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.

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The view from the valley

Shoot Report – Lyme Valley Archers – April 2017

Lyme Valley - starting biref

Lyme Valley – starting biref

On a beautiful bright spring Sunday morning we loaded up the car for an hour or so drive up the motorway to Lyme Valley Archers NFAS shoot. This would be my first shoot since Spirit of Sherwood in December last year and to be honest I was more than a little nervous.

For those who are interested here is a link to a previous shoot report. Lyme Valley club always put on a challenging course, helped by their ground which is a steep sided wooded valley outside Stoke-on-Trent. Thankfully this year the weather was warm and dry being more like summer shoot conditions than spring, the grounds and paths can be a bit slippery in the wet conditions.

Joining us to form our shooting group would be Paul and Claire from Long Eaton Field Archers, both shooting unlimited (that’s a compound class with all the whistles and bells). They were great company throughout the day which helped make for a relaxing and enjoyable shoot.

The view from the valley

The view from the valley

Lyme valley is always a popular shoot and this day was no different with well over 130 archers attending. I thought it went quite smoothly for us anyway with no real delays or hold ups until the end of the day when I think everyone was feeling a bit tired. Though I know a couple of archers chose to leave at lunch as they were finding it very slow going. It was great to see Jim smiling and enjoying shooting a flatbow again.

Great shot by Sharon

Great shot by Sharon

The event has a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:15 which see all archers stop shooting and walking back to the entrance for lunch. Though this can be disruptive and I’m not a fan of lunch breaks, it is necessary at this clubs grounds due to the geography being such as catering is at one end of the wood and you only pass it once. We were very fortunate in being near catering when the lunch horn went off.

Long down hill shot

Long down hill shot

3D target in valley floor

3D target in valley floor

A couple of shots I think  worth mentioning were the downhill bedded antelope, along with our first target an uphill lion right at the end of the wood.

First shot of the day

First shot of the day, 3D cat between the trees.

The 36 target course was a mix of 3D and paper targets.

3D Dragon emerges from an egg

3D Dragon emerges from an egg

3d fish behind log

3D Fish behind log on the river bank

Speaking with a couple of Lyme Valley club members the course had been set by new coarse layers and I think they did a pretty good job. There were a number of challenging shots, offering up and downhill challenges for all, something that not many clubs can offer. Personally I think with a couple of small changes to the route or standing places for groups it might be even better and feeling less cramped between targets.

Jim chatting with Sharon before we start.

Jim chatting with Sharon before we start.

If you want to experience a different course with ups and downs then Lyme Valley is a good course to go for, just be aware it can be quite physically demanding to be going up and down the slopes. Though I think Sharon and I were feeling tired before starting, having spent the Saturday from walking round Derbyshire woods scouting shots for the 3D championships.

Sharon on the Last shot of the day

Sharon on the Last shot of the day

Despite feeling tired Sharon shot really well, winning ladies AFB. I even managed to scrape a third in gents AFB. Once again our thanks to Paul and Claire for their company and to all of Lyme Valley for their hard work. All contributing to a lovely day out shooting, made it good to be back.

Thanks for reading

Shoot Report – NFAS 3D Championships 2016 – day 2

View of the field surrounding Y course

View of the field surrounding X & Y course

Some of you may have read the first part of the shoot report of this years national field archery society 3d championships, if not here is a link to it now.
There were two things I noticed on Sunday morning. Firstly it was dry though a little cooler that Sunday morning, still the weather was still far better than previous years. Secondly there seemed to be a lot or reorganisation of shooting groups for A & B courses with archers having to move pegs. These were the metal and carbon arrow courses. My guess, this was down to no shows or late cancellations. This delayed the start a little but hats off to admin for sorting it.
Unlike previous years there was no list of scores and placing posted so no one knew where they stood position wise.
Sunday morning

Sunday morning

Day two
So Sunday would see me along with the other American flatbow and longbow archers hed off on the short walk to shoot X course. As we walked out to X course it was clear it was a very different woodland affording the opportunity to the course layers to offer different styles of shots.
One of the 3D wolves on X course

One of the 3D wolves on X course

X course would see me on Peg 12 again, but with a completely different shooting  group made up of Darren shooting afb, with Dave and Graham shooting longbow.
The course had been set by Pines Park club and unlike Spirit of Sherwood ground was a lot more open making for opportunities for longer shots.
3D deer on X course

Darren shooting 3D deer on X course

A good example of this was a very nicely laid shot, a bedded elk which by some miracle I hit with my first arrow. Overall the course flowed ok, though a little slower than Saturday with us off course by 4 while others on X course still had 5 or 6 targets to shoot.
Think the longest shot on X course the bedded Elk 3D

Think the longest shot on X course the bedded Elk 3D, think this was the blue peg

I think the course must have been set in a clover leaf as we passed catering at least 3 times.
X course through the tree stub at a 3D frog

X course through the tree stub at a 3D frog

Another shot I thought was was good was the 3D frog through the tree stump. Sadly the photo does not do it justice. The hardest shot to judge was a deer in a hollow that had been set really well.
Dave getting a very lucky shot

Dave getting a very lucky shot

There were a couple of things that I didn’t like or enjoy on this course.

The 3d crocodile I felt was too close to catering for my liking and could have been angled differently.It made me feel very uncomfortable when shooting it and seeing archers nearby the target. The other thing was on some, though not all targets, the 3d was placed angled making for a narrower angle and increasing the chance of deflections. It’s a personal thing but if you are going to set the 3d at the upper end of distance you don’t need to angle it as well.
We spent a lot of time searching for misses arrows and were finding them 20- 30 yards behind targets as they skipped along the ground. I know there are 2 of my arrows lost on one target where we found 5 of other archers arrows. Though I did see a couple of Pines marshals searching for lost arrows especially the guys with the metal detectors who seemed to be working hard.

To conclude
In hindsight I think having one course with target set closer so accuracy is important and another with longer targets to test distance judgement worked.
Maybe the society could invest in large foam sheets to act as simple catching mats behind targets as this would speed up the search for arrows  and still be easy to set up for the course layers.
Overall it was a good weekend and my thanks to all the people I shot with and who put the effort in to setting the courses, doing the admin before and on the day of the event and everyone else in the background.
Sharon's trophy

Sharon’s trophy

Sharon did really well winning Ladies AFB, 6 months after picking up her bow. As for me well I managed a 7th place in gents AFB. Not too bad for limited practice and low confidence.
A full breakdown of all the results are here.
As always thanks fro reading.

Shoot report – NFAS 3D Championships 2016

Walk out to Y course on Saturday

Walk out to Y course on Saturday

A few weeks ago there was the National Field Archery Society 3D championship which is one of the larger events in the NFAS calendar. This saw just under 700 archers attending the two day event, which this year would be held on the outskirts of Sherwood forest, Nottinghamshire. Somewhat appropriate don’t you think for an archery competition.
The two courses I would be shooting were Y and X course, set by Spirit of Sherwood and Pines Park respectively. Unlike at a normal shoot where you would be shooting with other archers in different disciplines in the same group e.g. barebow with longbows, compound with flat bows, these courses would be specifically set for wooden arrow shooters.
What are the championships?
For those not familiar with the process of the NFAS championship here is a quick run down.
The championships consist of 2 days of shooting 2 different courses. With all 40  targets being 3D targets of varying sizes and distances.
A & B courses were for archers shooting compound bows, crossbows and barebow ie the metal/carbon arrow courses. X & Y were for longbows American flatbow, primitive and hunting tackle i.e. the wooden arrow courses. Normally Y and X are the classification for metal arrow courses, but for some reason the they changed it this year. Maybe it was to keep us on our toes. You are randomly allocated to a shooting group. With all archers in the same class shooting the same course on the same day.
You can check out the previous years reviews here for 2015. So I would shoot Y course Saturday with all other flatbow archers and X on Sunday.
Behind the scenes
There is a an awful lot of preperation work that goes on behind the scenes at events like this. Espeically in the case for Spirits course (Y) as the undergrowth and tree plantation needed a lot of clearing to make clear pathways and routes through. So well done guys.
Administration of shooting groups is also another headache and I know there was a delay on the Sunday due to a number of no shows on the metal arrows courses. So top marks to the administration team (Karen, Shirley and others) who, not only coped with last minute drop outs but also managed to get the  final results out and on the websitea little over 24 hours after the end of the event.
I would also like to say how great  it was to meet new people and old friends.
We’d decided against camping this year, and instead found a small pub about 3 miles from the site. Memories of heavy rain and wet tents always come to mind when people think of the 3Ds but this year it was to be a fine dry weekend.
One of the advantages of the 3D championships more so than other champs is the chance to catch up with old friends like Mark Taylor of Artemis. Mark took us to our first ever NFAS shoot so it was really great to catch up with him.

Day one

Y course announcements at Spirit of Sherwood

Y course announcements at Spirit of Sherwood

So I would start the 3d championships on Y course and peg 12 with 3 other archers, Brian and Amanda shooting longbow and Claude joining me on flatbow. The course was set by the Spirit of Sherwood club who in my view set some the best club courses on the nfas circuit.
First target on Y course

First target on Y course

When you got out onto Y course and started moving through the woodland it was evident the sheer amount of work involved in setting up a course in this virgin woodland. I hate to think how much fuel must have been used in chainsaws and strimmer to cut through dense woodland section.
Y course after food break

Y course after food break

The terain did make for closer shots than expected, which in some ways made it more frustrating when you scored 16 points for what should have been an easy 20 or more. That lapse of concentration is the archers fault and I freely admit to being one of them.
another 3d on Y course

another 3d on Y course

3D in the darkness

3D in the darkness

Others might say it was too easy, well I didn’t see any max scores recorded. The shorter distances also meant the lower poundage bows or the less experienced archers scored well.
Cobra in the shadows on Y course

Cobra in the shadows on Y course

one of the longer shots on Y course

one of the longer shots on Y course

One thing I have not mentioned are the cakes. Spirit of Sherwood have a great cake stall and I would recommend their lemon drizzle cake to everyone. In fact I think I just have.
Last target of the day on Y course

Last target of the day on Y course

So that was the of the first day and we headed back to our digs for some food and rest for the next day. Unlike in previous years the organisers did not post the first day results, so no-one knew where they were placed.
Thanks for reading, i’ll post the second days review shortly.

A year in review

Autumn view

Autumn view

As 2015 draws to a close it is traditional to review the past year, taking stock of what has gone by. So being a bit of a traditional archer here goes.
There has been nearly 50 posts on this site over the past twelve months, with more than 20 of them being shoot reports, the rest have been a mix of articles on archery, with tips and advice. Some I have written, others are reblogs, along with equipment reviews from Leatherman multi tools to Timber Creek arrows. So here we go and I hope you find it interesting.
Timber Creek Arrows

Timber Creek Arrows

2015 prompted a change for me, having shot Hunting Tackle in the NFAS for the past few years, 2015 saw me move to a different class, that of American Flatbow, Sharon stayed in Hunting Tackle for 2015.

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

One thing we have been able to do this year is a road trip to the USA, something Sharon and I had wanted to do for years. If you ever get the chance San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park are amazing places to visit. I would love to go back and do some more hikes or even a ski trip to Lake Tahoe.
Yosemite valley in early morning

Yosemite valley in early morning

More recent developments have been with coaching. In the last few months I’ve managed, with the approval of the club and the support and help of the club members (cheers Andy, Sharon and others, you know who you are), to set up the basics of a coach program for new and / or  experienced archers.
2015 saw us travelling around the country for different shoots. One of the advantages of getting to lots of shoots is that you get to meet so many different archers from around the country. It also provided me with the opportunity to meet some readers and followers of this blog and sister blog on tumblr (http://offthearrowshelf.tumblr.com/). I see this as a great privilege and I’m very grateful for all your comments, support and feedback, both online and face to face. Thank you all so much. If you asked me to pick the best shoot of 2015 it would be impossible. I shot at over 25 courses this year, not including championships, these ranged from our club night shoot, two day weekend shoots, to the normal Sunday club shoots all round the country.
Sharon studying a shot between the trees

Sharon studying a shot between the trees at Hawk

My favourite ground has to be Hawks, situated on a beautiful wooded hillside in South Wales. Others well worth mentioning are Spirit of Sherwood who always put on a cracking wooden arrow shoot. The award for the muddiest shoot has to go to Wolverines which was very, very wet, but still great fun.

SVYF on the next peg

SVYF on the next peg at Liberty

Liberty two day was great for the social aspect of group camping with group discussions round the camp fire at the end of the day of the shots you made or wish you had. For a different reason the 3D championships in Devon was very sociable over a meal in the hotel restaurant and drinks in the bar. We really enjoyed Wasps shoot with the beautiful bluebell woodland. Other great shoots have been Centaura, Thornbury and of course Lyme Valley.

Sharon shooting from one of th towers

Sharon shooting from one of the towers

2015 would see Sharon’s skills tested at both NFAS championships. would she retain her title in Ladies Hunting Tackle for a second year? Firstly at the 3d Championships in Devon and then at the Nationals in the Lake District she proved what a capable person she is and how good an archer we all know she is by winning both.
Bronze medal from Nationals

Bronze medal from Nationals

A personal high for me this year was securing a third place at the National Championships in September, my highest position at any championships.

A course - view back from 3D crocodile

A course – view back from 3D crocodile

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the course layers, admin teams, marshals and catering crews. Not just at the championships or national organisations,  but at all the local clubs around the country. Without the hard work of these people the archery community be far less than it is.

So as I am always writing, thanks for reading and may I wish you all great success in 2016. Whether that be placing at shoots, mastering a new bow or style, simply developing your skills or supporting the greater archery community.
Thanks for reading.