Bows resting on tree

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – August 2017

Archers briefing at Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Archers briefing at Spirit of Sherwood shoot

So August is normally thought of as the height of summer in the UK, but I can’t say it really felt like it when we set off. Thankfully it remained dry through the day, if a little chilly first thing, though it did brighten up later on. Since it is a good two hour drive for us, if the motorways are clear, we decided to travel up the night before and stay over in Worksop. I don’t know what it is but the UK motorway network seems to be having more and more roadworks and temporary speed limits.

Archers arriving for Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Archers arriving for Spirit of Sherwood shoot

So there are few things in life that can be relied upon. Normally the phrase includes birth, death and taxes. Well maybe Spirit of Sherwood shoots should be added, as the ones I have attended have always been good, with targets well placed, not stretched, admin organised, along with good marshalling from start to finish. This Sunday was no different, even at the end when the admins had to resort to doing everything by hand due to computer problems it worked. I think the only thing that let them down was the catering van they brought in, who were quite slow and seemed to run out quickly.

Those wanting to read a previous shoot report can find a link to one here. As I write this I’ve realised I never did write a shoot report for last Decembers wooden arrow shoot at Spirit. Sorry.

The course was a mix of paper faces and 3D targets, organised in a clover leaf formation round the central point. This would mean we’d pass the catering stop a couple of times whilst navigating the 40 target course.

With I think over 200 people attending the shooting groups were quite large with 5 archers in most. Sunday would see Steve and David from Lincoln longbow, two comparative newbie archers having been only shooting for about 12 months, joining Harry shooting compound Unlimited, Sharon and myself.  We also had Mathew Harry’s grandson with us, enjoying a walk round as he wasn’t shooting.

3D deer shot at Spirit of Sherwood

3D deer shot at Spirit of Sherwood

The course itself was challenging without the targets being stretched, with some clever use of bracken as cover. Speaking of bracken, Spirit course layers covered all the bosses with foliage making them disappear in to the background. I especially liked the paper deer they set behind the shade of a bush, which made it very hard to identify if it was a 3D,2D or paper face. Vey cleverly set.

3D bobcat target between the trees

3D bobcat target between the trees

Another well set target I thought was the black bear 3D on all fours which was set in a clearing, see photo. It looked good and I always think that is part of the battle when making a course work.

3D black bear between the trees

3D black bear between the trees

I seemed to have a day of not quite judging the distances correctly, probably down to the lack of practise I am getting. Though I have to say it also could be down to the clever course laying. I seemed to get a lot of sixteens but very few twenties, with my arrows landing just over or under the higher scoring zones.

Steve shooting at 3D

Steve shooting at 3D

Spirit of Sherwood normally have some form of moving target and this time it was a 3D crocodile which I am surprised to say  I managed to hit. Normally I don’t fare well on moving targets. I know some groups found the day quite slow, which I think is inevitable when you have so many archers. We kept a steady base throughout the day, with our only real hold up being at the second food stop, where the groups in front had stopped for food.

Special thanks should go to young Mathew for volunteering to carry the 3D target we finished on in by himself, thank you. Here’s hoping you have a great birthday in a few days. Sharon and I shot ok, with Sharon winning ladies AFB and me scraping a first too. Thankfully the drive home afterwards  wasn’t too problematic, so in all a good day.

Thanks for reading

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The view from the valley

Shoot Report – Lyme Valley Archers – April 2017

Lyme Valley - starting biref

Lyme Valley – starting biref

On a beautiful bright spring Sunday morning we loaded up the car for an hour or so drive up the motorway to Lyme Valley Archers NFAS shoot. This would be my first shoot since Spirit of Sherwood in December last year and to be honest I was more than a little nervous.

For those who are interested here is a link to a previous shoot report. Lyme Valley club always put on a challenging course, helped by their ground which is a steep sided wooded valley outside Stoke-on-Trent. Thankfully this year the weather was warm and dry being more like summer shoot conditions than spring, the grounds and paths can be a bit slippery in the wet conditions.

Joining us to form our shooting group would be Paul and Claire from Long Eaton Field Archers, both shooting unlimited (that’s a compound class with all the whistles and bells). They were great company throughout the day which helped make for a relaxing and enjoyable shoot.

The view from the valley

The view from the valley

Lyme valley is always a popular shoot and this day was no different with well over 130 archers attending. I thought it went quite smoothly for us anyway with no real delays or hold ups until the end of the day when I think everyone was feeling a bit tired. Though I know a couple of archers chose to leave at lunch as they were finding it very slow going. It was great to see Jim smiling and enjoying shooting a flatbow again.

Great shot by Sharon

Great shot by Sharon

The event has a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:15 which see all archers stop shooting and walking back to the entrance for lunch. Though this can be disruptive and I’m not a fan of lunch breaks, it is necessary at this clubs grounds due to the geography being such as catering is at one end of the wood and you only pass it once. We were very fortunate in being near catering when the lunch horn went off.

Long down hill shot

Long down hill shot

3D target in valley floor

3D target in valley floor

A couple of shots I think  worth mentioning were the downhill bedded antelope, along with our first target an uphill lion right at the end of the wood.

First shot of the day

First shot of the day, 3D cat between the trees.

The 36 target course was a mix of 3D and paper targets.

3D Dragon emerges from an egg

3D Dragon emerges from an egg

3d fish behind log

3D Fish behind log on the river bank

Speaking with a couple of Lyme Valley club members the course had been set by new coarse layers and I think they did a pretty good job. There were a number of challenging shots, offering up and downhill challenges for all, something that not many clubs can offer. Personally I think with a couple of small changes to the route or standing places for groups it might be even better and feeling less cramped between targets.

Jim chatting with Sharon before we start.

Jim chatting with Sharon before we start.

If you want to experience a different course with ups and downs then Lyme Valley is a good course to go for, just be aware it can be quite physically demanding to be going up and down the slopes. Though I think Sharon and I were feeling tired before starting, having spent the Saturday from walking round Derbyshire woods scouting shots for the 3D championships.

Sharon on the Last shot of the day

Sharon on the Last shot of the day

Despite feeling tired Sharon shot really well, winning ladies AFB. I even managed to scrape a third in gents AFB. Once again our thanks to Paul and Claire for their company and to all of Lyme Valley for their hard work. All contributing to a lovely day out shooting, made it good to be back.

Thanks for reading

Shoot Report – Centaura – September 2016

Centaura shoot - archers waiting for start

Centaura shoot – archers waiting for start

On a early September Sunday morning we loaded the car to set off to Centaura shoot ground near Derby.
On arriving we discovered that sadly the club suffered from vandalism a few days before the shoot, which resulted in the course layers having to adjust some targets and use backup faces they had to hand, rather than those they had hoped to use. This vandalism was reported to the police, with the local press running an article on the damage complete with images of the culprits, as they managed to capture cctv images of the individuals they believe to be responsible. Let’s hope this helps identify those responsible and brings them to justice. I have included a link to the news article here. (http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/just-look-what-morons-have-been-doing-to-aston-archery-club/story-29710480-detail/story.html#)

If you are interested in reading a previous shoot report, you can find one here.
The shoot was slightly delayed due to the number of no shows, 17 in all and this is a lot for a small club to cope with, not just in the loss in earnings for entrance fees but also the cost in food bought based on expected numbers. There were still over a 100 archers in attendance in a variety of classes.

Small paper face between the trees

Small paper face between the trees

Despite the vandalism the club managed to set a 36 target course with a mix of paper and 3D targets, some of the papers are of their own design. There did seem to be a number of small faces but I think this might have been due to the vandalism and them using what they had rather than what they might have wanted to.
Sharon and I would shoot with John from Wolverine who was shooting longbow. I must say John was really good company and great to shoot round with, with conversation flowing freely on different topics from archery to other outdoor hobbies.

target 35 paper face puma

target 35 paper face puma

There were some familiar shots along with some new ones. We started on the club’s signature shot the Polo, this time on Target peg 1 with a small paper face red squirrel.

The now famous polo shot

The now famous polo shot

I particularly liked the bomb hole shot, which saw a change to the norm of shooting straight down.

Bear 3D from the red peg

Bear 3D from the red peg

3D bear shoot, zoomed in from the red peg

3D bear shoot, zoomed in from the red peg

This time they had managed to secure a 3D bear part way up a tree, making for a deceptive shot.

Close up of the bear 3d shot

Close up of the bear 3d shot

They also lengthened the very short shot they have had for the last few shoots, which I think worked much better.
The day flowed well, with no major hold-ups or issues we were aware of.
As always Centaura operates a lunch break 12:30 -1:15 and of course as luck would have it we were on the furthest target when the horn was blown to stop. I think my only critical comment might be that a few of the shooting pegs could do with being hammered in a bit further as anyone with long length bows could encounter problems catching their lower bow limbs. Also moving the target 36 shooting peg so it’s not on the main path, as it’s quite hard to concentrate on your shot when there are archers walking off the course.

Sharon shooting at paper face fox

Sharon shooting at paper face fox

Sharon did suffer from what can be best described as a slight wardrobe malfunction when stepping over a branch. The result was a ripping sound as her trousers ripped from knee to waist. Fortunately a role of micropore tape was to hand to save her embarrassment, allowing her to finish the course, with a pair of waterproof over-trousers being used when we got back to the car. Despite this Sharon shot well winning Ladies american flatbow.
Thanks for reading

Shoot Report – Wolverine Archers – April 2016

Wolverine Archers - April 2016

Wolverine Archers – April 2016

Last Sunday morning we were packed and ready to head up the motorway to Wolverine Archers shoot, then I remembered. I hadn’t checked the cars tyre pressures and oil levels on Saturday. Oops. Never mind it was only a short delay and as it was we were still some of first archers to arrive. It was also dry and not  promising any rain! I think it is the first time we have shot at Wolverines ground and it’s not rained at some point during the day.
Having said that there was a little mud, well actually quite a lot, which made it interesting getting round parts of the hillside course and in some cases on to and off the parking area. There are times I am very glad we have am old Honda CRV.
The slipping and sliding did cause a number of people to lose their footing and unfortunately one archer was taken away in an ambulance have fallen badly on her side. Good news is she is okay, she does have bruising and fractured rib, but it could have been much worse. I will spare her any embarrassment by omitting her name  but we are all wishing you a speedy recovery. On this point I feel it should be said the ambulance personnel and the club members looked to deal with the situation really well.

Anyway onto the shoot report. I quickly identified  two objectives for the day. Firstly, not to fall and twist my ever troublesome left knee and secondary was to try and hit Kong with my first arrow, a goal I have had since I first shot at Wolverines ground so many years ago. More about Kong later.
Wolverine is always a popular shoot and Sunday was no different, with most pegs being full so over 150 archers in a variety of classes making the journey to just outside Stoke on Trent. If you are interested here is a link to an earlier shoot report from last year.

Sharon shooting a bedded 3d

Sharon shooting a bedded 3d deer

The 40 target course was a mix of 3d and paper faces and I think it is fair to say it was a challenging course especially some of the paper faces which had been set at their upper limits as far as distances were concerned.
We would be shooting with Sarah Bacon (ladies bowhunter) and Martyn Cotterell (gents unlimited) both of whom are excellent shots and from Woodend archery club.

Martyn and Sarah preparing to shoot paper face bear

Martyn and Sarah preparing to shoot paper face bear

My first 10 targets were a disaster with 3 blanks! My head was just not engaging and I was really struggling. I was either hitting with first arrow or missing with all three. It wasn’t until we were coming up to the lunchtime break my brain started to work.

downhill 3d deer

Downhill 3d deer

Due to the terrain Wolverine operate a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:15, though on this occasion it was extended due to the archer falling on her way back to the peg. I think partly due to the slippery conditions it was a slower shoot than normal as people traversed the hillside with care.

Sometimes a wooden arrow can match a sighted compound

Sometimes a wooden arrow can match a sighted compound

So on to the infamous Kong. Kong is Wolverines club signature shot and is a homemade 3D target standing over nine feet in height. Being that tall you would think it would be easy to hit, but it isn’t. The giant of a target is often set out in the open field, making it very hard to judge the distance and even harder for those who miss to find their arrows. Fortunately there are always a couple of marshals stationed nearby to help search for the wayward arrow or two. I think they enjoy watching the archers challenge themselves.
We’d got to the peg late afternoon and watched the two groups in front of us shoot Kong, with the marshals helping them search for arrows. Then it was our turn. Martyn went first and got a fantastic shot, straight in the red heart with  his first arrow, Sarah shot next and got it with her first arrow, this time on the shoulder.

You know it is a long shot when there is a significant delay from a compound arrow being released to you hearing it hit the target. Then it was the wooden arrow turn, being a gentleman I let my good lady go first. This resulted in me seeing Sharons’ first arrow sail through the air and hit it in the leg. So I was the last to go and everyone in group had hit Kong with their first arrow, add we now had two groups in  audience  waiting to shoot Kong after us, no pressure.

Kong - standing at the red peg, its a long way

Kong – standing at the red peg, its a long way

Well nothing ventured. nothing gained as they saw, so I went for it and  let lose watching the arrow fly. After what seemed like ages in flight I saw my arrow appear in Kongs chest. For the first time since going to Wolverine I’d hit it and not only that but it was a good solid hit. Walking up to collect the arrows Martyn stated he’d set his sights at 75 yards. That is actually closer than other  times it has been out at Wolverines grounds.

Kong - standing at over 9 feet tall

Kong – standing at over 9 feet tall

Sharon shot well winning ladies afb with a score that would have got her second in the gents class. Congrats to Martyn and Sarah who both won their respective classes too. Despite my terribly poor start I ended the day with 630 enough to get me a first in gents afb.
I must give top marks to the guys at Wolverine who made sure everyone got off the parking field at the end of the day. Not an easy task considering the condition parts of the field were in. I  know how hard they worked as we were the last non Wolverines members to leave. Nice work guys.
I think it might be a while before our boots manage to shed the mud though, but I did manage to get round without falling, though my knee is twinging a little after all the walking or should I say sliding.
Thanks for reading.

Course and Target laying – Target code ARROWS

First view from Red peg

First view from Red peg

When I started trying to setup targets and shots I realised there was a lot to remember, from setting up the target, to how you get the archers to the shooting peg, whilst not forgetting about the overshoot for the shot and always remembering the safety elements.
For this reason I tried to analyse the process and come up with something that would help me remember all of these steps. My answer to this was using an acronym  ARROWS – somehow this seemed appropriate. So these are my thoughts on target positioning and locations . Please remember I’m no expert at laying courses or targets but I hope you find it useful.

Before starting here are a few things to familiarise yourself with. Consider your society rules. Do you have to have clear shooting lanes, marked or unmarked distances.

Style or Class of bow. Are you setting for an open where any and every bow styles might compete or maybe a wooden Arrow only.
Useful Tip – When scouting for a new shot I will often use my camera phone to record the view or angel of prospective shots so I can discuss it with others. I know others have used a gps system to track the target position on to a map of the course.
Anyway back to the acronym.

A – You can read this as approach or arrival at the first shooting peg.  It covers the  route to the first shooting peg and standing area when there. Is the route clear? Where possible at no point should the archer walk forward of the shooting peg as this might give them an advantage in distance judgement.  What do the archers see as they arrive? Is there space for a group or maybe two to stand safely without endangering themselves or causing distraction to other archers. Are the paths to the peg clear of obstructions? Brambles are a course layers worst enemy and  I’m sure the wood elves go out at night and lay bramble trip hazards across every path.
The idea is that as they approach they shouldn’t get a clue as to distances etc from peg to target.

View from the red peg

View from the red peg

R-Red peg (the first shooting peg for an adult in NFAS field archery courses)- but really this covers all the  other peg positions too. We have mentioned the approach to the first peg but archers will need to get from one peg to another.
Think of the route they will have to take. A straight path to the  boss makes a corridor for distance judgement or do you set a twisted path so harder to judge distance?
Pegs need to be driven in well as longbow and afb archers won’t thank you if their lower limbs catch the peg.
R – range – not just ranges to boss from each peg, but range of height of archers,  range of bow weight and dynamics.
Longbows need overhead clearance of branches etc.
Think target size here too. Don’t spoil a shot by putting too small a target face on. Remember juniors pegs too, if placed too close to the target boss they run the risk of bounce back.

First view from Red peg

Consider the tree cover and branches

O – overshoot – What is behind the target location or to the side etc in the event of a glance off from trees.
Do you need a back stop or netting? Are there trees or bushes behind the target that arrows could bury themselves in?
Please remember that simply putting up safety netting does NOT make an unsafe shot safe! 
Over shoot with netting

Over shoot with netting

W – walk off – safe route out. When the archers have collected their arrows how do they leave the boss and make their way to the next target?
Is it a walk back  to the original shooting pegs or heading to a path. Is it clear to see navigation or are direction arrows needed?

S – Safety – last but not least. Review the shot completely and in respect of the entire course. There are times when a shot can look perfect but when looked at in respect to the entire course safety issues could appear with overshoot, waiting groups or access.
Foot paths for the general public. Are there any bridal paths or public rights of way that effect the shot or the course. In the NFAS you can’t place any shot that is considered to be close to or has an overshoot towards a footpath.
Do you need special signs on the course or possibly on the course boundaries for the general public?
Target Boss

Target Boss

Some target bosses have strip binding and care must be taken with the metal fastening. These metal bindings should never face the archer as if arrow hits them it is likely to bounce back and has the potential of causing injury. (See setting up a target boss)

Once this is done for one target you need to repeat the process for all the remaining ones.  A normal nfas course is 36 or 40 targets.
Hope you find this of use and as always thanks for reading.