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 – 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 – Harlequin Archers – July 2016

Ken Adams - birthday boy

Ken Adams – birthday boy

We are nearly at the end of August and I’m only just getting to finish this shoot report from July.  Where does the time go?
Anyway onto this long awaited shoot report. The last day of July saw us head up to the Leicestershire / Derbyshire borders for the Harlequin Archers shoot and unlike other summer days in July,  it was dry and even sunny at times.
As I write this, yes I tend to write these reports up in note form before typing them up, so yes you can call me old fashioned and explains why they sometimes take so long. I remembered that I promised a shoot report for Harlequin Archers previous shoot but never published it. I know one keen follower picked up on this and asked why only recently. Apologies for this, I did start writing it but it didn’t come together as well as I’d hoped so it never got past the draft stage. So I’m going to combine some of my thoughts on that shoot with this report.

Before I start on the shoot report I’d like to wish a very belated happy birthday to a great man, who was celebrating his 70th that Sunday. Happy birthday Ken Adams of Spirit of Sherwood fame,  may you have many more archery filled days.

 Anyway on to the shoot report.
As we pulled up to park, one of the marshals tapped on the car window asking “is that Rob?” To my shock and delight it was an old university and house mate from over 20 years ago! Stuart had recently taken up field archery with his son, having joined Harlequin club only a few months ago. We’d lost touch some 15 years ago as so often you do. Guess it really is a small world.
Our shooting group for the day would be Roger and Julie from Long Eaton both shooting barebow. This is becoming somewhat of a regular thing at Harlequins (not a complaint).
Clever use of foliage on 2D bear

Clever use of foliage on 2D bear

The course was a shoot through with two food stops, one either end of the woodland, with both serving hot and cold food and drinks. I can testify to the quality of the lemon drizzle cake which was lovely and yes I had a couple of pieces to check the quality. Having the two feeding stations was a very good idea for Harlequin as it gives the archers chance to grab a drink and relax. It also means the club doesn’t have to route all the course round one central point which could limit the ground used. Something that can be very hard for some clubs whose woodland doesn’t allow for multiple easy routes to and from one central location.
Harlequins ground is pretty flat consisting of broad leaf woodland  with an area of dense scrub and rhododendron bushes.
Sharon photographing me on the peg before missing a 3D bedded deer.

Sharon photographing me on the peg before missing a 3D bedded deer.

Harlequin have purchased some new 2d targets of various sizes including a gorilla, tiger, huge moose, kangaroo (yes you read that right a kangaroo), bear on all fours and standing bear. Of them all I think the tiger looked the best as you could see distinguishing features clearly something that wasn’t possible on some of the others.
Tiger 2D

Tiger 2D

In fairness to the suppliers I thought the silver back gorilla artwork was amazing up close making it probably my favourite.
The one down side of these new targets was the degree of effort required to draw arrows, as it normally required two of us to extract them. I witnessed several of the compound archers struggle extracting their arrows. Guess the upside is the targets are likely to last well and some have replaceable inserts for the kill or higher scoring zones.
Julie shooting 2D bear

Julie shooting 2D bear

One shot I thought was really good was an owl 3D. This was positioned in the V of a tree branch and shot through a gap in bracken over a small mound. It worked because of the framing of the owl through the undergrowth, proving you don’t need distance to make a technical shot.
3D owl in the tree through the bracken

3D owl in the tree through the bracken

There were some familiar shots too which had been used in the previous shoot. These, I thought worked well as the extra summer growth and leaf cover made them again nicely framed. The white goat shot returned which I think was one of the cleverest shots from their previous shoot and was again a challenge as it is set in such a way as to give an optical illusion thanks to the supporting trees making the distance hard to judge. I don’t want to give too much away as I think its a very clever shot.
Paper face turkey across marsh

Paper face turkey across marsh

I found this course a marked difference to the previous shoot they hosted which I attended but never finished the shoot report for.  The most recent course was I feel a better course with a better mix of targets and distances. The previous course had used a new areas of the woodland and I felt it was a lot tougher course, with what felt like several long shots  (around 40 yards or more). My personal feeling was there were a few targets at the limit of what I feel is appropriate distance for the size of target. I wouldn’t use the phrase stretched as I don’t think this would be fair or entirely accurate. I also felt this latest course felt like it flowed better and more rounded or balanced overall. Though it flowed well as a course progress on the day was quite slow initially, I think the organisers didn’t quite get the balance of groups quite right, as  in front of us there was a group of 6 people and then 5, while behind us there were groups of 3 or 4. The balancing of a group list is very hard though and when we along with others raised the delays with a couple of marshals they did their best to improve the situation by tweaking the groups (possible because they had left free pegs and there was nothing to be brought in). Some of the free pegs may have been due to the lower number of attendees at this shoot.
Sharon on the peg

Sharon on the peg

Overall it was a good day, with Sharon shooting well and winning ladies AFB. I believe it is worth noting that a few archers have commented that they had been put off shooting at Harlequins ground having shot their previous shoot and not enjoying it for one reason or another. I would suggest to them that based on the latest course I think they are worth a visit.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Harlequin Bow Hunters – February 2016

Mark mustering the archers at the start of the day

Mark mustering the archers at the start of the day

So last weekend was a baptism of fire back into the field archery circuit with Paget de Vasey shoot on Saturday and Harlequin club shoot Sunday.
So with slightly aching shoulders we set off up the motorway to Harlequin’s grounds. You can read my previous shoot report here. (Just so you don’t get confused Harlequin changed the club name recently from Hay Smiths to Harlequin)
The course was a mix of 3d, 2d and paper faces set over sensible distances. In fact I would say it’s one of the best set courses I have shot for a long time.
We had great company on the shoot with Roger and Julie joining us shooting Hunting Tackle and Barebow respectively.
Sharon shooting at Harlequin

Sharon shooting at Harlequin

The club have a lovely piece of woodland offering some great opportunities to frame shots and use dead ground, including a cracking shot at a 2D lynx which was across a small pond that wasn’t even visible from the first peg. A great example of how to cleverly lay a target.
Action shot of Roger shooting the 2D Lynx

Action shot of Roger shooting the 2D Lynx

Due to recent heavy rain areas of the course were very muddy and waterlogged.
The shoot had a really good vibe with a relaxed atmosphere. Catering was run really well by the club especially as it was the first time they had done it.
Sharon shooting 3D goose between the trees

Sharon shooting 3D goose between the trees

It was also, like Paget, well marshaled, something that became apparent when the whistles blew and the shoot was stopped. An archer had slipped and injured her back and was helped off the course. The fact the marshals handled it so well was great to see and a credit to the club. It was also great to see that all archers also obeyed the rules and had stopped shooting.
Martin bear set between the trees

Martin bear paper face set between the trees

Great framed shot through the trees

Great framed shot through the trees

I think the only negative I could say was that the latter quarter slowed which I think was down to people misjudging targets and having to take second or third arrows. I know I took way too many second and third arrows.
Sharon taking a shot after lunch

Sharon taking a shot after lunch

I must say though it was good to shoot a challenging course, made challenging by clever course laying and not stretched targets. Nothing couldn’t be reached you just needed to take time to judge it carefully. In fact we started on, I think, the longest target – the 2d tiger.
First target at Harlequin the long 2D Tiger

First target at Harlequin the long 2D Tiger – sorry slightly out of focus

The small (read very small) bedded fawn caught a few out as it had been set in such a way that you thought it was the large one.
Congratulations to Sharon on her first in Ladies American Flatbow with a score that would have got her placed second in the Gents class. Congrats to Jim Kent on his placing and JT on getting his personal best.
It is a shoot like Hawk that we will do our best to get to in future as I think it is one of the best on the circuit.
As for me I need to practice more and to build up the strength in the shoulders to cope with two days of shooting. P.S, Mark if you are reading this sorry for not hearing the comment about targets, I was distracted by some fellow SVYF archers talking to me.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – NFAS National Championships – September 2015

Saturday morning at National Championships

Saturday morning at National Championships

I can truthfully say I think this year’s NFAS National Championships was probably the toughest I’ve shot over the last few years. Not due to poor weather, but simply the demands of the course and terrain. I also think that the weeks of practice shooting 80-120 arrows every other day built up my stamina and helped me cope with shooting so many arrows over 2 days. If you are interested you can check out a review of last year’s championships here.
The location of the championships was stunning, with it taking place on the banks of Windermere lake in the Lake District, which we were able to enjoy in fine dry weather. Yes, dry weather in September in the Lake District, we were shocked too.
The location offered some stunning views as we headed up and down the slopes and through beautiful mature oak woodlands of the Graithwaite estate.
Sharon and I had decided not to camp this year and Sharon had managed to book  a two bedroom apartment in Near Sawrey which proved an excellent find with a fabulous local pub 200 yards away. This accommodation we would share with fellow SVYF member Steve.
Having been able to get the Friday off work we headed up the motorway  Friday morning meeting Stephen at the apartment shortly after 2 pm. We unloaded the cars and popped down to the camp site and venue  to check we knew the route down the country lanes for the following day. As it was our accommodation was about 10-15 minutes drive from the venue.
This years Nationals would see 400 archers spread over two courses, the courses having been set by Lakeland (B) and Kendal (A) clubs.
Traditionally the nationals had been solely paper faces but a couple of years ago they started to introduce a few 3d targets. This year would see over a quarter of the 40 targets being 3d targets. This year they imposed a time limit of 8 hours, stating all archers had to stop shooting after 8 hours from the start, even if they hadn’t shot all the targets.
General observations

 I’m going to make a few general observations.

Peg positions varied and I know a few archers have commented on this. By all means make the red challenging, but please ensure that other pegs are at reasonable distances especially for juniors.
It is my view that some targets were at their maximum range, possibly even beyond. You don’t have to stretch shots just because it is a championships, especially with the quality of the grounds the championships was on. The challenge is in what you score not whether you score.
When you have a long shot and then put a face which may have a large scoring kill zone but wound lines are unforgiving I personally don’t think it is fair.  It slows down the day as archers are forced to take three arrows.
There was some discussion on some new target faces produced by ProKill (http://prokill24.com/), which people hadn’t seen before. The problem with them was they had been stapled to the card rather than glued which meant the face was pulled off when arrows were extracted. That meant they were only used on the first day. I hope to write a review of these faces in the near future.
We must give top marks to the catering van that was providing food on the camp site and relocated during the day to provide food for A course. The guys were fantastic starting serving at 7 and going on into the evening. They also have a very cool Star Wars themed catering van.
Saturday

The weather, initially misty, soon turned into a beautiful autumnal day of no breeze and bright sunshine.We were on site shortly after 7:30 am with registration opening at 8 am.The shoot starting just after 10.

A course - 3D crocodile - seen from the side

A course – 3D crocodile – seen from the side

Day one would see me shooting A course, set by Kendal Archery Club and Sharon would be on B course. With only two courses the groups would be of mixed styles.
A course was located nearest admin so was a short walk. The group would be Helen shooting compound, Sandra who I’d shot with at the 3d championships this year shooting longbow, Lionel and another Rob, both shooting primitive. We started on target 24 which was a longish paper face small deer.
A course - target 24 - first target

A course – target 24 – first target

One beautifully set shot was a long shot on a bedded 3D elk, that looked fantastic.
A course - bedded elk 3D from the blue peg

A course – bedded elk 3D from the blue peg

Another was a shot across a small pond to a 3d crocodile.
A course - 3D crocodile - seen from the side

A course – 3D crocodile – seen from the side

A course - view back from 3D crocodile

A course – view back from 3D crocodile

I think it is fair to say A course felt as though it had been set by two teams.
Targets 1-20 proved slower and longer distances, with several waits or hold ups on the peg. Whilst 20-40 flowed well, the only holdup being the long bedded deer , which both looked great and was a technical shot.
A course - 3D Javelina

A course – 3D Javelina

The worst delays of the day were at a downhill skinny turkey followed by an uphill paper face wolf. We were waiting 10-15 minutes to shoot the turkey and another 20 minutes on the wolf, while we waited for the groups in front to shoot. These delays broke up the flow of the day noticeably in those 20 targets and I  think we had two clear targets in those 20.
A course - long paper face small deer and me Robin hooding fellow archers arrow

A course – long paper face small deer and me Robin hooding fellow archers arrow

We were off course by about 4:30 and headed back to the apartment and then to a local pub for food and then an early night.

Sunday

Sunday morning dawned a little cooler than Saturday with a slight breeze. Again we were on site from about 7:30 am for a breakfast roll and registration.

The scores and placing from the first day were posted at administration tent. Sharon was in a slim lead in ladies hunting tackle and somehow I was in second in American flatbow. It is a weird feeling having so many people congratulate you on placing when you felt you hadn’t shot well.
Unlike A course, B course would see us having a mile walkout to the assembly point.
B course - long 3D dinosaur

B course – long 3D dinosaur

I would start on peg 4 an uphill paper face leopard, my group comprising of 2 compound archers Dave and Alan, along with Ken Adams shooting longbow. We were also joined by Joan Adams who wasn’t shooting this year.
B Course - uphill turkey 3d

B Course – uphill turkey 3d

I didn’t feel Sunday flowed well with a few hold ups whilst we waited for the group or groups in front to shoot the target. On one target there  was over 30 minutes while we waited with other groups to shoot a long paper face moose.

B Course - downhill 3D crocodile

B Course – downhill 3D crocodile

One thing Lakeland did was have a marshal checking arrows whilst archers were on course to make sure the arrows were correctly marked.
B course - paper face puma between the tree bough

B course – paper face puma between the tree bough

I knew I’d not shot well on Sunday and think I can put that down to a loss of confidence. I broke one arrow quite early on and a second a couple of targets later and I think this got into my head. Unlike A course, B didn’t have as many backstops for the 3ds so if you did miss there was a chance of breaking an arrow, as David, one of the compound archers in the group can testify to; when he misjudged a long downhill shot on a 3D ram and the carbon arrow exploded as it hit the tree behind. I was very lucky on this target, with my arrow just staying in the top of the animal.

B course - lucky shot of the day

B course – lucky shot of the day

There were a few targets with trees or banks behind that were unforgiving on arrows.
The only advantage of all the delays was being able to chat with Jim Pierce from Artemis and also a fellow ex-Black Arrow member who was in the group in front. He did a grand job trying to keep my spirits up, cheers mate.
I walked back to the parking area on my own thinking over my shots, feeling pretty low. I need to work on coping with delays and not letting it effect my performance.
As the award ceremony approached I met up with Sharon and other archers patiently waiting for the results. The first to be called was Gents AFB and the first name was mine. By some miracle I had managed a third place. According to Sharon my face was a picture when it was announced. I was so touched by the number of people that came up afterwards to congratulate me.
Bronze medal from Nationals

Bronze medal from Nationals

Sharon retained her title as Ladies Hunting Tackle champion. Sharon and I  also won the Nearest and Dearest trophy for the second year running.
Our fellow SVYF member Robin won Gents Barebow, which helped the club towards winning the Instinctive Team trophy. Congrats to Colin who won 3rd in Crossbow too. Here is a link to the full results (http://www.nfas.net/downloads/champs/2015%20Sept%20Nationals%20Reults.pdf).
well done to all that managed to make it round the courses and congrats to all medal winners on what I think were a very tough couple of courses.
Thanks for reading.