Sharon shooting 3D between the trees

Shoot report – Thornbury Archers – October 2018

Thornbury Archers October shoot

Thornbury Archers October shoot

So on a very foggy Sunday morning we would load up the car and head south on the motorway to just outside Bristol for the Thornbury archers NFAS shoot. Thornbury had wanted to start early, stating registration would close and they wanted to start by 9:30, so it was an earlier start for us being a little over an hour drive. I’m not sure exactly what time we did get started shooting in the end as it didn’t feel that much earlier than normal. Thankfully the fog quickly burnt off making the journey easier and leading to a lovely bright autumnal day.

Sharon shooting a 3D panther

Sharon shooting a 3D panther between the trees

This was the first shoot we would have done since the NFAS national championships in mid-September and only the third time I’d picked up a bow since, so there would be a few cobwebs to clear and muscles needing reminding of how to shoot. It was a good opportunity to catch up with people and a chance to have a chat with friends we hadn’t seen for a few weeks.

Jim shooting another 3D owl

Jim shooting another 3D owl in the early morning sunlight

The woods are a mix of deciduous trees with a few areas of dense undergrowth allowing for a few dark corners. The land is mostly flat, with only a few gullies and the famous Thornbury tower shot which this year would be at a 3D bear in the undergrowth. The set-up of the course was to be 40 targets, being a mix of 3d and paper faces.

There would be five of us in our shooting group, with Gail in ladies hunting tackle, Jim shooting trad bow hunter (both of whom we’d shot with at Druids earlier in the year) and Martin shooting in the primitive class, with a bow he had only finished making a couple of days earlier.

Martin shooting 3D wolf

Martin shooting 3D wolf

The course layers made some good use of dead ground and also were able to use a new part of woodland offering some lovely shots in the early morning sun and views of some ancient oaks.

One of the ancient oaks and cleverly set targets

One of the ancient oaks and cleverly set 3D targets

This meant there were several new shots as they had reworked areas of the woods completely from our last visit. You can read a shoot report of that visit here.

The day would flow well, with lots of conversations and jokes interrupted by the occasional shooting. This made for a very relaxing and enjoyable day. Top marks to the catering team too, who seemed well organised and had an ample supply of lemon drizzle cake.

Personally I think there were a couple of shots that were stretched, where maybe the red peg might have been better suite as a position for a wasp peg. They did use wasp pegs on some shots, which was nice to see. The two shots that I mean was one at a small squirrel on the wooden stump (One Two Tree) and a paper face caribou in the gully another.

squirrel 3D on the stump

squirrel 3D on the stump

To be fair to the course layers I did think they set some really nice shots, including one of the 3D owls. This target was set to appear as though it was sitting in a nest but was in fact on a post a few feet behind.

Martin shooting the owl 3D between the trees

Martin shooting the owl 3D between the trees

Close up of the owl between the trees

Close up of the owl between the trees

I feel the only negative of the day was the number of arrows Sharon broke, 5 in total with a couple being due to the metal hoop pins used to secure the 3D targets. She had one hit the pin and glance off and another on the same target hit the 3D and penetrate the foam hitting the securing pin. I did mention this to one of the marshals, suggesting in future they might want to reconsider using the metal pins replacing them with wood dowels as it would be kinder on any arrows. Other than the fatalities to the arrows it was a really enjoyable day.

Sharon shooting the paper face tiger on the hillside

Sharon shooting the paper face tiger on the hillside

I’ve always liked Thornbury as on previous occasions they have always had a couple of nicely set targets, normally a fox 3D set to appear to be going through a dustbin. Whilst they didn’t have this shot this year, they did have some very nice shots. Our last being one, a paper face Tiger on a hillside is well worth mentioning as it looked great.

close up view of the tiger face on the hillside

close up view of the tiger face on the hillside

So after a fun day of shooting, we came away with a gold for Sharon in ladies AFB and I secured a silver, missing out on gold by 2 points.

Thanks for reading.

Briar Rose members - Left to right (Rob,Tony,Sharon,Steve and Lee)

Shoot report – NFAS National Championships 2018

NFAS National Championships

NFAS National Championships 2018

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.

Saturdays woodland

Saturdays woodland

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 –

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.

Ian shooting on Day one

Ian shooting on Day one

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?)

Paper face big cat on Saturday

Paper face big cat on Saturday

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

B course

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.

Ian shooting on Saturday

Ian shooting on Saturday

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.

Day 2

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.

Emma on Sunday shooting one of the few close targets

Emma on Sunday shooting one of the few close targets

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.

Robin shooting on A course on Sunday

Robin shooting the turkey target from white peg on A course on Sunday

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.

Sunday Course - shot into the hollow

Sunday Course – shot into the hollow

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.

Robin Shooting a very long target on Sundays course

Robin Shooting a very long target on Sundays course

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.


Emma on Sunday shooting a Baboon target face

Emma on Sunday shooting a Baboon target face

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.

Briar Rose members - Left to right (Rob,Tony,Sharon,Steve and Lee)

Briar Rose members – Left to right Rob,Tony,Sharon,Steve and Lee.

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.

Despite best efforts I do miss

Shoot Report – National Field Archery Society Championships – May 2018

Archers gathering for the NFAS 3D championships

Archers gathering for the NFAS 3D championships

Sorry all , I have been pretty slow on writing up shoot reports recently as been focusing on the coaching articles for the “Hardest things in archery series”.  I think I have two or three shoot reports to type up, so please be  patient.
Anyways in May 2017 the Organised Chaos team were setting one of the courses for the NFAS 3D championships. If you are interested you can read all about that weekend and the preparation before all of madness here. This meant the 2018 event was the first time we’d got to shoot a 3D championships for a couple of years. Would it be good or bad, only time would tell. Personally I knew I was going with no expectations having only shot my bow a few times in the preceding weeks. Add to this was the chest infection I had been diagnosed with a couple of days earlier, I was just hoping to not embarrass myself, coming home with most of my arrows and get somewhere near the top 10 if I was lucky.
In issue 126 of Bow International Alex Tyler has written a review of the event too.
So what is a 3D championships?
For those not familiar with what is expected at such competitions here is quick a breakdown.
The NFAS 3D championships is annual event, being one of the two national competitions run by the National Field Archery Society. It takes place over the second May bank holiday and can be located anywhere in the country. This year would see over 400 archers in 11 classes travel from across the country to compete. I think due to the timing of the event, distance for many to travel and the booking forms coming out later than normal, there were slightly fewer attendees. I know a few who would normally attend were unable to find affordable accommodation.
All 40 targets on each of the courses are 3Ds, being set at between 5 yards and 65 yards or more. Competitors would shoot 2 courses, one each day. Two course would be set for the wooden arrow classes and two for the metal and carbon arrows. This split allows course layers to tailor the shots for specific classes.
We would be in different woodlands to those used in our last visit, with only a couple of shots in the open. In fact nearly the entirety of the two courses being on the estates wooded hillside, at least for the wooden arrow competitors.
Onto this years event. it would be returning to the Fleet estate outside Plymouth, for the two days of intense shooting and competition, thankfully in good weather. If you are interested, you can read a review of the last visit to the estate here, which as I said was a few years back. Having said it was in good weather, the drive down to Plymouth took ages, with combinations of poor weather en route and accidents causing delays on the motorways.
Some of you may have already read my review of the Premier Inn we stayed at in a previous article not somewhere we will be rushing to return too.
Sharon on Saturday morning, enjoying the sun

Sharon on Saturday morning, enjoying the sun

We, meaning the wooden arrows archers, would be shooting two courses A & B, whilst the metal arrow shooters would be on X & Y. A course was set by Tavistock Company of Archers and B by Toad Hollow. Since Sharon and I were both shooting in the American Flatbow class we’d shoot B course on Saturday and A on Sunday.
Like in other shoots you would be assigned a shooting group on each day.
Saturday morning saw us arrive early to find many others had had the same thought, with the car park quickly filling up.
I have to say I was glad we were under cover for the couple of heavy showers that hit Saturday but otherwise it was a dry event.
B course would see lots of walking and a sometimes confusing series of paths which crossed one another, leaving you at times unsure which direction to go. The scent of wild garlic sat heavy in the air on Saturday with the woodland floor covered in a thick carpet.
My shooting group would be three people I’d not met before Mark, Liz both shooting longbow and Nikki shooting Flatbow.
I have to state my thanks to the B course layers who had organised a water drop half way round the course at the top part of the hill, which was a great idea and really needed.
B course mini bear (think insert needs pushing back in )

B course mini bear (think insert needs pushing back in  after we’d shot it)

The course was arranged into 3 loops, feeding back to the catering stop on the edge of the field. The three stops and lots of walking made for a slow day and a little confusing at points to get round. Especially where the 3 loops intersected one another. I know we nearly missed the route on a couple of times to targets.
B course - One of the few not set in the woodland

B course – One of the few not set in the woodland

At times it felt the course had been set by different people as elements and shots looked and felt different. Saying this though, it should not be taken as a criticism, there were some really nice shots, that looked good and invited you to take up the challenge.
B course Niki shooting

B course Niki shooting

One of these was one of the longer shots, a downhill bedded 3D elk, which fooled many on its distance.
B course - another 3D hidden in the undergrowth, this time a coyote

B course – another 3D hidden in the undergrowth, this time a coyote

Another well set target would see a 3D cobra set behind a V in trees, proving a good use dead ground.
B course - 3D hidden in the undergrowth

B course – 3D hidden in the undergrowth

In the denser areas of woodland the course layers used the undergrowth to hide a few 3Ds, again making it harder to judge the distance.
I think the one negative I would have about the day would be when we got to catering on our third stop, to find nothing. They had packed up to head back to the admin area where they were providing food for the saturday night. The thing was there were still several groups wanting a break, a cup of tea or like me just to replenish my water bottle.
B course long standing 3D Caribou

B course long standing 3D Caribou

With no catering available groups were wanting to move on quickly, but one of the longest targets on the course was straight after catering. This was a standing 3D caribou target set in the slightly more open and flat area of the woodland. By the time we got to shoot it we had an audience of four groups were waiting behind us. Yes that was quite nerve-racking, especially as many of the group in front had missed it and I was the last to shoot in my group. With encouragement from all my group I fortunately managed to hit it with my first arrow, much to my relief.
Saturday would prove to be a long day for me. Sharon was off course by 4 pm but I was only just walking out of the woods, back to Admin to hand in the score cards at 5:30 pm and I know there were other groups still shooting.
After a stormy night and not much sleep at the hotel, we were greeted with a slightly grey day. As it was Sunday would prove to be a warmer and more humid day in the woods. Or at least that was how it felt to me which could have been in part due  to the  course of antibiotics I was on for a chest infection.
As is normal the shooting groups changed, so Sunday would see me shooting, with  Bruno, Sylvia and a friend of mine who I’ve coached Colin. No scores from Saturday had been posted but there was quite a few conversations about how close it was in gents AFB.
A course was set by Tavistock Company of Archers

A course was set by Tavistock Company of Archers

A course set by Tavistock was very different to the previous days, I think partly due to the terrain available to them. Arranged in two loops, with the catering point being the crossover point. The woods felt much more dense at times, with areas that felt very humid on the day and others more open. I’m guessing this is why they made use of the pathways and tracks to shoot off in some areas.
A Course - 3D deer

A Course – 3D deer

Like B course the day before there was a  water drop  for people to replenish their canteens, though personally I think a  water drops on the far side of A course would have been more useful for archers, as the one they had was quite close to catering, which seemed a bit of a waste. I know how hard setting a 3D course is, along with how thankless it can be trying to please everyone one.
I think Tavistock did set some very nice shots. The long bedded elk down an avenue of trees, was framed well and provided a challenging shot. Another was the standing bear, where we all misjudged the distance, falling in the lower body.
The dense woodland offered a couple of well set shots, such as the velociraptor 3D appearing to be walking out of the undergrowth. This was our second target and not an easy one to hit.
Bruno about to shoot the 3D dinosaur

A course – Bruno about to shoot the 3D dinosaur

I do feel there were a few shots that could have been tweaked or improved with back stop bosses or nets to save broken arrows. There was a skinny turkey side on behind a tree which was not only hard to see but hard to hit. Another one especially was the cobra 3D or lost arrows in the field on the uphill 3D ram. I think we must have spent 10 minutes searching for arrows on that target, and though we managed to find 3 other peoples arrow, none of ours were found.
A course - 3D frog

A course – 3D frog

To be fair, the course flowed well with no hold ups for us, meaning that Sunday would be a shorter day and it would see our group finishing shooting and walking off the  course by 3pm.
I didn’t feel that I shot as well on the Sunday, though I have to say thank you to Colin who was charged with the responsibility of keeping my spirits up and reminding me to take my antibiotics.
Though we finished and managed to get off the course early, other courses took longer to come in. The prize giving was delayed by the raffle and auction of bits including a couple of bows. Though I’m not sure if the auction of the 3Ds and 3D inserts was well received as it seemed to go on for ages.
One thing with the delay in prize giving was it gave me the opportunity to chat to a few people about coaching ideas and to have a good natter about life, the universe and archery.
Sharon shot really well, winning ladies American flatbow and despite being medicated up I managed my best ever position, coming second in gents flatbow. Not a bad result for Briar Rose club.
Mr and Mrs Jones, me in second place and Sharon first

Mr and Mrs Jones, me in second place and Sharon first

Thankfully the drive home on the Monday was not so tiring or long with decent weather and no hold ups. Though if the event ever returns to that location I know we won’t be staying at that Premier Inn again.
Thanks for reading.