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


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.