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 ( 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.

Shoot Report – 3D Championships 2015 part 2

3D Championships - Flete Estate 2015

3D Championships – Flete Estate 2015

So this is part two of the write up of the nfas 3d championships held at Flete estate outside of Plymouth. You can read the first part here.

Saturday I shot B course – Tavistock Archers

Saturday would see me shoot B course and Sharon would be on A with the day starting quite bright and warm. B course layers were from the Tavistock Archers club. I started on peg 19 which was a very short walk out the only downside being it meant we would pass catering only once between target  36 and target 1.
My shooting group would be Andy from Lyme Valley shooting longbow, Kate, Dawn, both shooting flatbow, and Jill Haynes from  Pride Park who has recently swapped to Longbow.

B course - 3d mountain lion between the trees

B course – 3d mountain lion between the trees

B course was on a wooded hillside overlooking the camp site and would be physically more tiring than we expected as you went up and down the slopes, with the aid of a few well placed ropes. Congratulations to anyone who got round without falling since I failed this on a comparatively flat bit of the course slipping on the bluebells and jarring my right wrist.  The Tavistock club had worked hard to cut routes through the undergrowth and done their best to cut steps up and down the steeper slopes.

B course - 3D frog behind the tree

B course – 3D frog behind the tree

The other thing about the wood was the sheer quantity of bluebells covering the forest floor along with the scent of the bluebells and wild garlic which hung heavy in the air. Though the bluebells did make searching for wayward arrows challenging at times.

B course - the paths with wild garlic and blue bells

B course – the paths with wild garlic and blue bells

Saturday would prove to be a very slow day for us and others. We were waiting on the majority of pegs for 5-10 minutes or longer whilst the group in front were finishing shooting, searching for arrows or scoring. This didn’t make for a flowing days shooting. In fairness it wasn’t their fault as apparently there were slow archers in front of them, which caused the delays. Though the organisers were allowing jumping of slow groups it wouldn’t have helped.

B course - 3D Mosquito

B course – 3D Mosquito

Having said this our group gelled well and we had a good day and a lot of laughs. It was great to shoot with Jill, she is a great laugh and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. She is also a great coach and was my assessor when I did my coaching course all those years ago. She told us of the  nightmare journey down from Derbyshire a couple of days earlier, having first had a blow out of the caravan tyre on the motorway and then damaging the side of the caravan when pulling onto the site.

B course - Jill with her longbow

B course – Jill with her longbow

Back to the shoot.
Overall the course was pretty good, though there were long delays on one target where a safety issue had been identified. B course was situated next to X course and unfortunately a shot on X course had the same over shoot as target 35 on B course which hadn’t been spotted until archers were missing (I don’t mean that they had been shot but that their arrows were missing). This resulted in coordinating shooting and collection of arrows on the two course which Tavistock marshalling.
Distances were fair for the size of target and can think of only one that might be considered stretched which was a 3D boar.

B course - long distance 3d boar target - Kate having to go to the blue peg

B course – long distance 3d boar target – Kate having to go to the blue peg


Though I wish there weren’t so many course layers who set targets with trees directly behind. Think there might have been a couple of shots where you felt too close to the previous target but I’ve seen far worse on open shoots. Overall I thought it was a good challenging course and fun even if it was a very slow day.

By the time we were sitting down for a meal that evening back at the hotel the results were up on-line and saw Sharon leading in ladies Hunting Tackle by just 4 points.

Sunday A course – Ashcombe


A course - briefing

A course – briefing

Sunday was a more overcast day and would see me shooting A course, set by Ashcombe archers. Sharon on B course.
My Shooting group changed completely and would be made up of  Matt shooting AFB, Dominic and Sandra both shooting longbow.
A course - Matt shooting 3D bear

A course – Matt shooting 3D bear

The day flowed better than Saturday with significantly fewer hold ups, I think we were waiting on only a couple of targets the whole day.

A course - view of the 3D wolf in ferns in the woodland

A course – view of the 3D wolf in ferns in the woodland

Ashcombe’s catering was very good with a wide selection of cakes, hot food and even fresh fruit. This course would be very different from yesterday’s being largely flat shots.

A Course - Dominic shooting 3D Mosquito

A Course – Dominic shooting 3D Mosquito

I think it is fair to say I didn’t enjoy elements of A course though. They had a beautiful piece of woodland where they set some very interesting and challenging targets. I thought this worked well and was where we started on target 16.

A Course - Dominic shooting 3D Deer

A Course – Dominic shooting 3D Deer

The section I really didn’t gel with was the section in the field. They set a loop from the main wood through the field to a smaller wood and then back through the field.

A course - the 3D deer in the open

A course – the 3D deer in the open

Targets 19 to 36. There were I think  12 targets in the field which I think was excessive for a 36 target field course. I  think a few maybe  5,  6 max in the open is fine but a third of the total course is too many.
Target 1 - A Course - between the trees

Target 1 – A Course – between the trees

Of the ones they positioned in the field there were some very nicely set targets like the frog you shot off the stump or brown bear over the fallen tree.
A course - the 3D frog from the tree stump

A course – the 3D frog from the tree stump

There were others that didn’t work for me or engage with me, like the cobra, brown ram and dinosaur. In contrast the dinosaur in the wood was placed really well. Maybe they didn’t have time to fit them all in the main wood.
A course - view of the ferns in the woodland

A course – view of the ferns in the woodland

I don’t think it helped much when the rain hit and we were in the field. true it wasn’t as wet as past years but it’s not much fun shooting in the rain in an open field. I know the sport is called field archery but that’s the irony as most of the time we are in a wood.
A- Course Sandra shooting

A- Course Sandra shooting

In all though it wasn’t a bad course being safe and with some well set targets in the woodland, though I would have liked to see some more in woods. Again I was lucky enough to have a good group that was socialable and fun to shoot with.

The results

Special congrats to a certain Jill Haynes who won bronze in ladies longbow, well done Jill. Hope it made up for all the problems you had getting there. My congratulations to Colin from Severn Valley who came second in gents crossbow. After a poor performance I managed to scrape in at 11th place in gents afb.
As some will already know Sharon retained her championship title by winning ladies hunting tackle having stormed the second day coming in with over 600 points.
Sharon celebrating her win in the bar on Sunday night.

Sharon celebrating her win in the bar on Sunday night.

Thanks for reading.