Course and Target laying – So What makes a shot challenging?

My personal view is there are several ways in which you can make a shot challenging. Instinctively you will sometimes see how the land and vegetation can combine to make a good shot. But that doesn’t make it very easy to explain here or to new course layers developing their skills.
The art is combining one or two of them together to make a shot challenging without being too hard. In essence there is a fine balance between challenging and demoralising and as a course layer you need to judge this carefully.
In the next few posts I will look at different options from target distance to size of target, intervening terrain to footing on the peg.
First off though I’m going to give some comments on elevation.

So what do I  mean by elevation?

Any shot that is not along flat ground and requires you to change your stance or aiming because it is down a hillside or hung in a tree.
Shooting along the flat is one thing but in field archery you have the opportunity depending on terrain to introduce a shot that goes down or uphill and it confuses people. Shots across the slope also increase difficulty as you have to judge the angle and distance to the target.
An example of this can be seen here, where it looks a straight shot up a hill to a target by the tree.
View from the red peg

View from the red peg

This isn’t a straight up hill shot though, but one at about a 30 degree angle across the slope.
Arrows shows the target

Arrows shows the target

Though it doesn’t look it, it is a largish paper target of a Ram too from the Merlin archery  range of faces, shown below. Many archers will judge the distance but not necessarily the elevation. When setting this shot we decided that a paper face mounted on a target boss was better than a 3D target.  Why, I hear you ask?
We thought that a boss would mean people would find arrows more easily rather than them skipping along the ground, also a target boss deceases the chance of an arrow skipping off the top of the target and traveling on.
target face - merlin ram

Merlin Ram

Raising a target can also work as was the case in the tree shot. You will notice we have put a lower target in for juniors.

Elevated shot for adults

Elevated shot for adults

This isn’t a long shot, being approximately 7-9 yards, but because of its elevation in a tree it often throws peoples judgement.
I hope these ideas help and generate some ideas of your own. Have a walk round your wood this weekend and see if you can apply any of these ideas. If so then let me know, via the the message for Rob.
As always thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Hawk Archers June 2013

hawk archers

Hawk archers

It had been a while since I had shot at an archery club ground that was comprised of such a lovely wood or such testing terrain.

The Hawk Archers wood is situated in the welsh hills and is a lovely mixed broad leaf woodland. That is when you find it, as finding the grounds is the first challenge because it is tucked away down narrow country lanes and then over a mile down a farm track. Once there the views are wonderful.

This was the third day in a row I’d shot and though the shoulder is recovering I think I was asking a bit much especially with the number of second or third arrows I was having to take.

Due to the nature of the geography I think navigating the course would be very difficult in bad (read wet) weather  or even for parking as I can imagine the field being a bit of a quagmire. Having said that we were lucky as it had been dry for several days before and on the day. In fact the previous week had seen warm sunny days but the welsh hills that morning were a little chilly initially.
This was a small shoot compared with many other NFAS outings with only 50 competitors of mixed classes from homemade bows to the latest compounds.
Like many other courses this was to be a 36 mix 3d and paper with a couple of predator prey and nominate shots.

First Target - wolf in distance

First Target – 3D wolf in  the distance

We started on peg 31 – a long uphill wolf and yes it was as long as it looked.  The group was Sharon, myself and Dylan who we had shot with previously (about 5 years ago), though he was now shooting bare bow.

First Target - some how I managed to hit it with first arrow

First Target – some how I managed to hit it with first arrow

To say the course was challenging would be an understatement! We had been warned that the course would be difficult and targets might be stretched, but had gone with an open mind (and lots of arrows)
Sharon shooting at Hawk Archers

Sharon shooting at Hawk Archers

The course layers made very good use of the terrain with very few flat shots and lots of use of dead ground. When you combine the distance of the shots, with the geography or elevation of shots and size of the targets I personally think it was too hard. I felt a number of shots were stretched 5-10 yards further than needed.

3D mountian lion on log - yes I blanked this one too

3D mountain lion on a log

Reducing the distance by a little to the targets I think would have made a significant difference. and you would still have had a challenging shot. In all I blanked 3 targets and had way too many 2 or 3 arrows scoring just over 500.

Would I go back?  I loved the woods and the club is very friendly.The only thing that puts me off is the difficulty of the course.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a challenging shoot and like the occasional long shot, but good archers win from the red peg, average archers hit sometimes from the red normally from white and the blue is the last chance for an adult to hit. So when the difference in the distance between pegs is only a few feet on a 35-40 yards shot its not very forgiving. Also white pegs are junior pegs as are blue so making them long is not fair on youngsters who have lighter poundage bows.

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a moan and dig at Hawk club, in fairness Hawk aren’t the only club that does this. I’ve seen this issue of stretching targets at a few clubs.

Maybe next time if I go, I’ll have a better idea of what to expect and what the course is likely to be like. The sad thing is that I know some people will have been put off returning because of their experiences which is a real shame as it was a lovely wood and it was a very relaxing shoot partly due to the low numbers and fantastic scenery. I know quite a few people were first time visitors to the wood as it was being talked about in the car park and over the pre shoot bacon butties. I do wonder how many might not return?

As always thanks for reading.