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


Early spring weekend activity

spring is almost here - snowdrops

spring is almost here – snowdrops

In one quiet less muddy corner of the car park there were a few signs of spring.
Whilst at the wood this weekend helping to prepare for next month shoot we bumped into a couple of friends Irene and David walking off the course having been down to the wood early.
In hand was an example of good grouping. Dave had been shooting his compound bow at the target but lost sight of where the arrow hit so thought he’d have another go.
A Course - Target 10

A Course – Target 10

The result a “Robin Hood” on the first arrow.

Robin hood arrow shot

Robin hood arrow shot

If you look closely you can see the carbon threads. Good shooting Dave though a bit costly on the old arrow front.
Just a quick note to Chris, Keith, Badger and Denzil. Well done guys on getting the new B course up and running over the weekend, 20 new shots all set up in 2 days is great going.

Also thanks to other members of the club who helped laying gravel on the entrance path  (50 odd bags of it) along with the 2 bags of hard core that went on filling in the ruts in the car park. Really good to see so many members helping out.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – 3D National Championships

Morning Sunrise

Misty sunrise over the fields

The weekend of the 25th-26th of May saw the arrival of the annual National Field Archery Society (NFAS) 3D championships.
This 2 day event would see archers from around the country (just under 600 competitors) travelling to Osmaston just outside of Derby. This was the 4th year the event had been hosted there and possibly the last as the contract with the estate is ending this year. Here is a link to last years report.
3D Badge

3D Badge

I will admit to approaching the weekend with a level of apprehension, the week before I had struggled to shoot round our wood on both days, so wondered how my shoulder would cope with 2 days of no doubt challenging courses. Only time would tell.
We’d chosen to camp this year with a group of fellow archers from SVYF and had taken the Friday off work so we could get up early and set up the tent.
3D Champs, Sharon sheltering from the wind

3D Champs, Sharon sheltering from the wind

As it was pitching the tent was a bit of a challenge in winds, gust up to 50mph and showers but we managed it.
Rainbow over campsite

Rainbow over campsite

Format of the weekend

Each class would shoot a different course over the 2 days, A+B course if shooting wooden arrows X+Y course if shooting metal / carbon arrows. The courses had been set by 4 different clubs Artemis Archers, Lyme Valley, Hanson and Duvelle.
Since I was shooting my recurve in the Hunting Tackle class as my shoulder was still not 100% I would shoot course A on Saturday which had been laid by Duvelle archers and Sunday it would be Lyme valleys course (B course). Sharon would be shooting X&Y course (X course Saturday and Y course on Sunday)
The courses were made up of 40 3D targets of various size and distances and I do mean all shapes and sizes. Over the weekend I shot everything from 3D deers, bears, frogs, raccoons to the occasional dinosaur.

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning – archers gathering

You register between 8:30-9:30 and go through arrow check, this is where a marshal will check your arrows to ensure they are marked with your name, and shooting order. (this is a requirement for both the rules and insurance)
Announcements started at 10 and we were sent off onto our respective courses on the walk out, which can take up to 15-20 minutes itself before you even get to your course and then have your course briefing and escorted to your starting peg. Roughly by 11am you should have started shooting.


Saturday dawned with a clear bright sky, thankfully the wind from Friday had gone too. having made up a few new arrows I thought I’de try them out on the practise targets before they got too busy.
The day didn’t start too well with breaking 2 arrows on the first 6 targets, one of which hit the target but broke on the leg after hitting the leg support. By the end of the day I had smashed one into pieces and had to re-pile 2 others.
My only criticism of this course would be that within the first 16 targets we shot,there were a number of the same targets, we had 3 of the same bedded panthers and 2 Velociraptor. This isn’t the clubs fault as they are given the 3D targets, but I think it would have been better to spread them out a bit more.
Having said that the targets weren’t stretched for their size or distance. I think a few more signs informing archers to shout clear when they had left the target they had shot, so the following group knew they were clear and could start shooting would have been good. There were a number of large bushes that blocked vision so at times it was hard to tell if people had cleared the area.
As for shooting, well I didn’t blank any targets so wasn’t too bad a day, though my shoulder was beginning to ache. Here’s hoping for a decent nights sleep.
We had finished by 4 pm and I was back at the tent shortly afterwards, A course being the closest to the campsite.
As the evening approached we gathered round the camp fire, lit the barbecues and sat chatting about the days successes and failures over some hot food and a few drinks. Good social end to the day.


Sunday was another bright and clear day, a complete difference to last year when it was continual rain all day.
The one downside was I hadn’t slept well and my shoulder was stiff and painful, add to that my stomach wasn’t feeling 100% (guess that was the Barbecue I thought). The organisers had posted the first day results on the net late Saturday night and a copy at Administration so there were people massing round comparing notes and scores.
This days course had been set by Lyme Valley archers. Lyme Valley’s home ground is in a valley outside Stoke on Trent and they make great use of up and downhill shots. They had obviously taken this skill set to the course and applied it very well.
There were a number of deceptive shots making use of the height and dead ground.
I’m sorry but I didn’t take any photos of the course, but I’ve included a couple of photos from the course Sharon shot on Sunday.
upsidedown Baboon Y course - thanks to Sharon

upsidedown Baboon Y course – thanks to Sharon

Including an interesting upside down baboon.

Photo from Y course - thanks to Sharon

Photo from Y course – thanks to Sharon

I didn’t shoot as well on this course as Saturday, partly down to it being a more testing course and partly due to my shoulder beginning to cause me grief. Despite blanking several targets I came in with 30 points less than Saturday, just under 600 points.
Hanson were doing the catering for Lyme Valley and they always do a great spread, sadly my stomach was not feeling right so I only snacked.
It transpired that I had a better day than Sharon who was shooting on Y course (Artemis), she had had the misfortune of being held up on most targets which interrupted her flow and concentration.
Sharon on Y course

Sharon on Y course

So how did we get on? Well Sharon came away in third for ladies Barebow (despite shooting badly on Sunday) As for me well I came in 15th, not bad for feeling off and having a bad shoulder. You can see the full results here.
We got home on Monday after a fun weekend, the only down side was I came down with a very unpleasant stomach bug which saw me not venturing far from the toilet for 3 days. The doctors think it was gastroenteritis.
So despite falling ill after the event, it was a great weekend. What is more it has made me realise that despite having a bad shoulder I can shoot and do well. Big thanks to all those archers and friends out there who have been so supportive, especially a certain lady called Sharon. Thank you.
As always, thanks for reading

Literature Review – Idiot Proof Archery-How to Shoot Like a Pro

I recently bought this book (Idiot Proof Archery-How to Shoot Like a Pro) on a trip to Wales Archery.  But I had first seen a copy about a year ago whilst competing at the Scottish championships. Some of my club members from Artemis had a copy and were promoting its content.

Idiot proof archery

Idiot proof archery

I like the style of writing, as it makes the book an easy read. It also means you can easily put it down and pick it up or flick through.

I think it gives good advice for those wanting to improve and I found the Dos and Don’t chapter particularly informative and insightful. Another thing is if you are a coach or interested in developing coaching skills there is some good advice and tips throughout the book on things to look out for in your students.

I particularly like the quick key points tips in the margins.

I would classify myself as a traditional archer in many ways, in so far as I shoot mostly wooden arrows from bows without sights. I have a compound and carbon arrows for my recurve, sights etc but prefer instinctive shooting, which means some of the material and subject matter covered is not as relevant. Having said that I still found this very insightful and in short a good read.

Images can be a little small but they succeed in getting the messages across. the one thing I think is lacking is an index of content to aid in finding topics.

I’ve included a link to Amazon below but as I said I bought my copy from Wales Archery, which is a great little shop in Crick, Monmouthshire.

ISBN-10: 0971281211

ISBN-13: 978-0971281219

What to do during winter months

First of all, Happy New year to all readers.

Okay, so the winter months are here, short days and long nights with not much chance of shooting.

If you are a gardener you could be reading seed catalogues for the next growing year, if you are a warm weather lover you could be looking at holiday brochures, but if you are an archer what do you do?

Well you could be practising indoors if you have the option and facilities.


You might be cross referencing the latest catalogues and internet sites to work out the best combination of carbon arrows for the bow (think this is the closest we get to checking seed catalogues). I know this is something Sharon is doing at present in her quest to find some carbon arrows for next season.


Something you might find useful to do is review targets?

What do I mean? Don’t they all look the same? After all a circular target is the same day in day out. Well yes, if you are shooting at a circular target.  But in the field archery I shoot you aren’t shooting circular targets. I’m shooting either 3D animal targets or animal paper faces.

How is it scored?

Well if you hit with your first arrow you can score 20 points for a kill shot and 16 points for wound (if you get an inner kit you score 24 points)

If you miss with your first arrow you are allowed to take another shot from the second peg.  If you hit, you can score 14 points for a kill shot and 10 points for wound (if you get an inner kit you score 14 points i.e. no difference now as the bonus points are only if you hit with first arrow).

If you miss with your second arrow you can take a third and final shot from the last peg. From there you can score 8 points for a kill shot and 4 points for wound (if you get an inner kit you score 8 points)

JVD Boar

JVD Boar

The image above shows clearly the 3 scoring zones. The outer most line is the wound line. The next in is the kill line and the smallest is the inner kill.

As you can see not all the animal scores on paper faces so if you hit a leg, you don’t get anything.

There are now hundreds of animal faces and 3D targets on the market (JVD, Martin, Delta and Maple Leaf to name a few)  and if a course is laid well you should never be faced with the same target face on a shoot.  Also new target faces are always arriving on the market,  Merlin Archery in the UK have recently produced some fantastic quality paper target faces.

Target face - merlin boar

Merlin Boar

Another good target they produce is their ram.

target face - merlin ram

Merlin Ram

The only downside I have found with these faces, is they tend to reflect light so be careful course layers and try to avoid putting them in direct sunlight. Think they are changing this in next batch.

The problem with having all these faces, is trying to remember them all and know where the key high scoring areas are. In the NFAS only a few bow classes can use memory aids  such as booklets of targets faces or phone apps. For the rest of us we have to try and remember.

I’ve lost track of how many different boar or deer faces are on the market at present. All slightly different in size and shape. Some are life size others are reduced.

Likewise there are hundreds of different 3D targets out there too.

3d javalina

3d Javalina

A good tip I have been given is to aim for the leg line when shooting a 3D target, as if you drop low you are still in the leg. Downside of this means you aren’t in the highest scoring areas, but at least you don’t blank the target.

3d Turkey

3d Turkey

Anyway it is something to do, whilst we wait for the longer days and the season to start

As always thanks for reading and good luck for 2013.