The first thing I did today was have a hospital procedure, during which I was given Buscopan which, at one point, made everything up close very fuzzy to the point where I couldn’t text on my phone after the procedure. With this in mind, I wasn’t really expecting a night of great shooting, and sure enough, after a little unexpected initial success, it went downhill.

Three balloons on the boss. I shot one, and then the next, and then almost got the third – very close. This to jeers of “you shot the blue but you were aiming for the green one” and so on. Hard to concentrate when you’re chuckling. That was about as good as I got though, there were a lot of near misses and for the first time a significant number of arrows that missed the boss. Just glad to have made it to the session.

Tonight we had novelty targets on bosses set at alternating distances of 20 yards and about 14 yards, and we all rotated between the targets. Some had hallowe’en pictures, some had apples, some had milk bottles stuffed with rags, some had Sellotape rings stuck in pyramids, as pictured. It was a night of fun shooting, but the real aim tonight was to let us see some real bows and arrows, not just the £80 recurves we’d been shooting.

So, first a coach showed us his hybrid flatbow, which was £485 worth of Bearpaw Bodnik Quick Stick, right handed, bow weight 50lbs. He was shooting barebow, being an instinctive archer.quick stick He was shooting carbon arrows with yellow goose feathers (£10 a pop). He shoots with two fingers and uses a modified tab. Impressive and inspiring to see someone hitting bulls’ eyes with this set up as I hope to achieve this myself someday. It was explained that there’s more accuracy than a recurve because of the rigidity, no flex in the limbs like a recurve, but that it isn’t so fast. It was clear the instinctive shooting style looked quite different to that of the other coaches.

Slightly reluctantly he let me try it out (pulling it back without an arrow) and I found I could draw it to full draw length for me. Sure, it was a lot heavier than I was used to and probably too heavy, but I managed it fine. I’d probably manage a good few arrows before getting tired with it, but I understand you need something more manageable when you’re still learning your form.

He’d been using a Timber Creek Cottonmouth Long Bow before this. He said he’s had two break on him in exactly the same place. So he’s assuming it’s a design flaw and is moving on, despite the warranty and replacements. Shame, he says, as it was a lovely bow and very good to shoot with.

Next up, another coach was showing off his Hoyt recurve, which had Border limbs (made in Scotland) and he explained about the sight, the stablisers, shock absorbtion, and more things than I can remember. The set up was worth about £1500. He shot a few arrows and the whole thing was quite impressive.

Last, we saw a Mathews compound bow with all its pulleys and so on. It had a clip-on stand to rest it on the ground which was nifty. Probably not as nifty as the rest of the rig. It had a magnifying sight with a small carbon fibre dot, stablisers/shock absorbers and a host of other features, more than I can remember. It looked impressive and I was surpised how heavy it was. The benefits were described and the use of the trigger release and how that makes the arrow lie straighter and fly straighter (or something) was explained.

I’m not ruling out ever having one of these things, but price-wise and experience-wise it’s probably not what I’ll be going for. One of the coaches has recently acquired 5 acres of land near the club and we’ll be able to hire it for the day for a fiver, and no doubt there’ll be some club events and field shooting there. More my thing, I think. Although those Hoyt recurves look good too…

I got to shoot a Genesis Kit compound bow. These are designed for families. So it draws to different lengths and has about a 20lbs weight, however far it is drawn. I found it quite fast compared to the 25lb recurve the club has leant me and quite enjoyed shooting it, but I still enjoyed trying out the longbow the other day the most, I think. As the intinctive shooter coach said about the Genesis: “Feels like cheating, doesn’t it?”. Here’s a link to one: GENESIS BOW

So, two bits of advice tonight.

What’s the first thing an archer should buy? An arrow remover. It’s a sort of rubber grip that goes in the hand and you clamp it round the arrow to help you pull it out of the boss. They cost a fiver and will prevent splinters and make removing arrows a lot easier.

Second, I got a bit a closer to knowing what bow to buy. It was suggested I get a hybrid like the Bearpaw above, but get something cheaper, about £100, and at 40lb so I can pull it easily enough to work on my form. He suggested I get a Buck Trail bow (and we’d work out what arrows to get later using a measuring arrow and so on). They’re all measured by weight at a 28″ draw and so there’s no worry about buying a bow with a different draw length or whatever, so it’s easy enough to buy one of these, and then it’s just a case of getting the right arrows for me.

Had a look online and I assume this is the one: BUCK TRAIL BLACK HAWK

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