Bows resting on tree

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – August 2017

Archers briefing at Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Archers briefing at Spirit of Sherwood shoot

So August is normally thought of as the height of summer in the UK, but I can’t say it really felt like it when we set off. Thankfully it remained dry through the day, if a little chilly first thing, though it did brighten up later on. Since it is a good two hour drive for us, if the motorways are clear, we decided to travel up the night before and stay over in Worksop. I don’t know what it is but the UK motorway network seems to be having more and more roadworks and temporary speed limits.

Archers arriving for Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Archers arriving for Spirit of Sherwood shoot

So there are few things in life that can be relied upon. Normally the phrase includes birth, death and taxes. Well maybe Spirit of Sherwood shoots should be added, as the ones I have attended have always been good, with targets well placed, not stretched, admin organised, along with good marshalling from start to finish. This Sunday was no different, even at the end when the admins had to resort to doing everything by hand due to computer problems it worked. I think the only thing that let them down was the catering van they brought in, who were quite slow and seemed to run out quickly.

Those wanting to read a previous shoot report can find a link to one here. As I write this I’ve realised I never did write a shoot report for last Decembers wooden arrow shoot at Spirit. Sorry.

The course was a mix of paper faces and 3D targets, organised in a clover leaf formation round the central point. This would mean we’d pass the catering stop a couple of times whilst navigating the 40 target course.

With I think over 200 people attending the shooting groups were quite large with 5 archers in most. Sunday would see Steve and David from Lincoln longbow, two comparative newbie archers having been only shooting for about 12 months, joining Harry shooting compound Unlimited, Sharon and myself.  We also had Mathew Harry’s grandson with us, enjoying a walk round as he wasn’t shooting.

3D deer shot at Spirit of Sherwood

3D deer shot at Spirit of Sherwood

The course itself was challenging without the targets being stretched, with some clever use of bracken as cover. Speaking of bracken, Spirit course layers covered all the bosses with foliage making them disappear in to the background. I especially liked the paper deer they set behind the shade of a bush, which made it very hard to identify if it was a 3D,2D or paper face. Vey cleverly set.

3D bobcat target between the trees

3D bobcat target between the trees

Another well set target I thought was the black bear 3D on all fours which was set in a clearing, see photo. It looked good and I always think that is part of the battle when making a course work.

3D black bear between the trees

3D black bear between the trees

I seemed to have a day of not quite judging the distances correctly, probably down to the lack of practise I am getting. Though I have to say it also could be down to the clever course laying. I seemed to get a lot of sixteens but very few twenties, with my arrows landing just over or under the higher scoring zones.

Steve shooting at 3D

Steve shooting at 3D

Spirit of Sherwood normally have some form of moving target and this time it was a 3D crocodile which I am surprised to say  I managed to hit. Normally I don’t fare well on moving targets. I know some groups found the day quite slow, which I think is inevitable when you have so many archers. We kept a steady base throughout the day, with our only real hold up being at the second food stop, where the groups in front had stopped for food.

Special thanks should go to young Mathew for volunteering to carry the 3D target we finished on in by himself, thank you. Here’s hoping you have a great birthday in a few days. Sharon and I shot ok, with Sharon winning ladies AFB and me scraping a first too. Thankfully the drive home afterwards  wasn’t too problematic, so in all a good day.

Thanks for reading

3D deer from the tower at LEFA

Shoot Report – Long Eaton Field Archers – Solstice Shoot June 2017

Lone Eaton shoot briefing

Lone Eaton shoot briefing

Sorry it’s taken so long to write this up but life seems to be delaying my writing recently.

It had been a while since Sharon and I had been to a Long Eaton Field Archers (LEFA) shoot and I have to say it was good to be back and catch up with people. As always if you are interested in reading a previous shoot report a link to one is here. It’s a relatively short drive for us being around an hour depending on traffic on the motorway, which wasn’t too bad. This would be their Summer Solstice shoot and LEFA always put in even more effort for this.

On this Sunday we would shoot with Tim and Martin both shooting compound unlimited. Have to say we had a really good laugh all day, with it proving to be a really friendly group with chats about the course, bow styles and the recent 3D champs. I know some traditional archers find shooting with compound archers not their thing, but I’ve never had a problem with it and that Sunday was a good example of how different archers can mix and enjoy the same event.

Interesting 3D spider on the web

Interesting 3D spider on the web

On that Sunday LEFA set up a few shots with WASP pegs, these are used as the first peg as opposed to the red peg, for adults shooting crossbow and sighted compounds. I think Wasp pegs can work quite well, offering normally a longer or more technical shot for those bow styles, though it I didn’t think it worked as well as LEFA course layers had hoped. Shame as I think it could prove quiet a good idea, offering a slightly different shot.

3D fox

3D fox

Overall I think it was a very challenging course that used the dead ground well, probably a bit harder than I remember previous solstice shoots but still achievable. I think we would both like to go back and shoot it again and see if we could improve our performance.

Sharon shooting 3D deer between trees

Sharon shooting 3D deer between trees

We were pretty luck with the weather as the few heavy showers arrived whilst we were having lunch  and were under cover enjoying some of the excellent catering that Long Eaton are renowned for.

Sharon thinking - she does this a lot

Sharon thinking – she does this a lot

LEFA like a few other clubs go to the trouble of camouflaging the target bosses so they are less obvious and effectively disappear into the undergrowth when shooting the 3ds in front. This adds to the natural look of the shot and is something I know a few archers commented.

3D deer from the tower at LEFA

3D deer from the tower at LEFA

Raising boar 3d

Raising boar 3D

One of the many nice shots was the large deer in the bracken. You shot it off a low tower and this made for a nicely deceptive shot as you tried to judge the distance. The course layers also worked hard on setting some nicely framed shots between trees or using the uneven ground to make for dead ground.

Small rabbit 3D between the trees

Small rabbit 3D between the trees

The course was a shoot through and seemed to flow well, with only a couple of hold ups near the end of the day, which is normal as archers get tired, having been on their feet all day. It felt a little quieter than previous visits, with a few less archers, though still had a very relaxed feel. It was good to see Dixie Leather there selling their ware.

Despite feeling we didn’t shoot well, Sharon and I both won our classes (ladies and gents American flat bow), with a slight mistake when the results were announced added to Sharon’s reputation as her score was announced as 644. It was actually 464, yet no-one was really surprised at the higher score, guess they know what she is capable of.

Thanks for reading.

Archers setting off for the start of the shoot

Shoot Report – Forest of Arden – July 2017

Forest of Arden mustering and announcements

Forest of Arden mustering and announcements

So on a slightly overcast Sunday morning Sharon and I packed the car for the short run up the motorway to Forest of Arden’s grounds. For those interested here is a link to the last shoot report I wrote on Forest so you can have an idea of what they were like then.  Despite it being overcast we had fairly good weather, without any heavy showers or backing heat, though there seemed lots of bugs out enjoying the good weather and archers as a source of food. Note to self need to get some more insect repellent and after bite cream. Enough of this waffle, onto the course details.

The course would be 40 targets, all 3Ds and we would shoot with Julie and Roger from LEFA (Long Eaton Field Archers) which is always a good laugh. Roger has gone back to shooting Hunting Tackle and Julie is trying out shooting compound in bow hunter. Considering it was only her second time out with it, she shot really well throughout the day. Do think she needs thicker arrows as the number of times she was just off the line a thicker arrow might have made the difference.

Julie shooting 3D before lunch break

Julie shooting 3D before lunch break

The shoot was a shoot through with Forest having organised a second catering stop at one end of the woodland, along with the main one at admin and muster point. This seemed to work well.

They did have a lower turnout than normal for their shoot with approximately 100 archers. I think part of this may have been due to the wedding of two midland archers the day before. I can I take this opportunity to pass on my congratulations Rich and Alex.

I think the fewer numbers actually worked better as personally I feel there were a few targets a bit close to the previous one. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it was dangerous just a little snug and if there had been more people I think a couple of pegs might have been a bit crowded. This is a personal view and for those that shot the course feel free to disagree. The course layers at Forest had obviously worked hard to change the course as it was reworked since the last time we’d shot there, having reversed the route round the wood.

Archers waiting for the start

Archers waiting for the start

Having said this Forests course layers produced some very nicely set targets making use of the grounds they have which is a mix of deciduous and conifer woodland, with some dips and hollows. Unlike the last visit there weren’t the giant foxgloves covering the forest floor, though there were some wild raspberry plants doted round the woodland. Wild raspberries are smaller than cultivated ones but taste great, being quite sweet.

One target worth mentioning is the 3D lion shot off the hillside. This obviously caught out few archers by the number of arrows stuck high in the tree on way to the target.  There were 4 arrows there when we got to the target.

Julie shooting 3D

Julie shooting 3D

For us it was a very relaxed day and flowed well, I know a couple of groups got held up and found it a bit slow at times, but most seemed to be fine. It was great to meet up with one local reader of the blog who commented on how glad he was to see recent months actions hadn’t stopped me writing. Thanks your comments means a lot.

This was the largest group outing for the recently formed Briar Rose field Archers, with eight members present. Of the eight, four came away with medals. Lee getting 3rd in gents American flatbow, Gail also shot well considering she hasn’t been out much recently getting 3rd in ladies Bare-bow. Sharon shot well winning ladies AFB and I managed first in gents AFB.

Briar Rose Field Archers at Forest of Arden

Briar Rose Field Archers at Forest of Arden – Andy, Jayne, Gail and Sharon

Special congratulations to Roger who put in a storming score in hunting tackle of nearly 800pts.

Thanks for reading.

Do I still love archery? Maybe, maybe not so much right now.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over recent months. I’m sat here trying to writing up a couple of shoot reports, along with some notes on future articles and one thing struck me. I don’t have the same drive as I had 12 months ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing people, catching up with friends, being sociable and meeting new people. Shooting with friends is very relaxing and enjoyable, with the recent shoot at Forest of Arden with Roger and Julie proving this. Added to this are the number of conversations I’ve had at recent shoots with archers, which start with “Are you Rob?”, “I read your blog” which is amazing. Likewise having the opportunity of being in a team setting one of the 3D championships courses was great, if a lot of hard work and we’ve had some very positive feedback from archers who shot the course.

But I feel I’ve seen, and in some ways been the target of some of the darker side of the hobby, the politics, arguments, power games some might call it. True these happen within all clubs or organisations where people interact. But I think it has affected me and my enthusiasm for the hobby.

I think it struck me first last September at the NFAS championships. There I saw some people being very vocal in complaining at having their arrows checked by marshals at Administration on arrival. (Arrows have to be checked to ensure they have name and shooting order on to comply with the shooting and safety rules of the society. This can be easily done with a piece of tape or Sharpie pen.) Yet there were some who complained and weren’t always very polite about it. I think I took this to heart. I couldn’t understand why people were complaining about something that is and always has been a rule for all shoot nots just champs. Everyone marshalling the courses, checking arrows, doing the admin etc. is a volunteer. So why have a go at the volunteers because you haven’t followed the rules?

Then later in the year as many of the regular readers know Sharon and I had our membership renewal for our old club blocked. This left a very bad taste in my mouth and something I still think of now. To be honest I’m not sure if I ever really got over it or the way it was handled. I wonder if people realise the impact such actions have?

I know this kind of behaviour and actions is not just affecting me, as I know others who have had similar experiences in recent months.

So now I find I have less enthusiasm and find it hard to make time to practise. This time last year I’d be shooting 2-3 times a week, 120 plus arrows a night, and again at the woods on Saturday and a competition Sunday. Yes in the last 2 months I’ve practised 2-3 times, tops.

I think some of the problem with me feeling like this is I don’t get to shoot that much now, either as a competitor or simply at a wood with friends. So the relaxing chilled element of the field archery where you are shooting in a wood and seeing the seasons change has been lost.

Yet as I write this I think of all the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through archery. Especially those who have introduced themselves by saying they have read this blog. For a few that is how they heard about field archery. I have to say I’m amazed that one small blog in the UK can have such an impact.

By the way if you do read this blog and bump into me on a shoot then be warned I will ask you what you find useful. It is something I always ask as I try to write what I hope people will find interesting and useful to know.

It’s interesting to hear the responses, as time and again it seems to be you want more write ups on shoots you’ve either attended or are thinking of going to in the future. I know one person at Hawk shoot commented on how they’d read previous shoot reports to get an idea of what to expect.

I am always amazed that anyone reads these rambling of mine. What is even more amazing from my perspective is what one archer I met at the Druids shoot recently said the blog had been recommended to them!

I still feel uneasy about my hobby. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced the darker side of the hobby as a few of you have reached out to me in the past.

So what now? Well, I’m still here a little more jaded and a lot less energetic.

Those who know me, know that I will still help with coaching, arrow selection etc I’m just a bit quieter now and less likely to volunteer or comment on Facebook, web-boards etc.

Sorry if this sounds bit of a downer article, but I just wanted to share my thoughts and in some way explain why my writing on this site has been less frequent.

Thanks to all of you and thanks for reading.