Following hot on the heels of the final beginners’ session, I got to go to an actual club session the following night. All the lessons had taken place indoors, whereas the club is shooting outdoors at this time of year. The range was a number of targets, three were set at 20 yards, then one at 30, 40, 50 and 60. A few of the beginners had missed a lesson and were using the first two 20 yard ones to catch up and complete their training. Another senior and I, who had completed the course, were put on the third 20 yard one.
I started off fine, shooting much as I had the session before. I had five arrows now, because that’s as many as they had of that particular fat Easton aluminium arrow in the locker. One coach said it was completely the wrong type of arrow for what and how I was shooting, but beggars can’t be choosers.
I managed to get all five arrows in the gold on one particular end, although the coach wasn’t convinced that the fifth, which was on the line, wasn’t a millimetre over and it was just hard to tell because the paper target on the face of the boss was a ripped-up mess and needed replacing. I swear it was all five though. Maybe.
We started shooting about 6.30pm and kept going until rain and some ominously threatening clouds suggested it was time to pack it in around 8.30pm. If the weather had been better, they’d have stayed shooting until it got dark.
I found that I couldn’t decide what made the bad shots bad. I can feel when a shot it going well or badly before it hits usually, but after it’s hit the red or blue, I can’t decide exactly what went wrong. Am I wobbling? Am I not releasing correctly? Was my string picture different? Was my head not still? Has my draw length changed? Is my anchor not the same each time? I guess this is what makes a beginner a beginner.
After two hours of shooting, and probably shooting more frequently than in the lessons, I noticed I was starting to get a bit tired – whether physically or mentally, I’m not sure. It was a Friday and it’d been a hectic week at work, and I hadn’t shot this much this continuously before, or two nights on the trot, and I was definitely getting worse towards the end of the evening. However, when the girl shooting 30 yards went off somewhere, I decided my last two ends would be on that 30 yard target. I hadn’t missed the boss all night, but now I did. On the two ends I shot here, I missed one arrow each time, and all the other ones hit in the black, except for one that hit the red. So, not great shooting, but the coach seemed to think I’d done alright for first time at 30 yards and at the end of the session.
I tried drawing a 60lb bow. I thought I’d done alright drawing it to full draw, but the coach laughed and said something about wobbling and I guess the Mr Spaghetti thing still applies. This did make me realise, though, that whereas I’ve been thinking of just jumping to a really nice 50 or 55lb bow (like the Slick Stick) and hoping to grow into it, I might be better getting the Buck Trail after all and going for 40lb, so I can work on form and build up my strength over time without too much outlay. Financially not the best option, because I’ll almost certainly be buying something else in 6 months, but it is probably the better choice for improving my skills and also buys me a lot more time to think about what I really want. Gosh, I’ve almost made a decision here. That said, there was some talk of there being second hand bows available through the club, which would be a way of buying a used bow that was reliable (unlike buying second hand online where I wouldn’t know if I was getting a good bow or a good deal or not).
So, the next session is next week, but before then I’m off to do what I’m told is the last 3D session of the season. This will, I am informed, involve running around a forest shooting 3D polystyrene animals (and trying to find my arrows). I’ve kindly been invited into one of the groups from the club so I can be shown the ropes as we go round. I’m excited about this. Provided I can find the place with my sat nav.