Happy New Year to all

So around this time of year people are normally doing a couple of things. Firstly trying to stick to their New Year resolutions they have made whether this be going to the gym, quitting smoking, eating healthily, etc. Archers will probably be starting their planning for the upcoming season. The latter will usually involving deciding on which competitions to enter and possible setting goals for their own achievements.

Personally I have never been a big fan of New Year resolutions; I tend to think, why wait until the New Year to improve your situation. Having said this I am kind of trying one this year, which is to find the time to watch material on or read more about shooting practices and approaches. So far this has involved watching quite a few YouTube videos.

I know that many might be thinking about improving their own performance, and it is something I often get asked. What can I do to shoot better? I want to score more? What can I do about making improvements? So what goals should I set?

These are questions equally important for newbie archers those who have experience, as we can all improve. In the next couple of articles I’m going to be looking at setting personal goals, measuring achievements and so on.

Well the first thing I’d like to say is. Be realistic with what you want to accomplish but still aim for improvement. This means setting realistic expectations, which sounds great coming from a dreamer like me. So what do I really mean? Well if you can’t or don’t have time to practise, you are unlikely to be as prepared as you could be or physically fit enough, with sufficient stamina or muscle memory.  Likewise, I know I’m never likely to get into the Olympics or even into Archery GB, but I can still try to improve and keep developing. (Sorry but every time I hear or thinking about trying to improve, this voice in my head says “Do or do not, there is no try – Yoda”) So let’s say we can still strive to improve, whether this be in my own shooting or helping others through coaching.

So be realistic in your expectations.

Reducing misses and making the hits count

Well we are all hoping to reduce misses, whether newbies or experienced. So let’s try and break this down a little in respect to NFAS shoots, how they are scored and number of arrows shot.

In the most common NFAS round “The Big Game round” you get up to 3 opportunities to hit a target and in turn score. As an adult you would start on the red peg, normally the furthest and hardest shot. If you are successful in hitting the target you score 16 for a wound, 20 for a kill or 24 for an inner kill.

On the other hand if you aren’t successful in hitting, you move to the white peg. From there you take your second arrow, with a wound scoring 10 and a kill shot 14 points. (There is no distinction from an inner or outer kill after the first arrow).

Your final chance to score comes from the blue peg where a wound scores 4 points and a kill 8. If you miss with the third arrow then you blank the target. The other members of the group shoot and once you’ve marked the score cards you move on to the next target.

So if you are on form your goal is to shoot as few arrows as possible 36 or 40 depending if it’s a 36 or 40 target course. I’ve never yet gone round a course hitting with my first arrow only, come close a few times but always seem to taken 2 or 3 second arrows.

I tend to keep an eye on the number of first, second and third arrows I take as it gives me an idea of how well I have been shooting.

So the first step is to try and reduce the blanks i.e. the targets where you don’t score anything (Julie, as friend of ours, never writes a zero on a score card when someone blanks a target. She draws a little smiling face)

How can you do this? Well don’t stress about missing it! “What?” I hear you say, “that doesn’t make sense”. Well it does if you take a minute and think about it. If you beat yourself up for missing a couple of times or stress out about being on the blue peg because you think you should have got the shot earlier, then that is not going to put you in a healthy mind set for that third arrow. So when you get to the peg, or rather if you do,. take a deep breath and chill. Take a moment and compose yourself, forget about everything other than your breathing and form. Focus on the spot you want to hit and nail it. Don’t just think of hitting the target somewhere, pick a point and focus on that.

Aim small, miss small as the saying goes. (Or aim for the fish’s eye, which won’t make a lot of sense unless you’ve read Steve Perry’sMan Who Never Missed.)

The Man who never missed – Steve Perry

Ok, so you have reduced the number of blanks. Now comes the reduction in the number of 3rd arrows. Ideally if you are taking a 3rd arrow you want to come away with 8 points as this means you’ve learnt from your first 2 misses and adapted.

Once you’ve reduced the blanks and the number of 3rd arrows, you have to reduce the number of 2nd arrows you have to take. This is a lot harder as normally the white peg is still a very challenging peg and is often located not that far from the red. If you are at the white peg, take what you learnt from the red peg with you. If you dropped short of the target or saw your arrow fly over consider this when on the peg. Take a moment or two to look at the shot again, judge the distance. Look for deceptions such as dead ground that may have caught you out from the red.

I see many archers end up on the blue peg or 3rd peg because they have rushed their second arrow, which can often be because they have been annoyed or self-conscious of their failure in front of others. I know this because I’ve done it myself.

When you do have to take a second arrow try and focus on improving from just hitting the target and getting a wounding hit to a kill shot, this is also a good idea.

Ok, so this hopefully all makes sense, but to give you an idea  on a recent 36 target course, I had 1 blank which was a one arrow target, 1 third arrow, 6 second arrows , the remaining being first arrows. By my standards not a great showing, but not bad and of course this gives me something to improve. When I first started I probably only had 10-12 first arrow hits, and it took a lot of practise and time to improve.

In the next article I’ll look at other factors that can affect your success, like Club ground practise, shooting form, equipment set up and maybe a bit more.

Thanks for reading.


Insight into Shires Archery

Some of you may recall a while back, me writing about a development with this site.

The idea is to create an opportunity for shops and businesses to offer an insight into the business, more so than they might be able to glean from a website. More of a light hearted overview than a dry news story. This is the first.

Action shot

Action shot

Rob – So where is Shire Archery based?

Trevor  – We are exclusively online at the moment but are looking to change that in the near future. I am a few miles north of my home town- Chesterfield famed for its bustling market and Church Spire which is both twisted and bent! It is a good spot to live being close to the Peak District National Park and having the ‘Dukeries’ on my door step, which are contiguous and include Sherwood Forest- famed for a certain Mr. Hood. All in all I feel rather lucky to live here, so the opportunity to welcome customers to the area I am enthusiastic about.

Rob – So readers might like to know about you or the business in general? How long have you been doing what you do?

Trevor  – About 13 years now including the official opening. I had shot and had some experience early on but my first real taste of Traditional archery came in the summer of 2003. I was living and working with a blacksmith just outside of Budapest. He had four Hungarian bows made totally out of wood, horn & sinew laminate. He had made them himself as a deep interest in his cultural heritage. As you can imagine being English and romancing the Longbow we had a lot to talk about. One warm evening whilst he was tending to the fruit trees beside his workshop, he went inside and along with two beers, brought the bows for us to shoot… I was hooked.

Rob – What a great way to start a journey into archery.

Rob – How did the business get started? Was it a hobby that grew into a business or maybe, a family business?

Trevor  – I had worked as a blacksmith in Wales after University for about 5 years traveling back and forth around Europe and the UK, I met some amazing people, skilled and incredibly welcoming. So I took the idea of operating a ‘craft business’ seriously from 1st hand experience of its highs and lows. With a wealth of knowledge and contacts I did not realize i had at the time I started to lay the foundations for my own endeavour in 2008 whilst working for a local engineering company.

Local archers and people from all over had contacted me throughout that time on recommendation to make arrows or source hard to find materials, so I took the plunge with Shire Archery opening as a business in March 2012. It took everything I had and then some, but it has been worth it.

Rob – I always think that launching your own business is incredibly brave but if it’s something you love and feel passionate about then go for it.

Trevor  – I will tell you a little secret- made the phone call to register on a windy day in Edinburgh from The Doric Tavern, a pint of Ale in front of me, with the realization of the enormity of what I was about to do.

Rob – If that had been me I think it would have been a large single malt. Please carry on.

Trevor  – I wanted to create a workshop space to carry on making, with a specialist web shop & physical sales space, all for the traditional archer from the ground up.

Rob – So is it a one man show or a team of archery enthusiastic people behind the scenes?

Trevor  – It’s just me at the moment but I have a really good team around me I can call upon, whom I trust in their own specialisms be it technical, photography or administrative support, they have been absolutely essential to the business as it quickly grew beyond my original plan and expectations. I am always doing something so it certainly keeps me busy; I can only dream of a day spent chewing the fat with customers and drinking more coffee than is good for me.

Resting in the woods

Resting in the woods

Rob – Sounds great. It might be worth explaining the range of products you sell, whether you manufacture them yourself? The hobby or sport of archery is incredibly diverse, from target to field, traditional to very technical Olympic set ups.

Trevor  – The product side of things is pure Trad and I have no plans to change that. It has expanded in range and scope to well over 200 core items with more expected. The choice goes beyond the usual stock of wooden shafts, fletchings, arrow heads and equipment for the archer. Although this is an essential solid base we also stock many archery related items of kit, gifts, supply hard to find natural materials and make arrows on request.We also take a lot of pre-orders and special requests which I am happy to see if we can help with.

I am always searching for interesting products or crafts people who would like mutual support- I would like to expand the bow side of things next.

Rob – Do you see yourself as a specialist in one area and if so why did you specialize?

Trevor  – I do yes my personal interest and background is in the Trad and crafts side of things, so I lean heavily in that direction, product quality is paramount to me so I don’t sell anything I am not happy to use myself. It is not that I am not interested in the modern stuff its amazing to be honest and the technical side of it astonishing. It’s just not ‘my cup of tea’ and as a business I want to be concise in what we offer and what we do.

Rob – Where do you see yourself fitting in?

Trevor  – We aren’t the biggest but we are certainly trying hard to be up there with the best in our niche. No one, not even the big pro-shops can stock everything in every conceivable variation there is just to much choice and its always changing. I have no interest in expanding so much so that it becomes ‘just a job’ or that I feel like I have become a slave to it. I love archery and that is something shared by our customers. The support out there from the traditional archery community has been amazing and I can only say thank you, as without it we would not exist.

Rob – What’s the appeal to you?

Trevor  – The modern notion that items which are made by hand are cruder, quaint, expensive or inferior compared to those that are mass manufactured or branded I find utterly bizarre.

Action shot

Thinking man

Rob – Where’s the Love! The time! The passion!

Trevor  – The real appeal beyond working for myself is ‘seein folk rayt’ as they say around here, our customers span the whole gambit of traditional d archery (http://shirearchery.co.uk/traditional-archery) and are international, being able to either help them out or supply them with something they value in our shared passion is the driver for me

If I had to have a simple mission statement for ‘Shire Archery’ that summarizes all this it would be-

Trevor  – “Raising the Profile of Trad-Archery”

Rob – thanks Trevor

I sincerely hope you find continuing success with both the business and your archery. I’m sure this article will help to increase people’s awareness of Shire Archery.

For those wanting to to contact Trevor Lilley at Shires Archery here are their details.

Website – http://www.shirearchery.co.uk/

Email – shirearchery@hotmail.co.uk Telephone – 01246 477119 / 07581726161

Thanks for reading


Removing broken wood tip from inside pile

Thought those of you, who like me shoot wooden arrows and sometimes have the misfortune to break the pile off might find this a useful tip. No pun intended.

Quite often I find my arrows break directly behind the pile, leaving a small piece of wood inside the pile which can be difficult to remove especially if you want to reuse the pile.
I know some people drill the wood out and others simply throw away the pile.
Well I thought I would show how I remove the broken piece of wood.

Tools required

Tools required

The tools required are
1 x long wood screw 2 1/2″ is ideal (cross head)
1 x screwdriver
1 x gas stove or gas ring
1-2 x pliers
1 x small pot or basin of water
Step 1
First stage is to carefully take the screw and screw it into the wood still in the pile.
Screw into wood

Screw into wood

Step 2 
Once the screw is secured in the wood, you need to heat the pile up as this breaks down the glue securing the wood to the pile.
Holding it by the screw you can heat the pile using the gas ring. It should only take 10-20 seconds.
Word of warning here. 
I usually use screw on piles, but if you have taper fit or parrell fit you can have the piles pop off as the glue and gases in the glue expand under the heat.
The reason I mention this is on one occasion when removing a pile I left it in the ring to heat up too long as I worked on another. I heard a loud pop and saw the pile shoot across the kitchen towards the window and the screw and wood went in another direction. Fortunately no one was  injured and nothing was broken (otherwise I think Sharon might have injured me)
Heating the pile

Heating the pile

The other thing to be careful of is to not let the wood burn as this will not only smoke the kitchen out possibly triggering a smoke detector but also make it harder to remove the wood.
It’s worth doing this in a well ventilated room as the glue can stinks, especially the two part epoxy I use. How long you keep it in the flame will vary depending on the glue. Hot melt, melts quickly whilst some epoxy ones might take 20 seconds. It’s a bit of trial and error here.

Step 3
Holding the now heated pile  in the pliers (don’t grab it with your hand as it will be hot) take the screw driver and continue to screw the screw into the wood.
You should find that because the glue has melted and lost adhesion to the pile the screw will force the wood free. Resulting in the wood remaining on the screw and free of the pile.

Wood remains on pile

Wood remains on pile

Step 4 
Drop the pile and screw into a pot of cold water to cool.  Once cool you can dry the pile.
You might need to clean out the inside of the pile of glue residue with a bit of wire wool or I find an old shaft tapered down and screwed in and out a couple of times works well to dislodge any residue.
The easiest way to remove the wood from the screw is to hold the wood in the pliers and then using the screw driver “unscrew” it.
Hope you find this useful.
Thanks for reading.

Aim small, miss small

Nice video by Jim Grizzly Kent about aiming and focus with archery, which is worth viewing.


Some readers might remember I wrote something a while back Aiming for the Fish’s eye

Thanks for reading

Shoot Report – Liberty Archers – July 2014

Liberty woodland

Liberty Archers woodland

This was the first time we had made it to Liberty Archers shoot. This made us Liberty newbies and  we weren’t exactly sure what to expect, as the stories of robo deer had spread along with the tall tales of huge steaks and wild turkey (the drink not the bird).
Add to this was that the shoot was to be themed winter wonderland which was kind of ironic, since it was probably the warmest weekend of the year so far with temperatures hovering round the low 30 degrees centigrade. This would also be my first real test of shooting with a glove rather than a tab of for any real duration.
We arrived Friday afternoon following a three hour drive, some times crawl along motorways. Many archers had arrived  a day or so before including a couple of members of the SVF club who had been kind enough to take our tent along with others tents to pitch, this meant we were all located together.
So after unpacking the last of the camping gear and a quick run to local takeaway we settled down for a couple of drinks and an early night. Friday night / Saturday morning saw a huge thunder storm overhead with a very impressive light show, visible even through the tent and tree canopy. It left us wondering if a travel lodge  might have been a better plan, if this was to be a taste of the weekend weather.  Fortunately the rain didn’t last and we were left with a dry warm read very warm day come morning.


The course on both days would comprise 42 targets, more than the normal 40 targets, the extra couple had been added so as not to disappoint those archers on the waiting list. These targets were all 3Ds ranging from small raccoon to huge moose and elk. I don’t think there were any stretched shots with a few lovely set natural looking shots.

An abandoned 3D target reclaimed by nature

An abandoned 3D target reclaimed by nature

The ground is flat, very flat but then again it is next to an airbase (Lakenheath). In fact the grounds are part of the air force base with you camping a stones throw from the runway overshoot. (If you had arrived a day or two earlier you could go plane spotting which I think some people did). Thankfully it’s very sandy ground so the heavy rainfall of Friday night quickly drained away. The downside of this is your arrows burrow themselves into the earth, so searching for any misses can take time. If you aren’t a fan of bugs then be warned there are a few as we discovered when packing the tent up on Sunday.

Sharon shooting on Saturday

Sharon shooting on Saturday

Unlike other shoots this had a really relaxed almost party atmosphere, with the organisers working hard to keep everyone happy. Most noticeable from the shooting perspective was the work they put in to finding lost arrows with marshals having metal detector near permanently attached to their arms. Thanks guys for all that work in that heat it is really appreciated by all.

Saturday - view of the group

Saturday – view of the group

Our shooting group would comprise six of us Theresa, Ben and their two grandchildren  Conrad, Charlie joined Sharon and I. So one flatbow two barebow and three hunting tackle; beginning to sound like Christmas Carol lyrics.

Most groups had between 5-6 archers but it didn’t seem to cause any real delays in our progress round the course. I think the biggest issue was the heat on Saturday, which at times was very uncomfortable. Part of the woodland runs alongside the main road and there we a couple of shots where you could see the traffic in the background which was a bit off putting, maybe some nets would have been a good idea.
By the end of the day we were all tired and looking forward to a relaxing evening.

Saturday Night entertainment

Saturday night was party time and Liberty put on a great show complete with Christmas lights, music, father Christmas a sleigh and of course it was drawn by reindeer. Though saying that the deer were lacking target zones as they were made of polystyrene.  Did I mention the wild turkey, there always appeared to be a bottle being passed round. The theme encouraged lots of archers to enter the spirit of things and to go in fancy dress, with Sharon having made an ice queen costume.

Sharon in her costume

Sharon in her costume, yes that is a blonde wig

The organisers arranged Saturday night as a steak night too, so there was plenty of food to help soak up the alcohol which was flowing. You can see a brief YouTube video of the evening celebrations here.


Sunday morning dawned with bright and clear skies, though maybe not so many clear heads. I’m guessing there were a few sore heads as the camp was a lot quieter first thing with less activity early on.

Sunday would see the same shooting group except for Ben whose s health didn’t enable him to join us. Think he may have overdone it  a bit in the heat of Saturday.
Me preparing to shoot on Sunday

Me preparing to shoot on Sunday

Sundays course was similar to Saturdays with the organisers changing a few of the 3ds and peg positions so you wouldn’t be shooting exactly the same course. The nice thing was there were a few very nicely framed shots between trees, that proved quite decepetive.

Sharon shooting on Sunday

Sharon shooting on Sunday

I also think I got the luckiest shot of the weekend on a 3D boar (glad it was modeled on a male boar).
Lucky shot on boar

Lucky shot on boar

Fortunately Sunday wasn’t as hot as the previous day and there seemed a few less people, so the day flowed well. By the end of the day I was a little happier with using the glove, though there’s still a long way to go before I’m completely comfortable.

Novelty shots  Robo Deer

Robo deer is a somewhat famous or is that infamous target which Liberty is renowned for. Made up of 6mm steel plate cut to the shape of a deer (hence the name) with a 5 inch circle hole to represent the kill area.
It’s a one arrow target with the option of shooting a different target but with a lower score. With it being about 18-20 yards downhill its not the hardest. All yYou have to decide what to go for.

Robo Deer from the peg

Robo Deer from the peg

So you can run the risk of going for the deer and possibility of breaking the arrow if you missed the soft spot. If you hit the metal you get 16 points if you hit the soft spot its 20 points.
By the end of the weekend, the top of the boss saw a collection of broken arrows where people had gone for it but failed and had broken their arrows.

Robo Deer up close

Robo Deer up close

When we got to robo deer on the first day I’d just had an arrow flick off a target and develop a slight bend. Not wanting to use a good arrow I thought Id give this one a go and lo and behold it sailed perfectly into the soft spot.  Sadly this was not repeated on the second day with my arrow clipping the metal and exploding in a shower of splinters and fletchings.

Overall it was a very enjoyable weekend and far more sociable than we were expecting helped by the light hearted party on Saturday night and laid back feel. It was great to see so many SVYF club members out at a shoot too, with many camping.
The club did quite well too, with  Chris and Keith Harley, Debbie, John, Jason and Colin all placing. As for us, Sharon won ladies Hunting Tackle despite not being happy with how she shot on Sunday. Amazingly on Sunday I shot far better than expected, resulting in winning Gents Hunting tackle. Guess I’m getting used to using a glove after all.
As always thanks for reading.