Can you hit a barn door

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – December 2017

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden arrow shoot

Spirit of Sherwood Wooden arrow shoot

I tend to see the Spirit of Sherwood Christmas shoot as the end of the year as far as NFAS shoot calendar is concerned, which is silly really as NFAS shoots carry on all through the year. However for this reason and because they put on cracking shoots, we always make an effort to get to their shoots and this years was no exception.

As it’s a good two hour drive for us to get up to Spirits grounds we decided to head up the night before and stayed over at a local travel lodge in Worksop. As it was, the drive up on the Saturday was quite unpleasant being very grey and drizzly all the way, though not as cold as it had been during the previous week. I’m glad we did the drive on the Saturday as I wouldn’t want to do it early in the morning. Have to say the weather didn’t help the splitting headache I had had all day and would have for the next few days.

Spirit of Sherwood shoots are always well attended, with shooting places being booked up several weeks in advance and this one was no exception. This would be wooden arrow only and a Christmas themed shoot. There were to be 36 targets on this course course consisting of a mixture of 3D targets, with a number of novelty shots.

If you like, you can read a previous shoot report here from one of their shoots earlier in the year. It was great to catch up with some friends, like Jim Pierce. Just trying to remember Jim, did you start on target peg 8 or 9?

Thankfully the damp grey weather of the Saturday was replaced with a mostly dry sunny Sunday and warmer weather than we’d experienced during the week.

3D deer between the trees

3D deer between the trees

The shooting group joining Sharon and myself for the day would include Kevin and Carolyan from Pines Park shooting Hunting tackle and american flatbow respectively.

Spirits ground is a flat woodland of a mix of confer and deciduous trees, making it a pretty easy to get round. It’s quite a pretty wood with the winter sun shining through the branches, though at this time of year the days of sunlight are short, so they tried to start early to give archers the best chance to finish in good light.

Can you hit a barn door

Can you hit a barn door

Spirit course layers always set a moving target to challenge archers, last time it was a 3D crocodile. This time they had made up a moving barn door, literally suspended on a cable. If you missed you were awarded a sticker. After all we all have days where we can’t hit a barn door. I thought this was a great fun idea for a novelty shot.

If you missed the barn door you got the sticker

If you missed the barn door you got the sticker

Of all the 36 targets I think there was only one that I really didn’t get on with and to be fair it wasn’t the target as such but its positioning. It was one of the novelty shots where you shot one arrow and had to choose to shoot a large bear for 20 points, a penguin for 30 or a small fish for 40. The reason I didn’t like it was because in the distance you could see archers moving and this caught my eye when I was shooting. Don’t get me wrong, the shot was perfectly safe as they always are at Spirit. It was just the moving archers caught my eye when I was shooting, which is something that I don’t like and find very, very distracting. It is something that I really struggle with this on some other shoots.

3D wolf target between the trees

3D wolf target between the trees

Other novelty shots included a mini tower from which you could shoot a predator prey shot of knight and dragon. 6 of the 36 targets novelty targets, including moving shots, predator prey and pick and stick ones. I’m normally not a fan of lots of novelty shots but this was a Christmas fun shoot and think it worked.

Predator Prey shot from the castle

Predator Prey shot from the castle

The course itself was arranged in a rough clover leaf formation of three loops, round one central point, giving the competitors the opportunity to pass catering two or three times. This makes it possible to have a pretty effective shoot through with few if any hold ups, for us at least.

Sharon shooting a 3D deer at Spirit of Sherwood

Sharon shooting a 3D deer at Spirit of Sherwood

The course layers at Spirit had gone to a lot of trouble in setting the targets and they had set a really nice deer herd shot of different size and angled 3Ds set between the trees where  you had to select the target to go for, decisions, decisions.

3D deer herd shot, pick your target

3D deer herd shot, pick your target

Another target worth mentioning was a large Raven 3D they had set on a tree stump, again framed very nicely.

3D raven on the tree stump between the trees

3D raven on the tree stump between the trees

The Spirit club had also set out a couple of boxes of chocolates at different points round the course for archers to help themselves, a very kind and generous gesture.

Boxes of sweats could be found round the course

Boxes of sweats could be found round the course

I don’t feel any of the targets were particularly long shots, and one thing they did do well I thought was how quite a few of the targets were nicely framed between the trees. This gave the archer a corridor view, making them look closer or further than they were. They had obviously considered the canopy for low poundage bows on all the shots, something that not all shoot organisers or course layers do. The result were several targets set at sensible distances whilst remaining a challenge and more importantly enjoyable. It’s good to see course where targets aren’t stretched or 3Ds are angled to make them near impossible.

Pick your target the 3D zebra or 3D cheetah

Pick your target the 3D zebra or 3D cheetah

We went round pretty quickly with no hold ups other than looking for the occasional wayward arrow that preferred the undergrowth than the target.

3D porcupine target in the leaves

3D porcupine target in the leaves

Night draws in quickly this time of year, so by the time we got to the raffle and prize giving it was already dark. Fortunately as it was a wooden arrow only shoot there were only a few different classes. Following on from the Christmas theme of the shoot, Spirit were doing Christmas themed prizes for first place, Christmas puddings no less. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that Sharon came away with one as she won ladies American flatbow. Have to say that I was surprised in receiving a Christmas pudding as I didn’t expect to win gents flatbow.

The journey back took a couple of hours, but as always its well the drive.

Thanks for reading.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and Good Luck for the New Year.

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