Can you hit a barn door

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – December 2017

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden arrow shoot

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden arrow shoot

I tend to see the Spirit of Sherwood Christmas shoot as the end of the year as far as NFAS shoot calendar is concerned, which is silly really as NFAS shoots carry on all through the year. However for this reason and because they put on cracking shoots, we always make an effort to get to their shoots and this years was no exception.

As it’s a good two hour drive for us to get up to Spirits grounds we decided to head up the night before and stayed over at a local travel lodge in Worksop. As it was, the drive up on the Saturday was quite unpleasant being very grey and drizzly all the way, though not as cold as it had been during the previous week. I’m glad we did the drive on the Saturday as I wouldn’t want to do it early in the morning. Have to say the weather didn’t help the splitting headache I had had all day and would have for the next few days.

Spirit of Sherwood shoots are always well attended, with shooting places being booked up several weeks in advance and this one was no exception. This would be wooden arrow only and a Christmas themed shoot. There were to be 36 targets on this course course consisting of a mixture of 3D targets, with a number of novelty shots.

If you like, you can read a previous shoot report here from one of their shoots earlier in the year. It was great to catch up with some friends, like Jim Pierce. Just trying to remember Jim, did you start on target peg 8 or 9?

Thankfully the damp grey weather of the Saturday was replaced with a mostly dry sunny Sunday and warmer weather than we’d experienced during the week.

3D deer between the trees

3D deer between the trees

The shooting group joining Sharon and myself for the day would include Kevin and Carolyan from Pines Park shooting Hunting tackle and american flatbow respectively.

Spirits ground is a flat woodland of a mix of confer and deciduous trees, making it a pretty easy to get round. It’s quite a pretty wood with the winter sun shining through the branches, though at this time of year the days of sunlight are short, so they tried to start early to give archers the best chance to finish in good light.

Can you hit a barn door

Can you hit a barn door

Spirit course layers always set a moving target to challenge archers, last time it was a 3D crocodile. This time they had made up a moving barn door, literally suspended on a cable. If you missed you were awarded a sticker. After all we all have days where we can’t hit a barn door. I thought this was a great fun idea for a novelty shot.

If you missed the barn door you got the sticker

If you missed the barn door you got the sticker

Of all the 36 targets I think there was only one that I really didn’t get on with and to be fair it wasn’t the target as such but its positioning. It was one of the novelty shots where you shot one arrow and had to choose to shoot a large bear for 20 points, a penguin for 30 or a small fish for 40. The reason I didn’t like it was because in the distance you could see archers moving and this caught my eye when I was shooting. Don’t get me wrong, the shot was perfectly safe as they always are at Spirit. It was just the moving archers caught my eye when I was shooting, which is something that I don’t like and find very, very distracting. It is something that I really struggle with this on some other shoots.

3D wolf target between the trees

3D wolf target between the trees

Other novelty shots included a mini tower from which you could shoot a predator prey shot of knight and dragon. 6 of the 36 targets novelty targets, including moving shots, predator prey and pick and stick ones. I’m normally not a fan of lots of novelty shots but this was a Christmas fun shoot and think it worked.

Predator Prey shot from the castle

Predator Prey shot from the castle

The course itself was arranged in a rough clover leaf formation of three loops, round one central point, giving the competitors the opportunity to pass catering two or three times. This makes it possible to have a pretty effective shoot through with few if any hold ups, for us at least.

Sharon shooting a 3D deer at Spirit of Sherwood

Sharon shooting a 3D deer at Spirit of Sherwood

The course layers at Spirit had gone to a lot of trouble in setting the targets and they had set a really nice deer herd shot of different size and angled 3Ds set between the trees where  you had to select the target to go for, decisions, decisions.

3D deer herd shot, pick your target

3D deer herd shot, pick your target

Another target worth mentioning was a large Raven 3D they had set on a tree stump, again framed very nicely.

3D raven on the tree stump between the trees

3D raven on the tree stump between the trees

The Spirit club had also set out a couple of boxes of chocolates at different points round the course for archers to help themselves, a very kind and generous gesture.

Boxes of sweats could be found round the course

Boxes of sweats could be found round the course

I don’t feel any of the targets were particularly long shots, and one thing they did do well I thought was how quite a few of the targets were nicely framed between the trees. This gave the archer a corridor view, making them look closer or further than they were. They had obviously considered the canopy for low poundage bows on all the shots, something that not all shoot organisers or course layers do. The result were several targets set at sensible distances whilst remaining a challenge and more importantly enjoyable. It’s good to see course where targets aren’t stretched or 3Ds are angled to make them near impossible.

Pick your target the 3D zebra or 3D cheetah

Pick your target the 3D zebra or 3D cheetah

We went round pretty quickly with no hold ups other than looking for the occasional wayward arrow that preferred the undergrowth than the target.

3D porcupine target in the leaves

3D porcupine target in the leaves

Night draws in quickly this time of year, so by the time we got to the raffle and prize giving it was already dark. Fortunately as it was a wooden arrow only shoot there were only a few different classes. Following on from the Christmas theme of the shoot, Spirit were doing Christmas themed prizes for first place, Christmas puddings no less. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that Sharon came away with one as she won ladies American flatbow. Have to say that I was surprised in receiving a Christmas pudding as I didn’t expect to win gents flatbow.

The journey back took a couple of hours, but as always its well the drive.

Thanks for reading.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and Good Luck for the New Year.

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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.

3D coyote target set behind fallen tree

Shoot Report – Windrush – October 2017

Archers massing before the start

Archers massing before the start

On a beautiful sunny early autumn morning we headed towards Windrush shoot grounds in Oxfordshire. I have to say the old adage that the journey is as important as the destination seemed accurate on Sunday, as due to the early start and route down the took us along some country lanes we ended up dodging squirrels crossing the road, indecisive flocks of partridge who couldn’t decide whether they wanted to cross the road and not forgetting the pair of fallow deer running across parallel to the road in a adjacent field. Added to the wildlife was demonstration of multiple hot air balloons as we approached the woodland, all in all it was quite eventful.

3D fox between the trees

3D fox between the trees

It had been a number of years since we’d shot at Windrush and were curious to see how or if it had changed in that time. Our shooting group would consist of Sharon, myself and the father and son team of Anthony and Michael, both shooting barebow and both on their first NFAS shoot. I have to say I felt sorry for the poor souls having drawn what some might have seen as the short straw and others might see as a baptism of fire with shooting with us. Hopefully we haven’t put them off field archery.

Anthony shooting bedded 3D boar

Anthony shooting bedded 3D boar

The course of 36 3D targets was arranged in a series of loops round the central admin hut which worked well, with about 100 archers navigating the course easily. This meant we enjoyed a shoot through course i.e. no formal stopping at a set time for a lunch break.

Windrush Club hut

Windrush Club hut

Catering was very efficient as was the admin. In fact I thought the whole event seemed to work well. The course was safe and well marshalled, as we saw marshals walking the course checking on archers and targets throughout the day and taking the time to chat. All of which added to the relaxed feel of the day.

Sharon shooting 3D

Sharon shooting 3D

The land itself that the course occupies is a flat ground, being in an open deciduous mature woodland. Windrush course layers try and provide some height difference with the use of a platform in one area for a well-hidden bedded deer 3D.

3D badger target being shot by Michael

3D badger target being shot by Michael

They also make use of a few tree stumps as shooting platforms. I’m not sure if I am completely comfortable with this as I think some might find the footing a challenge. Maybe adding some chicken wire for additional grip or off cuts of decking with the grooves in it would help. Having said that it is only a minor comment on what I thought was a very nicely laid and engaging course.

3D antelope with shooting peg on the stump

3D antelope with shooting peg on the stump

Even though the ground is quite open and flat the course layers offered a good selection of targets at sensible distances that were challenging but not stretched. It is so easy on flat ground to push targets that little bit further back to “offer a challenge” but Windrush didn’t do this. They set targets at sensible distances for their size and used the dead ground or framing to make the shot a challenge.

3D coyote target set behind fallen tree

3D coyote target set behind fallen tree

 

Anthony shooting 3d deer - very nicely framed shot.

Anthony shooting 3d deer – very nicely framed shot.

They also managed to use the cover they did have to make for some very nicely framed shots between trees, over or under fallen trunks.
One thing I did learn was if I listen to the voice in my head more often when something doesn’t feel right it helps. On a couple of shots earlier in the day the little voice in my head was saying “come down, something’s not right” Well I didn’t listen and resulted in having to take another arrow. Now I know what you are thinking. “You’re a coach, you should know better” well yes I should, but sadly I don’t always practise what I preach. Having said that I did on one shot I did listen to the now screaming voice and it did make a difference as I came down and drew up a second time( and yes I did get it with that shot)

3D dinosaur target set between trees

3D dinosaur target set between trees

The day flowed really well with us experiencing no hold ups, in fact the only delay was at one of the food stops whilst Anthony had to replace the rest on his bow. In all it felt a very relaxing stroll in the autumn woodland, whilst chatting with Anthony and Michael about their experiences of archery so far and what their aspirations are. And yes Anthony I am Rob with the blog. By the way, here is the link to the book I was recommending Shooting the Stick bow.
The Briar Rose club saw five members attend and came away with 3 first places, with Sharon winning ladies AFB and me in the gents’ class. Have to say special congrats to Steve on his first in Gents Barebow.
I’d also like to congratulate Eleanor on winning ladies longbow (John let me know when you have sometime with flatbow). By 4:30pm we were all on the road home, making for an early end of good day out.
Thanks for reading.

3D deer

Centaura Field Bowmen – Shoot Report – September 2017

50th anniversary shoot

50th anniversary shoot at Centaura Bowmen

This was Centaura Field Bowmen 50th anniversary shoot and the archery gods must have looked on favourably as the weather was good the whole day. Since it was their  50th anniversary shoot it was very well attended, in fairness that is pretty normal for the midlands  based club. The only downside to this popularity being the day can prove be quite slow as archers navigate the course.

You can read a previous shoot report for Centaura here if you are interested.

3D deer

3D deer target

As normal with Centaura it was a 36 target course, being a mix of paper faces and 3D targets. On the matter of target faces, there were quite a few new paper faces that none of us had seen before. Whilst it was nice to see new targets I think some of the smaller faces might have been a little on the small size for the distance they were set as you couldn’t make them out clearly. As I said this was a minor thing in the great scheme of things.

Sharon shooting 3D deer

Sharon shooting 3D deer

We were lucky enough to be shooting with Rich and Cliff which is always a good laugh, both in gents longbow class. Sharon was on her best behaviour though and not picking on Cliff.

Rich shooting with Cliff

Rich shooting with Cliff

As is the norm with Centaura there is a lunch break between 12:30 and 1:15 where all shooting halts and archers can grab a bite to eat before completing the other half of the course.

Sharon shooting

Sharon shooting

Despite it being a bit slow at times it did flow and was a good day for those who attended over 130 archers.

Sharon shot well winning ladies American Flatbow and to my surprise I managed to secure first in gents class. The result of which are we now have a matching pair of very nicely designed wooden drinks coasters which were specially made by a club member to celebrate the 50th anniversary. They now have pride of place and on displace as I think they are too nice to use as coasters.

Thanks for reading.

Sharon and my bow at Wolverine shoot

Shoot Report – Wolverine – August 2017

Wolverine - Gary making announcements at the start

Wolverine – Gary making announcements at the start

So a couple of weeks ago we headed north again, through the road works venturing this time towards Wolverine club grounds. Once again we were blessed with good weather, though the ground was a little wet underfoot, it was no way as bad as we’ve encounter previously. In fact we didn’t have rain until the drive home.

For those interested here is a link back to previous shoot report.

So onto the shoot report in full, the course would consist of 36 target, mixed 3D and paper faces. We would be shooting with Cliff with his trusty longbow and Neil shooting his primitive bow.

Neil Shooting 3D target

Neil Shooting 3D target

The start was marked not with the usual horn blast but a rocket which worked well for both the initial start and post lunchtime break. Wolverine operate a lunch break being between 12:30 -1:15 and as luck would have it we were in part of the lower woods making for a long walk back for grub.

Our first target at Wolverine - 3D bobcat

Our first target at Wolverine – 3D bobcat

The day seemed quieter than normally, with slightly lower numbers than wolverine normally have attending. This could possibly be because Pines Park who also had a shoot on this Sunday, or maybe people fancied a day off. Even though there were less people there was a good atmosphere, quite relaxed and stress free.

3D owl target between the trees

3D owl target between the trees

The smaller numbers meant we were finished by 3, though the awards were delayed slightly due to one group not handing their cards in until late.

Archers beginning to mass prior to start of the shoot

Archers beginning to mass prior to start of the shoot

Of course there was the famous giant Kong target in the field which is a trademark shot for Wolverine. There were of course a few other nice shots throughout the course. I think my best shot of the day must have been on the standing black bear which I managed to nail.

By lunch break we’d shot 18 targets and had a good rhythm going so were hoping to keep the same pace going in the afternoon. Sadly it was a bit slower after the lunch break as we waited on all targets due to catching up with the group in front.

Sharon shooting paper face crocodile

Sharon shooting paper face crocodile

I think it would be fair to say that I thought the course was challenging and different to previous years though the old faithful Kong was in the field watching over all archers. Overall it was a good day with good company.

There was a good result for Briar Rose with 3 of the 4 of us placing. Congrats to Jayne on her second in ladies hunting tackle and Sharon who won ladies American flatbow too.

Thanks for reading