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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Archers setting off for the start of the shoot

Shoot Report – Forest of Arden – July 2017

Forest of Arden mustering and announcements

Forest of Arden mustering and announcements

So on a slightly overcast Sunday morning Sharon and I packed the car for the short run up the motorway to Forest of Arden’s grounds. For those interested here is a link to the last shoot report I wrote on Forest so you can have an idea of what they were like then.  Despite it being overcast we had fairly good weather, without any heavy showers or backing heat, though there seemed lots of bugs out enjoying the good weather and archers as a source of food. Note to self need to get some more insect repellent and after bite cream. Enough of this waffle, onto the course details.

The course would be 40 targets, all 3Ds and we would shoot with Julie and Roger from LEFA (Long Eaton Field Archers) which is always a good laugh. Roger has gone back to shooting Hunting Tackle and Julie is trying out shooting compound in bow hunter. Considering it was only her second time out with it, she shot really well throughout the day. Do think she needs thicker arrows as the number of times she was just off the line a thicker arrow might have made the difference.

Julie shooting 3D before lunch break

Julie shooting 3D before lunch break

The shoot was a shoot through with Forest having organised a second catering stop at one end of the woodland, along with the main one at admin and muster point. This seemed to work well.

They did have a lower turnout than normal for their shoot with approximately 100 archers. I think part of this may have been due to the wedding of two midland archers the day before. I can I take this opportunity to pass on my congratulations Rich and Alex.

I think the fewer numbers actually worked better as personally I feel there were a few targets a bit close to the previous one. Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it was dangerous just a little snug and if there had been more people I think a couple of pegs might have been a bit crowded. This is a personal view and for those that shot the course feel free to disagree. The course layers at Forest had obviously worked hard to change the course as it was reworked since the last time we’d shot there, having reversed the route round the wood.

Archers waiting for the start

Archers waiting for the start

Having said this Forests course layers produced some very nicely set targets making use of the grounds they have which is a mix of deciduous and conifer woodland, with some dips and hollows. Unlike the last visit there weren’t the giant foxgloves covering the forest floor, though there were some wild raspberry plants doted round the woodland. Wild raspberries are smaller than cultivated ones but taste great, being quite sweet.

One target worth mentioning is the 3D lion shot off the hillside. This obviously caught out few archers by the number of arrows stuck high in the tree on way to the target.  There were 4 arrows there when we got to the target.

Julie shooting 3D

Julie shooting 3D

For us it was a very relaxed day and flowed well, I know a couple of groups got held up and found it a bit slow at times, but most seemed to be fine. It was great to meet up with one local reader of the blog who commented on how glad he was to see recent months actions hadn’t stopped me writing. Thanks your comments means a lot.

This was the largest group outing for the recently formed Briar Rose field Archers, with eight members present. Of the eight, four came away with medals. Lee getting 3rd in gents American flatbow, Gail also shot well considering she hasn’t been out much recently getting 3rd in ladies Bare-bow. Sharon shot well winning ladies AFB and I managed first in gents AFB.

Briar Rose Field Archers at Forest of Arden

Briar Rose Field Archers at Forest of Arden – Andy, Jayne, Gail and Sharon

Special congratulations to Roger who put in a storming score in hunting tackle of nearly 800pts.

Thanks for reading.

The bluebells the shoot is named after

Shoot report – South Wilts – Bluebell shoot – April 2017

South Wilts start

South Wilts start

Okay so this shoot report is well over due for which I am very sorry.  I am still trying to catch up with all my writing, having  been so focused on the course setting for the 3D championships and the subsequent run up to it I’ve let this site updates slip, so I’m sorry.  My writing isn’t the only thing that I’ve let slip, as my garden is resembling a jungle at present. Anyway on to the shoot report for South Wilts bluebell shoot.

The bluebells the shoot is named after

The bluebells the shoot is named after

This was our first trip to South Wilts shoot ground and due to the distance, a two and half hour drive involved we made it a weekend trip and stayed over. Granted we might have had a shorter trip if we hadn’t diverted past Stonehenge but since we were in the area it seemed like a good idea. Being the first time there it would mean a completely new course and largely new group of archers to meet and shoot with. Having said that there were a few familiar faces present, including Pat a friend from my coaching course all those years back.

Being a spring shoot we were forecast a few rain showers but it was not as wet as expected with only a couple of light showers­­ early in the day. Having said this it did not deter the archers with over 160 attending the event.

Wolverine 3d from the junior pegs

Wolverine 3d from the junior pegs

The course itself would be 40 targets, with 36 being 3Ds and the remaining paper. South Wilts have a lovely woodland with carpets of bluesbells, hence the shoot being called the Bluebell Shoot”. The grounds are mostly flat but they have constructed a couple of towers to offer a different shot. I think it might be worth them modifying one of the towers so there isn’t a metal bar across where you draw up. I came very close to hitting my lower limb on the bar. On the other towers they had ropes that worked better.

Sharon on one of platforms

Sharon on one of platforms

On the subject of towers I do think they work as they offer the course layers the opportunity to set some fine shots including one at a ram, shown in the photo.

The view from the platform

The view from the platform

I actually think they used the ground well too for the majority of the shots. The day flowed pretty well with the only real hold up we had was at a long target, large grizzly 3D but in many ways I would expect it at that style of target.

One of the long bears

One of the long bears

Our shooting  group for the day would be Tony, shooting hunting tackle, with his wife Pat who wasn’t shooting accompanied by their granddaughter Lacy shooting barebow. I know some people don’t like shooting in a group with a junior or cub, but I have to say Lacy was great company and a good shot. Tony we knew from his time as general secretary for the NFAS a few years back.

Our first target a 3D puma

Our first target a 3D puma

We did get lost at one stage going round the course, but I think this was as much to do with the archery interfering with the conversation as the course not being clearly marked. I found out later we weren’t the only ones to miss the turning and the marshals added some more direction arrows as the shoot progressed in case any other archers were enjoying the conversation and not paying attention.

South Wilts club has been at the grounds for a number of years and this is obvious from the construction of the towers to the quality of the facilities available for its members. Catering was very good and prices reasonable, with all the marshals I spoke to being friendly and very helpful, especially when trying to source a torch to check Lacys’ hand for splinters after she tripped.

Yes some more bluebells

Yes some more bluebells

The lack of practise due to the work on the 3ds showed in my shooting, but I managed to scrape third with Sharon winning ladies AFB.This was our first double medal win under the new club banner of Briar Rose Field Archers (more on this later). Maybe if we get there next year we can improve on this, as I think it is a good shoot to add to the list to revisit.

One other thing I would really like to mention here, were the number of archers who thanked us for stepping forward to set a course at the 3ds. Here’s hoping that those who thanked us enjoyed A course.

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.

A year in review

Autumn view

Autumn view

As 2015 draws to a close it is traditional to review the past year, taking stock of what has gone by. So being a bit of a traditional archer here goes.
There has been nearly 50 posts on this site over the past twelve months, with more than 20 of them being shoot reports, the rest have been a mix of articles on archery, with tips and advice. Some I have written, others are reblogs, along with equipment reviews from Leatherman multi tools to Timber Creek arrows. So here we go and I hope you find it interesting.
Timber Creek Arrows

Timber Creek Arrows

2015 prompted a change for me, having shot Hunting Tackle in the NFAS for the past few years, 2015 saw me move to a different class, that of American Flatbow, Sharon stayed in Hunting Tackle for 2015.

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

Yosemite valley deer in early morning

One thing we have been able to do this year is a road trip to the USA, something Sharon and I had wanted to do for years. If you ever get the chance San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park are amazing places to visit. I would love to go back and do some more hikes or even a ski trip to Lake Tahoe.
Yosemite valley in early morning

Yosemite valley in early morning

More recent developments have been with coaching. In the last few months I’ve managed, with the approval of the club and the support and help of the club members (cheers Andy, Sharon and others, you know who you are), to set up the basics of a coach program for new and / or  experienced archers.
2015 saw us travelling around the country for different shoots. One of the advantages of getting to lots of shoots is that you get to meet so many different archers from around the country. It also provided me with the opportunity to meet some readers and followers of this blog and sister blog on tumblr (http://offthearrowshelf.tumblr.com/). I see this as a great privilege and I’m very grateful for all your comments, support and feedback, both online and face to face. Thank you all so much. If you asked me to pick the best shoot of 2015 it would be impossible. I shot at over 25 courses this year, not including championships, these ranged from our club night shoot, two day weekend shoots, to the normal Sunday club shoots all round the country.
Sharon studying a shot between the trees

Sharon studying a shot between the trees at Hawk

My favourite ground has to be Hawks, situated on a beautiful wooded hillside in South Wales. Others well worth mentioning are Spirit of Sherwood who always put on a cracking wooden arrow shoot. The award for the muddiest shoot has to go to Wolverines which was very, very wet, but still great fun.

SVYF on the next peg

SVYF on the next peg at Liberty

Liberty two day was great for the social aspect of group camping with group discussions round the camp fire at the end of the day of the shots you made or wish you had. For a different reason the 3D championships in Devon was very sociable over a meal in the hotel restaurant and drinks in the bar. We really enjoyed Wasps shoot with the beautiful bluebell woodland. Other great shoots have been Centaura, Thornbury and of course Lyme Valley.

Sharon shooting from one of th towers

Sharon shooting from one of the towers

2015 would see Sharon’s skills tested at both NFAS championships. would she retain her title in Ladies Hunting Tackle for a second year? Firstly at the 3d Championships in Devon and then at the Nationals in the Lake District she proved what a capable person she is and how good an archer we all know she is by winning both.
Bronze medal from Nationals

Bronze medal from Nationals

A personal high for me this year was securing a third place at the National Championships in September, my highest position at any championships.

A course - view back from 3D crocodile

A course – view back from 3D crocodile

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the course layers, admin teams, marshals and catering crews. Not just at the championships or national organisations,  but at all the local clubs around the country. Without the hard work of these people the archery community be far less than it is.

So as I am always writing, thanks for reading and may I wish you all great success in 2016. Whether that be placing at shoots, mastering a new bow or style, simply developing your skills or supporting the greater archery community.
Thanks for reading.