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

Advertisements
3D coyote target set behind fallen tree

Shoot Report – Windrush – October 2017

Archers massing before the start

Archers massing before the start

On a beautiful sunny early autumn morning we headed towards Windrush shoot grounds in Oxfordshire. I have to say the old adage that the journey is as important as the destination seemed accurate on Sunday, as due to the early start and route down the took us along some country lanes we ended up dodging squirrels crossing the road, indecisive flocks of partridge who couldn’t decide whether they wanted to cross the road and not forgetting the pair of fallow deer running across parallel to the road in a adjacent field. Added to the wildlife was demonstration of multiple hot air balloons as we approached the woodland, all in all it was quite eventful.

3D fox between the trees

3D fox between the trees

It had been a number of years since we’d shot at Windrush and were curious to see how or if it had changed in that time. Our shooting group would consist of Sharon, myself and the father and son team of Anthony and Michael, both shooting barebow and both on their first NFAS shoot. I have to say I felt sorry for the poor souls having drawn what some might have seen as the short straw and others might see as a baptism of fire with shooting with us. Hopefully we haven’t put them off field archery.

Anthony shooting bedded 3D boar

Anthony shooting bedded 3D boar

The course of 36 3D targets was arranged in a series of loops round the central admin hut which worked well, with about 100 archers navigating the course easily. This meant we enjoyed a shoot through course i.e. no formal stopping at a set time for a lunch break.

Windrush Club hut

Windrush Club hut

Catering was very efficient as was the admin. In fact I thought the whole event seemed to work well. The course was safe and well marshalled, as we saw marshals walking the course checking on archers and targets throughout the day and taking the time to chat. All of which added to the relaxed feel of the day.

Sharon shooting 3D

Sharon shooting 3D

The land itself that the course occupies is a flat ground, being in an open deciduous mature woodland. Windrush course layers try and provide some height difference with the use of a platform in one area for a well-hidden bedded deer 3D.

3D badger target being shot by Michael

3D badger target being shot by Michael

They also make use of a few tree stumps as shooting platforms. I’m not sure if I am completely comfortable with this as I think some might find the footing a challenge. Maybe adding some chicken wire for additional grip or off cuts of decking with the grooves in it would help. Having said that it is only a minor comment on what I thought was a very nicely laid and engaging course.

3D antelope with shooting peg on the stump

3D antelope with shooting peg on the stump

Even though the ground is quite open and flat the course layers offered a good selection of targets at sensible distances that were challenging but not stretched. It is so easy on flat ground to push targets that little bit further back to “offer a challenge” but Windrush didn’t do this. They set targets at sensible distances for their size and used the dead ground or framing to make the shot a challenge.

3D coyote target set behind fallen tree

3D coyote target set behind fallen tree

 

Anthony shooting 3d deer - very nicely framed shot.

Anthony shooting 3d deer – very nicely framed shot.

They also managed to use the cover they did have to make for some very nicely framed shots between trees, over or under fallen trunks.
One thing I did learn was if I listen to the voice in my head more often when something doesn’t feel right it helps. On a couple of shots earlier in the day the little voice in my head was saying “come down, something’s not right” Well I didn’t listen and resulted in having to take another arrow. Now I know what you are thinking. “You’re a coach, you should know better” well yes I should, but sadly I don’t always practise what I preach. Having said that I did on one shot I did listen to the now screaming voice and it did make a difference as I came down and drew up a second time( and yes I did get it with that shot)

3D dinosaur target set between trees

3D dinosaur target set between trees

The day flowed really well with us experiencing no hold ups, in fact the only delay was at one of the food stops whilst Anthony had to replace the rest on his bow. In all it felt a very relaxing stroll in the autumn woodland, whilst chatting with Anthony and Michael about their experiences of archery so far and what their aspirations are. And yes Anthony I am Rob with the blog. By the way, here is the link to the book I was recommending Shooting the Stick bow.
The Briar Rose club saw five members attend and came away with 3 first places, with Sharon winning ladies AFB and me in the gents’ class. Have to say special congrats to Steve on his first in Gents Barebow.
I’d also like to congratulate Eleanor on winning ladies longbow (John let me know when you have sometime with flatbow). By 4:30pm we were all on the road home, making for an early end of good day out.
Thanks for reading.

Sharon and my bow at Wolverine shoot

Shoot Report – Wolverine – August 2017

Wolverine - Gary making announcements at the start

Wolverine – Gary making announcements at the start

So a couple of weeks ago we headed north again, through the road works venturing this time towards Wolverine club grounds. Once again we were blessed with good weather, though the ground was a little wet underfoot, it was no way as bad as we’ve encounter previously. In fact we didn’t have rain until the drive home.

For those interested here is a link back to previous shoot report.

So onto the shoot report in full, the course would consist of 36 target, mixed 3D and paper faces. We would be shooting with Cliff with his trusty longbow and Neil shooting his primitive bow.

Neil Shooting 3D target

Neil Shooting 3D target

The start was marked not with the usual horn blast but a rocket which worked well for both the initial start and post lunchtime break. Wolverine operate a lunch break being between 12:30 -1:15 and as luck would have it we were in part of the lower woods making for a long walk back for grub.

Our first target at Wolverine - 3D bobcat

Our first target at Wolverine – 3D bobcat

The day seemed quieter than normally, with slightly lower numbers than wolverine normally have attending. This could possibly be because Pines Park who also had a shoot on this Sunday, or maybe people fancied a day off. Even though there were less people there was a good atmosphere, quite relaxed and stress free.

3D owl target between the trees

3D owl target between the trees

The smaller numbers meant we were finished by 3, though the awards were delayed slightly due to one group not handing their cards in until late.

Archers beginning to mass prior to start of the shoot

Archers beginning to mass prior to start of the shoot

Of course there was the famous giant Kong target in the field which is a trademark shot for Wolverine. There were of course a few other nice shots throughout the course. I think my best shot of the day must have been on the standing black bear which I managed to nail.

By lunch break we’d shot 18 targets and had a good rhythm going so were hoping to keep the same pace going in the afternoon. Sadly it was a bit slower after the lunch break as we waited on all targets due to catching up with the group in front.

Sharon shooting paper face crocodile

Sharon shooting paper face crocodile

I think it would be fair to say that I thought the course was challenging and different to previous years though the old faithful Kong was in the field watching over all archers. Overall it was a good day with good company.

There was a good result for Briar Rose with 3 of the 4 of us placing. Congrats to Jayne on her second in ladies hunting tackle and Sharon who won ladies American flatbow too.

Thanks for reading

Cliffs very lucky shot at the 3D carp

Shoot Report – Lyme Valley – August 2017

Cliff shooting 3D hare

Cliff shooting 3D hare

A couple of weeks back we headed north up the motorway and through what feels like endless road works to Lyme Valley shoot. Sorry its taken so long for the shoot report. If you are interested here is a link to a previous shoot report. We were lucky to have good weather, dry and not to warm which is perfect conditions for Lyme valley as you don’t want it to be too warm going up and down the slopes, or wet as it can get very slippery.

It would be a twice round twenty rather than the normal 36 target course they have set in the past. This would prove to make it  a good but long day. Admin and catering was as good as I remember from past visits.

Cliff shooting 3D vulture

Cliff shooting 3D vulture

Our shooting group made for great company, with us being able to catch up with Nadeem, Cliff and Kay all shooting longbow, not forgetting Teyah (Kays dog)

Downhill 3D bear

Kay shooting downhill at 3D bear

There were some nicely laid shots with good use of dead ground. The big grizzly bear 3D shot was great and I wish I’d taken a photo of it. The use of dead ground worked really well I thought on this shot.

Another  was the big bedded elk 3D shot along the hillside was a very nicely framed shot and provided the shot of the day from Cliff on the first circuit round as he managed to 24 it. Though it has to be said that one person’s reaction was timeless to the shot, especially the timing of the comment.

Sharon shooting 3D bedded Elk

Sharon shooting 3D bedded Elk

I had one very lucky shot on the 3D carp only just getting it, with the arrow balanced on top. Ironically Cliff had done exactly the same thing happen the first time round. Evidence of this can be seen in the photograph.

Cliffs very lucky shot at the 3D carp

Cliffs very lucky shot at the 3D carp

Only shot I wasn’t overly keen on was the 3D crocodile by the river. As it was situated on the bank, if you missed your arrow stood a chance of breaking in the stones bank or deflect up into the bridge. The shot looked good and wonder if mounting the crocodile a couple of bosses would have saved a few peoples arrows (including Sharon’s) worse thing was you had to shoot it twice.

Another change to the normal Lyme valley shoot was it was a shoot through rather than a lunch break which I much preferred.

Tricky shot at 3D frog on bank

Tricky shot at 3D frog on bank

The  downside of shooting a twice round is if you get a good shot the first time round on a target you feel you should be able to replicate it second time round. The upside is getting some photos, that is if you remember.

I know some people have commented on some parts of Lyme Valleys course being a little tight on space but by reducing the course to 20 targets from 36 it gave them plenty of space between the different shots.

Sharon shooting down hill towards 3D baboon

Sharon shooting down hill towards 3D baboon

Overall it was a good day with a well laid course. Personally I think if they do another twice round twenty they would be better to use only part of the woodland rather than all of it. Or maybe as Sharon suggested at the time they could set a course of 30 targets and possibly charging slightly less entrance fee. It proved very tiring going up and down the slopes, not once but twice. I think it also made others tired too as the second time round felt slower. To be fair to Lyme Valley, it was a good course and fun day out in the woods.

There were 4 Briar Rose archers attending the shoot, with it being Gayle’s first visit. Steve only just missed out on placing in gents barebow by a couple points. Sharon shot really well despite her thinking the opposite winning ladies AFB with a score that would have had her placed second in the gents class. I surprised myself by winning gents AFB.

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.