I’ve been pretty slow in writing up this shoot report for the nationals, partly due to work and partly due to not wanting it to come across very negative. Here’s hoping I have succeeded.
The NFAS National Field championship is an annual event bringing together archers from across the country for two days of intensive archery. The events location moves round the country and this year it would be held at the Cornbury Park Estate, Oxfordshire. Here is a link to last years event if you re interested.
The woodland was a mix broad leaf with a few areas of more dense and dark.
As expected for a national championship there was a good level of attendance with just under 400 archers competing in a variety of classes from sighted compounds to longbows. There would be 2 courses, of unmarked distances ranging from a few yards to over 60 yards; with archers shooting one course on Saturday and one Sunday.
This year the format had changed slightly, going back to having targets of all paper faces as it had been when I first shoot the championships several years ago. In recent years there had been a trial of 60/40 split of paper faces to 3Ds. Another change meant we would be shooting a 40 target course rather than 36.
I’ve always been a fan of the nationals, speaking in favour of paper faces, but I have to say I can understand why so many become disheartened when shooting paper targets. When you have to shoot multiple arrows as you aren’t sure if you are in the scoring zone or not it can be very tiring and frustrating. After all, the sound of an arrow hitting a paper face sounds the same as whether your arrow is scoring or not.
On the subject of target faces I have to say I do like the new Phoenix targets that were being used. Unlike the normal ones which are printed on waterproof fabric, these were printed on paper. The images on the faces are of a high definition, the only problem was there were a few too far to make out.
Saturday morning started with a short drive for us unlike some, as we’d managed to secure accommodation in a lovely little bed and breakfast only a few miles away from the venue. It was a clear bright autumnal morning, with a slight chill in the air.
The practise lines was a little cramped as there were only four target bosses available for a warm up shot or two, which made it a bit of a squeeze, especially for the juniors. To be fair to the organisers though when I mentioned this to Harry (NFAS president) he said he’d notice this too and on Sunday there were a couple more target bosses.
Saturday I would shoot B course which had been set by Windrush archers whose grounds a stones throw from the venue (or should that be an arrow flight?)
I have to say I wasn’t feeling great. I’d been off work for a few days feeling like I was coming down with a flu bug, and I was nursing a bad stomach with really bad stomach cramps in the morning to a level I nearly withdrew about an hour in. I have to say how grateful I was to my group without whose support I don’t think I would have got through the day. Thankfully after a little lunch and some pain killers it started to settle down some.
B course had some nicely set up targets making some good use of the slopes and dips to hide dead ground. One target I think is worth mentioning was target 40 and I wish I’d taken a photo as it was one that caught the whole group out, as we all went low.
I liked the fact they had covered the target bosses which worked well, there may have been a few shots close to one another but I felt it was a safe course.
Overall the course flowed pretty well with few hold ups and we were finished by 4:30, which I was grateful for as I was beginning to flag a bit. It was back to the B&B to grab a shower and relax as Sunday would be an early start.
Sunday would be a very early start with registration opening at 7 am and closing promptly at 8 am. I don’t think this early start was appreciated by some of the archers who had to journey from afar. Thankful my stomach had settled down and I wasn’t having the stomach cramps.
There was an announcement on the Sunday at the start clarifying one rule, whereby adult archers can’t walk forward of the red peg prior to shooting from the peg. But once you have shot from the red archers could walk forward to see if they are in the target, walking back to the white and / or blue to take subsequent shots. Personally I’m not keen on this rule as it is open to abuse, but maybe that is a post for another day.
Overall Sunday would be a slower day than Saturday, this may have partly been due to my shooting group being a group of 4 behind a group of 5. This meant we were often catching them up or waiting for them to finish shooting on several targets. Also I think some of the delay was due to it being a tougher course, so archers were shooting more arrows. My shooting group would be different too, but still a good laugh and great to shoot round with Robin. On that note I’d like to say congrats to Emma on her placing, you deserved it, well done.
Unlike B course, A course had been set not by a club but a small group of volunteers. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for volunteering to set this course. Whilst I didn’t agree with the peg positions or sometimes choice of the faces, I do recognise the work involved. Thank you.
As I said the course was quite different in feel to the previous days. There seemed to be more open areas to the woodland and a few slopes and dips offering some nice possibilities for target placement. I think we might have started in the darker part of the wood or maybe the earlier start just made it feel darker.
I know that those archers who normally shoot longer distances coped better on A course, with some preferring it, but I like to be able to see where my arrow lands, but for me it didn’t feel as engaging. I think I have written before that if I find a course or shots interesting I tend to engage and enjoy shooting it, whether I score well or not. I didn’t get that with this course. I’m not a fan of seeing archers walking in the distance behind targets, even if they are 50 yards away or further I find it catches my eye and I become very conscious of over shooting the boss and their movements.
I was shooting with three good bare bow archers all shooting black carbon arrows with small fletchings, not the easiest to see at distance some of the target faces were set at. One in particular I thought was very stretched, a face on turkey face between trees at over 35 yards, with a scoring zone smaller that a dinner plate.
I did speak to one of the course layers about my thoughts and concerns. He commented that the red pegs had been set further back to challenge the compound and sighted archers. I personally don’t think this logic works, but what’s done is done.
It might have helped to had marshals positioned to act as spotters but there was only on one target that had a marshal helping to spot the arrow fall, unfortunately the binoculars he was using weren’t really up to the task.
When you can’t see clearly where your arrow lands in a target, it can be hard to adjust for your next shot. The result of this is in you shooting multiple arrows. This results in archers getting tired, which results in more misses.
I know I have spoken to a few archers about my next observation and it is not specifically targeted at the course layers here but there is one thing I’m not found of when shooting paper faces , which is when the faces are not life size. So a bear or mountain ram at half or third actual size doesn’t feel right to me. Many of the faces were new ones so you aren’t used to the actual size of the target. Maybe having them in or around admin so people could have seen them would have helped. (I found out later that there were small printed versions by the practise area for archers to view, but these didn’t show actual size). Ok so this is sounding more and more about a moan, so I’ll stop there.
I have to say I was disappointed in personal performance and in some ways the course. Not the shots, because some looked very nice, like the hippo in the dip and a bear on the slope but the distances of the shots, especially from the red peg were too far. Not 100% sure that some of the faces used were set at appropriate distances for their size.
I think part of my problem was putting my foot down a hole just after lunch. Of course it would be the leg that I have ligament damage on the knee, so it gradually got more and more painful through the afternoon making it hard to have a stable stance. I’m glad I had one of my walking sticks in the car as I was in need of it by the end of the day.
Wasp peg discussion.
Bit of a tangent from the shoot report but I would like to raise this. I feel the championships could have been the perfect opportunity with the mixed courses for the society to use Wasp pegs for sighted compound and crossbow archers. I know there were a few archers who discussed this at the event with me and who knows maybe it is something for the organisers to consider next time. We have to consider that many attending were not shooting sighted bows and we want to be encouraging people to attend the event not discourage.
Anyway my congratulations to all medal winners and to anyone who survived the two days of competition, they were a couple of tough challenging courses over the two days. Though I am wondering whether I need to head back to Specsavers as some of those targets were hard to see.
It was a bit sad to see so many people leave early on Sunday once shooting had ended, with even more leaving once individual awards had completed and before the team ones were being announced. Maybe it was due to the very early start, the long day of shooting and distance to travel home.
Sharon managed to retain her national title as NFAS ladies flat bow champion, and we managed to win the nearest and dearest again. Another success was for Briar Rose Field Archers as we won the American flat bow team trophy, congratulations to other team members Steve and Tony Parsons. Lee won silver in the gents primitive class too. Sadly I only managed 4th in gents class this year, though in hindsight I think I was just grateful for surviving the two courses between stomach cramps and twisted knee, for those interested my knee has taken about a week to settle down. Special well done to Steve for making it round the two course as he had badly injured his knee in a car accident a couple of weeks earlier.
Thanks to all involved in organising the nationals, from the course layers, car park stewards, catering and of course the now famous admin team (Shirley who did the admin had been in a car accident only a couple of weeks before and despite that did a sterling job) . Hopefully this hasn’t been too negative for you.
Thanks for reading.