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? 

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! 

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!

Field shoot

Went to a private field shoot this morning. Just 18 targets and finished by lunch. Weather had been wet but dried up nicely as we started, although remained boggy underfoot.

Here was one of the shots, between tree branches… 

Which resulted in this kind of thing…

A lot of the targets were fun to shoot. 

On this one, whatever was scored on the picture of the fox was doubled by hitting the dangling roundel with a fourth arrow. 

It was a fun morning out, but I was also pleased with my progress. I scored more highly than last time I did this shoot, missed an awful lot less, didn’t lose any arrows, and, wonderfully, didn’t smash any. More than anything recently, this has shown me that I am making progress, and having that confirmation is very encouraging.

I was also advised that the brace length of my newish bow had decreased, so by winding the string a few times this was fixed and, in theory, will make it easier to shoot. Presumably this narrowing of the distance between the bow and the string has been happening for some time, hopefully it’s one less thing going wrong from now on. Another lesson learned.

I also had an archer talk me through his method of making arrows. I can’t remember it all, but it didn’t seem too difficult. I’m definitely going to give this a go at some point.

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.