Session 19, 20 and field shoot

The nights draw in and the drizzle starts. Had just enough time on these last two outdoor club nights to try the 252 at 40 yards and fail miserably.

However, we had a good Saturday shooting in the field which made up for it. Broke one of my new arrows though. Next time I’m buying carbons.

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Session 18

Thought I’d try my new arrows and further-cut-down tab on the 40 yard 252 challenge tonight. I scored 185. This was actually a bit worse than I scored last time. Crazy! I had a mixed bag of arrows last time.

I scored 199 last time. I guess anyone can accidentally strike a lucky once-off though. 

The other time, when ill, I got 120.

In truth, I only had about two hours sleep last night so I guess that affected performance. At least, I’m pinning my excuses on that.

I’m running out of time to get the 40 yard badge before we go indoors, but I guess it’s not that important. I’ll get a lot of practice and hopefully coaching during the indoor season at under 25 yards. 

My most spectacular shot tonight was through the rope… 

After my failed 252 attempt, I shot a last few ends at the 20 yards before the sun vanished behind dark clouds and the rain started.

Here’s a few pictures. 11 arrows in each.

So, here I have a sort of column of arrows:

Then a gold group, a higher group, and a few lower stragglers:

And here, erm, someone placed a repellent magnet behind the gold, so my perfectly aimed arrows all diverted away to the red. 

I think the last was an ‘I’m tired and I give up’ end. What I’m getting from the other two ends is that my left to right accuracy isn’t too bad, but my draw length is not consistent. I think.

One thing I did notice, though, was that I’d not worn a bracer all night. No need. So, as measures of progress go, I’m past the ‘chopped liver bicep’ stage. That’s something.

Session 16 and 17

Nothing to see here!

Basically thought I’d try the 252 challenge on 40 yards. The rules have changed recently, so I’m allowed 54 shots with barebow to get to 252.

Session 16.  I had my five green arrows and 1 yellow arrow. Bit ridiculous. Thought I’d try anyway. Got 199 in those 9 ends of 6 arrows.

(Also tried shooting a friend’s carbon arrows for one end. Really didn’t tell me or show me anything useful, in truth. At least I can now say I’ve shot carbons.)

Session 17. Sick with a stomach bug all day. Went anyway.  Somehow two nocks got broken in transit to the club. Down to three green arrows and three yellow ones. Totally pointless attempt. Scored 120.

(Also shot some fatter arrows a friend prompted me to try. Flew alright. Again, really didn’t tell me or show me anything useful.)

Picked up my bareshafts, nocks and points that I’d ordered from a club member. Went home and ordered some fletching feathers from the Merlin website. 

As I said, nothing to see here!

Session 12

Decided to spend the evening shooting at the 40 yard boss with a vague view towards doing the 252 challenge on it sometime. 

I still feel like I’m not shooting as well as I did before I slacked off the sessions a bit. Real life gets in the way. 

One of the club’s coaches offered some advice, saying I was shooting fine but for my release which was lazy, dropping, and not following through. We also had a discussion about tuning arrows again. Definitely something I’d like to do. It’d involve buying all the bits I need, and I’m not eager to spend more than I have to on archery at the moment, especially after forking out for some clothing. But, mostly, it’s a matter of time and opportunity.

Anyway, tonight the grass was a little longer than usual and much of my evening was spent with this view… I am an arrow hunter (someone who hunts for arrows, not hunts with them). I like to joke that I have two hobbies: archery and metal detecting. It’s unclear which is the dominant one.

Going back to my sloppy release, another comment my coach made was that he thought my 40lb bow could do with being a bit heavier now. I had noticed the symptoms myself. Just like the club’s 26lb recurve I’d used at first, I find myself standing at full draw and aiming for a while, until my draw length eventually starts to reduce, or I’ve wobbled out of all possible chance to aim properly (reminiscent of my beginner nickname: spag bol, because inner body strength of a wet noodle). Same problem. Different bow.

There was also some discussion about stance. As the bow is canted clockwise slightly, why not lean forward at the waist slightly and tilt your head that way too, so the bow and your body and head line up? Works for barebow shooters, but not so much for me trying it yesterday. Hence the metal detector. 

In other news, I got given a free club polo shirt, with the club logo on, by a fellow member. Pretty chuffed about this, as there’s a heritage shoot coming up and I want to be recognisably from my club. 

I also paid for a club hoodie and also a hoodie for the private shooting club I’m part of (see last blog post). It’s an inclusivity thing.

Also know now my first two 252 badges are on their way. Baby steps, eh? 

Session 8

Decided to try the 252 challenge at 30 yards this time. 

It took me 49 of the possible 72 shots, which isn’t particularly impressive, and slightly worse than it could have been due to some blustery wind during a couple of ends, but I’m pleased to have done it. 

I should have stopped there. I thought I’d practice on the 40 yard, but after a couple of late nights (last night watching the election), I was shattered and a twinge in my back muscle was telling me to give it up. I fired off a few ends of terrible shots and shattered two arrows. Fortunately,  that was the sign it took to tell me I’d had enough and I stopped.

Two more arrows bite the dust.

Session 7

Tonight I decided to score my shots and see if I could get the necessary score of 252 on the 20 yard target to qualify for the first badge available.

I had not shot for a week due to a holiday, although I’ve come back to find the session I missed was cancelled due to rain anyway. In fact, tonight’s session was quite short because rain eventually stopped play, but fortunately not before I had a chance to do my scoring. 

I’d made myself a little scoresheet knowing that each end was 6 arrows. Potentially I could shoot 12 ends like this. That’s 72 arrows to score 252 points. Shooting at the target, gold is 9 points, red is 7, blue is 5, etc. 

I adopted my stance. I tried to emulate the relaxed technique from last week. Bow arm not too stretched, fingers somewhere just short of a deep hook on the string, anchor point being my index finger at side of mouth, and I shot off my first few practice rounds. It all went well, but the arrows were all a bit high, hitting the black and white above the gold. I realised my anchor point, when connected with me aiming the arrow point at the gold, works at 30 yards not 20. I was going to do the 252 challenge at 20 yards because it’s the first of the badges and I didn’t want to attempt something too much in advance of my abilities at this stage. So, I briefly considered facewalking but it seemed unnecessary and too risky a strategy, so I just aimed for the black ring below the gold. Sure enough, this got me 3 straight golds at one point. And it worked. On the whole, it worked. But I still had the odd wonky end, and the odd errant arrow. I felt something was developing this week, though, and it was a sense of knowing what I was doing wrong. A lot of arrows died on the shooting line and I let the string down gently and then set my position a second time before shooting. I still occasionally twisted the string, or overextended my bow arm, but it was the odd shot where I had no idea what I’d done wrong that was really annoying. On the other hand, there were times when the bow felt like air and the string just disappeared and I knew the shot would be true as I released.

First end, I scored 9, 7, 7, 7, 7, 5. Looking at the scores for each end, this is typical for me. First shot is great, then they get worse over time. (Obviously it looks like this when I score, because I score from the inside of the target face outward, but genuinely this is the pattern for what happens unless I really pull it together somehow near the end.) I think either my conviction or my energy or my confidence flags. Not sure which, or why. I’m hoping practice and more practice is the solution to this. 

Anyway, I got to 252 in 40 shots, so well clear of the potential 72 available. Not a stunning achievement, of course, but another small step in the right direction for me. And it was fun doing it. Next time, I might try 30 yards.

All this didn’t actually take very long. It was only 7 ends, after all. So, I took myself off to join a couple of the guys who were shooting at 80 yards for a bit of fun. One of them was shooting compound, one same as me: barebow –  hybrid longbow. I watched him shoot at the sky and decided I was going to try facewalking again, since I would need to shoot above the target anyway, but felt shooting as high as he was was unnecessary. I held the anchor under my chin which is what worked for 50 yards (I think) a while back, then went above the target, using a nearby rugby goal post in the distance to measure how high I was going and whether this had a positive result on where the arrows landed. Basically, I missed completely with ten arrows on the first end, then got one in the blue on the second, one in the red on the third, then three in the white/black on my last end. Then rain stopped play.

I actually felt like, given time, I could just as easily get good at 80 yards as at any other distance. It was just a bit of fun, though, and although some people say it’s a bad idea to try this (“don’t go home on a low”) I actually really enjoyed it and, also, how can one fear 30 or 40 yards when you know you can hit 80 yards on your first ever attempt roughly as well as at least one person who has been shooting for years and makes their own arrows?

Here’s my three at 80 yards. I’m only slightly ashamed to say that the one in the leg is also mine!