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.

New Toys

A jaunt down to the archery shop and I’ve got myself a Gomby long arm guard and a Buck Trail glove. These should do the trick for the meantime… the arm guard should help my butchered left arm repair itself, and the glove should, with luck, resolve the problems I’ve been having with the tab.

Also got myself a few replacement arrows. Different colour fletching to the ones I have, but when you’re buying £5 arrows without notice I guess you just take what you can get. The rate I’m going through them, I’ll need new ones in a month anyway. 

I asked about cresting and was told the best masking tape to use is Frogtape, which is what I had been using, so that was good. I asked how to get the edges sharper and was told this was done by covering them with a thin line made using a pen, like this one:

And the trick to getting those covering/border lines to look sharp is to attach the pen to something fixed, like a workbench, then rotate the arrow when in contact with the pen nib. The way to stop it wobbling is to make sure the arrow point is touching something steady as you rotate the arrow.

To anyone with any crafting skill this might seem like an obvious solution, but I’m not that person, and pleased with having learnt something.

I was also advised that I could using sanding sealer on the arrow, to clog the pores before applying varnish to finish it off, or Danish oil.

Eventually, I’ll try these things.

Now to read the latest Bow International magazine, which I also picked up. No archery today, next session is tomorrow.

My bow

The worst thing about being a beginner is: the cack-handedness you display in front of a professional when testing a bow you’re completely unfamiliar with, in a range that’s shorter than you’re familiar with. Like, in the shop where you’re buying your first bow.

Good news, though. I can ditch the club’s 26lb recurve and dodgy arrows, as I now have my own. 

So, I went to the shop and already knew what bow I wanted. More on this later. I tried it out with some arrows and shot pretty badly. As I said, bit of an unusual high pressure situation compared to usual, and a poundage much higher than I was used to. It didn’t help that the three finger (not split) tab only arrived this morning so it was literally the first time I’d used it and, I realise tonight, I wasn’t holding it optimally as it’s slightly too long in the finger for me. I might need to cut it back. 

I then held a measuring arrow in place a couple of times and determined a draw length of 27″, and then tried again with a very light bow and it was the same. Interesting to learn this about myself. It’s a bit weird thinking if I hadn’t taken up archery I’d never have learnt my draw length. It’d be like going through life and never knowing your shoe size, or something. 

I then chose some cheap wooden arrows. £5 a pop and I asked for field tips. I bought 12.

I also got some blue Goblin Snot, which is paint for cresting the arrows, with a view to having a go at that. I wanted to personalise them just enough to identify them as mine. My thinking was, if I make a mess of it then, well, who cares? They’re my first set, pretty cheap and I can chalk it up to experience.

I also bought a leather quiver which can be worn on the hip or back and a matching leather bracer. To some extent these are fashion accessories, since cheap plastic and nylon alternatives are readily available and perfectly functional, but… what can I say? They look great. 


Of course, I also had to buy some wax for the bow string, a bag for my bow and a stringer. I had prepared a shopping list and it included a bow hand glove but I was advised this was unnecessary because the bow had a shelf. Of course, the new shape of the bow meant I held it incorrectly and a vane caught my knuckle and sliced a cut in it. I won’t even go into the forearm bruise I have from shooting without an arm bracer under these circumstances!

It was a successful trip and I’m delighted with the bow and the gear. Anyway, back to the bow. To save me the effort of coming up with my own, here’s a description from the Merlin website:

One piece 64″ hybrid bow available from 25lbs to 60lbs increasing by 5lbs with a 7″ brace height. The riser is made of dymond wood with maple limbs and black fiberglass. Comes with a Flemish Dyneema bowstring. The shelf and rest plate are included.

I took a not very good picture, but here it is:

It’s a hybrid longbow, enjoying a shelf and slight reflex-deflex. And… 

And there’s not a lot more to say about that, really. One small step for any archer, one giant leap for this novice toxophilite. It actually felt like Christmas had come early when I left the shop with my first bow. I can’t wait to shoot it tomorrow, weather permitting.

I decided this evening that the stock arrows were a bit too much like a lot of the arrows in the club so decided to give them a one inch blue stripe with my Goblin Snot. 

The first couple weren’t great because I applied too much paint and the masking tape was rubbish and allowed paint to leak through. I switched to Frogtape which worked much better. The lines aren’t as clear as I’d like, but the job is done and I’m happy enough that they’re easily identifiable. And all the better for being personalised in some way.

Despite a few dodgy ones at the start, like the one pictured, by arrow three or four they were looking semi-respectable.

All that’s left now is for me to learn to shoot the bloody things.