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 – Long Eaton Field Archers – October 2015

Long Eaton making announcements at the start

Long Eaton making announcements at the start

The early mist of the October morning soon gave way to a bright sunny day, giving dappled sunlight on many of the 3d targets at Long Eatons ground. If you are interested you can read an earlier shoot report here, along with a listing of all shoot reports being available on where the Arrow lands page.
The course this time would be 36 targets all 3D, including predator prey and a moving target.

First target

First target

Sharon and I were joined by two Paget de Vasey archers Craig and Breanna Smith, both shooting hunting tackle. As we shot round I discovered Rianna follows the Off the Arrow shelf tumblr blog. Small world this archery community is.

Long deer target in the sun light

Long deer target in the sun light

The early morning low sun made shooting the big 3d Bison very difficult with the sun directly behind the target. There was quite a bit of discussion as to the distance and I think it was around 68 yards. I managed a very lucky lower leg hit with my first arrow, far more luck than skill.

Long bison in the sun seen from the red peg

Long bison in the sun seen from the red peg

Unlike previous times we had shot LEFA , they organsied the day as a shoot through, rather than everyone stopping for a hour for lunch. I think this worked well and we flowed round the course easily all day. In fact, I don’t think we saw the group in front or behind most of the day. The result of this was, at times we thought we were the only ones in the woodland. This made for quite a relaxing shoot, surprising when you think there were over 120 archers present.

Lion on the log

Lion on the log

I think LEFA must have bought a job lot of small 3d targets as there were a number of them, including a flock of magpies and small birds. Whilst there were many well laid shots, there was one target I think could have been improved. This was a small 3d hedgehog. The shooting pegs were situated in a hole and you were just over eye line to the ground, if like me you are 5ft 8 inches. The issue was you had to shoot over a low log. Anyone 5ft 4 or shorter struggled especially if they were shooting flat trajectory bows like a compound.

I’m not a huge fan of small 3d targets as I’m not convinced they are worth the money. The other thing I have found is if the 3d is soft then it gets shot out quickly, if its hard then due to the small size and shape they tend to result in glance offs if not hit straight on. This might be a personal thing, but if I was putting out a small target I’m more likely to use a paper face.

LEFA set some excellent shots like the large stag in the woods, along with the puma on the horizontal log.

Long 3D stag in the woods

Long 3D stag in the woods

Turkey shoot through an avenue to trees.

3D turkey

3D turkey

One highly unusual target was the running deer, which from a distance looked like it was flying.

The flying deer

The flying deer

There were also a few targets set at an angle making it harder to judge and hit.

Predator / Prey shot from the red peg

Predator / Prey shot from the red peg

Predator / Prey shot up close

Predator / Prey shot up close

It was good to meet up with Steven Tomkins, who I’d been chatting with online about Prokill24 all weather targets. I’d seen the targets at the national championships and there had been some posts on the various forums about them. Steven took the time to have a chat about their design and production. I hope to do a write up on there target faces in the next few months after I’ve tested them out, so watch this space.

Example of the Prokill target face on the practice bosses

Example of the Prokill target face on the practice bosses

I didn’t shoot well largely due to my shoulder playing up following a couple of hours of heavy gardening on Saturday using the petrol engined strimmer. Should have known better, really. Sharon was successful in winning not only the ladies Hunting Tackle but also the ladies handicap trophy. Congrats to Rianna also who was placed in Hunting Tackle.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Long Eaton Field Archers – May 2015

Long Eaton

Long Eaton 2015

The standard joke about the British sense of humour is we always talk about the weather. In many ways this is true and I think the reason for this is it’s so changeable. Weather forecasts at the start of the week had promised heavy rain over the bank holiday Sunday and even up to Friday and Saturday it was forecasting rain. In reality we had a beautiful sunny spring day making me wish I had chosen lighter, cooler apparel but it make make for lovely shooting weather. Having said this the drive up the motorway was unpleasant with lots of standing water and some chaotic drivers pushing their luck and speed limits.  Anyway on to the shoot report.
We hadn’t been to Long Eaton Field Archers  (LEFA) for a year and were looking forward to catching up with some old faces.  It was great to see David chair of LEFA , Adrian from black arrow and others just a shame we did get to chat longer. Was also good to catch up with JT and the media legend that is Jim Grizzly Kent. Here are some links to  previous LEFA shoot reports May 2014, 2013
Due to the forecasts Long Eaton had quite a few no shows and this delayed the start of the event by a few minutes along with the extensive pre shoot briefing and peg changes due to the no shows. As it was there were over 130 archers present.
Like many clubs LEFA have seen part of their woodland felled and this has changed the look and feel of the grounds dramatically which I think has improved it. The new layout enables fresh shots and new possibilities. The only thing I would say is they need to be aware of tree canopy as on a couple of shots the trees made it difficult for low poundage bows but this is easily resolved with a little pruning or change of peg position. Something I am sure they will sort for next time.
The fine weather did mean I was able to take a few photos.
Cliff Shooting

Cliff Shooting

Our shooting group would be Cliff and Nadeem shooting longbow and hunting tackle respectively.
It was to be a 36 target course of 3d targets of all shapes and sizes from bison to small pheasants.
Cliff nicknamed the shoot the Noahs ark shoot due to the number of targets where you had to nominate which 3d target to go for. This was an interesting dynamic as it meant you have to consider which is easier or more suitable for you to shoot.

3D target behind tree stump

3D target behind tree stump

Talking of the 3d Bison it was set well in the open at about 65 yards.

Bison 3D target

Bison 3D target

They had two predator and prey shots and a moving target. Personally I think one predator prey shot is enough and if you do put it in then have second arrow scoring for prey so a maximum of 14 if you hit the prey. Otherwise it inflates the scores if you get two good kills as it is a possible 48 points on one target peg.
The shoot was a bit slow at times with us catching up the group in front but I think this was inevitable as it was a challenging course and I went to second and third arrows  more than a few times as did others. I think I had the luckiest shot of the group on a 3D with my arrow some how just holding in the target.

Lucky shot

Lucky shot

LEFA changed the format from past shoots, to a shoot through rather than lunch break which worked much better as it allowed us to time our breaks so groups in front could have more time.
Also it was nice to sit and chill out in the sun. Catering was as good as remembered with a selection of cakes to make Mr Kipping happy and hot food in form of baked potatoes, burgers etc.
I think overall the course layers did a good job with well placed targets and good use of ground.
The standing bear which you shot from a hollow worked well.

3D standing Bear

3D standing Bear

There was a lovely set 3d stag in the trees which looked so natural.

3D stag

3D stag

Really special thanks to Nadeem and Cliff who were really supportive and fabulous company to shoot round with. Some readers may know I am struggling to get my head in to shooting the flatbow at present and at one stage nearly stopped on Sunday but their support and friendly banter got me sorted. Thank guys and belated happy birthday Nadeem.

Full results for the shoot are available on LEFA website and here’s a link if you are interested.
Sharon came away with first in ladies hunting tackle and despite starting badly I managed to scrape away fourth place in afb I think through luck rather than skill. Congratulations to Nadeem on his second place too obviously the force is strong in you.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Long Eaton Summer Solstice

Well it was billed as the LEFA Summer Solstice Shoot,note the summer part, it didn’t feel like summer. Windy with some very heavy showers it felt very autumnal as we arrived.

This weather made the shoot very challenging to say the least as the ground became very slippery under foot with myself and fellow archer John both falling. Fortunately neither of us sustained any real damage other than a a few thorns, though at one stage we wondered whether John had strained his hand.
For the day we were joined by father and son double act John and Ben Straw. Not sure what they are feeding Ben but I’m sure he’s grown again.

Ben and John Straw

Ben and John Straw

The course was a full 40 target 3d one with mixed sizes of targets and distances, with the normal break for lunch for an hour. LEFA had over 200 archers attend and devour the food off the lunch menu. Fortunately the heaviest showers weren’t during the lunch break or I think we might have been even wetter. I know a few people retired at lunch, due to weather I think.
As I said the poor weather made the ground slippery but also had the effect of lowering the tree canopy making some of the longer targets very difficult for lower poundage bows or for longbows that have a long cast. It also meant arrows would catch the canopy and skip off into the undergrowth. Resulting in time lost  searching for arrows, John lost 3 this way.
LEFA have come under criticism for the shoot being too hard and not up to their usual standard. I think this is a little unfair. The shoot was challenging with some targets being further than normal but not all and I have been to other shoots that have been far worse.
The weather played a major part in the problems on the day and I’ve tried to summarise the issues here.

  1. Rain made people wet and wet archers get cold and grumpy.  Kids get tired, feather fetchings become useless or at least less effective.  The can’t do much about weather, believe me I think there are many that would love to be able to.
  2. Rain brought tree canopy down making challenging shots, very difficult.  So maybe an inspection on the morning to prune trees would have helped but on the day organisers will be trying to sort parking, booking people in, etc etc
  3. Paths became slippery  due to the rain which slowed movement. Short of laying new paths etc not much can be done. Maybe a few steps or ropes hand rails might have helped but they had tried to cut in steps they just got worn away.

Despite all these problems it was still a good shoot, just not one of their best. So thanks to all the guys at LEFA. Dead ground was used on a number of shots and so was the undergrowth to hide distances.  Though I think shorter archers suffered as the bracken seems to have shot up.
Sharon had an off day, we all have them and when it happens there is little you can do. But it was one of those days for a number of archers and it saw her  not shooting as well as she can. Ben too was having an off day though he has swapped arrows recently, new bow limbs and has not been practicing due to school commitments.
Though I think Sharon had the shot of the day on the goat with a great 24. Well done.

3D goat at LEFA

3D goat at LEFA

One thing LEFA did do is angle some of the 3d targets and this made it harder to judge size and distances. It also resulted in a few glance offs.
The afternoon was slow not due to catching the group in front, more to do with taking our time to navigate the slippery paths, fortunately the weather improved (rain stopped) which is why there are no photos of the morning. My camera was buried under waterproofs.

Sharon in her summer shooting clothing

Sharon in her summer shooting clothing

Will we return ?

I know some people may have been put off returning to LEFA but we will, just not next time as we will be course laying for our shoot. Oh, how did we get on?

Almost forgot. Despite Sharon not shooting well she won gold with 518, Ben won in his class too, John retired as I think weather and his hand was giving him grief. I also won in my class with 618. Not too bad considering I didn’t get any 24s all day. It was only the second time Sharon and I have both placed 1st at a shoot.

LEFA trophy

LEFA trophy

As always thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Long Eaton Field Archers – 5th May 2013

It was bank holiday Monday (a public holiday in Britain) when I started writing this and for a change it was bright, sunny and warm. It normally rains in Britain on a bank holiday, just one of those things.
The only down side to the day was I ached lots. My shoulder had tightened up loads but I managed to shoot round the course on Sunday, so was worth it.
Big thanks
Before I go any further I would like to thank my shooting group, Andy from Artemis, Len from Hanson and of course Sharon. They were very supportive especially in the second half of the day, when my shoulder began to ache and lock up. Thanks guys.
Shooting group - Andy, Len and Sharon

Shooting group – Andy, Len and Sharon

So on to the shoot report. LEFA is one of our favourite shoots and we do our best to get there whenever possible. (last shoot report can be seen here if you are interested)  Though this time I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, as the trapped nerve in the shoulder had meant no shooting for several weeks.

On Saturday I had managed to get round 20 targets at our wood and that had been a challenge, so a full 40 course might be too much. Was I nervous, oh yes!!
Added to this is that this shoot is only a few weeks before the national 3D champs many archers will use it in good preparation for the 2 day championships and I really want to be fit for that, so no pressure!!

This course had been very carefully laid, with 2 distinct sections. One section being very technical with the course layers using the limited ground cover and tree avenues really well. It was a really good pre championship course, well done guys.

Lunch break verses shoot through… old debate
My only criticism of the day is the lunch break. LEFA stop the shoot at 12:30 and restart it at 1:30 to allow archers to come off the course and grab some food. Other clubs run a shoot through, which means the course is designed so as you pass the food stops once or twice, where you stop for 15-20 minutes to grab something to eat. The advantage to this method over stopping for lunch is it means you have a steady stream across catering and through the course, rather than a mad rush of 180 people wanting food at once.
The reasoning behind the stop is they say they can’t design the course to allow people to shot through, which is a real shame as you result in stopping for an hour and lose the flow.

Also after lunch the shoot slowed a lot. In the morning we had done 17-18 targets before lunch (about an hour and a half) After lunch we had only done 9 targets in the same amount of time as we were always catching the group in front , who had been catching the group in front of them and so on and so on. In fairness LEFA do provide a good lunch menu with some great desserts for those with a sweet tooth.
Anyway back to the course. It was a full 40 target course mad up of all 3D targets of varying size and shapes, with 4-5 people  a peg there were about 180 archers making for a very full car park.
Start was delayed slightly due to some late arrivals, but we got out on course at about 10:30. Our first target was a small 3d rabbit at about 15 yards. Great I thought a small target to start on doesn’t build confidence,especially with my first arrow skimming its back, second arrow hit though.

As I said the course had a good mix of small to large 3ds with a couple of the new 2D/3D targets. These skins as they are sometimes called have a 3d relief and can work well where a full 3d can’t be used due to space or safety concerns.
Long Eaton ground is a mix of established  broad-leaf woodland and more open younger areas. Mostly flat it does have a number of what can best be described as scrapes or shell holes.

LEFA grounds

LEFA grounds

The site had I think had been an old open coal pit with a small coal seem a few feet underground which has long since been mined but had left these depressions. These holes were used a number of times by the course layers,  resulting in us having to shoot into, across or sometimes out of them along the ground.  Very hard to judge distance when you are at ground level.
Lack of photosYou might notice there aren’t as many photos in this shoot report, this is due to changes in the rules in the NFAS. Archers are no longer allowed to take photographs before they shoot, so sorry there aren’t many target shots in this shoot report. I also didn’t want to delay my group and groups behind.

Sharon at LEFA

Sharon at LEFA

The reason for the change is that some people were using the camera as a targeting aid, to judge distances etc. I’m not a fan of the rule change but have to obey it.

So how did I get on?
Well despite Sharon feeling she didn’t shoot well she came away with gold, though I think she has plans to increase her practice time.
As for me well I managed to get round the entire course with only one blank, though too many 3rd arrows which I think aggravated the shoulder. I dropped 70 points in the last quarter of the course.I did come home with  second place, missing out on first place by 6 points. Not bad I suppose, considering I wasn’t sure I would make it all the way round at times.
In all our club came away with 9 medals in different classes, so was a good day for all. Full shoot results can be found here.

As ever thanks for reading.