Instinctive Archery – is that the right description?

Sharon on the range

Sharon on the range

Lots has been written over the years and probably will be for years to comes on the theory of what instinctive archery is. Often the authors of articles or books try to define what they view as instinctive shooting, this means there are countless definitions on YouTube, the net, archery books etc. these range from subconscious gapping to shooting without thinking. Many archers question if there is actually anything that is truly instinctive about it.

I recently watched a YouTube video by Jim Grizzly Kent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDCldJ_YqMk&t=2s) and he used the phrase intuitive archery and this stuck with me.

The reason I think it did was a couple of days earlier I’d been helping a friend who gap shoots set up his bow. He’s recently had to drop his bow draw weight due to an ongoing shoulder injury and had bought some new limbs of a different and lighter poundage to his old ones. Since we have a range which allows archers to shoot back to 40 yards plus it seemed a logical location to help him get himself sorted.

I was watching Steve shoot, noting the arrow flight, release, noting down where the arrows fell for each shot. All starting at 5 yards and moving back in increments of 5 yards. I’d give him feedback on whether I saw him throw his arm or not get a clean release on the shot which would give a false reading etc.

view of the range

view of the range

Just so you know Steve shoots barebow under the NFAS banner, this means he is not using a sight on his bow, but can use metal or carbon arrows. In Steve’s case he shoots carbon arrows off a very nice Andy Soars Black Brook take down recurve bow.

During the process Steve explained how at 5 yards he would be aiming say an inch or so below the spot, then at 10 yards it might be half inch below, 20 yards it might be point on. This went on all the way back to 50 yards, with him shooting three arrows at each distance, then taking a break before shooting another three. With me noting the distance and observing his form on each shot.

It was as he said at this stage a very conscious process of working out and focusing on aiming but as he said. “The more familiar I become with shooting the new limbs, the less conscious the aiming will be. I’ll stop having to think I need to be 3 inches above”

For me it was interesting for two reasons.

Firstly from a coaching perspective, hearing how he explains his approach and process, along watching him execute this shot. Steve is very good at explaining his shooting cycle and stages.

Secondly from an instinctive archers viewpoint it was interesting to hear his explanations of how he gaps and works out how to aim or rather where to aim.

One advantage to this process of shooting Steve highlighted was it gives the archer a fall back plan if for any reason they to take a break from shooting due to work / life / health reasons. Their gaps will remain the same (so long as the arrow specs, draw dynamic and limbs are the same). The downside of this technique I’ve been able to identify cover consistency of the archer or equipment. Like all archers you must ensure you can perform your shoot cycle consistently.

If you change your arrow spec this may and probably will affect your gaps as a heavier arrow would fall faster so for longer shots you’d aim higher.

From my viewpoint

Whilst I don’t gap shot I do know that when I shoot I try and do a couple of things.

On longer shots I try to envisage the arrow flight to the target. How it will climb and fall hopefully into where I’m wanting it to land.

Shorter shots I know how it will appear in the target as if by magic. A friend when he saw me shot once said you don’t anchor you draw up set and release in one movement, which is something I know I do when either at short shots or when I’ve been practising a lot and on form.

I know when I stop shooting for a couple of weeks or longer then my eye, subconscious distance judgement, instinctive aiming  or whatever you want to call it goes and I feel I’m a bit rusty.

Anyway I thought some of you might find this interesting, have a look at Jims video and a read of the different authors thoughts on instinctive and a gap shooting.

Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – Forest of Arden – July 2016

Forest of Arden shoot

Forest of Arden shoot

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been to the Forest of Arden club for a shoot, which is ironic as it’s one of the closest shoot grounds to where we live. So the other weekend we took the short drive up the motorway to their grounds. For those interested here is a link back to that shoot report.
We were very fortunate with the weather with it being dry if a little windy at times. The sun even made an appearance though the trees, making a pleasant change to the previous few days. Early July is has not proved to be a particularly warm or sunny month at present here in the UK. Quick piece of advice for any archers thinking of visiting the Forest grounds, there is a bit of a walk from car park to woods, so you best not leave anything behind.

one of our first target

one of our first target

Our Sunday shooting group that weekend, would see Sharon and I being joined by Sandra and David both of whom were shooting barebow. It was only David’s fourth open shoot and I think he did really well, nailing some targets and only really struggling on longer ones.

Down hill turkey 3d

Down hill turkey 3d that David got with a first arrow.

 

3D big cat

3D big cat shot off a bank

I discovered that Sandra is an avid reader of this blog and has recently subscribed to receive email updates. Thanks Sandra for all the feedback and I’m glad you enjoy reading it. If anyone of you do have feedback or questions please drop me a line.

The ladies hitting a 24 each on one target

The ladies hitting a 24 each on one target

The Forest of Arden course layers had set us a 40 target course consisting of 3d targets, though there weren’t many back stops which meant if you missed you were searching for arrows.
For those that have shot there before, you’ll recognise some familiar shots from the hillsides down into the small valley or gully, ones that I recall from our last trip.

Large 3D white goat

Large 3D white goat

There were a few shots where I’d have preferred to see some more space between the previous target and the next shooting peg as we felt very close or in line with the previous target. This can make people feel a bit uncomfortable.

Small 3D target before lunch

Small 3D target before lunch

Catering is split in two locations, the main hut and one smaller station at the opposite side of the wood.
Forests wood is a mix of broadleaf established trees and younger plantation that has been opened up by tree felling last year. The result of this land management was in areas where the tree canopy was less we were surrounded in a forests of foxgloves of over five feet tall in some spot. You couldn’t see the wood for the foxgloves as it were.

Giant foxgloves cover the grounds

Giant foxgloves cover the grounds

The only downside to these areas were if you missed the target, finding you arrow took a while as you had to pick your way through the broken branches covering the plantation floor, but it made for a beautiful backdrop.

There were some nicely framed shots and nothing that could be thought of as stretched, with some good use of dead ground to mask and confuse distance judgement.

Bedded 3D target behind the undergrowth

Bedded 3D target behind the undergrowth

The day started late, delayed due to some archers getting lost on the way to the ground. Having said this it flowed reasonably well, though there were times we were waiting. I think this was down to some shots been tougher than archers expected and wanting to give the group plenty of space to move away from the next peg as they were in line of sight.

3D target

3D target

Sharon shot well winning ladies AFB and scoring high enough to be second in the gents class (apparently this resulted in audible gasp from some male archers there when they heard her score.) Though she did get one very lucky shot.

Sharon gets a lucky shot

Sharon gets a lucky shot

Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Centaura archers – March 2016

Centaura archers

Centaura archers

Many years ago I was watching a World War two documentary on the London blitz. The narrator an American journalist  made reference to a saying I still remember to this day.
“The sign of a great fighter in the ring is if they can get up from the floor after being knocked down.”
It was in the context of how Londoners would pick themselves up every morning following the German bombing raids and carry on with life.
Three weeks prior to their shoot the Centaura club had been a victim of a break in, resulting in a theft of some of their 3d targets, power generator and other items needed to run a shoot. A damaging blow for any club but when you are due to host a shoot for over 100 archers a scant few weeks later it could be devastating.
Despite this I am delighted to say the club and it’s members proved their commitment to archery by picking themselves up and hosting a good friendly shoot with some challenging shots and unique target faces.
The archery gods must have been looking after them as even the weather seemed to be kind on the day, bestowing a bright sunny early spring day, if at times slightly chilly in the morning. If you are interested in reading a past shoot report you can find one here.
Our shooting companions for the day would be Gayle and Amy both from Harlequin club ,  joining Sharon and I wondering round the woods admiring the banks of snowdrops and primroses that were in full bloom.
Bank of snowdrops

Bank of snowdrops

The polo shot returned this time with a skinny meerkat face one of many faces a club member had sourced.

The polo shot

The polo shot

Sadly I did not make the most of the day and would like to thank Jim Pierce for his assistance at the lunchtime break for taking the time to look at my shoulder. I had injured it on Saturday when lifting a boss resulting in a sharp pain each time I drew up. Not great for a draw dynamic really. Hopefully it will settle down over the next week. While I remember congratulations Jim on your first place.
Back to the shoot report.

Shot from the hill top

Shot from the hill top

Yes there were many familiar targets but they all seemed to work and the day flowed well with only a couple of hold ups on the more challenging shots.

Valley shot - sadly cost me an arrow

Valley shot – sadly cost me an arrow

On the subject of targets it is noting that there were some excellent custom target faces. I loved the owl looking out from behind the tree and the meerkats,  though I think the fox must have been on a diet.
In short well done to Centaura for showing what is possible despite the criminal element in our society.

Luckiest shot of the day

My luckiest shot of the day

On a lighter note to end this report can I say how great it was to have the opportunity to meet in person and talk with a reader of this blog. I’m really glad you like the site and enjoy the shoot reports and thanks for taking the time to chat.

Sharon shooting her BlackBrook American Flatbow

Sharon shooting her BlackBrook American Flatbow

Special congrats to Sharon who showed she is becoming more used to shooting her afb by out shooting all wooden arrow archers both male and female on the day.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – December 2015

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden Arrow shoot

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden Arrow shoot

So last shoot of the year and our thanks to all at Spirit of Sherwood for making it a good one.  They hosted a wooden arrow only shoot which unsurprisingly was well attended with an excess of 100 archers. Spirit ground is a long drive for us and knowing they wanted an early start along with the weather not looking great  we decided to stop over in Worksop the night before. For those overseas readers, parts of the UK have been battered by high winds and heavy rain resulting in serious flooding in Cumbria and southern Scotland, with the rest of the country experiencing high winds.
As it was the choice of motel was good as it was a 10 minute drive to spirits grounds and an easy walk to a local bar for an evening meal on Saturday.
3D baboon in the morning sun light

3D baboon in the morning sun light

So Sunday morning saw us packing up and heading down the road to Spirit. As I’ve said the shoot would be wooden arrow only meaning reduced number of classes, with there being Longbow, Amerian Flatbow, Hunting tackle and Primitive, all shooting wooden arrows with feather fletchings and no sights. Here is a link to last years shoot report.

It would be a 36 target course with a majority of 3d targets and only a few paper faces.
3d beaver complete with sawdust

3d beaver complete with sawdust

Our group would include Jackie and Charlie from Castle Bowmen both shooting hunting tackle. This would be the first time Sharon would be shooting her new Blackbrook American flatbow at a shoot, though she had had a little practise down at the club woods.

Sharon Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

Sharon Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

The course included one moving target a festive 3d turkey along with a predator prey.
Throughout the course Spirit had distributed boxes of sweets as festive treats for archers to help themselves,  a very kind and generous touch.

Spirit of Sherwood gift to archers

Spirit of Sherwood gift to archers

The shoot flowed well with no hold ups or apparent problems with the whole thing being completed by 3 pm allowing for all to set off home while there was still light.

3D bedded dear

3D bedded dear

There were some nice new 3d targets I hadn’t seen before including a 3D boar and bear.

Nice 3D bear target I hadn't seen before

Nice 3D bear target I hadn’t seen before

3D Boar hidden behind the tree

3D Boar hidden behind the tree

Being a  pretty flat ground spirit made use of a couple of tree stumps for elevated shots along with a few nicely framed shots between trees including one of a climbing cat 3d I’d not seen before.

Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

3D car climbing the tree

3D car climbing the tree

Overall it was a really relaxed enjoyable shoot with good company and great atmosphere. There we no stretched targets just well set course at sensible distances, well done guys. We were lucky with the weather too as it was mostly dry except for the briefest of showers.  It was nice to chat with friends and fellow stick throwers along with other Fellowship of the Bow Facebook group members.
Sharon shot well and she came away with first in ladies American flatbow sadly I only managed third missing out on first by 8 points.
Thanks for reading and have a safe and enjoyable festive season.

Shoot Report – Centaura Bowmen – September 2015

Archers gathering

Archers gathering for the shoot at Centaura Bowmen

Sorry guys I’ve been really slow in getting this written up. A fewSunday mornings ago we had  a chilly start, the temperature gauge in the car claiming 7 degrees Celsius. Autumn looks to be on its way. At least it was sunny and dry as we packed the car and headed to the Centaura shoot grounds outside Derby.
The nice thing with heading to Centaura is we have the opportunity to run into friends we haven’t seen since moving from the area. It was great to see Jon C, Jim, Chris and others.
The shoot was well attended, resulting in a very full car park by the time we arrived shortly after nine, with most pegs having 4 archers on them. In interested you can check out a past shoot report here.
We would start on peg one a few yards from the main building, so a very short walk out, the only downside being at lunch break we would be at the furthest part of the wood.
Target 1 - paper face ermin

Target 1 – paper face ermin

The course like many others was a mix of 3d and paper faces, 36 targets in total.
We were joined by Trevor, Catherine and Jacob from Hanson, though only Trevor and Jacob were shooting. (Longbow and hunting tackle respectively )
The now infamous polo shot which Centaura are becoming known for returned on target 36 , this time with a 3D owl target. There was the long shot into the quarry this time with a 3D boar, though it’s hard to make out in the photo.

wpid-2015-09-10-08.20.46.jpg.jpeg
Our first shot would be the ermin in a ditch, not a confidence building shot to start with.
Target 8 - a downhill bedded 3D deer

Target 8 – a downhill bedded 3D deer

Another traditional shot they put out is a very short one, 3 feet away. You can see Jacob shooting it.

Very close shot

Very close shot

This was the only one I didn’t like, simply due to the shortness in distance. I think I  would have put it back further and this would be safer, say to about 6 feet as very low poundage junior bows could see the arrow bounce back. I don’t believe there was any problems on the day,with the shoot flowing okay, all the time  with Trevor regaling us with archery stories and believe me he has a few.
Trevor shooting a 3D

Trevor shooting a 3D

Sharon shooting 3D owl between trees

Sharon shooting 3D owl between trees

Lunch break was between 12:30 and 1:30 giving archers ample time to get off the course grab some food and then head back out. Though I think Centaura need to invest in some louder air horns to signal start and lunch breaks.
Didn’t shoot as well in the afternoon and wonder if this was due to it being a  bit slower.

Paper face Racoon in a dip

Paper face Racoon in a dip which is a lot harder than it looks

Overall I think it was was a good shoot with some nicely placed shots like the 3d ram from the top of the hillside.
Long ram off the top of the hillside

Long ram 3D off the top of the hillside

Sharon came away with first in ladies hunting tackle. I managed a placing  in gents afb. Though I didn’t feel I shot very well and still have a long way to go with the flatbow.
Thanks for reading.