Despite this I still enjoy being out and about, seeing how the woods change over the months, from the first signs of bluebells poking out of the earth to the jungle of green ferns that have appeared almost overnight.
As the seasons change so do the habits of the wildlife and your chances to see them.
Each Saturday when we get to the wood I walk the course, partly as a safety check for fallen branches and to see if target faces need replacing. It gives me the chance to see wildlife too before the wood is filled with the sounds of archers and arrows. I often see a selection of animals and birds going about their business. Last week I disturbed a fox who looked somewhat surprised to see me appear from behind a tree, before he retreated down the hillside.
The other Saturday I was walking along one of the lower paths when I spotted a grey squirrel some 25-30 feet away heading straight down the path towards me. Standing perfectly still I let it approach, wondering how close it would come before it realised that I was there. I’m guessing it couldn’t recognise me as I was wearing my old army surplus camouflage jacket. It came up to a couple of feet and sat there looking at me. What was it thinking? Maybe it was trying to work out if I was a threat or just on oddly shaped bush?
After a few moments it must have decided I was no threat and to move on so hopped within inches of my feet onto the moss-covered perimeter stone wall of the wood and then it was gone. This was a really magical moment for me, to have the opportunity to be so close to animal as to see the individual strands of fur and the colours of their eyes as they look straight at you.
I so wanted to reach for my phone and record the encounter but knew if I moved it would spot me and disappear. So archery can be far more than just shooting a few targets
I’m sure anyone who enjoys field archery has similar stories to tell of their encounters. Thanks for reading