Session 3

I thought rain might put an end to any hope I had of trying out my new bow on the range tonight, but fortunately it dried up just in time.

I started on the 20 yards target and after a few ends I wasn’t shooting quite as well as with the 26lb recurve I’d been using, but it wasn’t far off.

I tried the 30 yards and I was on a par with how I’d been with the recurve at this distance. I’m already finding it a lot easier pulling the 40lb hybrid longbow now I’ve had a chance to play with it a bit. 

So, I tried the 40 yard target for the first time and, although I missed one or two shots, by and large I hit it regularly. I won’t pretend there was any accuracy or particular grouping. I was just keen to see if I could shoot these farther distances now I had a heavier bow. 

So, I tried the 50 yard target and I missed a few shots, but a lot of them hit. Quite pleased with that. 

So, I tried the 60 yard target and some of them hit and more than 50% of them didn’t. One sailed way past to what must have been 80 yards. 

The picture shows the one end I shot at 60 yards. What you can’t see is all the ones in the ground next to the boss. 

What did I get from this? Confidence that I can draw this weight comfortably. Confidence I can hit the farther-away targets now. Confidence that with practice and improved aim I will hit those targets where I want to.

Comfortably might be pushing it. I can pull it no problem, but with up to 12 arrows an end I’m firing a heck of a lot more arrows than I was previously and in the same amount of time. After practice, I could (and still can) really feel it in my right shoulder muscles, in a way I haven’t before. It’s a familiar feeling to when I used to do a bit of weight lifting, years ago. I can feel the burn. 

Partly this is thanks to the advice of a regular who said near the beginning of the lesson that I have a good T shape, but my drawing hand was withering away to the side after the shot. I suspect I am still using arm strength instead of shoulder strength a lot of the time.

So, he showed me a thing he’d been taught. You grip one set of fingers around your other set of fingers under your chin, each hand pulling against the other. If you do it enough you can feel your shoulders clenching together and this helps you feel which muscles you should be using, but also when you relax the right hand fingers you get a proper release and the hand slides back as a result of the tension in the shoulder muscles. Once I’d tried this a few times, it really helped me identify when I was using my shoulders and,  for the first time, I found myself  doing a proper and automatic follow-through after release.

Weather permitting, I’ve got a field shoot tomorrow. I just hope I don’t wake up with an aching shoulder. Suddenly I wish I knew more stretches and cool down techniques. 

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