traditional Bowhunter

I thought readers and followers might like an update on the article I wrote recently on the recent NFAS proposal for a new shooting class, that of Traditional Bowhunter.

It looks like it is going to go to the NFAS membership to vote on the proposal following discussion at the society’s meeting, with only a few minor amendments.

So if you are a member of the NFAS you’ll be getting details through, probably in the next newsletter. As it is a new shooting style / class, all members of the society will get to vote on the proposal.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s talk about quivers

Jims bow against the tree

Jims bow against the tree

While I was writing the article on the traditional bowhunters style proposal in the NFAS recently, I got thinking about the different types of quivers that we use. This got me thinking about writing an article on the different types of quivers being used in archery.

There is almost as much variety in quivers as there are in bows, back quivers, bow quivers, field quivers and more. So what’s the appeal of one over another?  We know they come in all shapes and sizes and I got wondering as to what people use and why? To answer this or rather to get more insight I thought I’d turn to the great internet for help and specifically a Facebook group I belong to “Fellowship of the bow” which is mainly for traditional archers and it has a few thousand members. On the site I posted a simple poll and invited members contributions and thoughts on there. The feedback and response was awesome for which I’m very grateful.

The results from the poll are shown below and it is interesting in the sheer diversity of styles . The three most popular are in descending order, back, hip and then field quivers, though bow quivers were also very popular too. I’m also going to mention a mate of mine who has a quiver mounted on a walking stick, which offers both a method of carrying arrows and a useful aid when walking some field courses.

  • Back quivers 62
  • Hip 50
  • Field 47
  • Bow 37
  • Other 9
  • Target 6
  • Arrowbag 4
  • Native style 2
  • Historical 1
  • Walking stick 1
  • Personal caddy 1
  • Mongolian 1

What is very clear is the choice of quiver can be as personal as the choice of bows, some people love back quivers while others hate them and prefer the convenience of the bow quivers.

Often quivers are one of the first things that archers buy when they start shooting. When I first started I made a simple leather quiver, just enough to carry three or four of the arrows I owned.

Shortly after I got more seriously into the hobby I bought a leather field quiver out of a bargain basket at a local archery shop, when I really got hooked and I’ve been using it ever since. It is fairly standard as quivers of that kind go, with four tubes allowing you to carry 10-12 arrows if you ram them in, along with a couple of pockets for spare string, pens etc. and a belt loop. A while back I covered what I carry on a shoot (here is the link to it). Though it can carry more I tend to only carry 3 or 4 arrows in the quiver with the rest being kept in an arrow tube on my back. I have tried using a couple of back quivers, but never found one that has worked for me.

So lets’ have a brief look at the different types of quivers out there, some of the positives and negatives. I’ve drawn on my own experiences, along with feedback from the poll and comments from archers. So in no particular order lets’ start.

Bow quivers – these are quivers which are fitted direct to the bow, hence the name bow quiver and usually house 2-6 arrows.

The appeal of these tends to be associated with the convenience of having everything to hand on the bow, resulting in less to carry. The other thing that many commented on was the lack of noise with this form, with none of the rattling of arrows as you walk round the wood. I have to say that they can look good. What is interesting is that some people seem to use these in conjunction with a field or back quiver to carry spare arrows.

I find it interesting that some people commented on how they add a bit of stability to the bow, while others say it makes no difference. I know that this has been debated on a number of occasions but having never used one I can’t say one way or another.  My only point of concern is the positioning of the quivers. You need to ensure they don’t impede the flex of the limbs.

As I’ve said I’ve never used a bow quiver but I can see the appeal for the convenience, they can look very cool too on the right bow.  Though I wouldn’t fit one on my flat bow I think I would put one on my recurve.

Back quiver – so these are worn on the back, though you might have guessed this by the name, it does kind of give it away. I’m going to group back quivers with those that are small backpacks with integral quivers here too. These small back packs are a bit like camel packs that house arrows along with a few other bits.

The appeal of back quivers appears to be a mix of practicality and looks. As one person said it’s quite a romantic look.  A few people commented on the fact they prefer back quivers as they don’t like stuff hitting their leg or around their waste.

I’ve tried using a couple of different back quivers and never got on with the ones I have used, as they always seemed to move too much on my shoulder. I’d struggle to stop the arrows falling out when I bent over, or catch them on the tree branches.

The big advantage of this style can be it leaves your hands free and all the weight is on your shoulders rather than your waist.

From comments and my own experience 3 point connection seems to work best for comfort, practicality wise too, as comments imply they rest better on the shoulders.

One design feature that was mentioned was having a back quiver made from a material that is sufficiently flexible so when you bend over the material, say leather, flexes holding the arrows so they don’t fall out when you bend. Makes a lot of sense as this is something that puts a lot of people off using them, including myself.

One interesting thing that was mentioned, and I have seen, are some back quivers which have a slit in the side which you draw arrows from, rather than drawing them from over your shoulder.

Target quivers – tend be a little smaller than other quivers and not necessarily designed to accommodate the large numbers of arrows or larger diameter arrow like 11/32 wooden shafts that you tend to use in field archery.

Field quivers  – these allow you to carry a few more bits and pieces, mine has a couple of pouches where I carry spare string, pens, string wax, whistle etc. check out my article on what I carry on a field shoot for more details.

The downside of field quivers tends to be there size and potential weight on one side of your body. This was something that was raised by a couple of people on the poll, along with disliking the way they hit your leg as you are walking. I know for me I tend to have my hand on my quiver when walking to stop it knocking my leg.

I’ve stuck with a field quiver for most of my archery life so far, though I have modified mine slightly by replacing the belt I use and using a Bohning Rigid Shooters Belt for more comfort.

Choice of types of quivers is just one thing, you then have the materials they are constructed from. Though in essence we have traditional leather verse modern materials, its worth remembering other materials have been used for quivers, including cloth ones. But I think that is another area of discussion, some people like the modern materials, others like what they see as the more traditional look and feel of leather.

Many modern material quivers, especially the backpack style offer effective weather proofing and are waterproof. This is really important to remember as I know on a couple of shoots in poor weather where I’ve literally turned my quiver upside down to empty the water out. I also had to empty all the contents of the pouches to let it dry out completely. It’s worth remembering that your quiver encounters the same weather conditions as you, so remember to waterproof them.

Another advantage to modern fabric quivers are they tend to be lighter, something to consider if you are carrying all day around a field course.

One problem you can have with selecting the right quiver is in some ways the same as with bows, i.e. the price. The cost can vary as widely as the designs. Of course you can pick up quivers for a few pounds from most archery shops or the internet, but likewise quivers can be quite expensive, especially if you go for custom leather ones.

For me I think I’ll stick with my field quiver on my belt for now and my arrow tube on my back. It works for me. Much as I would like to have a back quiver, I can’t seem to find one that works for me.

Me at the wood

The choice is such a personal thing, but at the end of the day find something that works for you, so long as it can carry your arrows, does it matter if it’s on your bow, back or attached to your belt.

Thanks for reading.

BAKEWELL BOWS Theft reward offered 

By now many in the archery community in the UK and beyond will have heard of the theft from Bakewell Bows. I’ve been in touch with Dawn Priestly who has been publishing updates and she’s furnished me with the following information and images.

As thousands of you are now aware Pete Bakewell (Bakewell Bows) of Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire was broken into last Thursday night / Friday morning. They took all his finished stock, hand and power tools amongst other things. They also took our unique and irreplaceable family bows.
The response to my original post has been phenomenal and the support shown to Pete and Sam above and beyond anything we could have hoped for. Thank you, each and every one of you.

We need to keep the pressure on those cretinous beings that have done this, they need to be brought to justice.

Pete is offering a REWARD; in return for information leading to a successful prosecution against the person(s) responsible of this most despicable crime; the person offering the relevant information will be able to choose one bow of their choice from Pete’s catalogue, hand crafted to their specifications.

Please share this far and wide and keep vigilant.

If the persons responsible for this crime are reading this, please just return what isn’t yours.

If you have any information please contact either myself or Nottinghamshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 19627102017.

Again thank you all for your help and support.

Below are photos of bows similar to some of those stolen.

Let’s hope the greater archery community can help, please help to get the message out.

Thanks for reading.