New shooting style proposal – traditional bowhunter here’s some thoughts

Tree canopy in the autumn

Tree canopy in the autumn

As many of you know I shoot in the NFAS (National Field Archery Society) and each year it offers its members the opportunity to put forward proposals for new rules or ideas.  This year one proposal which has been put forward by members is for a new shooting style, that of “traditional bowhunter”

In essence this is shooting a non compound bow with carbon or metal arrows, off the shelf, with no sights, button, stabiliser, and using feather fletchings .

This differs from the exiting NFAS bare bow class by the stipulation of shooting off the shelf of the bow (not allowed to use a rest or button) and use of feathers for fletchings . Full description of the new class is below, please note that this is an expanded version to that shown in the NFAS magazine as it includes changes and suggestions on wording the prospers have received to date.

“Traditional Bowhunter

A bow of any draw-weight, but not a compound bow or crossbow, may be used.

The bow must be shot from the shelf or hand, No sight, rest, or button of any description can be used.

Only one nocking position is permitted (which may be indicated by nocking points both above and below the arrow). No other knots or attachments in addition to the string serving (excluding silencers), that could be used for sighting or location purposes, are allowed.

One anchor point must be maintained throughout the shoot with the index finger on the nock, be it split finger or 3 under or thumb loose. Face walking and string walking are not permitted. No draw-checks of any kind are permitted.

No external stabilisers are allowed (this does not include bow quivers that attach to the side of the riser, be it by bolts or limb grippers).

If a Bow Quiver is used, arrows must be free from deliberate markings that could be used as a sight. Arrows may be decorated with cresting, but cresting may not extend further than 2 inches in front of the feathers. If crested, when using a bow quiver, arrows must be tip first into the quiver to ensure cresting cannot be used for sighting purposes. No form of release aid is permitted. No deliberate marks can be added to the bow or arrow that can be used for aiming. Arrows shafts must be of non-wooden and non-bamboo materials, fletched with natural feather.

The handle may incorporate a cut-away of any depth to provide an arrow-shelf and the shelf may have a protective cover. Olympic recurves that have been altered to shoot from the shelf are permitted, but all attachments such as clicker screws and additional bolts/screws that are not required MUST be removed.”

Presently archers wishing to shoot this setup in the NFAS have to compete in the bare bow class this being largely dominated by Olympic style recurves with metal risers, buttons, stabiliser etc. Though the use of metal riser is not entirely the case, as some of the best archers in this class actually use wooden risers but all those have adjustable buttons and arrow rests.

This style of setup of bow appears to be very popular at present with a number of archers, both in the UK and overseas. I wonder whether part of the appeal with archers is the simplicity of the set up to that of the Olympic style, while others archers are less keen on shooting wooden arrows so would rather use carbon arrows for their consistency and durability.

Since the proposal was mooted in the last edition of the NFAS magazine I’ve had a few people ask my thoughts and I’ve spoken to several that are both for and against the proposal. The society’s Facebook group along with the members’ only web-forum has been quite active on the topic too.

Some people have asked why a new style is required as people wanting to shoot this set-up can shoot under the existing barebow rules, others have been less friendly saying they see the introduction of this class as simple as medal chasing (a little unfair I feel)

There are 10 shooting styles in the NFAS at present that cover just about all possible set ups from English longbow to compound unlimited (that’s compound bow, with release aid, sites, stabilisers and the kitchen sink, yes that is a joke)

Some archers seem to feel there are enough styles already, with others complaining that at the large shoots / events the prize giving already takes too long with all the awards.

One archer and reader of this site had a word with me at a recent shoot and pondered this  thought.

“I do wonder whether the creation of this class will eventually cause the demise of HT and possibly AFB as new archers are drawn to the ease of shooting with carbons. Could the art of making a good wooden arrow die out? Worth considering maybe?”

I’d like to think there is always going to be an appeal of shooting wooden arrows. Though I do think that newbies will want to shoot carbons as they give a better performance than woods or metals, along with being more durable and comparatively inexpensive, an important factor in an economy where money is scarce.

I wonder whether some of the appeal of the new style is also to do with the restrictions that the NFAS place on some current styles that limit the archers. The AFB or American Flatbow class is one that has been mentioned as under the NFAS to be able to shoot in this class the bow must not have any reflex /deflex; being one continuous curve. Also the shelf must be must short of centre, if cut to centre then it can’t be used in the class. This has resulted in a number of manufactured bows being classed “illegal” in AFB and have to be shot most commonly in Hunting Tackle.

What affect will a new style have? I’m not sure

  • Would it confuse newbies to the hobby? No I don’t think it will confuse them, if introduced carefully and clearly.
  • Will it increase the numbers at shoots? I doubt that as most shoots I attend are limited by the number of available places, and few are ever fully booked out. You might have individuals from other societies being more willing to give NFAS a go.

My personal view point

Ok, so first thing is a little thing really but I’m not a fan of the name “traditional bowhunter”. I see traditional as being wooden arrows not carbon. But in fairness this is entirely personal viewpoint. In fairness to the guys proposing this they did open up a Facebook poll with different name options and Traditional bowhunter was the favourite.

I can see why they’d like a distinction between shooting a bow with button, rest etc. and one shooting off the shelf. I guess you could argue this already exists with the American Flatbow class in the NFAS, which you have to shoot off the hand or the bow shelf and not a rest, but with wooden arrows only.

I find it interesting that there is a section on bow quivers included in the proposal. I can understand why they have included as they are very popular for those shooting in this style and there has been some comments on their use or rather in some case misuse, but I wonder if this statement is better located in the overall shooting rules of the society and not class specific as bow quivers can be used on compounds and recurve bows. Maybe I should write something on the different types of quivers, bow, back, side, Merits and flaws of them? Here is a picture of bow quiver for those not familiar with them.

Jims bow against the tree

Jims bow against the tree, showing his bow quiver

I do also wonder about the comment on arrow cresting and if this would be better located in the general shooting rooms. It also raises a question on  how this can be interpreted with manufacturers branding / logos or even arrow patterns, as these are not arrows cresting in the true sense. I have heard rumours that there has been some concern that archers could use arrow markings as a guide for distance judgement. (NFAS competitions are shot over unmarked distances)

My final observation on this proposal is I think the most important thing to remember. The NFAS is a democratic organisation, run for its members, and its membership can have their say, they may make suggestions and promote different views and ideas. You as an individual may agree or disagree with the idea that is your choice. It is very important that members have the opportunity to voice their ideas and if supported, for these ideas to be voted on etc. This democracy and opportunity is in my view needed for the health of the organisation or it may be seen as stagnating or inflexible for change.

Thanks for reading

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Bows resting on tree

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – August 2017

Archers briefing at Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Archers briefing at Spirit of Sherwood shoot

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

Archers arriving for Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Archers arriving for Spirit of Sherwood shoot

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

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

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

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

3D deer shot at Spirit of Sherwood

3D deer shot at Spirit of Sherwood

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

3D bobcat target between the trees

3D bobcat target between the trees

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

3D black bear between the trees

3D black bear between the trees

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

Steve shooting at 3D

Steve shooting at 3D

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

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

Thanks for reading