Making and doing archery madness

I firmly believe that a successful club is more than just a field or wood and group of people who shoot there.
A good club supports its members, nurturing and developing their skills and interests. I believe it should also be somewhat of a social gathering.

It is very easy for a newbie archer to get lost and confused with friendly offers of advice or to be too nervous or embarrassed to ask for help. Ideally you want new members to be intimidated as little as possible but not everyone has the confidence to ask questions or seek advice.

Learn from the past
Many years ago, I was a member of the Black Arrow club in Derby. In fact it was the  first ever archery club we joined. Kevin the club chairman and Cherrie the Secretary organised a making and doing session for all the new members who had joined. It gave all present the opportunity to learn the basics of arrow making, string making and how to serve strings. It proved a great success being both instructional and social with Cherrie and Pete (her partner) providing food for all.
Over the Christmas holiday of 2014 Sharon and I organised a similar event at our house, with the objective of giving a few of the newbies some guidance on making or repairing arrows and a variety of other topics.
It proved to be a very sociable afternoon  and evening, helped by the contributions of everyone who came and Sharon’s expert cooking. Yes, not only is she a cracking shot but also a great cook.

Nigel showing his expertise on straightening wooden arrows.

Nigel showing his expertise on straightening wooden arrows.

We covered topics of how to make wooden arrows including fletching arrows, attaching piles and nocks. Having a number of experienced archers there proved really useful as each explained how their technique was slightly different from each other enabling a great spectrum of knowledge to be displayed and discussed.  The discussion on whether to varnish the arrow prior to fletching or fletch then varnish was one hotly debated topic. An equally debated topic was the merits of different glues for attaching piles to wooden shafts with some preferring  hot melt over epoxy glues. All the advice and comments were provided freely and in a relaxed atmosphere.

Jason showing how to use fletching tape

Jason showing how to use fletching tape

Whilst arrow making was going on in one room, arrow straightening of aluminium arrows using our straightening jig was being demonstrated in another. There was also just enough space to demonstrate applying serving to a bow string.

Discussions went on long into the night on different techniques and it was a very sociable evening. Our thanks to all who contributed their time and advice.

Greta making her first arrows

Greta making her first arrows

With everyone at the wood the following day even more discussions took place, this time with archers showing off their arrows they had made previously and again citing the merits of varnishing first or other such topics.

So if you have the opportunity to run something similar to this at your club go for it. It doesn’t take much planning and benefits can be huge.

Thanks for reading and to all those that attended. Special thanks to Kevin and Cherrie who set the bar so high all those years ago.
Oh, Kevin if you are reading this remember the glue.

Some sad news – passing of Roy Bickerstaffe

This week I received some sad news from my old clubs (Black Arrow) chairman Kevin Bunting, concerning the passing of a well know archer and fellow club member Roy Bickerstaffe.

Kevin has put these words together and asked I share them with the wider archery community.

Roy Bickerstaffe - perfect style

Roy Bickerstaffe – perfect style

It is my sad duty to advise you of the death of Roy Bickerstaffe after a short period of rapidly declining health. Roy started the ‘Derby Carriage and Wagon Welfare Archery Section’ in March 1965 (was this the longest archery club name ever?)

Roy shot both target and field in those days and was very proficient in both, swapping with apparent ease between the classic target ‘Freestyle’ and ‘Heavy Tackle’ as Hunting Tackle was originally known.

Roy involved himself in all aspects of the sport: administration, coaching and, of course, shooting.
In 1970 the BFAA merged with the EFAA and soon Field Archery as we had known it was changing and not for the best.  Roy with a few others decided that enough was enough and with the hindsight afforded by their experience of the BFAA and the benefits of a clean sheet of paper, founded the NFAS in 1973. This gave field archers the wonderful opportunity to again engage with the sport as they wanted.  True, the NFAS migrated down a path they may have strayed somewhat from Roy’s vision but there is not a single true field archer that does not owe Roy and his band of merry men and women a debt of gratitude for what we all enjoy today.
Roy could talk for hours on a wide range of subjects and frequently did and there are many who have missed appointments, meals, loved ones and sleep as they tried without success to prompt an end to the dialogue or rather, monologue.  But one thing is for sure….that all who benefited from time with Roy was the richer for it.
I’d like to pass on my condolences to all the Bickerstaffe family. Though I only met Roy a couple of times when I first started shooting as Kevin says he had a wealth of experience that he was always willing to share.
Thank you, Roy  for all the work and effort you  made to a hobby I have the privilege to enjoy.
Thank you for reading.

Shoot report – Hanson March 2014

Hanson shooting group Steve, Sharon and Barry

Hanson shooting group Steve, Sharon and Barry

Last Sunday saw the Hanson club outside Derby organise a shoot which we attended.
With the clocks changing this past weekend to BST (British summer time) we decided to not have the even earlier start on Sunday morning and went up Saturday and stayed over in Derby.
The nice thing with staying over in Derby was it gave us the opportunity to call in at one of our old clubs Black Arrow, allowing us to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen for a while and shooting round the course.
Kevin at black arrow

Shooting with Kevin at Black arrow on the Saturday

As always with Hanson the food was great and reasonably priced. We were also very fortunate with the weather, with it being a bright early spring day.
Sharon preparing to shoot

Sharon preparing to shoot

The challenging course was a mix of 3Ds and Paper Faces made up of 38 targets not the normal 36/40.
There were some well set shots including this 3D beaver.
3D beaver set in wood pile.

3D beaver set in wood pile.

My one criticism of the course which I didn’t have chance to mention to the organisers was with their target placement on a few shots. A number of 3d targets had either no boss behind to catch stray arrows or small ones that would not catch many. Maybe I’m sensitive to this as on one target which lacked a boss I snapped an arrow in the tree directly behind the target. There is ample space on there ground to avoid this.
3D bird though not sure what bird?

3D bird though not sure what bird?

I think it would be fare to say I didn’t meet the needs of the course. I came away very disappointed with both my score and performance. Didn’t feel right or comfortable all day. Shoulder and back aching almost from the start, just hoping it’s not my re-occurring shoulder problem.

Thanks for reading.

Equipment Review – Bohning fletching tape

With the stormy weather hitting the UK at present, many archers are retreating to the indoor ranges or their making and doing rooms and sheds, fletching arrows and sorting gear for the new season. It’s been not so much of a white Christmas and New Year as a very, very wet one.

Here is hoping everyone is safe, warm and dry.

I thought I might take this opportunity to post my findings on using Bohning fletching tape. Been a while since I’ve written a review so here goes.

Just to make this clear from the outset. These are my views and opinions. I have no commercial interest in these products I review or the companies.

Double sided tape

Bohning Double sided tape

For years I have been using fletching glue to attach my feather fletching to the wood shafts. HMG has been my glue of choice. The only issue I’ve had is the time it takes for the adhesive to cure which is 15-20 minutes depending on air temperature.

For plastic vanes I’ve used simple bostic glue from local hardware shop which seems to work well on Sharon’s aluminium eclipse arrows.

At a shoot last year I was mentioning this and Bob one of our old club members from Black Arrow mentioned he used double sided fletching tape for all of his arrows and had never had any problems. Bob shoots longbow for both field and roving so his arrows can take some abuse. No offence Bob if you are reading this.

Initially I found applying the tape a little fiddly. Not so much when taking it off the roll and applying to the feather, but when trying to take the second covering layer off the tape when applying the fletching to the arrow shaft, but you get used to it.

Make sure you have aligned the fletching right as the tape adheres fast so you don’t have the time to re align if you make a mistake.

Quick tip. Ensure the shaft is dry and free from any dust which would cause poor adhesion. I don’t oil or varnish the shafts prior to fletching them.

Using the tape saves a lot of time as I found it quick and easy to use once you got the hang of it. I was able to fletch half dozen arrows in 15 minutes a significant time saving as it used to take 45-55 minutes using the glue to fletch one arrow.

Allow a little more at each end

Allow a little more at each end to make it easier to apply.

Leave a little extra at the front and rear of the fletching as it makes it easier to remove the second side of the tape and easier to apply the fletching to the shaft.

Extra length at front

Extra length at front

I was concerned the tape might come off in the rain but so far so good. I’ve been using the arrows for a little over six months and they seem okay.

My other concern was if the fletching might peel off the shaft, but this hasn’t happened either. I don’t know if this might be different if you varnished the wood first.

They have stood up to all the normal abuse I can throw at them, from being soaked in the rain, to encounters with trees and other vegetation. I’ve also used the tape for a new set of wooden arrows for Sharon and they seem to eb working well for her too.

Not sure how well it would work on plastic fletching but I am thinking of testing this shortly so it might be an update in near future.

The tape is available from most good archery shops, I got mine from Merlin in Loughborough. ( I’ve used less than half the roll so far and produced a couple of dozen arrows so its pretty good value for money at just under £7 a roll.

So in short my verdict is thumbs up for Bohning tape, a good product that can save you a lot of time. 9/10 (could be higher if I had chance to try it on shafts other than wood)

Let me know if you have any experiences with this or anything else.

Happy New Year and as always thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – Pride Park

Pride Park

This shoot report covers our experiences of the Pride Park March shoot. This was the first trip to their new wood, which is only a stones throw from one of our old clubs Black Arrows wood.

So on Sunday we headed just north of Derby, about  an hour and 20 minutes drive for us. The weather was dry but not as sunny or warm as the previous day, which had been the first real sign of spring arriving. But as I said it was dry, though it did get cold in the afternoon, which was a shame.

The shoot would also be a test for Sharon’s new arrows or rather piles for her x7. We have been experimenting with the pile weight in her arrows and she had tried a few different ones out on Saturday. So Saturday evening was spent with me swapping out old points for new inserts and screw in points.

Our shooting group was made up of 5 people, Pride Park limit their group numbers to 5 and I think this is a good plan. There was a good flow with no hold ups. The only delay in the day was after the lunch break, by which point it was getting a bit cold as the wind had picked up. In fact there was a really relaxed atmosphere all day.

The course was a mix of paper faces, 3D targets and couple of hessian / fabric faces. We started in the small wood, with a downhill hessian target.

first target

Sharon at first target

It was good to see that targets, especially paper ones, had been put out at sensible distances making them hitable targets.

target 13 Close paper duck

target 13 Close paper duck

In fact there were a few larger faces put closer than normal that confused a lot of archers, resulting in them misjudging the distance.

Scott shooting target 15

Scott shooting target 15

The paper faces included my 3 least favourite, the ermine,  standing hare and red squirrel.

JVD Ermin target face

JVD Ermin target face

JVD Hare target face

JVD Hare target face

JVD Red Squirrel target face

JVD Red Squirrel target face

Why do I hate them? Well besides 2 of them being very small (ermine and squirrel have a 20mm inner scoring zone) the 3rd, the hare, is easy to miss if you lose your line and go slightly left or right, as it is quite tall but skinny.

For those interested I scored 20 on the ermine, 8 (3rd arrow) on the hare and 16 on the squirrel. so that is 2 first arrows and one 3rd, not too bad really.

It all it was a good day with Scott and Zack Ball, Norman joining Sharon and I to make up our group of 5.

Despite being very close to Black Arrows wood the grounds are very different. Black arrow is on a hillside and quite small whilst Pride Parks ground is made up of 2 woods with a connecting field / hedge row, with a small coppice that allows for steeper angles and downhill shots, the other wood is more open and flat allowing for longer shots.

As for how I got on, not great 604 on 36 targets, top score in my class was 654 I think. Sharon did well getting first place again in ladies Barebow. Guess the new arrows worked.

As always thanks for reading.