3D Deer between the trees

Continuing the New Year goals

The woods

The woods are calling

In my last posting I wrote about the setting of New Year goals and how you could start to monitor your progress as you develop in your archery life. In this post I’d like to take this a little further and explore some general advice along with some metrics beginners or experienced archers may consider suitable.

Poor equipment = poor shooting

First thing you can do is to get your equipment right, your bow, glove, tab, arrows etc. Now this doesn’t mean going out and spending a small fortune on the latest carbon arrows of only 6 grains per inch or new bow limbs that promise to launch your arrows even faster. It is about getting what you have working the best it can. As my old coach told me “Learn to shoot the bow you have.

Every archers knows that having confidence in your kit helps in your shooting. If you are worried that the bows not performing or just ignorant of possible problems, it’s unlikely you’ll be consistent in your shots.

With my coaching hat I’d like to give you an example of how not knowing your kit can have an effect on your shooting and make you doubt yourself.

Many years ago I was asked by a newly signed off archer why he couldn’t get a grouping at a distance past about 20 yards. So we wondered down to the range and I got him shooting at a few distances, asking him to shoot each arrow exactly the same, adjusting just for the distance but not for the flight of the previous arrow.

His form was fine and his bow set up was correct with the appropriate brace height, etc. I noticed his line was fine but some arrows flew high others low. He’d bought the wooden arrows from a local stockist as he’d not yet started making his own. I asked if he’d checked the mass weight of the arrows. He hadn’t, so we dug out my grain scales and measured them. When we did we discovered that of the 8 he was shooting there was approximately 90 grains difference, with the other 4 talking the range up to over 100.

Grain scales with sponge

You can’t hope to get a consistent grouping if all your arrows are different weights. This is why I spend time matching the arrows I make, I try to match arrows both in mass weight and spinning for mine and Sharon’s bows. (Quick call out to Marc at longbow emporium for a great matching service in arrow shafts)

QUICK TIP – A useful tip when setting up your bow is to use your mobile phone camera, to  photograph your brace height or button settings. This way you have a pictorial record you can use when setting up your bow, arrow rest, replacing the string etc.

Photo of recurve set up

Photo of recurve set up

Club ground – the Good and Bad points

There is no doubt that practise is important, in fact it is very important. For this reason I think it is worth mentioning the merits and flaws of club practise grounds and trying to use it to judge your progression and development.

So the good part of having a home course is pretty obvious, it gives you a practise area that is relatively static and unchanging day in day out, meaning you can judge your progress, week on week. You can go back to a target again and again until you get it right.

I always remember in my first club, where there was a deer 3D that I always struggled with and I would go back and shoot it again and again.

3D Deer between the trees

3D Deer between the trees

The downside of practise on the same ground can be you end up shooting targets on a sort of autopilot as you’ve shot it so many times before you don’t appraise the shot as you would or should if presented for the first time at a competition. In essence you shoot the shot from memory and in turn it becomes too easy, as you don’t spend the time to read the ground or judge the shot.

One technique you can use to keep the course shots fresh is to shoot 3 arrows at all the targets, even if you hit with your first. So for an adult you would shoot, one from the red, white and blue pegs. This is a technique I have used for several years at club grounds and found it works for me. It forces me to keep testing my distance judgement and makes me adapt as I’m moving from one peg to another. It also builds your stamina in your muscles as you are shooting more arrows. I’ll cover more about physical fitness in my next article.

Competition Courses and Base lines

Ok so you have been shooting at your club grounds and you now want to go out to try other clubs and enter a few competitions. Maybe there is a group of you and you’ve been to a few shoots but not sure how you are doing. Thing is how can you judge how you are doing when you are at different courses? Sure you can look at your score and if it’s higher than your last shoot you are improving right? Well maybe, maybe not.

Due to the nature of the NFAS, the club courses you shoot change over time, year on year.  In fact this is somewhat expected by archers. A club that doesn’t change its course can often receive negative comments from some like “It’s just the same as last time” or “They haven’t bothered to change the course from last time we shot it”.

On courses that do change you can shoot the course one day and score over 500, but the next time you return to that club, a few months later, it might be a different story with a changed course. There will be different targets and distance, the result is you might score more or less. This means it can be very hard to accurately judge your own progress when you revisit a clubs grounds.

So what can you do, to judge how well you are shooting?

As courses change it can be a good idea to identify some kind a base line for comparison. One method is identifying one or two people, ideally shooting in the same class as you and track their scores in comparison to yours.

A second method is keeping track of the scores of the archers who came in first, second and third in your class, this can help to give you an idea of what is possible. Often the placings and scores are posted on the hosting club or NFAS website.

One very important point to remember here when talking about scores and is equally important, whether you are newbies and experienced archers alike is DON’T get disheartened when you may have scored 300 and the winner scored 600 plus. Check the scores of other people, and the 3 placing. The winner might have got 600+ but the person in second might have just over 500 points. The winner might be on top form and had a personal best, so it is important to try and get the bigger picture. I can assure you this method of tracking can help and Sharon always looks out for the gents scores in American Flatbow when at a competition as there are more male archers in the class than female. She used to track the gents in Hunting Tackle when she shot that style.

A third method is to track your average points score, based on your total score divided by the number of targets. When I first started shooting several years ago my aim was to get an average per target into double figures and being really happy  with my average started going up from 8 points to 9 and then 10. When I broke 400 on a 36 target course, it was great. Several years later, with a lot of practise and shooting day in day out, I now have different objectives. I hope to get 16 point average on a course. The advantage of using this method is it can provide you with a baseline comparison of progress for a 36 target or 40 target course.

I have learnt that these averages will vary dependent on the club I’m shooting at, as now with a little more experience I know that some club courses are more challenging than others. Other facts like the weather on the day, or whether it’s a slow day with lots of holdups all plays a part.

The important thing to remember and this will sound a bit corny so sorry in advance. Your life in archery is a journey and it takes time. You will have good days, you’ll have great days and you will have bad days, just don’t rush it or beat yourself up over it.

Last Tip

Don’t worry about what others are scoring. What! You just said for me to track the scores of first, second and thirds! Or work out my averages. Yes I said that, so you can get an idea of how tough the course was, but while you are shooting forget about it.

Go out and do these two things

  1. Enjoy yourself; you are out in the woods, shooting a bow, hopefully in good weather and company.
  2. Shoot your shot when on the peg, with your bow. Don’t be thinking about anything else, just your shot.

One of the reasons I love archery is it offers you the opportunity to compete against myself, yes you can compete against others true, but for me I’m there to shoot my bow the best I can and to make the best shot I can. If my arrow lands where I want it to, whether it’s the top scoring area or not, I’ve made my shot.

Ok, so in the last article in this series I am going to be looking at resilience physical and mental, along with shooting form and technique.

Thanks for reading

Advertisements
Can you hit a barn door

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – December 2017

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden arrow shoot

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden arrow shoot

I tend to see the Spirit of Sherwood Christmas shoot as the end of the year as far as NFAS shoot calendar is concerned, which is silly really as NFAS shoots carry on all through the year. However for this reason and because they put on cracking shoots, we always make an effort to get to their shoots and this years was no exception.

As it’s a good two hour drive for us to get up to Spirits grounds we decided to head up the night before and stayed over at a local travel lodge in Worksop. As it was, the drive up on the Saturday was quite unpleasant being very grey and drizzly all the way, though not as cold as it had been during the previous week. I’m glad we did the drive on the Saturday as I wouldn’t want to do it early in the morning. Have to say the weather didn’t help the splitting headache I had had all day and would have for the next few days.

Spirit of Sherwood shoots are always well attended, with shooting places being booked up several weeks in advance and this one was no exception. This would be wooden arrow only and a Christmas themed shoot. There were to be 36 targets on this course course consisting of a mixture of 3D targets, with a number of novelty shots.

If you like, you can read a previous shoot report here from one of their shoots earlier in the year. It was great to catch up with some friends, like Jim Pierce. Just trying to remember Jim, did you start on target peg 8 or 9?

Thankfully the damp grey weather of the Saturday was replaced with a mostly dry sunny Sunday and warmer weather than we’d experienced during the week.

3D deer between the trees

3D deer between the trees

The shooting group joining Sharon and myself for the day would include Kevin and Carolyan from Pines Park shooting Hunting tackle and american flatbow respectively.

Spirits ground is a flat woodland of a mix of confer and deciduous trees, making it a pretty easy to get round. It’s quite a pretty wood with the winter sun shining through the branches, though at this time of year the days of sunlight are short, so they tried to start early to give archers the best chance to finish in good light.

Can you hit a barn door

Can you hit a barn door

Spirit course layers always set a moving target to challenge archers, last time it was a 3D crocodile. This time they had made up a moving barn door, literally suspended on a cable. If you missed you were awarded a sticker. After all we all have days where we can’t hit a barn door. I thought this was a great fun idea for a novelty shot.

If you missed the barn door you got the sticker

If you missed the barn door you got the sticker

Of all the 36 targets I think there was only one that I really didn’t get on with and to be fair it wasn’t the target as such but its positioning. It was one of the novelty shots where you shot one arrow and had to choose to shoot a large bear for 20 points, a penguin for 30 or a small fish for 40. The reason I didn’t like it was because in the distance you could see archers moving and this caught my eye when I was shooting. Don’t get me wrong, the shot was perfectly safe as they always are at Spirit. It was just the moving archers caught my eye when I was shooting, which is something that I don’t like and find very, very distracting. It is something that I really struggle with this on some other shoots.

3D wolf target between the trees

3D wolf target between the trees

Other novelty shots included a mini tower from which you could shoot a predator prey shot of knight and dragon. 6 of the 36 targets novelty targets, including moving shots, predator prey and pick and stick ones. I’m normally not a fan of lots of novelty shots but this was a Christmas fun shoot and think it worked.

Predator Prey shot from the castle

Predator Prey shot from the castle

The course itself was arranged in a rough clover leaf formation of three loops, round one central point, giving the competitors the opportunity to pass catering two or three times. This makes it possible to have a pretty effective shoot through with few if any hold ups, for us at least.

Sharon shooting a 3D deer at Spirit of Sherwood

Sharon shooting a 3D deer at Spirit of Sherwood

The course layers at Spirit had gone to a lot of trouble in setting the targets and they had set a really nice deer herd shot of different size and angled 3Ds set between the trees where  you had to select the target to go for, decisions, decisions.

3D deer herd shot, pick your target

3D deer herd shot, pick your target

Another target worth mentioning was a large Raven 3D they had set on a tree stump, again framed very nicely.

3D raven on the tree stump between the trees

3D raven on the tree stump between the trees

The Spirit club had also set out a couple of boxes of chocolates at different points round the course for archers to help themselves, a very kind and generous gesture.

Boxes of sweats could be found round the course

Boxes of sweats could be found round the course

I don’t feel any of the targets were particularly long shots, and one thing they did do well I thought was how quite a few of the targets were nicely framed between the trees. This gave the archer a corridor view, making them look closer or further than they were. They had obviously considered the canopy for low poundage bows on all the shots, something that not all shoot organisers or course layers do. The result were several targets set at sensible distances whilst remaining a challenge and more importantly enjoyable. It’s good to see course where targets aren’t stretched or 3Ds are angled to make them near impossible.

Pick your target the 3D zebra or 3D cheetah

Pick your target the 3D zebra or 3D cheetah

We went round pretty quickly with no hold ups other than looking for the occasional wayward arrow that preferred the undergrowth than the target.

3D porcupine target in the leaves

3D porcupine target in the leaves

Night draws in quickly this time of year, so by the time we got to the raffle and prize giving it was already dark. Fortunately as it was a wooden arrow only shoot there were only a few different classes. Following on from the Christmas theme of the shoot, Spirit were doing Christmas themed prizes for first place, Christmas puddings no less. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that Sharon came away with one as she won ladies American flatbow. Have to say that I was surprised in receiving a Christmas pudding as I didn’t expect to win gents flatbow.

The journey back took a couple of hours, but as always its well the drive.

Thanks for reading.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and Good Luck for the New Year.

Quick update on Traditional Bowhunter

I thought readers and followers might like an update on the article I wrote recently on the recent NFAS proposal for a new shooting class, that of Traditional Bowhunter.

It looks like it is going to go to the NFAS membership to vote on the proposal following discussion at the society’s meeting, with only a few minor amendments.

So if you are a member of the NFAS you’ll be getting details through, probably in the next newsletter. As it is a new shooting style / class, all members of the society will get to vote on the proposal.

Thanks for reading.

3D deer from the tower at LEFA

Shoot Report – Long Eaton Field Archers – Solstice Shoot June 2017

Lone Eaton shoot briefing

Lone Eaton shoot briefing

Sorry it’s taken so long to write this up but life seems to be delaying my writing recently.

It had been a while since Sharon and I had been to a Long Eaton Field Archers (LEFA) shoot and I have to say it was good to be back and catch up with people. As always if you are interested in reading a previous shoot report a link to one is here. It’s a relatively short drive for us being around an hour depending on traffic on the motorway, which wasn’t too bad. This would be their Summer Solstice shoot and LEFA always put in even more effort for this.

On this Sunday we would shoot with Tim and Martin both shooting compound unlimited. Have to say we had a really good laugh all day, with it proving to be a really friendly group with chats about the course, bow styles and the recent 3D champs. I know some traditional archers find shooting with compound archers not their thing, but I’ve never had a problem with it and that Sunday was a good example of how different archers can mix and enjoy the same event.

Interesting 3D spider on the web

Interesting 3D spider on the web

On that Sunday LEFA set up a few shots with WASP pegs, these are used as the first peg as opposed to the red peg, for adults shooting crossbow and sighted compounds. I think Wasp pegs can work quite well, offering normally a longer or more technical shot for those bow styles, though it I didn’t think it worked as well as LEFA course layers had hoped. Shame as I think it could prove quiet a good idea, offering a slightly different shot.

3D fox

3D fox

Overall I think it was a very challenging course that used the dead ground well, probably a bit harder than I remember previous solstice shoots but still achievable. I think we would both like to go back and shoot it again and see if we could improve our performance.

Sharon shooting 3D deer between trees

Sharon shooting 3D deer between trees

We were pretty luck with the weather as the few heavy showers arrived whilst we were having lunch  and were under cover enjoying some of the excellent catering that Long Eaton are renowned for.

Sharon thinking - she does this a lot

Sharon thinking – she does this a lot

LEFA like a few other clubs go to the trouble of camouflaging the target bosses so they are less obvious and effectively disappear into the undergrowth when shooting the 3ds in front. This adds to the natural look of the shot and is something I know a few archers commented.

3D deer from the tower at LEFA

3D deer from the tower at LEFA

Raising boar 3d

Raising boar 3D

One of the many nice shots was the large deer in the bracken. You shot it off a low tower and this made for a nicely deceptive shot as you tried to judge the distance. The course layers also worked hard on setting some nicely framed shots between trees or using the uneven ground to make for dead ground.

Small rabbit 3D between the trees

Small rabbit 3D between the trees

The course was a shoot through and seemed to flow well, with only a couple of hold ups near the end of the day, which is normal as archers get tired, having been on their feet all day. It felt a little quieter than previous visits, with a few less archers, though still had a very relaxed feel. It was good to see Dixie Leather there selling their ware.

Despite feeling we didn’t shoot well, Sharon and I both won our classes (ladies and gents American flat bow), with a slight mistake when the results were announced added to Sharon’s reputation as her score was announced as 644. It was actually 464, yet no-one was really surprised at the higher score, guess they know what she is capable of.

Thanks for reading.

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.