Photo of archers gathering before the start

Shoot Report – Harlequin Valentine Fun shoot – February 2023

Harlequin Valentines day shoot

This is the first shoot report I’ve written from the perspective of a competing archer in several years and to be honest I think I’m as rusty in writing this as I was in shooting Harlequins open course the other weekend.

Joy preparing to shoot
Joy preparing to shoot

Situated in the Midlands, Harlequin host several competition shoots throughout the year and this was to be their Valentine Day fun shoot. Initially the organisers had set this as a 36 target course, though this was increased to 40 targets due to the numbers wanting to book in.

Sharon preparing to shoot a 2D lynx
Sharon preparing to shoot a 2D lynx

I’d forgotten how long a NFAS competition day it can be. We started shooting at 10.30 and were not finished shooting until 4.30 pm, leaving the site a little after 5.30pm.  Of course, the day started much earlier with us packing the car for the hour-long drive to get there just after 9. This allowed for registration, breakfast, warm up etc.

We started on target 19 with Joy, an old Briar Rose club member, joining us for the day.

Joy shooting 3D blue frog
Joy shooting 3D blue frog

Starting on target 19 meant we would shoot over 20 targets before stopping for lunch break when we got to target 40.

The Harlequin’s grounds are set in a mixed deciduous woodland, with areas of thick rhododendron bushes, which were used at times to hide distances of the shots. In fact, there was some really clever use of vegetation to create areas of dead ground on a few shots. All the targets were 3D or large 2D targets, though I think the standing bear could do with some TLC repairs.

View from red peg of large 3d bear between trees
View from red peg of large 3d bear between trees
Zoomed in on the large 3d bear between trees
Joy shooting from blue peg

To be honest I think this is likely to be something several clubs are going to have to be doing as prices of 3D targets are ever increasing.

I’ve shared this next observational feedback already with Harlequin organiser and it concerns their peg placements for cubs and junior archers. There were some shooting pegs set way too far back or worse still behind obstacles that adults could easily see over but anyone under 4ft tall couldn’t. It’s a simple oversight, especially if the club doesn’t have many junior or cub archers.

To be fair to Harlequin they are supportive of juniors as there was no entrance fee for them and all who attended received a Harlequin keyring, no matter what they scored.

Black bear 3D seen from the red peg
Black bear 3D seen from the red peg
Showing Zoomed in photo of the bear between trees
Zoomed in on the bear between trees

As for other parts of the course, there were some cleverly framed shots between trees, though I do feel there were a few shots I felt were stretched like the 3d tortoise. A target little over 10 to 12 inches in height and width, set at a distance beyond 20 yards is pushing it in my view. Maybe that is just my inexperience talking, though Sharon broke an arrow on this as hit it and deflected off into boss, snapping in half.

They weren’t doing normal prizes, instead there were handmade couples trophies for sighted, unsighted and mixed pairs.

Wasp pegs – I’m a big fan of using wasp pegs for sighted compound and crossbow archers. When used correctly they offer the opportunity for the course layers to give archers in those classes a challenge, with smaller windows etc. Personally, I feel if a club is setting a course and using wasp pegs I think the pegs should be present for all targets. That way you get used to seeing them and not walking to red and then realise there is a wasp further back. Even if on some shots the wasp pegs are next to the red, it means you know they are on every target.

Personal performance or lack of.

Over recent weeks I’d worked hard to build strength back to enable me to shoot. The week prior to Harlequin I had been able to shoot my 38lb recurve for the first time in nearly 3 years and had chosen to shoot this for the competition in hunting tackle class. I think in hindsight I’d have been better shooting the 30lb flatbow. I kept misjudging distances and I think that’s partly down to good course laying on some shots and partly down to being an instinctive shooter who has not been shooting much with the bow. After all I was shooting a faster bow of different poundage so arrow flights are different. I know I need to spend more time and hone my instincts with shooting the bow. I don’t see that being a quick process and it’s fair to say it has given me a lot to process and think about over the next few weeks.

It was nice to see people again, many of whom I’ve lost touch with in recent years. Joy was great company all day, keeping our spirits up. It was only when speaking to a few, explaining how poorly I’ve been over last 12 months I realised how out of touch with people and things I am. As I said earlier, it’s given me a lot to think about.

Thanks for reading.

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