New shooting style proposal – traditional bowhunter here’s some thoughts

Tree canopy in the autumn

Tree canopy in the autumn

As many of you know I shoot in the NFAS (National Field Archery Society) and each year it offers its members the opportunity to put forward proposals for new rules or ideas.  This year one proposal which has been put forward by members is for a new shooting style, that of “traditional bowhunter”

In essence this is shooting a non compound bow with carbon or metal arrows, off the shelf, with no sights, button, stabiliser, and using feather fletchings .

This differs from the exiting NFAS bare bow class by the stipulation of shooting off the shelf of the bow (not allowed to use a rest or button) and use of feathers for fletchings . Full description of the new class is below, please note that this is an expanded version to that shown in the NFAS magazine as it includes changes and suggestions on wording the prospers have received to date.

“Traditional Bowhunter

A bow of any draw-weight, but not a compound bow or crossbow, may be used.

The bow must be shot from the shelf or hand, No sight, rest, or button of any description can be used.

Only one nocking position is permitted (which may be indicated by nocking points both above and below the arrow). No other knots or attachments in addition to the string serving (excluding silencers), that could be used for sighting or location purposes, are allowed.

One anchor point must be maintained throughout the shoot with the index finger on the nock, be it split finger or 3 under or thumb loose. Face walking and string walking are not permitted. No draw-checks of any kind are permitted.

No external stabilisers are allowed (this does not include bow quivers that attach to the side of the riser, be it by bolts or limb grippers).

If a Bow Quiver is used, arrows must be free from deliberate markings that could be used as a sight. Arrows may be decorated with cresting, but cresting may not extend further than 2 inches in front of the feathers. If crested, when using a bow quiver, arrows must be tip first into the quiver to ensure cresting cannot be used for sighting purposes. No form of release aid is permitted. No deliberate marks can be added to the bow or arrow that can be used for aiming. Arrows shafts must be of non-wooden and non-bamboo materials, fletched with natural feather.

The handle may incorporate a cut-away of any depth to provide an arrow-shelf and the shelf may have a protective cover. Olympic recurves that have been altered to shoot from the shelf are permitted, but all attachments such as clicker screws and additional bolts/screws that are not required MUST be removed.”

Presently archers wishing to shoot this setup in the NFAS have to compete in the bare bow class this being largely dominated by Olympic style recurves with metal risers, buttons, stabiliser etc. Though the use of metal riser is not entirely the case, as some of the best archers in this class actually use wooden risers but all those have adjustable buttons and arrow rests.

This style of setup of bow appears to be very popular at present with a number of archers, both in the UK and overseas. I wonder whether part of the appeal with archers is the simplicity of the set up to that of the Olympic style, while others archers are less keen on shooting wooden arrows so would rather use carbon arrows for their consistency and durability.

Since the proposal was mooted in the last edition of the NFAS magazine I’ve had a few people ask my thoughts and I’ve spoken to several that are both for and against the proposal. The society’s Facebook group along with the members’ only web-forum has been quite active on the topic too.

Some people have asked why a new style is required as people wanting to shoot this set-up can shoot under the existing barebow rules, others have been less friendly saying they see the introduction of this class as simple as medal chasing (a little unfair I feel)

There are 10 shooting styles in the NFAS at present that cover just about all possible set ups from English longbow to compound unlimited (that’s compound bow, with release aid, sites, stabilisers and the kitchen sink, yes that is a joke)

Some archers seem to feel there are enough styles already, with others complaining that at the large shoots / events the prize giving already takes too long with all the awards.

One archer and reader of this site had a word with me at a recent shoot and pondered this  thought.

“I do wonder whether the creation of this class will eventually cause the demise of HT and possibly AFB as new archers are drawn to the ease of shooting with carbons. Could the art of making a good wooden arrow die out? Worth considering maybe?”

I’d like to think there is always going to be an appeal of shooting wooden arrows. Though I do think that newbies will want to shoot carbons as they give a better performance than woods or metals, along with being more durable and comparatively inexpensive, an important factor in an economy where money is scarce.

I wonder whether some of the appeal of the new style is also to do with the restrictions that the NFAS place on some current styles that limit the archers. The AFB or American Flatbow class is one that has been mentioned as under the NFAS to be able to shoot in this class the bow must not have any reflex /deflex; being one continuous curve. Also the shelf must be must short of centre, if cut to centre then it can’t be used in the class. This has resulted in a number of manufactured bows being classed “illegal” in AFB and have to be shot most commonly in Hunting Tackle.

What affect will a new style have? I’m not sure

  • Would it confuse newbies to the hobby? No I don’t think it will confuse them, if introduced carefully and clearly.
  • Will it increase the numbers at shoots? I doubt that as most shoots I attend are limited by the number of available places, and few are ever fully booked out. You might have individuals from other societies being more willing to give NFAS a go.

My personal view point

Ok, so first thing is a little thing really but I’m not a fan of the name “traditional bowhunter”. I see traditional as being wooden arrows not carbon. But in fairness this is entirely personal viewpoint. In fairness to the guys proposing this they did open up a Facebook poll with different name options and Traditional bowhunter was the favourite.

I can see why they’d like a distinction between shooting a bow with button, rest etc. and one shooting off the shelf. I guess you could argue this already exists with the American Flatbow class in the NFAS, which you have to shoot off the hand or the bow shelf and not a rest, but with wooden arrows only.

I find it interesting that there is a section on bow quivers included in the proposal. I can understand why they have included as they are very popular for those shooting in this style and there has been some comments on their use or rather in some case misuse, but I wonder if this statement is better located in the overall shooting rules of the society and not class specific as bow quivers can be used on compounds and recurve bows. Maybe I should write something on the different types of quivers, bow, back, side, Merits and flaws of them? Here is a picture of bow quiver for those not familiar with them.

Jims bow against the tree

Jims bow against the tree, showing his bow quiver

I do also wonder about the comment on arrow cresting and if this would be better located in the general shooting rooms. It also raises a question on  how this can be interpreted with manufacturers branding / logos or even arrow patterns, as these are not arrows cresting in the true sense. I have heard rumours that there has been some concern that archers could use arrow markings as a guide for distance judgement. (NFAS competitions are shot over unmarked distances)

My final observation on this proposal is I think the most important thing to remember. The NFAS is a democratic organisation, run for its members, and its membership can have their say, they may make suggestions and promote different views and ideas. You as an individual may agree or disagree with the idea that is your choice. It is very important that members have the opportunity to voice their ideas and if supported, for these ideas to be voted on etc. This democracy and opportunity is in my view needed for the health of the organisation or it may be seen as stagnating or inflexible for change.

Thanks for reading

Shoot report – Hanson Field shoot – May 2012

Hanson May 2012

Hanson Bowmen  only recently took on this large wood outside Derby and I must say they have worked hard to develop the grounds. The wood itself looks to be a mature broad leaf woodland filled with a few beautiful old oaks and a carpet of blue bells at this time of year. You can imagine it in summer with leaf cover and bracken. It lends itself to some lovely long shots with 3D deer set in meadows etc.

Sunday saw dry weather and though cloudy it was bright and warmer than recently. My shooting group for the day was going to be made up of myself, Sharon (my better half) shooting barebow, Scott and Zac Ball shooting compound limited and bowhunter. So again I would be the only wooden arrow archer in the group. There were about 160 archers on the course shooting 36 (37 targets as there was a bonus one)
Last time I shot the wood, Hanson had only recently moved in and it was late winter so there was very limited ground cover. They had lots of problems with access and parking for competitors cars. I think it took over 2 hours for all the cars to get out due to the track being so churned up. Since then they must have had over 5 tonnes of gravel dropped off to create an access road and it was so much better. At the end of the shoot everyone got away without a problem. Well done and thanks for all the hard work.
Meercats 3D

Meercats 3D

The targets, mostly 3Ds with a couple of Hessian faces had been set out to really challenge people. The course layers had framed some of the shots really well, making the  the archer  shoot through gaps between trees as is the case with the sitting 3D lioness, which is nearly 4 feet tall, but doesn’t look it from the shooting peg .
3D Lioness between the trees

3D Lioness between the trees

Other shots had you viewing the target  through windows in holly bushes as was the case with the walking bear  which looked tiny until you got up close.
Sharon shooting White wolf 3D

Sharon shooting White wolf 3D

The wood is pretty flat so there were a few long shots at well placed deer or boar 3ds. They also used dips in ground and hollows to catch you out.
Brown bear 3D through the Holly bush

Scott Shooting at the 3D brown bear

I misjudged one shot at a 3d bear in a hollow and dropped my arrow into its leg rather than chest. But that is good  course laying.
Standing bear

Standing 3D bear between the trees

Our last shot was the 3D cobra which they had positioned in a hollow.
We look forward to returning to see what they change next time.
3D Red fox

Small Red Fox 3D

One thing that was good to see was 3D targets with bosses a safe distance behind to catch stray arrows. This speeded up the search for any arrows that might have missed the intended target. At a lot of shoots 3D targets are put out with no backstop to catch wayward arrows, this results in time spent searching the undergrowth. I know some people say it spoils the look of the 3D but if camouflaged with undergrowth you normally don’t spot them.

So how did I do?

612 (2 points off 3rd place) top AFB was 682, so I guess not too bad.  There was an interesting statement made by Scott when walking between pegs. “In last 5 targets the 4 of us in total had shot 22 arrows.”  I was the only one in the group not to get a medal 😦

1 blank and 8 second arrows,  much better than I thought possible with the limited practice I have been able to fit in round work and club coaching (only got to shoot 12 arrows on Saturday). The one I blanked  was a small deer at about 50 yards, with 1 arrow under its belly and 2 to the left of the chest.

Score Card - Hanson May 2012

Score Card – Hanson May 2012

You might notice that there was one bonus target which if you hit meant you could shoot a small rabbit. That is why there are 2 scores  for 1 target.
You can see more photos here
Hanson May 2012

Thanks for reading