Some new ideas from off the arrow shelf site

walk in park

Hi everyone

This is a quick message to say that there are a few new developments here in the near future. I hope to be launching a couple of new sections or categories of articles for this site.

A walk with… will cover informal interviews with archers I’ve met, giving an insight into their love of archery, how they got into it initially and so on. It is based on the idea of chatting with them as they walk round the woods shooting.

Behind the counter… is aimed at businesses associated with archery, whether these produce bows, custom leather worked quivers, or whatever, giving them the opportunity to provide some insight for readers.

So why am I doing this?

This is a new development for the Off the arrow shelf blog so I hope you all enjoy it. The reasoning about this is pretty simple really, like all good ideas. Quite often I am being asked about archery suppliers, where you can get the arrow shafts from or which bow to go for. So I thought I would create a series of articles on different archery related shops, suppliers etc.

Before I start I’d like to make a couple of things clear. I have no company sponsorship or formal connection to these businesses. Yes I may have bought products from them in the past and even written review on some products, but I am not sponsored.

I’ve also met loads of people over the past few years I’ve been doing this hobby and running this site. Some have become good friends and nearly all have a wealth of stories or advice that I feel would be great to share.

I will still be writing shoot reports, equipment reviews and linking to other useful resources for archers.

Let me know what you think and thanks fro reading.

Equipment Review – Timber Creek Wooden arrows

Timber Creek Arrows

Timber Creek Arrows

I recently picked up some Timber Creek wood arrows from Merlin Archery care of Jim Grizzly Kent  and thought it worth putting a review together.
First impressions are positive.
The shafts are 11/32 with a 4 inch feather shield fletchings and black nocks. Made from Siberian spruce, these were spined as 50/55 as I wanted to use them with my flatbow.
The varnish finish is good being smooth and flawless over the entire length of the arrow.
Only thing I don’t like is the nock colour. Whilst they look great, fit well on the string, they are black which makes them very hard to see on longer targets. I like the thread binding at the front of the fletching as this can protect the tip of the fletching.
The shafts are straight and with the clear varnish you can see the quality of the wood grain.
Close up

Close up of fletching and nock

Having weighed them the six arrows come in 30 grains variance which is pretty impressive for unmatched out of box.
The piles are 100 grain field point which will be fine for most but I prefer an 80 grain.

100 grain piles

100 grain piles

Out of the box they are 32 inches in length and come pre – piled and ready to shoot.  Only thing I’ve noticed is the piles on two are very slightly proud of shafts, probably due to the shafts being slightly less than an 11/32. So if shooting a bag boss they can snag on the fabric. In fairness this is not an uncommon problem with wooden shafts and one I’ve encountered when making my own.Initial goes
I’ve tried shooting them at full length and they fly ok at about 12 -15 yards but really need to cut them down to my draw length. At 20-25 yards I was noticing the difference of pile weight and length. My normal arrows are fitted 80grain points so will probably fit 80 grain piles for true comparison.

Further testing 
Having now cut them to my draw length and fitted 80grain points I can add a couple of extra observations.
Being spruce the wood feathers or crumbles a little when tapering them. I found the same with other spruce and to be fair these were better quality.
Removing the old piles was easy using a gas ring to heat them for about 10 seconds and then unscrewing with a pair of pliers. Not sure if the 100 grain field point will blunt if a wayward arrow were to hit a rock, but this is the same for other pile designs and the reason I prefer steel to brass.
Having shot them they fly very slightly high and to the left but only slightly which makes me think slightly stiff.

Grouping at 15 yards

Grouping at 15 yards

Flight wise, they are very good and I’ve shot them a couple of hundred times.
I’ve not missed so badly as to bounce them off a tree yet so not sure of durability but am sure I will find out soon.

UPDATE – First casualty and note to self. If you shoot your own arrow it breaks. Managed to shoot the pile off one.  Yes pile, not nockthat takes skills.

First casulaty

First casulaty of the testing

 Those interested in the Timber Creek range of bows might like to know i recently picked up a Timber Creek Cobra and hope to write a review in the near future.
 If you don’t have the time or expertise to make your own arrows I think they are a good buy being good quality components assembled well. Priced at just under £5 each it’s not bad value. (http://www.merlinarchery.co.uk/timer-creek-wooden-arrows-basic.html)

Overall a 8.5 to 9/10 due to the nock colour.

Thanks for reading

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.

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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.

Shoot Report – Wasp Archers – April 2015

WASP archers wood

WASP archers wood

Sorry been a bit slow in writing this shoot report, but here goes. A couple of Sundays back we headed north to just outside Derby for Wasp archers shoot. Having had twinges in my shoulders which had cut my practice short on Saturday I wasn’t feeling confident.
Many years ago we had visited their old ground but this shoot was at a new site and would be their first shoot there.
Though slightly cooler than previous days it was still bright and warm enough for a spring morning.
Unlike some grounds who struggle with parking Wasps have ample space, which was good as the event was well attended with 100 or so archers present.
Sharon chatting with Mark from Artemis

Sharon chatting with Mark from Artemis

Added to this ample parking they have a lovely little wood,  with a great mix of deciduous and conifer woodland, with  a small valley which allows for a good mix of down hill shots.

View of the woods

View of the woods

Though a small wood they make good use of the grounds.

First target

First target

The  course would be made up of 40 targets with a 50/50 split of 3d targets and paper faces. Unlike Highcross the week before, Wasps alternated the targets so you would shoot a paper face and then 3d target then paper and so on. Something I think worked really well.
We would do two loops round the wood.

Sharon shooting across hollow

Sharon shooting across hollow

I don’t think there was anything over 40 yards.
Of all the targets I think there was only one which could have done with an addition of a net behind. Not for safety reasons, simply because it was well laid and tricked you causing you to just overestimate the distance resulting in arrows disappearing into the pine needles. Having said this there were marshals there to help. Thanks guys.

3D Turkey target

3D Turkey target

They had one special target, a 3D owl on a tree stump. If you missed you ran the risk of hitting a paper face behind and what you scored on the paper would be deducted from your score. So there was a  chance of a -24 -14 -8 on one target, I’m not a fan of negative target scoring but it was far enough that you had to be unlucky to get negative points.

Shooting group

Shooting group

Joined by Ann Marie and Shelley, both from Black Sheep Archers shooting barebow.

Last target of the day

Last target of the day

It was a really relaxing and flowing day and would definitely go back
Sharon won ladies hunting tackle but no medals for me as missed third place by 8 pts and 50 behind first. Still feel like I have a long way to go to get to the level I feel I should be.

Question from a reader – Aiming without sights

Recently I had a couple of questions sent to the blog by one of my readers.
It’s always good to have feedback and if I can help I will.  The subject matter of the questions posed are ones I think many would find interesting as one concerns the concepts of aiming and the other is on reducing the size of your grouping in the target.
I will try and answer each in turn over the next few weeks. Firstly I will discuss focus and aiming. The question was
“When you place your concentration on a small point at the target or animal, while you are pulling and about to get to your anchor point, do you take your eyes off the target for a second, and look at  the aliment of arrow with it ,or simply never see nothing else but the target point…”

There are a couple of things to consider here. One is focus on target with the other being arrow alignment.

Arrow alignment

When I first started archery I was very aware of the arrow. Sighting down the arrow to ensure it was pointing the right way.
This is what is taught to most archers to ensure they are lined up with the target.
I find now that I only do this when using a new bow or one I’m unfamiliar with. The rest of the time it is purely subconscious.
I try to fix my focus on a spot on the target where I want my arrow to hit.

Focus

So the simple answer to this question is no I don’t let my focus wander. I try to keep my point of focus set on where I want to hit. This is far easier said than done and takes practice and concentration. I  find if my eyes wander, then the arrow will follow where I am looking and not where I wanted it to go. Sharon and I both use this technique.
It takes discipline and practice, a lot of practise and I  don’t think I have fully mastered the technique yet.

The only problem is when you can’t pick a point on the target due to poor lighting. Something that can happen on shoots or at the end of the day as the shadows increase and light begins to fade.
Some of you will be aware that I’m not a gap shooter and consider myself as instinctive archer. Subconsciously my brain or should that read brain cell ☺is calculating the distance and telling my limbs when to release when i have where drawn up to. Great in theory but requires constant practice to maintain that awareness and internal sight map. It is also very fatiguing as it takes concentration of all things to relax and not second guess yourself.

Obviously this method doesn’t work for those archers using scopes or sights as they have to calculate the distance to be able to adjust the sights accordingly.

One book I have found resonates with me is Beginners guide to traditional archery by Brian Sorrells (book review here)
 Beginner's guide to tradional archery

The mindset of the author and style of writing is one I have found easy to follow and explain to others.
The concept of one arrow shooting I find  beneficial for developing focus. Here the author explains how you shoot only one arrow and then retrieve it and shoot again. This helps you focus on the individual shot and your form.

Another useful article is this one on various forms of aiming. It covers different forms of aiming from instinctive to gap shooters.

In the next post I will try to answer the question on improving grouping.
Thanks for reading.