Tournament Day

The day before the countywide tournament I had entered, I decided to go to a local archery shop and get some new arrows. It was last thing, after work, and obviously I wouldn’t get to use them until the 6 sighters (practice shots) at the tournament. No sane archer would do that, of course, but having bought two sets of almost identical arrows at my nearest store I couldn’t really see it would be a problem, and as I was down to 5 arrows with green fletching and 3 with yellow fletching, I thought it’d be nice to have one matching set for the competition.

I went to the new store and said exactly what I normally say, basically: “I have an Oak Ridge Ash of 40lb at 28″ but I have a 27″ draw length.” The young lad decided I needed 40/45 shafts with 100g field tips and cut it to 28″. I accepted this wisdom and chatted to the other shop attendant about jigs and fletching.

I bought the arrows (¬£80 for 12) and noticed they sold bow stands. Having failed twice to make a decent one, I thought I’d buy one. I did. It’s great. Such a relief to finally have one. Here it is holding my bow at the tournament. 

Except the point came out the first time I pulled it out of the ground. Since then, I’ve fixed this with some Araldite, but this was to be the least of my problems.

So, on the day of the tournament, I was on site at 9am and helping to set out the perimeter rope, the targets, and latterly the tables and chairs in the function room. It didn’t actually take long. Everyone worked together well and efficiently, as a good club should. I was filled with optimism.

People turned up, about 80 archers and many more attendees, and we all got started. 

I shot my six sighters with the new arrows. 

I was shooting at target 11. The arrows flew towards target 9.

I shot at target 13. The arrows landed near target 11.

They were, if I have this right, way too stiff and were flying wildly off to the left. Adjusting massively simply wasn’t a good option. My six sighters were wasted. I went back to my five green arrows and extra yellow one for the start of the competition and, sure enough, they flew straight. 
Now, I’d only shot at 60 yards on two nights last week as preparation, so I was never going to be great, but as the arrows fell on or around the 60 yard target I at least knew I was in the right ball park, so to speak. Unfortunately, I always missed with the yellow arrow, which was marginally different to the green ones. And then I lost a green one for four ends. So I had two yellow arrows that I always missed with.

So, I was effectively one or two arrows down, and missing plenty of shots anyway. But mostly I was just annoyed about spending money on arrows that were no use and placing my trust in the kid serving me who I felt at the time (hindsight being a wonderful thing) wasn’t really paying much attention or wasn’t sure what he was doing. And this annoyance certainly affected my shooting, although, in truth, not my enjoyment of the day. The sun was shining, people were in a good mood, and I was here to learn what it was all about, not to win or worry about my score. This was the last competition in the tournament (and the one hosted by my club) and it meant that I got to try out this sort of competition surrounded by friends and without any worry. Next year, hopefully, I’ll be able to join in more county shoots without any anxiety about what’s expected of me (in terms of how to behave, timing of shooting, who to speak to, order of shooting, how much cash to bring, etc.). In fact, it was a very relaxed environment. And I stayed until 7.30pm to help with all the clearing up and returning equipment to the usual club lock up.

How did I actually do? (I’ll put aside all the comments about having fun and new experiences.) I shot a ‘national’ round with a bare bow, so that was 8 ends of six arrows at 60 yards then 4 ends at 50 yards. I was awful at sixty. Excuses: mixed arrows and thrown emotionally by my bad purchase, plus only one week’s practice at 60 yards. But I was better at 50 yards and, on the last end, only missed with the yellow arrow. That said, this picture here  was my first shot at the 50… I hadn’t compensated for the lost 10 yards at all!

I scored 101, a fairly pitiful result, although some beginners scored around the thirty mark which makes it less bad, sort of. The worst ever was a mere 8. This year, the winner of my category scored around the 440 mark, so I need to quadruple my score if I want to win one day! If I missed less, this actually wouldn’t be too difficult. I missed on no less than 43 of my shots. That’s 43 arrows that didn’t hit the boss, or if they did they landed right on the edge. I can definitely improve on that with better arrows, a better mindset due to better preparation and having working equipment, and some practice at this distance. (It’s a far cry from the ~30 yard field stuff I’ve been concentrating on.)

Warts and all.

It was a real beginner’s experience. I loved it.

I’ve written to the shop about the arrows. I’ll let you know the result.

But a good thing has come out of that. I’ve been invited to get some bareshafts and try making my own arrows with a really experienced archer. This could be the first step towards me making my own.

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Field shoot and barbecue 

Another private field shoot. Some new faces for this site and a lot of good company. This is what it’s about: being out in the fresh air, in amongst the trees, good company, no pressure, and lots of tricky targets to have fun with.

I shot the course worse than ever before. At the end, while waiting for the barbecue, I found a target and just shot at it. And kept shooting on my own. Somehow, I suddenly got my eye in. It just happened. Partly it was because I suddenly noticed how bad my string picture was. It sounds crazy, but I’d forgotten all about it and so had developed bad habits. Suddenly everything did what I wanted and when a group of us went for the swinging roundel, my first shot looked like this.

I’m still really enjoying field shooting and am looking forward to it all starting up again across the county in October for the winter season. That said, I’m also looking forward to shooting endless ends at 20 yards indoors because I feel the consistency and more rapid frequency of it will help me work on technique.

Managed not to lose any arrows. That’s always a bonus. But I later discovered one had a hairline fracture down it, so I snapped it to take it out of circulation. First time I’ve done that. Felt like ripping a fiver in half. 

I have plans to buy new arrows before the countywide shoot coming up. I have 5 that are the same, and 3 that are the same but not as straight as they could be. Definitely time for some new ones.

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!