Literature Review – My Outdoor Life by Ray Mears

Ray Mears - My Outdoor Life

Ray Mears – My Outdoor Life

As many of you will know I normally write reviews of archery related books, but this was a birthday gift and since Ray Mears is well known for being an outdoors enthusiast I thought I would include his book here. Some of you the UK readers may have caught his recent TV series exploring France’s wilder parts. Anyway I hope no one objects to me including it here.
The copy of the book I have is over 350 pages, a paperback published by Hodder & Stoughton ( for those interested the ISBN 978-1-444-77821-2
It covers his life from early childhood and the development of his desire to learn about woodland skills, to his involvement with television and his numerous expeditions taking him to the four corners of the globe. I wonder how many passports he’s gone through in his time?
Included in the book is his account of a helicopter crash that nearly cost his life along with members of his film crew. I can’t help but think how lucky they were to survive.
This wasn’t the first book by him I’ve read, that being The Real Heroes of Telemark, which if you have a chance I would highly recommend.
I found this book a very easy and engaging read, written in a manner that encourages you to imagine him talking to you, possibly reminiscing on past adventures and trips, over a shared campfire. I feel it gives a far greater insight into the man who many will know from his television series or bushcraft books. It goes some way to exploring what has shaped his life, from early judo lessons, on to the expeditions in Africa, all providing a greater level of detail than I was expecting. It is a very brave person who can open themselves up and discuss their feelings and beliefs in this way, being both honest and open, whilst not fishing for compliments or favour. I feel this is very apparent where he writes of the loss of his first wife and the turmoil that engulfed him.

Ray Mears inside the book

Ray Mears inside the book

One thing I found of interest was his analysis of how TV documentary makers have changed from when he started and now. How they afford less time to expeditions, expecting filming to be completed in far less time than in the past. Maybe this explains why some modern documentaries feel as though they are lacking in depth. Could this be a reflection of the speed we now are forced to live our lives at. Expecting fast facts and data?
Overall I’ve enjoyed the book and have little doubt that I won’t reread it from time to time.
To give it a rating almost feels wrong as though rating the man and his achievements which I am sure are not yet ended. In fact he has just completed a new series on UK television. For that very reason I’m going to give a 9/10 as I’m sure he’s got more stories and adventures to come.
Thanks for reading

Literature Review – Idiot Proof Archery-How to Shoot Like a Pro

I recently bought this book (Idiot Proof Archery-How to Shoot Like a Pro) on a trip to Wales Archery.  But I had first seen a copy about a year ago whilst competing at the Scottish championships. Some of my club members from Artemis had a copy and were promoting its content.

Idiot proof archery

Idiot proof archery

I like the style of writing, as it makes the book an easy read. It also means you can easily put it down and pick it up or flick through.

I think it gives good advice for those wanting to improve and I found the Dos and Don’t chapter particularly informative and insightful. Another thing is if you are a coach or interested in developing coaching skills there is some good advice and tips throughout the book on things to look out for in your students.

I particularly like the quick key points tips in the margins.

I would classify myself as a traditional archer in many ways, in so far as I shoot mostly wooden arrows from bows without sights. I have a compound and carbon arrows for my recurve, sights etc but prefer instinctive shooting, which means some of the material and subject matter covered is not as relevant. Having said that I still found this very insightful and in short a good read.

Images can be a little small but they succeed in getting the messages across. the one thing I think is lacking is an index of content to aid in finding topics.

I’ve included a link to Amazon below but as I said I bought my copy from Wales Archery, which is a great little shop in Crick, Monmouthshire.

ISBN-10: 0971281211

ISBN-13: 978-0971281219

Literature review – Shooting the Stickbow

Shooting the Stickbow

Finally got round to writing another one of these literature reviews, sorry for the delay. So this one will be on

Fellow archer and blogger (Charles’ Archery blog) has written a great review of this book too and you can find it here.

So why did I go for this book over others?

I bought this book following a recommendation from a fellow archer (Chris Smith) He had been lent a copy and had said how informative he found it. Chris is also a NFAS coach and we had both been reviewing different books for coaching tips and as a good all round resource. This book ticks many of these boxes.

It is a very comprehensive guide for archers, covering the basic very well, more importantly you will find it an easy read, not too technical or complex. On this point I would say it is more technical than many of my other reads, but it is still an easy read. It covers the basics well and what any archer needs to know to progress.

Shooting the stickbow - internal pages

Shooting the stickbow – internal pages

In short I think what makes it a good read is its chapter structure. It  enables you to pick up a copy and read a chapter or two and get something worth while out of it. So if you have a busy life style and find the time very limited it is ideal.

the book  is broken into 4 sections

  • Basic Shooting the Stickbow
  • Equipment – a detailed view
  • Making the shot – theories and practice
  • Memories and musings

Think it maybe of limited use for compound archers as it is aimed at those archers shooting recurve and afb, but I guess the clue is in the title “shooting the stick bow”. I’ve shown this to a number of other archers and everyone whether shooting barebow or longbow have found it of interest. I’ve also recommended it to anyone thinking of either becoming a coach or simply want to expand their knowledge.

Shooting the stickbow - internal pages

Shooting the stickbow – internal pages

Unlike some archery books I have which are pocket-size this is more of a tome, providing a wealth of information, experience and advice. I think it is a massive achievement of the author to produce such a weighty read but still make it easy to follow. The only downside I can give on the book is the quality of some of the photographs that are “showing their age”. Otherwise I would say its a 9 out of 10.

Here are the ISBN number etc I bought my copy from Amazon and received it within a couple of days.

Shooting the Stickbow” 2nd Edition, by Anthony Camera

Author : Anthony Camera
Paperback: 438 pages
Publisher: Publishing (13 Oct 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602642443
ISBN-13: 978-1602642447

Thanks for reading and hope you find this of use.