Sharon shooting off the tower

Shoot report – Black Arrow – June 2017

Black Arrow

Black Arrow – archers gathering

I have to say it was a little strange going to the Black Arrow shoot as a competitor, having been a member for several years. The club has moved from the wooded hillside near Coxbench in Derbyshire where I learnt to shoot to now being located near Lout. Even though it is a different location there were some similarities, including the old trap covered shelter. This new site being a stones’ throw or should that be an arrow flight, from Harlequin archers, Long Eaton, and the new Merlin archery wood.  Seems the area is fast becoming a nexus or archery clubs in the midlands.

There was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere at the shoot with over 80 archers or so attending, though I think they had quite a few no shows. Fortunately the strong winds forecast didn’t arrive until late in the day and even then it wasn’t too much of a problem as its quite a dense woodland.

Our first target a hessian owl

Our first target a hessian owl

The 40 target course would be a mix of 3D, 2D, paper faces and some very well painted hessian faces ranging from badgers to bears. The only downside being not always seeing the detail of these targets until you are up close, so you are having to guess where the scoring zones were. But they did look good.

The club has invested in some of the 2D targets similar to those owned by the Harlequin club. One of these being a 2D lion which I hadn’t seen before and was a lot smaller than expected, might explain why it was so hard to hit and see from the white peg thanks to the fast growing bracken. Glad I managed to hit it from the red peg, one of my few good shots of the day.

The not so large 2D lion

The not so large 2D lion

They do also have some homemade 3D targets, including a large bear, complete with a salmon which was the kill zone and a coloured peacock. The only problem being the latter target was still wet though, so I now have a blue and white right boot.

3D peacock - should have come with a warnings as paint was still wet

3D peacock – should have come with a warnings as paint was still wet

As for other shots there were a few framed shots which I quite liked, though I think a few of the peg positions were a bit tight for younger archers and too close to trees or branches that you could have caught a limb on.

Our group for the day would be Sharon, myself, D’No aka Dean shooting bow hunter and David shooting AFB both from Hanson. The club catering was great as they had two food stops, which enabled them to run a shoot through, both having a wide selection of cakes to keep archers going along with hot drinks.

Paper face red squirrel

Paper face red squirrel

It’s obvious they are putting a lot of effort into the courses, including building a tower enabling them to set a more technical elevated shot involving height difference. This is something they struggle with being located in an otherwise flat woodland.

A slightly different angle showing Sharon shooting from the tower

A slightly different angle showing Sharon shooting from the tower

They had one interesting shot through a barrel and another of a paper face duck over a small pond and used dead ground well. Another nice feature was the way they had covered all their target bosses with camouflage tarpaulin making them less obvious.

Marshals were all friendly and proved good at reacting to problems when reported, which is always good to see. Though I think they struggled with the speed of growth of the bracken in some areas as a few shots were very hard to see despite having been trimmed the day before.

In all it was a good day seeing friends and catching up with an old house mate Stuart, from university days. On a personal note I think I would have preferred to see some the well painted hessian targets on the closer shots, as I felt some of the small paper faces (Jay, duck etc.) felt a bit stretched. Still Sharon shot well, winning ladies AFB and I managed a second place.

It was good to see the club appearing to be thriving and running shoots at their new grounds, I hope this continues in the future.

Thanks for reading

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

Instinctive Archery – is that the right description?

Sharon on the range

Sharon on the range

Lots has been written over the years and probably will be for years to comes on the theory of what instinctive archery is. Often the authors of articles or books try to define what they view as instinctive shooting, this means there are countless definitions on YouTube, the net, archery books etc. these range from subconscious gapping to shooting without thinking. Many archers question if there is actually anything that is truly instinctive about it.

I recently watched a YouTube video by Jim Grizzly Kent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDCldJ_YqMk&t=2s) and he used the phrase intuitive archery and this stuck with me.

The reason I think it did was a couple of days earlier I’d been helping a friend who gap shoots set up his bow. He’s recently had to drop his bow draw weight due to an ongoing shoulder injury and had bought some new limbs of a different and lighter poundage to his old ones. Since we have a range which allows archers to shoot back to 40 yards plus it seemed a logical location to help him get himself sorted.

I was watching Steve shoot, noting the arrow flight, release, noting down where the arrows fell for each shot. All starting at 5 yards and moving back in increments of 5 yards. I’d give him feedback on whether I saw him throw his arm or not get a clean release on the shot which would give a false reading etc.

view of the range

view of the range

Just so you know Steve shoots barebow under the NFAS banner, this means he is not using a sight on his bow, but can use metal or carbon arrows. In Steve’s case he shoots carbon arrows off a very nice Andy Soars Black Brook take down recurve bow.

During the process Steve explained how at 5 yards he would be aiming say an inch or so below the spot, then at 10 yards it might be half inch below, 20 yards it might be point on. This went on all the way back to 50 yards, with him shooting three arrows at each distance, then taking a break before shooting another three. With me noting the distance and observing his form on each shot.

It was as he said at this stage a very conscious process of working out and focusing on aiming but as he said. “The more familiar I become with shooting the new limbs, the less conscious the aiming will be. I’ll stop having to think I need to be 3 inches above”

For me it was interesting for two reasons.

Firstly from a coaching perspective, hearing how he explains his approach and process, along watching him execute this shot. Steve is very good at explaining his shooting cycle and stages.

Secondly from an instinctive archers viewpoint it was interesting to hear his explanations of how he gaps and works out how to aim or rather where to aim.

One advantage to this process of shooting Steve highlighted was it gives the archer a fall back plan if for any reason they to take a break from shooting due to work / life / health reasons. Their gaps will remain the same (so long as the arrow specs, draw dynamic and limbs are the same). The downside of this technique I’ve been able to identify cover consistency of the archer or equipment. Like all archers you must ensure you can perform your shoot cycle consistently.

If you change your arrow spec this may and probably will affect your gaps as a heavier arrow would fall faster so for longer shots you’d aim higher.

From my viewpoint

Whilst I don’t gap shot I do know that when I shoot I try and do a couple of things.

On longer shots I try to envisage the arrow flight to the target. How it will climb and fall hopefully into where I’m wanting it to land.

Shorter shots I know how it will appear in the target as if by magic. A friend when he saw me shot once said you don’t anchor you draw up set and release in one movement, which is something I know I do when either at short shots or when I’ve been practising a lot and on form.

I know when I stop shooting for a couple of weeks or longer then my eye, subconscious distance judgement, instinctive aiming  or whatever you want to call it goes and I feel I’m a bit rusty.

Anyway I thought some of you might find this interesting, have a look at Jims video and a read of the different authors thoughts on instinctive and a gap shooting.

Thanks for reading.

stream running through valley

Shoot Report – Bowmen of Bude

Catering tent at Bowmen of Bude

Catering tent at Bowmen of Bude

Sorry all for the delay in posting this shoot report. There is little doubt that Bowmen of Bude have a lovely ground, situated on a quiet wooded hillside a stones throw from the coastal town of Bude. This was the first time we had visited the club.
stream running through valley

The stream running through valley

Admin and catering for the shoot was situated in what appears to be an abandoned orchard.  Luckily it wasn’t a windy day as we might have done a few impressions of Isaac Newton being bumped on the head with occasional apple.
Admin at Bude through the orchard

Admin at Bude through the orchard

As it was the weather was kind to us being bright and warm, allowing for some lovely views and photos.
Target 1 second time round, Sharon shooting 3d

Target 1 second time round, Sharon shooting 3d

We would be joined by Chris shooting hunting tackle and Sandra in ladies longbow for our jaunt round. it’s always a good laugh shooting with Sandra and this was no exception.
Chris and Sandra sorting cards

Chris and Sandra sorting cards

All the marshals were very friendly and helpful, chatting with archers throughout the day. I also think they did enjoy watching archers shoot some of the longer shots set out on the course. Especially the elk and grizzly bear.
The 3D grizzly bear from red peg

The 3D grizzly bear from red peg, yes it is that far away.

Chris walking back from white peg Tfor the 3D grizzly bear

Chris walking back from white peg Tfor the 3D grizzly bear gives you an idea of distance.

The course was challenging thanks to clever and extensive use of the hillside and slopes , something they have in abundance.
Bowmen operated  a handicap system on the day which I’m not sure about. Each class is allocated a handicap which is added to your total score.
Chris on white peg shooting the 3D elk

Chris on white peg shooting the 3D elk

Sharon forcing me to pose for my shot on elk

Sharon forcing me to pose for my shot on elk. Managed to hit it with first arrow.

Personally I’d rather know what others scored in other classes without any handicap  but since the score called out includes the handicap level and you don’t know what the different classes handicap level is it’s hard to make sense of. I know they have since published a full listing on the Field archery news UK site.
Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

The course  would be a twice round 18 with a slight difference. The organisers had set each of the 18 targets as a predator prey, meaning the first time round you shot the target that was the predator and second time you go for the prey. This I thought was a good way of organising a twice round whilst still making it challenging. Though I guess if you are a gap shooter it makes the second time round a bit easier .
Rob trying to judge distance for 3D bear

Rob trying to judge distance for 3D bear

I  think the only thing I felt spoilt an otherwise very enjoyable shoot was the end and placing ceremony. All visitors ie those outside of a set postcode were allocated into one class independent of gender or shooting style. The handicap is applied and then places calculated  with there being a 1st, 2nd and 3rd awarded. This meant that despite shooting a higher score in gents afb I didn’t win the class and instead got third in the visitors class. Very strange way of doing things.
I don’t feel this is fair or would encourage others to attend. I also wonder if it is fair to locals as they don’t get to know how they fare against visitors. Image if you had shot a personal best and then found someone else had been recognised as being the winner on the day.
When I mentioned this to the organisers they said it was because it was the South West crown. If that’s the case give 1st, 2nd and third as normal and then award the crown separate. The Welsh and Scottish Champs don’t do this so why south west? Just my thoughts though.
Though I didn’t like the visitors element which I think spoilt the ending, in all it was a good day with a challenging course and great company.
Thanks for reading.
Pride Park - don't let the sun shine fool you, it was freezing cold

Shoot Report – Pride Park Archers – November 2016

Pride Park - don't let the sun shine fool you, it was freezing cold

Pride Park – don’t let the sun shine fool you, it was freezing cold

On a very cold Sunday November morning we would head to not far from Ripley in Derbyshire, to the new grounds of Pride Park Archers. The club has only just taken on this woodland a few weeks earlier and are in the process of settling in. So  this would be their inaugural shoot on these grounds. 
Don’t let the bright sunny morning photo fool you it was freezing cold with a very keen wind blowing off the fields. We did have some rain showers in the morning, which thankfully were quite short lived.
Our shooting group would consist of 3 members from Harlequin Archers club, Martin, Shane both shooting Compound limited and Gayle shooting barebow.
Shane and Martin retrieving arrows from across the creek

Shane and Martin retrieving arrows from across the creek

As for the course this would be a twice round 20, with the usual mix of paper and 3D targets. Some of you might think it is a long way to travel for a twice round twenty but this was both their first shoot at their new grounds as well as  a 20th anniversary shoot so we wanted to show our support for the club. We have a bit of a soft spot for Pride Park as they were the first club we ever went to a competition at all those years ago. We’ve always found the club very friendly and supportive not only at club events but also the NFAS as a whole.
Sadly not everyone showed them the same level of support with there being 14 no shows. I feel this  is a really big hit for the club, never the less there were another 74 of us mad fools who did brave the chill wind and turn up. The no shows caused a slight  delay to the start as Admin did their best to balance the groups. The catering team were doing their part to keep us feed and thanks to Paula for the cooking especially the burgers at lunch time.  
Their new grounds occupy mixed woodland, mainly coniferous situated on a Derbyshire hillside. This made for an unusual visual effect when the pine needles fell, making it look like flurries of snow were falling or maybe it was because it was so cold we were thinking snowfall.
Being off the beaten track means there is a fare walk to the woods across a couple of small fields but in return they do have a nice bit of woodland to develop. 
The wooded hillside offered some very nice shots, such as the long downhill 3D bear and I think as the club settles into the wood there will be even more potentially challenging shots.
The downside of the wood is there is little ground cover of any depth in places, so if you miss the 3D target your arrow will become a casualty, which a couple of mine did.
Gayle shooting 3D badger target

Gayle shooting 3D badger target

Overall I thought the targets were well placed, though I think the paper face Jay target didn’t need the boss angled as it’s a challenging shot already and angling it means arrows are likely to tear up the foam quickly. The zombie shot was different and a bit of fun too.
Paper face jay between the trees

Paper face jay between the trees

It would be fair to say I really struggled getting round the course. Compared to other grounds I have shot at its not that hard, but my asthma has been playing up for the last few weeks following a virus. This meant I struggled with the slopes resulting in my always carried but rarely used  inhaler being used lots.
I’d like to thank not only the group I was with but others who asked after me, along with Chris Harley who took time to walk back up the slope with me at the end of the shoot. Thanks Chrissie
Sharon shot really well, being back on form, winning not only the ladies class but out shooting all the men in the class (obviously including me).
Sharon shooting 3D crocodile

Sharon shooting 3D crocodile

Considering the limited time the club members had and the amount of work that was involved in just clearing the pathways, I think they’ve done really well. Yes there is room for a few improvements and enhancements but it is early days for them in the wood. One thing that I think  should be mentioned is the way the marshals reacted to problems quickly investigating and solving them, such as getting a replacement boss when one was found to be shot out.

Good luck Pride Park Archers with your new woodland.

Thanks for reading.