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

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Equipment Review – Spin Pin Target Pins

Spin Pin target pins

Spin Pin target pins

A while back the guys at Spin Pin were kind enough to send me some samples of their target pins for me to try out and I thought it about time to finish the write up and give my thoughts on them.

I’ve been using their target pins for about 6 months now on my layered foam bosses on the range and comparing them to the more traditional target pins.

First Thoughts

My initial thoughts when they arrived were I quite liked the size and shape as the pin heads aren’t too large. The grip on the top to screw I thought might make it easy to screw the pin into the boss, much easier that the simple push in ones. The plastic also feels robust, and I wondered how they will cope with being hit by an arrow. I know the traditional white pegs shatter if an arrow from my flat bow hits them.

Anyway those were my initial thoughts.

Traditional pin and Spinpin

Post Testing

Having tested them for a longer period of time I find I quite like them.

They are easy to use as the thick thread makes screwing them into the target boss very easy. I thought it might be worth getting some other peoples’ views so at a coaching session I ran a few months back I got a couple of students thoughts on them.

They agreed with me that they were pretty easy to use, with the head shape making it easy to screw in. As one said, it removed the need for brute strength to push the pin in.

Can take a hit

Can take a hit

They are pretty tough but they aren’t indestructible if you hit them straight on with an arrow, they will break, but to be fare so would any others.

I like the way you can use them to “tighten” the target face back on by simply screwing the pegs back in.

Simple screw them in

I’ve only found one problem with using these target pins and that is really dependent on how you mount your target faces.

The reason is, if you mount paper faces on a couple of layers of corrugated card, which isn’t unusual to lengthen the life of the target face, then use the pins it doesn’t give much pin length to secure them into the boss, so when drawing the arrows the target can sometimes be pulled off. This isn’t a big problem if you don’t use the two layers of corrugated card or just one layer of card. Also you could simply be a little more forceful when securing the face.

I did write to the guys and suggest they made the pins a bit longer, but as they said that might make them harder to use on other bosses, like straw ones. Also based on my experience if you mount your target faces on a single layer card it’s not a problem.

As I’ve said I have used these for the last few months now and been happy with them securing the targets to the boss. I tend to use 4 or 5 of these pins to secure the cards rather than just a couple with the more traditional ones, but this seems to work well.

secure the target

secure the target

Most of my tests have been on paper faces mounted on card or on the ProKill24 faces that are printed on a plastic like fabric, so I haven’t had chance to test them out on  hessian faces  so I can’t comment on their suitability.

I’d had hoped to try them out on one of my bag bosses a bit more but haven’t had chance thanks to too many garden projects. Though they seemed to work fine on the tests I did perform.

Overall I like the ease of use as it takes less pressure to push them into the target boss, I do think making them slightly larger would make them even better. Overall not bad and work well.

Thanks for reading

3D deer

Centaura Field Bowmen – Shoot Report – September 2017

50th anniversary shoot

50th anniversary shoot at Centaura Bowmen

This was Centaura Field Bowmen 50th anniversary shoot and the archery gods must have looked on favourably as the weather was good the whole day. Since it was their  50th anniversary shoot it was very well attended, in fairness that is pretty normal for the midlands  based club. The only downside to this popularity being the day can prove be quite slow as archers navigate the course.

You can read a previous shoot report for Centaura here if you are interested.

3D deer

3D deer target

As normal with Centaura it was a 36 target course, being a mix of paper faces and 3D targets. On the matter of target faces, there were quite a few new paper faces that none of us had seen before. Whilst it was nice to see new targets I think some of the smaller faces might have been a little on the small size for the distance they were set as you couldn’t make them out clearly. As I said this was a minor thing in the great scheme of things.

Sharon shooting 3D deer

Sharon shooting 3D deer

We were lucky enough to be shooting with Rich and Cliff which is always a good laugh, both in gents longbow class. Sharon was on her best behaviour though and not picking on Cliff.

Rich shooting with Cliff

Rich shooting with Cliff

As is the norm with Centaura there is a lunch break between 12:30 and 1:15 where all shooting halts and archers can grab a bite to eat before completing the other half of the course.

Sharon shooting

Sharon shooting

Despite it being a bit slow at times it did flow and was a good day for those who attended over 130 archers.

Sharon shot well winning ladies American Flatbow and to my surprise I managed to secure first in gents class. The result of which are we now have a matching pair of very nicely designed wooden drinks coasters which were specially made by a club member to celebrate the 50th anniversary. They now have pride of place and on displace as I think they are too nice to use as coasters.

Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report of sorts – Harlequin – February 2017

Harlequin Archers Feb 2017

Harlequin Archers Feb 2017

I feel the bitterly cold temperatures marred this shoot with the cold wind in some parts of the wood along with several sleet or wet snow showers making it feel like a test of endurance at times. I think anyone who survived the day deserved an award. Due to the  unpleasant weather there is only the one photo as my phone was buried under several layers in my jacket to keep it dry.
You can read a previous shoot report here. Despite the cold weather there were nearly 150 archers attending.
This was our first shoot of 2017, well strictly speaking it was Sharon’s first as I didn’t shoot the course. Instead I walked around with Sharon and her shooting group of Kay, Andy B, Julie and Roger, who were shooting a mix of flatbow, longbow and Barebow. As for the course, there  were the familiar 2d targets which I’m sure were even harder to draw arrows from in the cold, or maybe that was just us struggling. There were a few shots nicely framed between trees that tested the archer’s nerve along with the now traditional long shot at the 2D Moose, that is simply huge. The majority of the targets were 2D or 3Ds though there were a few paper faces including one deer that Sharon took 3 shots on and found all 3 were scoring.
It was nice to see some friendly faces and to chat to people we hadn’t seen since before Christmas.
It was good to have the opportunity to chat with Andy Soars too about his new bow designs. For those who don’t know Andy is the bowyer who produces the Blackbrook bow range of bows. These are bows which Sharon and I are both lucky enough to own (I have two of his flatbows and Sharon one of his recurves and a flatbow). If you have a chance drop by his website and take a look at his selection of bows. http://www.blackbrook.eu/
I did find it hard at times though, especially when talking to some people who asked why I wasn’t shooting or who were partially aware of what had happened.
To be honest my heart is just not into shooting at present. I picked my bow up for first time in over 8 weeks on Saturday and I could feel the loss of muscle tone in my shoulders. The other thing was it didn’t feel like I wanted to shoot. Don’t get me wrong, I miss going down to the wood to shoot round but I realise I’m missing it more for being out there in nature than shooting.
Anyway back to the shoot report.
Harlequin did their best to keep everyone warm with supplies of hot drinks and a very nice chilli as one of the options for a hot meal. By all accounts their scotch eggs went down well too. Sharon shot well coming first in Ladies AFB with Kay coming first in Ladies Longbow. Though Julie didn’t place in longbow I think she shot really well, considering it was her first time out with the bow having only just picked it up. Oh, Andy B hope you are feeling better.
Despite the weather the day seemed to go well and people enjoyed themselves. Fingers crossed it will be warmer for their next shoot.
Thanks for reading.

What is Field Archery?

Sharon Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

Sharon Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

A few months ago I received an email from a reader asking what actually happens on a field course, how they are organised, rules for scoring etc.
So I thought I might update one of the pages on the blog “What is Field Archery
First view from Red peg

Consider the tree cover and branches

It details the scoring of the NFAS Big game round (probably the most popular competition scoring rounds in the NFAS), along with what you can expect on a course and how the different shooting pegs work for different age ranges.
Hope it is of interest to people even if you don’t shoot NFAS
Thanks for reading