July field shoot

Having not properly shot in a while, I was apprehensive about this field shoot. However, I knew, at the same time, it would be good fun. There was just six of us and we set out about ten targets and enjoyed the morning, shooting in the sunshine.

I lost two arrows on the first end, but found them later. After that I got back in the swing of it and shot much better. Although, I did lose one arrow completely in a bog. While I was looking for it, the others were shooting a target spinning from a rope. It was a block with one side – the scoring side – painted white. Unfortunately, they were filming and when I joined them and I managed to shoot just about the worst I ever have. Forever my wildly shot arrows ricocheting off tree trunks will be preserved for posterity. 

One particularly amusing home made target… 

The experience reignited my enjoyment of archery. Can’t wait for the next one, which should also include a barbecue! 

Field Shoot

Got to try my new 40lb hybrid longbow out today at a field shoot. It was the inaugural shoot of a new private enterprise and great fun, around 18 of us trying out a new course in a new place. The course will change each time and hopefully it will grow and develop and acquire all the creature comforts one might want, not least hot tea and coffee dispensers for the lunch break.


Here was quite a tricky shot, not because of the big horizontal branch but because of the thin one across the centre of the target. I hit that en route to the target and my arrow ricocheted off and into a tree.

Here’s another shot…

Didn’t too well there…

I started the day with 12 arrows and ended it with 8. I’m told that’s not unnormal for a beginner doing field archery, and I am still only 9 days after finishing the beginners’ course. I forget this sometimes! Was reminded today when my coach scored over 800 to my score of 270, despite several people saying that was good considering my lack of experience. Also, I didn’t come last in the adult male category, amazingly! (And I forgot to score two ends, although there’s a chance that’s because I was looking for arrows and they’d have been blanks anyway.) Anyway, I lost a couple and broke a couple more.

Of course, the important thing is to have fun, and it certainly was. There were some tricky shots and it’s surprisingly fun just trying to hit a thing strapped to a tree 40 or 50 yards away.

For me, I found that the shoulder burn of last night’s club session was gone and pulling the 40lb was easy and my release is a lot better using it. I almost wish I’d gone heavier, but remembering that everything advises that a lighter weight is better for developing form, I’ve probably got the right thing. The bow shoots well, and sometimes I get some great shots. Unfortunately, I’m inconsistent. As with the last field shoot, I was worse in the afternoon. I’m not used to these day-long events out in open air! I was definitely tiring after lunch and probably my draw was weaker.

But the main problem is now anchoring and aiming. I can aim, but I think I mess it up by altering my anchor, but I also don’t feel my anchor works all the time. Or maybe they both work but I’m not holding my head the same way each time. I feel like only a lot of target shooting on the range can solve this, because I need to just keep shooting the same distance until I work out what the effect of each alteration I make is, such as where my anchor is, how I attach my anchor to my face, how I look down the arrow, and so on.

What did I learn today? In truth, what I learnt was that I love my bow and it’s right for me, even if I can’t shoot it perfectly yet.

Also, I got a stick. Inordinately pleased with this. Hopefully the next time you see it, it’ll be a bow rest and I’ll have saved £50.

Also, the other bow rest I found on eBay arrived. I might do this up and make it a bit smarter. Very pleased with it though. Ideal for balancing my bow on when it’s got to sit behind the line on the range repeatedly.

Closed for travel…

Open for use…

And one piece of advice was shared with me today: bracers are for strapping back loose clothing, not to stop the string twanging your arm. Possibly said tongue in cheek.

3D Field Shoot

What a brilliant day! Bright warm sunshine, lush green forest, 18 polystyrene animals, and a swathe of archers from different clubs. It may only be two days since my first club session, and four days since my last beginners’ lesson, but I’d got myself invited to this 3D field shoot and absolutely loved it. Hard to imagine a better day out. £5 for the event, including free tea and biscuits, and £2 for a bacon bap. That was the cost of a whole day running around the forest shooting at entertaining animal targets (triceratops, anybody?) and loosing 108 arrows.

An ecologically dubious polar bear, and then again from the shooting line.

I was still using the 26lb recurve from the club. I had my five fat Easton aluminium arrows from the club and quickly got given one out of an “unclaimed” bin full of arrows so I had a full complement of six. Just as well because someone shot through the middle of one of mine that was stuck in the target. At lunchtime I grabbed a load more. The mish-mash of arrows didn’t do much for my accuracy, but they did give me a fighting chance where a lack of arrows wouldn’t have.

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The first shot I had to take was 40 yards. I’d only just managed two ends on 30 yards at the club last time, so this was a bit worrying. But my first shot hit the turkey and I got a cheer. I knew I’d be OK after that.

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Can you see the turkey and the coyote?

We shot from coloured markers. The two juniors with us shot from a closer yellow marker. We worked our way around the 18 animals. This was just the most fun day out you can have.

Lunch was a bacon bap and then we went round the same course again. There was a patch of rain for a couple of targets and I was tiring, so my afternoon scores weren’t so good. It was 5 points for a wound, 10 points for a kill shot. I scored 220, which I was told was pretty good for a first timer, especially one who had literally just started archery. (The men’s barebow winner got over 500).

The score sheet shows the first column (the morning) and the second column (the afternoon). You can see I missed more in the afternoon. There was a couple of targets I couldn’t hit because with a 26lb draw weight I just couldn’t reach them. If I’d been able to aim high I might have managed it, but I’m not used to that and there was generally tree branches in the way, so I just aimed for the target and watched as the arrow sank, fell short, and landed in the mud.

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Speaking of mud, there’s always something new you learn that you wouldn’t have thought of if not for having the experience first hand at these things. One of the best bits of kit was a small square towel hanging from a person’s belt by the metal hoop in it. What use was this small towel? Ideal for cleaning arrows that have missed and become embedded in the mud or boggy ground before they go back in your quiver.

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Crocodile in boggy mud.

I accidentally left my tab in my pocket and shot with bare fingers in the morning. I found this alright and I think it made me more accurate. In the afternoon I shot with a glove, which made me less accurate, I felt, but did give my fingers a break. I tried going back to bare fingers but it felt a lot tougher than in the morning, so I stuck with the glove.

At the end, I realised that a lot of people could win medals simply by being pretty good but also in a category where there’s very little competition. For example, female traditional archers would have had a lot less competition than male barebow shooters. Not that I expected to win anything first time out, but after some reflection I think I decided that I’d rather just keep shooting for myself, with a view to the long term goal of becoming a better archer, than worrying about sidling into a category with few opponents where I might win a medal.

It’s true what they say: you’ve got to get the bow that you want, one that makes you happy. I just don’t think you’d stick to any sport if you’re not really doing what you want to be doing. There can be no point in picking a bow just to end up in a less competitive category.

I met a guy who had bought a 35lb bow a year ago when he started shooting. It was too heavy for him. So he bought a 30lb bow and now, a year later, having got stronger, is able to use the 35lb one properly. I tried his 35lb one and held it comfortably at full draw for 10 seconds or more, prompting the coaches I was grouped with to suggest I get a 40lb bow but no higher. So, now I know what to get. I’d be quite happy with a 40lb bow for six months at least, I’m sure. There’s a new hybrid bow just become available at our local archery shop and perhaps that, at about £135, might serve as an alternative to the Buck Trail. He seemed to think a person increased their draw strength by about 5lb a year, but obviously this must be highly subjective. Everyone is different and their practise schedule will also be different. But the point is, I can buy a Slick Stick in 6 months or a year if I want to, or just wait. The only rush is that I’m eager to move away from the club equipment and have a decent number of arrows, matched to me and my bow, to try shooting properly with.

Everything else being said, what I really learnt today was that I’ve found a fantastic and enjoyable way to spend a day out in beautiful scenery with great people. The archery almost comes second to that.