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.

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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!

Sessions 13, 14, 15

I’m grouping these together as they were somewhat uneventful. Session 13 I shot 40 yards for a bit, then, for fun, had a go at the 100 yards just to see if I could. I shot ten arrows and hit with the tenth (to a cheers from the line of watching archers, not without a sense of humour). Here’s one that sailed on past to about 140 yards, which is encouraging because at least if a clout session comes round I’ll feel I can have a go. 

Sailed past the 100 yards

The good thing about the longer distances is that the arrows are easier to find. At 40 yards they bury themselves flat in the short grass and are a bugger to find. 

[At this point, before session 14, there was a field shoot, but that’s to be another post.]

So, session 14 was all about 60 yards. There’s a countywide competition coming up hosted by my club and I’m taking part for the fun of it. Most of it is about shooting 60 yards, I’m told. So, I thought I’d try this distance again. I did give 60 yards a go a while back but at the time it seemed like the hundred yards does now – some comical distance to be shot only for fun and left to the compound and recurve shooters.

I might have hit the boss once or twice, which ain’t great in an hour of shooting ends of nine arrows (why nine? That’s all I have left after losing and smashing the rest!) 

So, session 15 I was back and earlier. An hour and a half on the 60 yards. This time, a bit better. Getting used to it. 

Advice from person A: don’t point at the sky, you’ve no reference point, move your anchor from the side of your mouth to under your chin. 

Person B: You need to split fingers, three under will make you shoot low. Use a glove, not your tab. 

Person C: But some people say… 

And I tried all their variations and decided to stick with what I knew. Three under. My tab. But actually the anchor under the chin does work for me just to get the height I need with the 40lb bow at 60 yards. 

Person D watched my shooting. Still a bad release but in part because I hold the string too close to the arrow and sometimes touch it. I hadn’t realised. I was doing that back during my beginner course. Have I learned nothing? Also my release is sometimes sloppy and sometimes fine. Need to concentrate on using back muscles, which I suspect I don’t as much as I should. Obviously a heinous error. As is adjusting my bow grip during the drawing process – how did I get so many bad habits after just a few weeks of less practice? 

He also talked me through bending at the waist, not angling the bow or my arms differently. The others points were error correction, but this was the first time I was really understanding this. It made the whole thing easier and my accuracy improved. But also I relaxed. He pointed out I was straining my neck at times before doing this. 

Probably fluke, but it’s great when one goes where you want it to (60 yards)

One of the things I’d realised in a previous week was that when I just relaxed I shot much better. Somehow, finally, I had got back to where I was when things were going alright. Sure, I’m not as good at 60 as 30, but I’m getting better. 

Unfortunately, no more practice before the competition. Not that it matters. I’m going mostly to experience it as a new thing, help out where I can, and fling a few arrows in the process. Apparently there’s cake.

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 11 – taster session

Storm clouds were brewing tonight and I decided to attend the session without my bow or arrows. This wasn’t a completely arbitrary decision. I had signed up to help a few of the coaches with a taster session for beginners. Rather than having people go straight into a paid-for archery beginners’ course, they were invited to come and shoot a few ends at 10 yards to see if they liked it. We had the new club gazebo out, which looked smart and kept the drizzle off. As it happened, the rain subsided and the threatening clouds never unloaded their contents.

Not being a coach, I wasn’t in a position to do much else than chat to the newcomers as they waited for their turns. We had little idea how many would come, but in the end I counted 19, which was great. And they’d heard about it from a poster in a supermarket and from our website, not from the paid-for advert in the newspaper, so that’s a lesson learned. My role was mostly ball boy, collecting club arrows every so often and sorting them back into matching sets. But I enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm of the beginners and talking to them. It was good tonic. I was glad not to have brought my kit and been sucked off into the normal swing of the club. Seeing everything through their fresh eyes reminded me about how incredible archery is and what I love about it. It reminded me how fun it is, how exciting new bows are, how enjoyable it was learning all the terms and techniques and equipment, how much enjoyment can be got from just flinging arrows.

One newcomer paid for their entry onto the course tonight. All round, the experience was positive and good for the club. I was glad to have been there to help.

I think I’d been taking things too seriously, probably because I shoot with folks who’ve been shooting for 7+ years and feel the need to ‘catch up’. Also, it doesn’t help having a work colleague who professes to be exceptionally good (but has yet to prove it while I’m around). I’m not much fond of non-evidenced one-up-manship!

Anyway, the other positive outcomes of the night were that I ordered a hoodie for the private venue that I’ve been shooting at, which will have my nickname “Spag Bol” on it, and booked into their field shoot for Sunday, which will hopefully get me back into the swing of things.

Session 10

Not getting much time to shoot at the moment, and it has taken me a week to write up this session. Basically, confidence was a bit low after the last shoot where everything had gone wrong, so I decided just to stick to the 20 yard target this time. I was definitely rusty! Nowhere near as good as my shooting during my attempts to get the 252 badges a few sessions before,

I found that every end, I got my first arrow right in the gold, and then everything else veered off to the right. It was very odd.

After a while I missed a shot and that was when I packed up, because I thought: I missed at 20 yards, must be getting tired, time to go before I break arrows.

I also had a little play at shooting with both eyes open, and at first it seemed to make no difference but then I got steadily worse. No idea what that tells me, really. Didn’t get much from this session.

Work was busy, home life was busy… probably my mind just wasn’t on it.

Session 9

Little bit late writing this up, but it’s been a busy week. 

Terrible session, really. Stuck to 30 yards target the whole time. Had a couple of good ends, but mostly the evening was a disaster. No two shots were the same. Endless arrows sailed past the boss. Smashed an arrow on the boss’s feet. 

I also had an aching bow arm elbow, possibly from pulling so many deeply embedded field tips out of the boss.
It would be nice to offer some redeeming element or lesson taken away, but there is none. It was a dispiriting session. And the field shoot I was meant to go on the day after? I had to cancel. And I missed another session because it was just too damn hot and after a day at work in the heat I’d had enough.

I also think I’m going to have to reduce how many session I attend. The initial impetus has been exciting but as real life gets in the way, there’s other priorities that can’t be left ignored.

Hopefully the next post will be a bit more positive!