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
Thermal mug by lifeventure

Equipment Review – Thermos Mug

Thermal mug by lifeventure

Thermal mug by lifeventure

Very quick equipment review to start the new year, on something I hope will help keep you warm on those cold winter shoots. Thermal mug by Lifeventure, we got ours from Cotwolds outdoor shot http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/lifeventure-thermal-mug-d3432028
A warm drink in a small thermos flask will serve you well to lift your spirits on a cold day and an be used in summer months to keep a drink cold.
These are small enough to fit in the water bottle holder (65 x 65 x 160mm) on our quivers holding 300ml of liquid. There are relatively inexpensive and there are other manufacturers who produce similar products. One thing I would suggest is avoiding those that come with handles as they are a bit harder to carry on a quiver belt.
We’ve been using these for a few years and found they have worked well for us and keep the drink hot for a few hours about 3-4 hours. In fact I use one for travelling into work and found it good for keeping the coffee warm while waiting on the train station.
Thermos mug

Thermos mug seal

They are pretty robust which is good as I’ve dropped the one I use foe work more than once and have a sizeable dent in the bottom, but still works. The are  made of stainless steel and of course have an insulated wall, being pretty watertight with a seal on the lid.
 I tend to have a flask with hot fruit cordial on my belt and a larger flask of spicy soup in the car when it is really cold. The advantage of having a fruit cordial is if it goes cold its still drinkable unlike cold coffee or tea.
Overall 7/10 would be good if they could keep content warm for longer but still not bad for the money. For some more advice on staying warm in the winter have a read of my earlier post here.
Thanks for reading.
stream running through valley

Shoot Report – Bowmen of Bude

Catering tent at Bowmen of Bude

Catering tent at Bowmen of Bude

Sorry all for the delay in posting this shoot report. There is little doubt that Bowmen of Bude have a lovely ground, situated on a quiet wooded hillside a stones throw from the coastal town of Bude. This was the first time we had visited the club.
stream running through valley

The stream running through valley

Admin and catering for the shoot was situated in what appears to be an abandoned orchard.  Luckily it wasn’t a windy day as we might have done a few impressions of Isaac Newton being bumped on the head with occasional apple.
Admin at Bude through the orchard

Admin at Bude through the orchard

As it was the weather was kind to us being bright and warm, allowing for some lovely views and photos.
Target 1 second time round, Sharon shooting 3d

Target 1 second time round, Sharon shooting 3d

We would be joined by Chris shooting hunting tackle and Sandra in ladies longbow for our jaunt round. it’s always a good laugh shooting with Sandra and this was no exception.
Chris and Sandra sorting cards

Chris and Sandra sorting cards

All the marshals were very friendly and helpful, chatting with archers throughout the day. I also think they did enjoy watching archers shoot some of the longer shots set out on the course. Especially the elk and grizzly bear.
The 3D grizzly bear from red peg

The 3D grizzly bear from red peg, yes it is that far away.

Chris walking back from white peg Tfor the 3D grizzly bear

Chris walking back from white peg Tfor the 3D grizzly bear gives you an idea of distance.

The course was challenging thanks to clever and extensive use of the hillside and slopes , something they have in abundance.
Bowmen operated  a handicap system on the day which I’m not sure about. Each class is allocated a handicap which is added to your total score.
Chris on white peg shooting the 3D elk

Chris on white peg shooting the 3D elk

Sharon forcing me to pose for my shot on elk

Sharon forcing me to pose for my shot on elk. Managed to hit it with first arrow.

Personally I’d rather know what others scored in other classes without any handicap  but since the score called out includes the handicap level and you don’t know what the different classes handicap level is it’s hard to make sense of. I know they have since published a full listing on the Field archery news UK site.
Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

The course  would be a twice round 18 with a slight difference. The organisers had set each of the 18 targets as a predator prey, meaning the first time round you shot the target that was the predator and second time you go for the prey. This I thought was a good way of organising a twice round whilst still making it challenging. Though I guess if you are a gap shooter it makes the second time round a bit easier .
Rob trying to judge distance for 3D bear

Rob trying to judge distance for 3D bear

I  think the only thing I felt spoilt an otherwise very enjoyable shoot was the end and placing ceremony. All visitors ie those outside of a set postcode were allocated into one class independent of gender or shooting style. The handicap is applied and then places calculated  with there being a 1st, 2nd and 3rd awarded. This meant that despite shooting a higher score in gents afb I didn’t win the class and instead got third in the visitors class. Very strange way of doing things.
I don’t feel this is fair or would encourage others to attend. I also wonder if it is fair to locals as they don’t get to know how they fare against visitors. Image if you had shot a personal best and then found someone else had been recognised as being the winner on the day.
When I mentioned this to the organisers they said it was because it was the South West crown. If that’s the case give 1st, 2nd and third as normal and then award the crown separate. The Welsh and Scottish Champs don’t do this so why south west? Just my thoughts though.
Though I didn’t like the visitors element which I think spoilt the ending, in all it was a good day with a challenging course and great company.
Thanks for reading.
snowy field

Seasons are changing and its getting colder, tips on staying warm

snowy lane

snowy lane

Winter is coming. No I’m not talking about the Game of Thrones TV series which I’ve still not watched any of. I’m talking about the change of seasons. It seems almost overnight the trees have become bare, with their leaves now carpeting the woodland floor, whilst temperatures have started to dip further.

Recently there was a post on the NFAS Facebook site about suitable clothing for cold weather and that got me thinking and revisiting an article I wrote a few years back on the subject of staying warm in the winter months. I thought I would update it now, but focus a bit more on the base layers we have been using for a few years and a few other bits that might prove useful or even early Christmas gifts.

Sharon shooting in the snow

Sharon shooting in the snow

Being cold can really distract from your enjoyment of shooting, whether you are out hunting for your Christmas turkey or in our case at a field shoot. Cold hands make having an effective release hard, wet feet makes the body feel cold and day long. So here are a few tips and clothing advice we’ve found useful over the years.

Layer up – Merino wool base layers have served Sharon and I for years and I do mean years. Whether we are out shooting, hiking or skiing they are what we reach for to keep us warm. Ok, so ours are getting a bit worn now, but when you consider the number of years we’ve worn them I think they have been well worth the money.

Merino wool base layer

Merino wool base layer

Ours are Icebreakers and come in two weights 200 and a heavier 260. They work by keeping you warm when you need to be and doesn’t develop that synthetic feel other base layers do. The 260 weight have thumb holes and long sleeves that work really well for archery and for that matter skiing too as they keep your wrist warm. I think they are now sold at a 280 weight.

Heavier weight Base layer

Heavier weight Base layer

So what is Merino wool and why does it make it so well?
Here is a link to Icebreakers website and goes http://uk.icebreaker.com/en/why-icebreaker-merino/what-is-icebreaker-merino.html
I tend to avoid synthetic base layers as I find whilst they do keep you warm, then tend to hold body odours and result in getting a bit smelly quickly.

Don’t get too hot. This may sound strange when talking about shooting in cold weather, but if you get too warm you start to sweat. If this sweat doesn’t wick away from your body, you can very easily get cold when you stop moving round and that can in turn lead to hypothermia. You don’t have to out in in 3 ft snow to catch hypothermia, it can set in at just above freezing point as it is based on your body temperature dropping. So please take care.

Billy Connolly once said on one of his TV shows “there is no such thing as bad weather just wrong clothing

Disposable hand warmer are useful to carry in a pocket to warm you up and they are quite inexpensive, if like us you buy them in bulk on-line.

Handwarmers

Handwarmers

There are various reusable ones that use charcoal sticks or lighter fuel too, but I don’t have any personal experience of the latter. The charcoal ones are a bit of a pain to get started and stay warm so we stick with the disposable ones. I know some people find the lighter fuel ones very useful. The disposable ones last for a few hours and I tend to have a few spare in the car or back pocket when skiing and hiking. One thing I have learnt is that they need air / oxygen to work so if they are buried under lots of layers they don’t work that well.

Decent waterproof boots are essential, wet feet equal cold feet, cold feet makes for uncomfortable day. You can read a review of mine here. I’m not a fan of wellington books as don’t find them that warm

Survivor Man – Les Stroud tweeted dry feet = happy feet

and he is so right there. I also keep a change of shoes in the car that will be dry and warm to change into after shooting, along a towel to dry your bow and you if you get wet. There are a few blankets in the car just in case. While talking about feet it is worth spending a bit more on decent socks too or to have a spare pair in the car to change into.

Decent windproof / water proof jacket. Ideally a breathable gore-tex jacket that you can move and shoot in. Finding one you can shoot in is a lot harder than you might think though, as the biggest problem is finding one that doesn’t have baggy sleeves to catch on the bow string. Fleece shirt and body warmer (Ideally windproof) which just acts as another layer is a good addition. You have to be careful that you don’t end up so restricted in moving due to heavy coats etc that you can’t move.

Keeping your legs warm. Again we have some Merino wool base layer leggings for when it is really cold. We never wear jeans. If jeans get wet, body warmth will leach out of you as jeans take an eternity to dry.

Lined walking trousers

Lined walking trousers

I use a pair of Craghopper Kiwi lined trousers and have for several years. They dry pretty quickly and keep you warm. The only downside I have found to them is don’t get too close to naked flame as they are synthetic. They do have a couple of zip pockets that means keeping keys safe is easy.

Lined walking trousers

Lined walking trousers

I do have some breathable waterproof over trousers too by Northface which I can put on if the weather turns wet. They can work well as an extra layer over lighter trousers like the Bear Grylls one I reviewed a while back on this site.

Warm hat and neck scarf or ideally neck buff will keep you warm. One thing I’ve not mentioned yet are gloves. It can be hard to find suitable gloves when shooting, especially if you are using a tab. Flip over mittens can work well. Sharon uses a pair and has for a couple years. Hers are fingerless gloves with a loop of fabric that fits over the fingers so making them into mittens when needs it.

Thermal mug by lifeventure

Thermal mug by lifeventure

Snacks energy bars and liquid – ideally a warm drink in a small thermos flask will serve you well. I tend to have a mug flask with hot fruit cordial on my belt and a flask of spicy soup in the car. The advantage of having a fruit cordial is if it goes cold its still drinkable. Thermal mug by Lifeventure http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/lifeventure-thermal-mug-d3432028 have worked well for us for a few years and keep the drink warm for a few hours.

Thermos mug

Thermos mug

Last thing is to consider of how you are getting home. I’ve been to a few of shoots over the years, where the biggest challenge wasn’t the course but getting off the car park, field or track. The fields and tracks had been churned up by all the archers’ cars or snow has changed to hard packed ice. The resulting quagmire or skating rink makes getting home a challenge.

There is a layer of compacted snow into sheet ice

There is a layer of compacted snow into sheet ice

For this reason I carry a tow rope, small spade, length of old carpet and jump leads just in case and I’ve used them all at shoots. A relative recent addition have been plastic tracks, sometimes called mud tracks or grips. They are about 6 inches wide and 12 inches long, made of a deep honeycomb structure and allow the tyres to gain a grip on the soft ground. These have proved really useful and helped more than a few people who have become stuck.

Ok, so all this may sound a little over the top but better to be prepared than cold.
Hope you find this useful and thanks for reading.