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

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 of sorts – Harlequin – February 2017

Harlequin Archers Feb 2017

Harlequin Archers Feb 2017

I feel the bitterly cold temperatures marred this shoot with the cold wind in some parts of the wood along with several sleet or wet snow showers making it feel like a test of endurance at times. I think anyone who survived the day deserved an award. Due to the  unpleasant weather there is only the one photo as my phone was buried under several layers in my jacket to keep it dry.
You can read a previous shoot report here. Despite the cold weather there were nearly 150 archers attending.
This was our first shoot of 2017, well strictly speaking it was Sharon’s first as I didn’t shoot the course. Instead I walked around with Sharon and her shooting group of Kay, Andy B, Julie and Roger, who were shooting a mix of flatbow, longbow and Barebow. As for the course, there  were the familiar 2d targets which I’m sure were even harder to draw arrows from in the cold, or maybe that was just us struggling. There were a few shots nicely framed between trees that tested the archer’s nerve along with the now traditional long shot at the 2D Moose, that is simply huge. The majority of the targets were 2D or 3Ds though there were a few paper faces including one deer that Sharon took 3 shots on and found all 3 were scoring.
It was nice to see some friendly faces and to chat to people we hadn’t seen since before Christmas.
It was good to have the opportunity to chat with Andy Soars too about his new bow designs. For those who don’t know Andy is the bowyer who produces the Blackbrook bow range of bows. These are bows which Sharon and I are both lucky enough to own (I have two of his flatbows and Sharon one of his recurves and a flatbow). If you have a chance drop by his website and take a look at his selection of bows. http://www.blackbrook.eu/
I did find it hard at times though, especially when talking to some people who asked why I wasn’t shooting or who were partially aware of what had happened.
To be honest my heart is just not into shooting at present. I picked my bow up for first time in over 8 weeks on Saturday and I could feel the loss of muscle tone in my shoulders. The other thing was it didn’t feel like I wanted to shoot. Don’t get me wrong, I miss going down to the wood to shoot round but I realise I’m missing it more for being out there in nature than shooting.
Anyway back to the shoot report.
Harlequin did their best to keep everyone warm with supplies of hot drinks and a very nice chilli as one of the options for a hot meal. By all accounts their scotch eggs went down well too. Sharon shot well coming first in Ladies AFB with Kay coming first in Ladies Longbow. Though Julie didn’t place in longbow I think she shot really well, considering it was her first time out with the bow having only just picked it up. Oh, Andy B hope you are feeling better.
Despite the weather the day seemed to go well and people enjoyed themselves. Fingers crossed it will be warmer for their next shoot.
Thanks for reading.

What is Field Archery?

Sharon Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

Sharon Shooting off the tree stump at 3d

A few months ago I received an email from a reader asking what actually happens on a field course, how they are organised, rules for scoring etc.
So I thought I might update one of the pages on the blog “What is Field Archery
First view from Red peg

Consider the tree cover and branches

It details the scoring of the NFAS Big game round (probably the most popular competition scoring rounds in the NFAS), along with what you can expect on a course and how the different shooting pegs work for different age ranges.
Hope it is of interest to people even if you don’t shoot NFAS
Thanks for reading
stream running through valley

Shoot Report – Bowmen of Bude

Catering tent at Bowmen of Bude

Catering tent at Bowmen of Bude

Sorry all for the delay in posting this shoot report. There is little doubt that Bowmen of Bude have a lovely ground, situated on a quiet wooded hillside a stones throw from the coastal town of Bude. This was the first time we had visited the club.
stream running through valley

The stream running through valley

Admin and catering for the shoot was situated in what appears to be an abandoned orchard.  Luckily it wasn’t a windy day as we might have done a few impressions of Isaac Newton being bumped on the head with occasional apple.
Admin at Bude through the orchard

Admin at Bude through the orchard

As it was the weather was kind to us being bright and warm, allowing for some lovely views and photos.
Target 1 second time round, Sharon shooting 3d

Target 1 second time round, Sharon shooting 3d

We would be joined by Chris shooting hunting tackle and Sandra in ladies longbow for our jaunt round. it’s always a good laugh shooting with Sandra and this was no exception.
Chris and Sandra sorting cards

Chris and Sandra sorting cards

All the marshals were very friendly and helpful, chatting with archers throughout the day. I also think they did enjoy watching archers shoot some of the longer shots set out on the course. Especially the elk and grizzly bear.
The 3D grizzly bear from red peg

The 3D grizzly bear from red peg, yes it is that far away.

Chris walking back from white peg Tfor the 3D grizzly bear

Chris walking back from white peg Tfor the 3D grizzly bear gives you an idea of distance.

The course was challenging thanks to clever and extensive use of the hillside and slopes , something they have in abundance.
Bowmen operated  a handicap system on the day which I’m not sure about. Each class is allocated a handicap which is added to your total score.
Chris on white peg shooting the 3D elk

Chris on white peg shooting the 3D elk

Sharon forcing me to pose for my shot on elk

Sharon forcing me to pose for my shot on elk. Managed to hit it with first arrow.

Personally I’d rather know what others scored in other classes without any handicap  but since the score called out includes the handicap level and you don’t know what the different classes handicap level is it’s hard to make sense of. I know they have since published a full listing on the Field archery news UK site.
Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

The course  would be a twice round 18 with a slight difference. The organisers had set each of the 18 targets as a predator prey, meaning the first time round you shot the target that was the predator and second time you go for the prey. This I thought was a good way of organising a twice round whilst still making it challenging. Though I guess if you are a gap shooter it makes the second time round a bit easier .
Rob trying to judge distance for 3D bear

Rob trying to judge distance for 3D bear

I  think the only thing I felt spoilt an otherwise very enjoyable shoot was the end and placing ceremony. All visitors ie those outside of a set postcode were allocated into one class independent of gender or shooting style. The handicap is applied and then places calculated  with there being a 1st, 2nd and 3rd awarded. This meant that despite shooting a higher score in gents afb I didn’t win the class and instead got third in the visitors class. Very strange way of doing things.
I don’t feel this is fair or would encourage others to attend. I also wonder if it is fair to locals as they don’t get to know how they fare against visitors. Image if you had shot a personal best and then found someone else had been recognised as being the winner on the day.
When I mentioned this to the organisers they said it was because it was the South West crown. If that’s the case give 1st, 2nd and third as normal and then award the crown separate. The Welsh and Scottish Champs don’t do this so why south west? Just my thoughts though.
Though I didn’t like the visitors element which I think spoilt the ending, in all it was a good day with a challenging course and great company.
Thanks for reading.