Me shooting the large 3D red dragon

Shoot report – Hawk archers – June 2017

Hawk Club and archers massing

Hawk Club and archers massing

Okay so this may come across as a bit of a fanboy write up of the shoot report for Hawk but I will freely admit that I really like Hawks grounds and the shoots they host. A fact any regular reader of this blog might already be aware of.
Those of you haven’t read my write ups before might be thinking “Why do I like the shoots so much?

Well I find the courses challenging not because targets are stretched, but because they cause the archer to read the ground, the inclines etc. and try to factor that into their shots. In essence that is the appeal of field archery to me. Hawk course layers force you to focus and push yourself, in a good way. You can have a read of previous shoot report here if you are interested, hopefully you are.

The last report was from a couple of years back as they didn’t run an NFAS shoot last year, which was a real shame, but I know they were busy setting a course for WFAA .

3D fox at Hawk grounds

3D fox at Hawk grounds

I know that many archers that have shot Hawk can find the ground challenging to get round and the shots difficult, not because of the distance but the landscape and terrain. Even those used to shooting on an incline will find Hawk a challenge but I truly believe that it is well worth exploring this Welsh hillside. If you are wanting to test your archery skills, head to their next shoot.
Interestingly at their last shoot I know one reader of this blog was talking about this to another archer at the shoot. She had searched for Hawk Archers on the internet, and found this blog, with the write up of previous shoots, so they had an idea of what to expect.
So enough of my rambling, let’s get onto the important stuff and the actual shoot report for Hawk Archers.

So being in Wales it is appropriate to start with a comment about the weather. Heavy showers had been promised but thankfully those we had early in the day weren’t a problem and cleared quickly, leaving a warm dry day. Yes dry day in Wales.

Troll in a hole

Troll in a hole

As always there was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere at Hawk shoot and this time it was great to see so many people there, since traditionally Hawk shoots are quite small. This time there were over eighty archers attending.
Our shooting group for the day would consist of Luke and his dad Ant both shooting in the primitive class. I know that some archers find shooting with juniors difficult but Luke was a great sport and coped with his new bow really well.

Luke shooting at coyote

Luke shooting at coyote

This year Hawks course would be a 36 target course with a mix of 3ds and a few paper faces, with a theme of Dragons this year. One of which was a huge 3D red dragon on the hillside, along with a black dragon and a couple of really cool custom paper face.

Hawks black dragon 3D

Hawks black dragon 3D

I guess the giant red can’t have been that huge as it took me 3 arrows to hit it, with the first two landing just at its feet. (Must have been the Welsh man in me not wanting to shoot our national flag)

Me shooting the large 3D red dragon

Me shooting the large 3D red dragon

The shoot would be a shoot through with you passing the catering hut twice, where you could fill up on supplies before heading off again. Only downside this year was the lack of their homemade chilli, which is usually great.
Another very cool custom target made by the guys at Hawk was a two headed wolf, that was amazingly detailed and well sculpted.

Two headed wolf 3D

Two headed wolf 3D

Hawk was also the first opportunity for us to catch up with some of the archers who had shot our 3D course and find out their views of the course, which appears to have been very favourable. I will put an write up on what happened when I get the chance.
Despite having not touched a bow very much over the last few weeks, Sharon shot well, winning ladies AFB and despite not picking up a bow in what seemed ages I did ok and won gents AFB.

Sharon on the practise bosses

Sharon on the practise bosses

This year Hawk introduced a memorial trophy in both gents Bare Bow and American Flat Bow in memory of past members. I have to say I feel very honoured to be the first person to receive this new AFB trophy in memory of Bob Nourish.
From what I understand Hawk will be one of the teams setting a course for this years NFAS National Championships in September, which going by their normal standards should be a great 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 – Harlequin Bow Hunters – February 2016

Mark mustering the archers at the start of the day

Mark mustering the archers at the start of the day

So last weekend was a baptism of fire back into the field archery circuit with Paget de Vasey shoot on Saturday and Harlequin club shoot Sunday.
So with slightly aching shoulders we set off up the motorway to Harlequin’s grounds. You can read my previous shoot report here. (Just so you don’t get confused Harlequin changed the club name recently from Hay Smiths to Harlequin)
The course was a mix of 3d, 2d and paper faces set over sensible distances. In fact I would say it’s one of the best set courses I have shot for a long time.
We had great company on the shoot with Roger and Julie joining us shooting Hunting Tackle and Barebow respectively.
Sharon shooting at Harlequin

Sharon shooting at Harlequin

The club have a lovely piece of woodland offering some great opportunities to frame shots and use dead ground, including a cracking shot at a 2D lynx which was across a small pond that wasn’t even visible from the first peg. A great example of how to cleverly lay a target.
Action shot of Roger shooting the 2D Lynx

Action shot of Roger shooting the 2D Lynx

Due to recent heavy rain areas of the course were very muddy and waterlogged.
The shoot had a really good vibe with a relaxed atmosphere. Catering was run really well by the club especially as it was the first time they had done it.
Sharon shooting 3D goose between the trees

Sharon shooting 3D goose between the trees

It was also, like Paget, well marshaled, something that became apparent when the whistles blew and the shoot was stopped. An archer had slipped and injured her back and was helped off the course. The fact the marshals handled it so well was great to see and a credit to the club. It was also great to see that all archers also obeyed the rules and had stopped shooting.
Martin bear set between the trees

Martin bear paper face set between the trees

Great framed shot through the trees

Great framed shot through the trees

I think the only negative I could say was that the latter quarter slowed which I think was down to people misjudging targets and having to take second or third arrows. I know I took way too many second and third arrows.
Sharon taking a shot after lunch

Sharon taking a shot after lunch

I must say though it was good to shoot a challenging course, made challenging by clever course laying and not stretched targets. Nothing couldn’t be reached you just needed to take time to judge it carefully. In fact we started on, I think, the longest target – the 2d tiger.
First target at Harlequin the long 2D Tiger

First target at Harlequin the long 2D Tiger – sorry slightly out of focus

The small (read very small) bedded fawn caught a few out as it had been set in such a way that you thought it was the large one.
Congratulations to Sharon on her first in Ladies American Flatbow with a score that would have got her placed second in the Gents class. Congrats to Jim Kent on his placing and JT on getting his personal best.
It is a shoot like Hawk that we will do our best to get to in future as I think it is one of the best on the circuit.
As for me I need to practice more and to build up the strength in the shoulders to cope with two days of shooting. P.S, Mark if you are reading this sorry for not hearing the comment about targets, I was distracted by some fellow SVYF archers talking to me.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – NFAS National Championships – September 2015

Saturday morning at National Championships

Saturday morning at National Championships

I can truthfully say I think this year’s NFAS National Championships was probably the toughest I’ve shot over the last few years. Not due to poor weather, but simply the demands of the course and terrain. I also think that the weeks of practice shooting 80-120 arrows every other day built up my stamina and helped me cope with shooting so many arrows over 2 days. If you are interested you can check out a review of last year’s championships here.
The location of the championships was stunning, with it taking place on the banks of Windermere lake in the Lake District, which we were able to enjoy in fine dry weather. Yes, dry weather in September in the Lake District, we were shocked too.
The location offered some stunning views as we headed up and down the slopes and through beautiful mature oak woodlands of the Graithwaite estate.
Sharon and I had decided not to camp this year and Sharon had managed to book  a two bedroom apartment in Near Sawrey which proved an excellent find with a fabulous local pub 200 yards away. This accommodation we would share with fellow SVYF member Steve.
Having been able to get the Friday off work we headed up the motorway  Friday morning meeting Stephen at the apartment shortly after 2 pm. We unloaded the cars and popped down to the camp site and venue  to check we knew the route down the country lanes for the following day. As it was our accommodation was about 10-15 minutes drive from the venue.
This years Nationals would see 400 archers spread over two courses, the courses having been set by Lakeland (B) and Kendal (A) clubs.
Traditionally the nationals had been solely paper faces but a couple of years ago they started to introduce a few 3d targets. This year would see over a quarter of the 40 targets being 3d targets. This year they imposed a time limit of 8 hours, stating all archers had to stop shooting after 8 hours from the start, even if they hadn’t shot all the targets.
General observations

 I’m going to make a few general observations.

Peg positions varied and I know a few archers have commented on this. By all means make the red challenging, but please ensure that other pegs are at reasonable distances especially for juniors.
It is my view that some targets were at their maximum range, possibly even beyond. You don’t have to stretch shots just because it is a championships, especially with the quality of the grounds the championships was on. The challenge is in what you score not whether you score.
When you have a long shot and then put a face which may have a large scoring kill zone but wound lines are unforgiving I personally don’t think it is fair.  It slows down the day as archers are forced to take three arrows.
There was some discussion on some new target faces produced by ProKill (http://prokill24.com/), which people hadn’t seen before. The problem with them was they had been stapled to the card rather than glued which meant the face was pulled off when arrows were extracted. That meant they were only used on the first day. I hope to write a review of these faces in the near future.
We must give top marks to the catering van that was providing food on the camp site and relocated during the day to provide food for A course. The guys were fantastic starting serving at 7 and going on into the evening. They also have a very cool Star Wars themed catering van.
Saturday

The weather, initially misty, soon turned into a beautiful autumnal day of no breeze and bright sunshine.We were on site shortly after 7:30 am with registration opening at 8 am.The shoot starting just after 10.

A course - 3D crocodile - seen from the side

A course – 3D crocodile – seen from the side

Day one would see me shooting A course, set by Kendal Archery Club and Sharon would be on B course. With only two courses the groups would be of mixed styles.
A course was located nearest admin so was a short walk. The group would be Helen shooting compound, Sandra who I’d shot with at the 3d championships this year shooting longbow, Lionel and another Rob, both shooting primitive. We started on target 24 which was a longish paper face small deer.
A course - target 24 - first target

A course – target 24 – first target

One beautifully set shot was a long shot on a bedded 3D elk, that looked fantastic.
A course - bedded elk 3D from the blue peg

A course – bedded elk 3D from the blue peg

Another was a shot across a small pond to a 3d crocodile.
A course - 3D crocodile - seen from the side

A course – 3D crocodile – seen from the side

A course - view back from 3D crocodile

A course – view back from 3D crocodile

I think it is fair to say A course felt as though it had been set by two teams.
Targets 1-20 proved slower and longer distances, with several waits or hold ups on the peg. Whilst 20-40 flowed well, the only holdup being the long bedded deer , which both looked great and was a technical shot.
A course - 3D Javelina

A course – 3D Javelina

The worst delays of the day were at a downhill skinny turkey followed by an uphill paper face wolf. We were waiting 10-15 minutes to shoot the turkey and another 20 minutes on the wolf, while we waited for the groups in front to shoot. These delays broke up the flow of the day noticeably in those 20 targets and I  think we had two clear targets in those 20.
A course - long paper face small deer and me Robin hooding fellow archers arrow

A course – long paper face small deer and me Robin hooding fellow archers arrow

We were off course by about 4:30 and headed back to the apartment and then to a local pub for food and then an early night.

Sunday

Sunday morning dawned a little cooler than Saturday with a slight breeze. Again we were on site from about 7:30 am for a breakfast roll and registration.

The scores and placing from the first day were posted at administration tent. Sharon was in a slim lead in ladies hunting tackle and somehow I was in second in American flatbow. It is a weird feeling having so many people congratulate you on placing when you felt you hadn’t shot well.
Unlike A course, B course would see us having a mile walkout to the assembly point.
B course - long 3D dinosaur

B course – long 3D dinosaur

I would start on peg 4 an uphill paper face leopard, my group comprising of 2 compound archers Dave and Alan, along with Ken Adams shooting longbow. We were also joined by Joan Adams who wasn’t shooting this year.
B Course - uphill turkey 3d

B Course – uphill turkey 3d

I didn’t feel Sunday flowed well with a few hold ups whilst we waited for the group or groups in front to shoot the target. On one target there  was over 30 minutes while we waited with other groups to shoot a long paper face moose.

B Course - downhill 3D crocodile

B Course – downhill 3D crocodile

One thing Lakeland did was have a marshal checking arrows whilst archers were on course to make sure the arrows were correctly marked.
B course - paper face puma between the tree bough

B course – paper face puma between the tree bough

I knew I’d not shot well on Sunday and think I can put that down to a loss of confidence. I broke one arrow quite early on and a second a couple of targets later and I think this got into my head. Unlike A course, B didn’t have as many backstops for the 3ds so if you did miss there was a chance of breaking an arrow, as David, one of the compound archers in the group can testify to; when he misjudged a long downhill shot on a 3D ram and the carbon arrow exploded as it hit the tree behind. I was very lucky on this target, with my arrow just staying in the top of the animal.

B course - lucky shot of the day

B course – lucky shot of the day

There were a few targets with trees or banks behind that were unforgiving on arrows.
The only advantage of all the delays was being able to chat with Jim Pierce from Artemis and also a fellow ex-Black Arrow member who was in the group in front. He did a grand job trying to keep my spirits up, cheers mate.
I walked back to the parking area on my own thinking over my shots, feeling pretty low. I need to work on coping with delays and not letting it effect my performance.
As the award ceremony approached I met up with Sharon and other archers patiently waiting for the results. The first to be called was Gents AFB and the first name was mine. By some miracle I had managed a third place. According to Sharon my face was a picture when it was announced. I was so touched by the number of people that came up afterwards to congratulate me.
Bronze medal from Nationals

Bronze medal from Nationals

Sharon retained her title as Ladies Hunting Tackle champion. Sharon and I  also won the Nearest and Dearest trophy for the second year running.
Our fellow SVYF member Robin won Gents Barebow, which helped the club towards winning the Instinctive Team trophy. Congrats to Colin who won 3rd in Crossbow too. Here is a link to the full results (http://www.nfas.net/downloads/champs/2015%20Sept%20Nationals%20Reults.pdf).
well done to all that managed to make it round the courses and congrats to all medal winners on what I think were a very tough couple of courses.
Thanks for reading.