Shoot Report – Draig Goch – Welsh NFAS Championships – July 2016

Archers massing for start of Welsh Championships

Archers massing for start of Welsh Championships

July this year saw the Draig Goch club hosting a two day shoot, billed as the NFAS Welsh Championships. Their hope is to make this an annual event in the NFAS calendar. Apparently there used to be such an event years ago but not recently and it is hoped that this event might rekindle that flame of interest. Let’s hope so.
So this was to be the first NFAS Welsh Championships we’d been to and we were looking forward to it. Partly because of it being a new club that Sharon and I hadn’t visited and partly because of liking the idea of there being a Welsh Championships, on par with the Scottish, 3D and National Championships.
The Draig Goch club is situated in the North Wales countryside not far from the coastal town of Rhyl. The club grounds consist of what appeared to be a beautiful woodland consisting of a mix of broadleaf mature woodland along with some densely packed coppice area.
Sadly the heavy rain over the previous few days caused organisers to rethink the parking arrangements; the original plan was to use a local farmers field. Unfortunately this didn’t work as one marshal discovered when he drove on and promptly became stuck fast in the Welsh mud. Apparently it took them several hours at the end of day one to get his car out. The only solution was to park along the country lane by the shoot ground which didn’t go down well with some locals.
Cars parked down lane.

Cars parked down lane.

Unlike some of the other attendees who were camping or staying along the coast, we were staying a short drive away at my Mam’s house.
Considering it was the first Welsh champs, the event was well attended with approximately 150 archers from all over the country making the trip.

Day one

Saturday would be a long day partly due to the weather and partly due to the holdups on shots, as we waited for the group in front. The day started dry and with the customary booking in and waiting for the start.
If, like me you are Welsh then you expect it to rain, liquid sunshine as I’ve heard it called on several occasions. Saturday this liquid sunshine was present from about midday until the late afternoon. The effect this had was to make a very challenging course even harder. It also slowed the shoot for many, ourselves included. as people took more second or in some cases third arrows.
Sadly it also meant I didn’t get to take as many photos as I’d have liked. So apologies for that, but my phone’s not waterproof. (Note to self, next phone I get needs to be waterproof).
First target on day 1 - small 3D rabbit

First target on day 1 – small 3D rabbit

The course consisted of 40 targets, 38 3Ds and a couple of 2D hessian targets. The shoot didn’t start until quite late in the morning compared to other shoots, being past 11am before we actually commenced shooting our first target. I think they may have been waiting for some late arrivals.
Sharon shooting the large 2D bear

Sharon shooting the large 2D bear from the white peg.

We would start the championships on target 15 a small 3D rabbit set under tree canopy. Our shooting group would be quite small, with just Sharon, myself and a father and son team of Nathan and Harry, shooting freestyle and compound limited.
I’d like to say how much of a pleasure it was to shoot round with these two. Harry should have been shooting form the junior pegs, but instead wanted to test himself and shot every target as an adult. What’s more he got quite a few despite the distance.
After only a few shots we were at catering for our first stop of the day just before mid-day, little did we know that due to delays on the course we wouldn’t get to have lunch until nearly 4 in the afternoon.
very small 3D bat

very small 3D bat

Despite the woodland being pretty flat, it would prove to be a tiring day which I think was partly due to the number walk backs on each shot and partly due to the number of shots you were taking. Due to the distances and target sizes you were often taking 2 or 3 arrows.

Fortunately in late afternoon the weather improved and the liquid sunshine departed and we even saw some clearer weather.
We would eventually finish shooting by 5:45 and I know others were still to come off the course. We headed back to my Mam’s house, taking over her airing room to dry our boots and outer layers in readiness for Sunday.

Day two

Sunday would see actual sunny weather with it being fine and dry all day.
One observation I made on the Sunday morning when watching archers warming up on the practice bosses was that none of them were aiming for the closer targets. All were going for the two furthest bosses whilst on Saturday morning archers were shooting at all of them. Maybe this was an indication of how archers perceived the shoot and there were no short targets. I commented on this to a few and they agreed with my observation and conclusion.
Sharon shooting 3D tortoise from white peg

Sharon shooting 3D tortoise from white peg

The placing from the previous day were posted up by admin for those interested to see how they had fared compared to others.
The course shots didn’t change that noticeably on Sunday with a few peg changes, though the organisers reversed the route round the woods. Not sure if that worked as well as they thought or hoped for.

Harry didn't hit with every shot.

Harry didn’t hit with every shot.

Our shooting group would be the same as the previous day though we started on a different peg.

Nathan shooting 3D crocodile on Saturday across pond

Nathan shooting 3D crocodile on Saturday across pond

Our second shot of the day would be the big bear which was a little closer than the previous day so about 65 yards.

General comments

This was the club’s first attempt at running an event on this scale and I know they put a lot of effort into it. I’ve shared the following feedback directly to the club and event organisers.
Overall I feel there were way too many walk backs on the course; of the 40 targets we shot I think 39 were walk backs on each day (people who were wearing FitBits commented on walking around 7 miles each day). True, there are times you need walk backs due to the access to the shot or for safety, but I didn’t feel it was needed on many of the targets as there appeared to be space for some to accommodate a different walk off. I am guessing they may have done this to make it easier to reverse the course direction on the second day. Having since communicated with the organiser, they confirmed this had been their plan, but it didn’t flow as well they’d hoped.
Group drawing arrows from a black 3D wolf on black background

Group drawing arrows from a black 3D wolf on black background

Secondly would be the use of target bosses behind the 3d targets to catch wayward arrows. Their presence should be applauded and I would love to see them at 3D championships to speed the recovery of arrows. It needs to be remembered that if you are going to use them to catch arrows, they must be secured or staked to the ground, with the wood to the side not the top and bottom.  I know on the second day we spent 15 minutes on one target extracting 2 arrows that had embedded into the wood frame after going under the 3d target. I did hear other archers comment how bosses had fallen when trying to draw arrows. Again this is a learning curve that many clubs go through and can be easily solved in the future.
Probably most importantly were the distances targets were set at. I know it was a championships course so it should be challenging but there is a difference between challenging and stretched for those shooting traditional style bows.
Sunday and dry weather

Sunday and dry weather

Ok so those are my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Agree or disagree as you see fit.  I offer them in support of the event, an event that I feel has so much potential to become an annual championships in a beautiful woodland. As I have said I have written to the organisers directly and given them this feedback and to their credit they have responded, hence more comments.
Sharons arrow in a tree stump, yes she does sometimes miss

Sharons arrow in a tree stump, yes she does sometimes miss

I think it is important to remember that there were many things that worked well so please don’t read this and think it is all negative, because it wasn’t. We got to shoot with a couple of  lovely people and meet up with friends. Catering on both days was effective, very friendly and not overpriced which you sometimes see at shoot. The woods are quite simply beautiful and they have great facilities.

Routes and paths were clear to follow though I didn’t feel swapping directions on the second day resulted in the perceived change they wanted. Maybe in future keeping the direction the same would prove better as the archers would be more familiar with the course route and less likely to become lost or stray.
Sharon on red peg shooting 3D boar

Sharon on red peg shooting 3D boar

All of the marshals we spoke to were friendly and helpful, willing to stop and chat. I really liked the simple slate trophies, maybe that’s the Welsh man in me.

On a very personal and probably patriotic note, I would love to see a Welsh championships thrive in the field archery calendar. Draid Goch have the grounds and I hope the capability to produce a great event in the future.  Ok there are a few things they might want to work on, but that can be said of many shoots. No one gets it perfect first time, that’s why we have a second and third arrow in our quiver.
Sharon shot well, winning ladies AFB and I managed to scrape a 2nd place in gents AFB.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot Report – Wolverine Archers – April 2016

Wolverine Archers - April 2016

Wolverine Archers – April 2016

Last Sunday morning we were packed and ready to head up the motorway to Wolverine Archers shoot, then I remembered. I hadn’t checked the cars tyre pressures and oil levels on Saturday. Oops. Never mind it was only a short delay and as it was we were still some of first archers to arrive. It was also dry and not  promising any rain! I think it is the first time we have shot at Wolverines ground and it’s not rained at some point during the day.
Having said that there was a little mud, well actually quite a lot, which made it interesting getting round parts of the hillside course and in some cases on to and off the parking area. There are times I am very glad we have am old Honda CRV.
The slipping and sliding did cause a number of people to lose their footing and unfortunately one archer was taken away in an ambulance have fallen badly on her side. Good news is she is okay, she does have bruising and fractured rib, but it could have been much worse. I will spare her any embarrassment by omitting her name  but we are all wishing you a speedy recovery. On this point I feel it should be said the ambulance personnel and the club members looked to deal with the situation really well.

Anyway onto the shoot report. I quickly identified  two objectives for the day. Firstly, not to fall and twist my ever troublesome left knee and secondary was to try and hit Kong with my first arrow, a goal I have had since I first shot at Wolverines ground so many years ago. More about Kong later.
Wolverine is always a popular shoot and Sunday was no different, with most pegs being full so over 150 archers in a variety of classes making the journey to just outside Stoke on Trent. If you are interested here is a link to an earlier shoot report from last year.

Sharon shooting a bedded 3d

Sharon shooting a bedded 3d deer

The 40 target course was a mix of 3d and paper faces and I think it is fair to say it was a challenging course especially some of the paper faces which had been set at their upper limits as far as distances were concerned.
We would be shooting with Sarah Bacon (ladies bowhunter) and Martyn Cotterell (gents unlimited) both of whom are excellent shots and from Woodend archery club.

Martyn and Sarah preparing to shoot paper face bear

Martyn and Sarah preparing to shoot paper face bear

My first 10 targets were a disaster with 3 blanks! My head was just not engaging and I was really struggling. I was either hitting with first arrow or missing with all three. It wasn’t until we were coming up to the lunchtime break my brain started to work.

downhill 3d deer

Downhill 3d deer

Due to the terrain Wolverine operate a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:15, though on this occasion it was extended due to the archer falling on her way back to the peg. I think partly due to the slippery conditions it was a slower shoot than normal as people traversed the hillside with care.

Sometimes a wooden arrow can match a sighted compound

Sometimes a wooden arrow can match a sighted compound

So on to the infamous Kong. Kong is Wolverines club signature shot and is a homemade 3D target standing over nine feet in height. Being that tall you would think it would be easy to hit, but it isn’t. The giant of a target is often set out in the open field, making it very hard to judge the distance and even harder for those who miss to find their arrows. Fortunately there are always a couple of marshals stationed nearby to help search for the wayward arrow or two. I think they enjoy watching the archers challenge themselves.
We’d got to the peg late afternoon and watched the two groups in front of us shoot Kong, with the marshals helping them search for arrows. Then it was our turn. Martyn went first and got a fantastic shot, straight in the red heart with  his first arrow, Sarah shot next and got it with her first arrow, this time on the shoulder.

You know it is a long shot when there is a significant delay from a compound arrow being released to you hearing it hit the target. Then it was the wooden arrow turn, being a gentleman I let my good lady go first. This resulted in me seeing Sharons’ first arrow sail through the air and hit it in the leg. So I was the last to go and everyone in group had hit Kong with their first arrow, add we now had two groups in  audience  waiting to shoot Kong after us, no pressure.

Kong - standing at the red peg, its a long way

Kong – standing at the red peg, its a long way

Well nothing ventured. nothing gained as they saw, so I went for it and  let lose watching the arrow fly. After what seemed like ages in flight I saw my arrow appear in Kongs chest. For the first time since going to Wolverine I’d hit it and not only that but it was a good solid hit. Walking up to collect the arrows Martyn stated he’d set his sights at 75 yards. That is actually closer than other  times it has been out at Wolverines grounds.

Kong - standing at over 9 feet tall

Kong – standing at over 9 feet tall

Sharon shot well winning ladies afb with a score that would have got her second in the gents class. Congrats to Martyn and Sarah who both won their respective classes too. Despite my terribly poor start I ended the day with 630 enough to get me a first in gents afb.
I must give top marks to the guys at Wolverine who made sure everyone got off the parking field at the end of the day. Not an easy task considering the condition parts of the field were in. I  know how hard they worked as we were the last non Wolverines members to leave. Nice work guys.
I think it might be a while before our boots manage to shed the mud though, but I did manage to get round without falling, though my knee is twinging a little after all the walking or should I say sliding.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Highcross – April 2015

3D deer shot at Highcross

3D deer shot at Highcross

So Sunday saw us heading south on the motorway to Highcross clubs ground. Though Sharon had shot Highcross once before, it had been at their old wood, so this would be a new venue for us both. It was nice to visit somewhere new as everything is completely unknown.
Fortunately the weather was good, with a slight chill in the air it did feel cooler that earlier in the week. The good weather did mean I was able to get quite a few photos.
Unlike other shoots where there are upwards of 150 archers, Highcross had some 60 archers which made for a relaxing and easy shoot.
Highcross have a lovely wood with a 36 target course set up with targets 1-18 paper faces and 19-36 3d targets. For the shoot they had been able to secure an extra part of woodland which was where they housed the 3D shots.
First target of theday

First target of the day

Personally I’m not sure if I liked the 50/50 split, the 3d targets were really nicely set, well placed and at sensible distances, which gave archers confidence. The paper faces in general weren’t too bad, but I think it would be far to say that some were stretched. In stretched I mean target face being too small for the distance, this was especially the case for the smaller faces. an example of such was our starting one the rabbit. By having them in two halves it could make people feel despondent if they shot the papers first.

Sharon on our second target

Sharon on our second target

Having said this the course was still fun to shoot. The course layers making extensive use of framed shots between trees.
Another framed shot

Another framed shot

Really liked the setting of the capercaillie in the trees, looked very natural. It was lovely to wander round a wood and to hear only the sound of other archers in the distance.

Shot through the tree

Shot through the tree at capercaillie

It was also lovely to see so many primroses in flower covering the ground throughout the woods. Could have been called a Primrose shoot.
Minefield of primroses

Minefield of primroses

 Another great shot was the flying duck, shown below.
The duck shot

The duck shot

Sharon did really well getting a pro kill 24 point shot, the only problem was when you hit it, the target would spin round.
The 3D  duck with Sharon and my arrow in

The 3D duck with Sharon and my arrow in

Our group included Steve and Rae both shooting barebow, with Gerald joining us to walk round with Rae and his dog Two-Bob.
Sharon chatting to Steve

Sharon chatting to Steve

It was a very sociable and relaxed day overall and it was nice to hear positive comments form archers who had attended our shoot the week before.

Rae Shooting at 3D

Rae Shooting at 3D

The day flowed well with no hold ups, maybe because of the lower numbers or simply because it was a good course, along with good catering especially the selection of home made cakes.
Sharon won ladies hunting tackle and I somehow managed a first in American Flatbow.
Think it will be a shoot we will return to, though not sure when their next shoot is.
Thanks for reading