Do I still love archery? Maybe, maybe not so much right now.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over recent months. I’m sat here trying to writing up a couple of shoot reports, along with some notes on future articles and one thing struck me. I don’t have the same drive as I had 12 months ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing people, catching up with friends, being sociable and meeting new people. Shooting with friends is very relaxing and enjoyable, with the recent shoot at Forest of Arden with Roger and Julie proving this. Added to this are the number of conversations I’ve had at recent shoots with archers, which start with “Are you Rob?”, “I read your blog” which is amazing. Likewise having the opportunity of being in a team setting one of the 3D championships courses was great, if a lot of hard work and we’ve had some very positive feedback from archers who shot the course.

But I feel I’ve seen, and in some ways been the target of some of the darker side of the hobby, the politics, arguments, power games some might call it. True these happen within all clubs or organisations where people interact. But I think it has affected me and my enthusiasm for the hobby.

I think it struck me first last September at the NFAS championships. There I saw some people being very vocal in complaining at having their arrows checked by marshals at Administration on arrival. (Arrows have to be checked to ensure they have name and shooting order on to comply with the shooting and safety rules of the society. This can be easily done with a piece of tape or Sharpie pen.) Yet there were some who complained and weren’t always very polite about it. I think I took this to heart. I couldn’t understand why people were complaining about something that is and always has been a rule for all shoot nots just champs. Everyone marshalling the courses, checking arrows, doing the admin etc. is a volunteer. So why have a go at the volunteers because you haven’t followed the rules?

Then later in the year as many of the regular readers know Sharon and I had our membership renewal for our old club blocked. This left a very bad taste in my mouth and something I still think of now. To be honest I’m not sure if I ever really got over it or the way it was handled. I wonder if people realise the impact such actions have?

I know this kind of behaviour and actions is not just affecting me, as I know others who have had similar experiences in recent months.

So now I find I have less enthusiasm and find it hard to make time to practise. This time last year I’d be shooting 2-3 times a week, 120 plus arrows a night, and again at the woods on Saturday and a competition Sunday. Yes in the last 2 months I’ve practised 2-3 times, tops.

I think some of the problem with me feeling like this is I don’t get to shoot that much now, either as a competitor or simply at a wood with friends. So the relaxing chilled element of the field archery where you are shooting in a wood and seeing the seasons change has been lost.

Yet as I write this I think of all the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through archery. Especially those who have introduced themselves by saying they have read this blog. For a few that is how they heard about field archery. I have to say I’m amazed that one small blog in the UK can have such an impact.

By the way if you do read this blog and bump into me on a shoot then be warned I will ask you what you find useful. It is something I always ask as I try to write what I hope people will find interesting and useful to know.

It’s interesting to hear the responses, as time and again it seems to be you want more write ups on shoots you’ve either attended or are thinking of going to in the future. I know one person at Hawk shoot commented on how they’d read previous shoot reports to get an idea of what to expect.

I am always amazed that anyone reads these rambling of mine. What is even more amazing from my perspective is what one archer I met at the Druids shoot recently said the blog had been recommended to them!

I still feel uneasy about my hobby. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced the darker side of the hobby as a few of you have reached out to me in the past.

So what now? Well, I’m still here a little more jaded and a lot less energetic.

Those who know me, know that I will still help with coaching, arrow selection etc I’m just a bit quieter now and less likely to volunteer or comment on Facebook, web-boards etc.

Sorry if this sounds bit of a downer article, but I just wanted to share my thoughts and in some way explain why my writing on this site has been less frequent.

Thanks to all of you and thanks for reading.

The bluebells the shoot is named after

Shoot report – South Wilts – Bluebell shoot – April 2017

South Wilts start

South Wilts start

Okay so this shoot report is well over due for which I am very sorry.  I am still trying to catch up with all my writing, having  been so focused on the course setting for the 3D championships and the subsequent run up to it I’ve let this site updates slip, so I’m sorry.  My writing isn’t the only thing that I’ve let slip, as my garden is resembling a jungle at present. Anyway on to the shoot report for South Wilts bluebell shoot.

The bluebells the shoot is named after

The bluebells the shoot is named after

This was our first trip to South Wilts shoot ground and due to the distance, a two and half hour drive involved we made it a weekend trip and stayed over. Granted we might have had a shorter trip if we hadn’t diverted past Stonehenge but since we were in the area it seemed like a good idea. Being the first time there it would mean a completely new course and largely new group of archers to meet and shoot with. Having said that there were a few familiar faces present, including Pat a friend from my coaching course all those years back.

Being a spring shoot we were forecast a few rain showers but it was not as wet as expected with only a couple of light showers­­ early in the day. Having said this it did not deter the archers with over 160 attending the event.

Wolverine 3d from the junior pegs

Wolverine 3d from the junior pegs

The course itself would be 40 targets, with 36 being 3Ds and the remaining paper. South Wilts have a lovely woodland with carpets of bluesbells, hence the shoot being called the Bluebell Shoot”. The grounds are mostly flat but they have constructed a couple of towers to offer a different shot. I think it might be worth them modifying one of the towers so there isn’t a metal bar across where you draw up. I came very close to hitting my lower limb on the bar. On the other towers they had ropes that worked better.

Sharon on one of platforms

Sharon on one of platforms

On the subject of towers I do think they work as they offer the course layers the opportunity to set some fine shots including one at a ram, shown in the photo.

The view from the platform

The view from the platform

I actually think they used the ground well too for the majority of the shots. The day flowed pretty well with the only real hold up we had was at a long target, large grizzly 3D but in many ways I would expect it at that style of target.

One of the long bears

One of the long bears

Our shooting  group for the day would be Tony, shooting hunting tackle, with his wife Pat who wasn’t shooting accompanied by their granddaughter Lacy shooting barebow. I know some people don’t like shooting in a group with a junior or cub, but I have to say Lacy was great company and a good shot. Tony we knew from his time as general secretary for the NFAS a few years back.

Our first target a 3D puma

Our first target a 3D puma

We did get lost at one stage going round the course, but I think this was as much to do with the archery interfering with the conversation as the course not being clearly marked. I found out later we weren’t the only ones to miss the turning and the marshals added some more direction arrows as the shoot progressed in case any other archers were enjoying the conversation and not paying attention.

South Wilts club has been at the grounds for a number of years and this is obvious from the construction of the towers to the quality of the facilities available for its members. Catering was very good and prices reasonable, with all the marshals I spoke to being friendly and very helpful, especially when trying to source a torch to check Lacys’ hand for splinters after she tripped.

Yes some more bluebells

Yes some more bluebells

The lack of practise due to the work on the 3ds showed in my shooting, but I managed to scrape third with Sharon winning ladies AFB.This was our first double medal win under the new club banner of Briar Rose Field Archers (more on this later). Maybe if we get there next year we can improve on this, as I think it is a good shoot to add to the list to revisit.

One other thing I would really like to mention here, were the number of archers who thanked us for stepping forward to set a course at the 3ds. Here’s hoping that those who thanked us enjoyed A course.

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.
Pride Park - don't let the sun shine fool you, it was freezing cold

Shoot Report – Pride Park Archers – November 2016

Pride Park - don't let the sun shine fool you, it was freezing cold

Pride Park – don’t let the sun shine fool you, it was freezing cold

On a very cold Sunday November morning we would head to not far from Ripley in Derbyshire, to the new grounds of Pride Park Archers. The club has only just taken on this woodland a few weeks earlier and are in the process of settling in. So  this would be their inaugural shoot on these grounds. 
Don’t let the bright sunny morning photo fool you it was freezing cold with a very keen wind blowing off the fields. We did have some rain showers in the morning, which thankfully were quite short lived.
Our shooting group would consist of 3 members from Harlequin Archers club, Martin, Shane both shooting Compound limited and Gayle shooting barebow.
Shane and Martin retrieving arrows from across the creek

Shane and Martin retrieving arrows from across the creek

As for the course this would be a twice round 20, with the usual mix of paper and 3D targets. Some of you might think it is a long way to travel for a twice round twenty but this was both their first shoot at their new grounds as well as  a 20th anniversary shoot so we wanted to show our support for the club. We have a bit of a soft spot for Pride Park as they were the first club we ever went to a competition at all those years ago. We’ve always found the club very friendly and supportive not only at club events but also the NFAS as a whole.
Sadly not everyone showed them the same level of support with there being 14 no shows. I feel this  is a really big hit for the club, never the less there were another 74 of us mad fools who did brave the chill wind and turn up. The no shows caused a slight  delay to the start as Admin did their best to balance the groups. The catering team were doing their part to keep us feed and thanks to Paula for the cooking especially the burgers at lunch time.  
Their new grounds occupy mixed woodland, mainly coniferous situated on a Derbyshire hillside. This made for an unusual visual effect when the pine needles fell, making it look like flurries of snow were falling or maybe it was because it was so cold we were thinking snowfall.
Being off the beaten track means there is a fare walk to the woods across a couple of small fields but in return they do have a nice bit of woodland to develop. 
The wooded hillside offered some very nice shots, such as the long downhill 3D bear and I think as the club settles into the wood there will be even more potentially challenging shots.
The downside of the wood is there is little ground cover of any depth in places, so if you miss the 3D target your arrow will become a casualty, which a couple of mine did.
Gayle shooting 3D badger target

Gayle shooting 3D badger target

Overall I thought the targets were well placed, though I think the paper face Jay target didn’t need the boss angled as it’s a challenging shot already and angling it means arrows are likely to tear up the foam quickly. The zombie shot was different and a bit of fun too.
Paper face jay between the trees

Paper face jay between the trees

It would be fair to say I really struggled getting round the course. Compared to other grounds I have shot at its not that hard, but my asthma has been playing up for the last few weeks following a virus. This meant I struggled with the slopes resulting in my always carried but rarely used  inhaler being used lots.
I’d like to thank not only the group I was with but others who asked after me, along with Chris Harley who took time to walk back up the slope with me at the end of the shoot. Thanks Chrissie
Sharon shot really well, being back on form, winning not only the ladies class but out shooting all the men in the class (obviously including me).
Sharon shooting 3D crocodile

Sharon shooting 3D crocodile

Considering the limited time the club members had and the amount of work that was involved in just clearing the pathways, I think they’ve done really well. Yes there is room for a few improvements and enhancements but it is early days for them in the wood. One thing that I think  should be mentioned is the way the marshals reacted to problems quickly investigating and solving them, such as getting a replacement boss when one was found to be shot out.

Good luck Pride Park Archers with your new woodland.

Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – NFAS Championships

Arrow checks at the National Championships on Sunday

Arrow checks at the National Championships on Sunday

September saw the National Field Archery Society championships which this time was to be held not far from Hemel Hempsted on Gaddesden Estate. It’s not the first time the estate had hosted the championships and if interested you can read the past
reviews here.
For those of you unfamiliar with the championships it is a two day event. This year it would comprise of 2 courses; A & B, with archers shooting one course each day. Unlike the 3D championships wooden arrow and metal / carbon arrow archers would not be split. Each course comprises of 40 targets, these being a mix of paper and 3D targets. You can read last years championships here, which had been held in the Lake District. Some 400 archers would be either camping or filling local bed and
breakfasts or hotels for the weekend.
Sorry there are so few photos from the event but the Saturday was very wet so my phone was buried under waterproofs to keep it dry. I did manage to get some photos from the Sunday though.
With Sharon and I shooting American Flatbow we would shoot course A on Saturday and B on Sunday. A course had been set by by the Field Officer of the NFAS and other volunteers and the NFAS committee with B course being set by the Cloth of Gold club, whose grounds are part of the Gaddesden Estate.

It was an early start both days for us as we’d offered to help with the admin of the event. Sharon would be helping handing out the score cards and I’d be doing arrow checks. For those that aren’t aware of NFAS rules, all arrows have to checked to ensure that they have the archer’s name and the shooting order. On that point, one thing that amazed me was the number of people who attend the event yet forget to mark their arrows or argue that its not needed. Not only are the markings required
by the rules of the society but also a requirement on safety grounds.

If an arrow is shot and an incident occurs you need to know who it was and from where it was shot, hence the reason of shooting order and name. Most people where fine and friendly but there are always a few that feel it feel it’s unreasonable. I can understand why so many of the admin or organising crew get tired and disillusioned. Anyway onto the shoot report…

Saturday

Saturday’s course would prove to be the flatter of the two courses. With the overcast and damp weather it made the woodland quite dark at times making some of the paper targets very hard to make out. I think this problem was compounded by the use of some new target faces being used this year. Some of these new faces were quite dark, especially the pigeon and goose, which the whole group struggled to first identify and then score well on.

The first day of the champs would see me shooting with Sue, Ian and Ben. I’d shot with Ben at liberty and Sue I’ve know known for years. It was a mixed group of Sue and me on American Flatbow, Ben in Hunting Tackle and Ian in Crossbow.

We started on target 40, which meant we shot one target and then had a
food stop, but that is just luck I guess. The next 20 targets worked well and were challenging, though I think a few could have done with having a torch shone on them as they were very hard to see in the darker areas of the wood. After target 20  had we were back to the food stop and this time did stop and have chance to catch up with others. The second half of the course didn’t go as well for me with a few shots after lunch that were I thought were further than they needed to be. Yes it’s a champs but I think they could have been challenging without being set at those distances.
By the end of the day the rain had stopped and it was a bit brighter, with us heading back to the hotel in Hemel Hempsted for a shower and a meal. One positive thing from the weekend was a large group of us went out for a great meal on Saturday night.

Sunday

Sunday - B course - pre-shoot announcements

Sunday – B course – pre-shoot announcements

Following very little sleep on the Saturday night due to the hotel room being far too warm and noisy we were up at 6 am and on site for 7 am having promised to help with the administration and arrow checks.

Sunday course would be B and I think the course layers probably had the more challenging terrain to work with and I’m really glad it was dry as getting around would have been a whole lot harder if it had been wet. On a couple of shots the organisers had set up ropes for you to use to get down to retrieve your arrows and it was needed.
As is normal the shooting groups changed completely so I’d be shooting with Ian, his son Connor and Dawn shooting Crossbow. I’d shot with Dawn at last years 3D championships when she had been shooting American Flatbow. Fortunately the weather was far kinder to us on Sunday with it being both dry and slightly warmer.

Starting target on Sunday - 3D bear across the pond

Starting target on Sunday – 3D bear across the pond

I think the course worked well for the most part, with our first target being a 3D bear along a river bank. The downhill paper faced tiger was also a good shot.

Paper face tiger between the trees

Paper face tiger between the trees

The lack of sleep really played havoc with both Sharon and I with neither of us shooting as well as we could or should have on Sunday. Think Sharon suffered the worse as she’d been working away from home the week before the championships so was already tired.

Long paper face Rhino target

Long paper face Rhino target

Despite the lack of sleep Sharon still managed to gain a second place in Ladies American Flatbow. For the second year running I managed to secure third in Gents American Flatbow, which I was surprised at since I didn’t feel like I’d shot well enough.
We managed to win the nearest and dearest trophy for the third year running, which I think is the prize we both wanted most.

Nearest and Dearest trophy along with a silver and bronze.

Nearest and Dearest trophy along with a silver and bronze.

Severn Valley won the Barebow Team trophy and special congrats to Mae on wining Junior Girls Barebow at her first Nationals.
Thanks for reading.