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 Championships

Arrow checks at the National Championships on Sunday

Arrow checks at the National Championships on Sunday

September saw the National Field Archery Society championships which this time was to be held not far from Hemel Hempsted on Gaddesden Estate. It’s not the first time the estate had hosted the championships and if interested you can read the past
reviews here.
For those of you unfamiliar with the championships it is a two day event. This year it would comprise of 2 courses; A & B, with archers shooting one course each day. Unlike the 3D championships wooden arrow and metal / carbon arrow archers would not be split. Each course comprises of 40 targets, these being a mix of paper and 3D targets. You can read last years championships here, which had been held in the Lake District. Some 400 archers would be either camping or filling local bed and
breakfasts or hotels for the weekend.
Sorry there are so few photos from the event but the Saturday was very wet so my phone was buried under waterproofs to keep it dry. I did manage to get some photos from the Sunday though.
With Sharon and I shooting American Flatbow we would shoot course A on Saturday and B on Sunday. A course had been set by by the Field Officer of the NFAS and other volunteers and the NFAS committee with B course being set by the Cloth of Gold club, whose grounds are part of the Gaddesden Estate.

It was an early start both days for us as we’d offered to help with the admin of the event. Sharon would be helping handing out the score cards and I’d be doing arrow checks. For those that aren’t aware of NFAS rules, all arrows have to checked to ensure that they have the archer’s name and the shooting order. On that point, one thing that amazed me was the number of people who attend the event yet forget to mark their arrows or argue that its not needed. Not only are the markings required
by the rules of the society but also a requirement on safety grounds.

If an arrow is shot and an incident occurs you need to know who it was and from where it was shot, hence the reason of shooting order and name. Most people where fine and friendly but there are always a few that feel it feel it’s unreasonable. I can understand why so many of the admin or organising crew get tired and disillusioned. Anyway onto the shoot report…

Saturday

Saturday’s course would prove to be the flatter of the two courses. With the overcast and damp weather it made the woodland quite dark at times making some of the paper targets very hard to make out. I think this problem was compounded by the use of some new target faces being used this year. Some of these new faces were quite dark, especially the pigeon and goose, which the whole group struggled to first identify and then score well on.

The first day of the champs would see me shooting with Sue, Ian and Ben. I’d shot with Ben at liberty and Sue I’ve know known for years. It was a mixed group of Sue and me on American Flatbow, Ben in Hunting Tackle and Ian in Crossbow.

We started on target 40, which meant we shot one target and then had a
food stop, but that is just luck I guess. The next 20 targets worked well and were challenging, though I think a few could have done with having a torch shone on them as they were very hard to see in the darker areas of the wood. After target 20  had we were back to the food stop and this time did stop and have chance to catch up with others. The second half of the course didn’t go as well for me with a few shots after lunch that were I thought were further than they needed to be. Yes it’s a champs but I think they could have been challenging without being set at those distances.
By the end of the day the rain had stopped and it was a bit brighter, with us heading back to the hotel in Hemel Hempsted for a shower and a meal. One positive thing from the weekend was a large group of us went out for a great meal on Saturday night.

Sunday

Sunday - B course - pre-shoot announcements

Sunday – B course – pre-shoot announcements

Following very little sleep on the Saturday night due to the hotel room being far too warm and noisy we were up at 6 am and on site for 7 am having promised to help with the administration and arrow checks.

Sunday course would be B and I think the course layers probably had the more challenging terrain to work with and I’m really glad it was dry as getting around would have been a whole lot harder if it had been wet. On a couple of shots the organisers had set up ropes for you to use to get down to retrieve your arrows and it was needed.
As is normal the shooting groups changed completely so I’d be shooting with Ian, his son Connor and Dawn shooting Crossbow. I’d shot with Dawn at last years 3D championships when she had been shooting American Flatbow. Fortunately the weather was far kinder to us on Sunday with it being both dry and slightly warmer.

Starting target on Sunday - 3D bear across the pond

Starting target on Sunday – 3D bear across the pond

I think the course worked well for the most part, with our first target being a 3D bear along a river bank. The downhill paper faced tiger was also a good shot.

Paper face tiger between the trees

Paper face tiger between the trees

The lack of sleep really played havoc with both Sharon and I with neither of us shooting as well as we could or should have on Sunday. Think Sharon suffered the worse as she’d been working away from home the week before the championships so was already tired.

Long paper face Rhino target

Long paper face Rhino target

Despite the lack of sleep Sharon still managed to gain a second place in Ladies American Flatbow. For the second year running I managed to secure third in Gents American Flatbow, which I was surprised at since I didn’t feel like I’d shot well enough.
We managed to win the nearest and dearest trophy for the third year running, which I think is the prize we both wanted most.

Nearest and Dearest trophy along with a silver and bronze.

Nearest and Dearest trophy along with a silver and bronze.

Severn Valley won the Barebow Team trophy and special congrats to Mae on wining Junior Girls Barebow at her first Nationals.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – Centaura – September 2016

Centaura shoot - archers waiting for start

Centaura shoot – archers waiting for start

On a early September Sunday morning we loaded the car to set off to Centaura shoot ground near Derby.
On arriving we discovered that sadly the club suffered from vandalism a few days before the shoot, which resulted in the course layers having to adjust some targets and use backup faces they had to hand, rather than those they had hoped to use. This vandalism was reported to the police, with the local press running an article on the damage complete with images of the culprits, as they managed to capture cctv images of the individuals they believe to be responsible. Let’s hope this helps identify those responsible and brings them to justice. I have included a link to the news article here. (http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/just-look-what-morons-have-been-doing-to-aston-archery-club/story-29710480-detail/story.html#)

If you are interested in reading a previous shoot report, you can find one here.
The shoot was slightly delayed due to the number of no shows, 17 in all and this is a lot for a small club to cope with, not just in the loss in earnings for entrance fees but also the cost in food bought based on expected numbers. There were still over a 100 archers in attendance in a variety of classes.

Small paper face between the trees

Small paper face between the trees

Despite the vandalism the club managed to set a 36 target course with a mix of paper and 3D targets, some of the papers are of their own design. There did seem to be a number of small faces but I think this might have been due to the vandalism and them using what they had rather than what they might have wanted to.
Sharon and I would shoot with John from Wolverine who was shooting longbow. I must say John was really good company and great to shoot round with, with conversation flowing freely on different topics from archery to other outdoor hobbies.

target 35 paper face puma

target 35 paper face puma

There were some familiar shots along with some new ones. We started on the club’s signature shot the Polo, this time on Target peg 1 with a small paper face red squirrel.

The now famous polo shot

The now famous polo shot

I particularly liked the bomb hole shot, which saw a change to the norm of shooting straight down.

Bear 3D from the red peg

Bear 3D from the red peg

3D bear shoot, zoomed in from the red peg

3D bear shoot, zoomed in from the red peg

This time they had managed to secure a 3D bear part way up a tree, making for a deceptive shot.

Close up of the bear 3d shot

Close up of the bear 3d shot

They also lengthened the very short shot they have had for the last few shoots, which I think worked much better.
The day flowed well, with no major hold-ups or issues we were aware of.
As always Centaura operates a lunch break 12:30 -1:15 and of course as luck would have it we were on the furthest target when the horn was blown to stop. I think my only critical comment might be that a few of the shooting pegs could do with being hammered in a bit further as anyone with long length bows could encounter problems catching their lower bow limbs. Also moving the target 36 shooting peg so it’s not on the main path, as it’s quite hard to concentrate on your shot when there are archers walking off the course.

Sharon shooting at paper face fox

Sharon shooting at paper face fox

Sharon did suffer from what can be best described as a slight wardrobe malfunction when stepping over a branch. The result was a ripping sound as her trousers ripped from knee to waist. Fortunately a role of micropore tape was to hand to save her embarrassment, allowing her to finish the course, with a pair of waterproof over-trousers being used when we got back to the car. Despite this Sharon shot well winning Ladies american flatbow.
Thanks for reading

Shoot Report – Lyme Valley – August 2016

Lyme Valley shoot - August 2016

Lyme Valley shoot – August 2016

So a few Sunday’s back saw us headed north up the motorway to revisit Lyme Valley shooting grounds. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that this is one of Sharon’s favourite club grounds and if you are interested you can read a previous shoot report here.
The weather was kind being both dry and warm, making for good conditions under foot; an important factor to remember as Lyme Valley course is along either side of a steep valley and it can be very, very slippery conditions if wet.
The course would be 36 targets, two being paper faces and the remaining being 3ds. One weird announcement at the start was for those shooting bare bow. They were told they MUST remove the screws on their bows that are for holding clickers. Why? Because they could be used as a sighting aid which is not permitted in that class. This resulted in a flurry of activity as people tried to find suitable hex keys or screw drivers which would release the screws.
Starting on peg 7 there would be three others joining us Terry who we had shot with previously at South Cheshire and a couple from Centaura Elaine and Stan.

First target of the day - Lyme Valley shoot

First target of the day – 3d Fish across stream Lyme Valley shoot

Our first target would be a 3D fish across the stream which flows at the base of the valley and a shot that Lyme Valley have used a few times but still works well and looks good. Though maybe they could disguise a backing boss so any arrows that miss don’t run the risk of breaking when embedding themselves in the stony river bank.

Down hill 3D crocodile on the river bank

Down hill 3D crocodile on the river bank

By the fourth target we’d caught the group in front at a small 3d rabbit under a fallen tree with the next shot being a small 3d deer across the stream. This would be the norm for the day. In hindsight it might have been better to space these two shots out a bit more as it was a bit crowded.

Sorry bit out of focus - first target after lunch small down hill 3D

Sorry bit out of focus – first target after lunch small down hill 3D

Lyme operates a lunch break from 12:30 – 1:15 and as luck would have it we were at one of the further points on the course when the lunch horn sounded.
Following the lunch break we would return to a long downhill 3d capercaillie. Sadly Stan had to retire at this point due to his arrow rest breaking and he was not able to replace it.
Overall the day didn’t flow well with a number of hold ups on targets while we awaited our turn to shoot. From what I understand I think this might have been due to a number of reasons, some being associated with the course and others with archers.

3D bear - the tree branch forces you to change stance

3D bear – the tree branch forces you to change stance

As a course it didn’t feel it knitted together as other courses have at Lyme Valley. Don’t get me wrong there were some nicely laid shots such as the 3d bedded elk, which i wish I’d got a better picture of. Unfortunately that same shoot saw us waiting over 30 minutes to shoot it. Coping with that long a break and keeping concentration and focus can be very difficult.
There were a couple of sections of the course where the shooting pegs for two targets were very close leaving little space for the two groups to stand. I’ve mentioned the 3d rabbit and 3d deer already. This made people feel a bit uncomfortable as they tried to find somewhere to stand without being in sight of the archer shooting.

Up hill 3D standing bear

Up hill 3D standing bear

I don’t feel the delays can be all attributed to the course though as by some reports there were a few slower groups who let’s say took their time to shoot and retrieve arrows, enjoying a bit of a prolonged chat in the process.
I have little doubt that Lyme Valley course layers will take this on board for future shoots.
Despite the delays Sharon shot well with her winning Ladies AFB. I had far too many second and third arrows. I think I coped better on this course and shoot psychology speaking than on past shoots when dealing with the delays and my poor shooting. When I go to a second or third arrow I tend to let it affect me for the next few shots. That day I tried to focus on just the basics of form and breathing, reminding myself I can do this hobby of ours. Maybe it’s slowly sinking into this thick Welsh skull of mine. Stranger things have happened, I think.
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.