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.

Shoot report – NFAS National Championships – September 2015

Saturday morning at National Championships

Saturday morning at National Championships

I can truthfully say I think this year’s NFAS National Championships was probably the toughest I’ve shot over the last few years. Not due to poor weather, but simply the demands of the course and terrain. I also think that the weeks of practice shooting 80-120 arrows every other day built up my stamina and helped me cope with shooting so many arrows over 2 days. If you are interested you can check out a review of last year’s championships here.
The location of the championships was stunning, with it taking place on the banks of Windermere lake in the Lake District, which we were able to enjoy in fine dry weather. Yes, dry weather in September in the Lake District, we were shocked too.
The location offered some stunning views as we headed up and down the slopes and through beautiful mature oak woodlands of the Graithwaite estate.
Sharon and I had decided not to camp this year and Sharon had managed to book  a two bedroom apartment in Near Sawrey which proved an excellent find with a fabulous local pub 200 yards away. This accommodation we would share with fellow SVYF member Steve.
Having been able to get the Friday off work we headed up the motorway  Friday morning meeting Stephen at the apartment shortly after 2 pm. We unloaded the cars and popped down to the camp site and venue  to check we knew the route down the country lanes for the following day. As it was our accommodation was about 10-15 minutes drive from the venue.
This years Nationals would see 400 archers spread over two courses, the courses having been set by Lakeland (B) and Kendal (A) clubs.
Traditionally the nationals had been solely paper faces but a couple of years ago they started to introduce a few 3d targets. This year would see over a quarter of the 40 targets being 3d targets. This year they imposed a time limit of 8 hours, stating all archers had to stop shooting after 8 hours from the start, even if they hadn’t shot all the targets.
General observations

 I’m going to make a few general observations.

Peg positions varied and I know a few archers have commented on this. By all means make the red challenging, but please ensure that other pegs are at reasonable distances especially for juniors.
It is my view that some targets were at their maximum range, possibly even beyond. You don’t have to stretch shots just because it is a championships, especially with the quality of the grounds the championships was on. The challenge is in what you score not whether you score.
When you have a long shot and then put a face which may have a large scoring kill zone but wound lines are unforgiving I personally don’t think it is fair.  It slows down the day as archers are forced to take three arrows.
There was some discussion on some new target faces produced by ProKill (http://prokill24.com/), which people hadn’t seen before. The problem with them was they had been stapled to the card rather than glued which meant the face was pulled off when arrows were extracted. That meant they were only used on the first day. I hope to write a review of these faces in the near future.
We must give top marks to the catering van that was providing food on the camp site and relocated during the day to provide food for A course. The guys were fantastic starting serving at 7 and going on into the evening. They also have a very cool Star Wars themed catering van.
Saturday

The weather, initially misty, soon turned into a beautiful autumnal day of no breeze and bright sunshine.We were on site shortly after 7:30 am with registration opening at 8 am.The shoot starting just after 10.

A course - 3D crocodile - seen from the side

A course – 3D crocodile – seen from the side

Day one would see me shooting A course, set by Kendal Archery Club and Sharon would be on B course. With only two courses the groups would be of mixed styles.
A course was located nearest admin so was a short walk. The group would be Helen shooting compound, Sandra who I’d shot with at the 3d championships this year shooting longbow, Lionel and another Rob, both shooting primitive. We started on target 24 which was a longish paper face small deer.
A course - target 24 - first target

A course – target 24 – first target

One beautifully set shot was a long shot on a bedded 3D elk, that looked fantastic.
A course - bedded elk 3D from the blue peg

A course – bedded elk 3D from the blue peg

Another was a shot across a small pond to a 3d crocodile.
A course - 3D crocodile - seen from the side

A course – 3D crocodile – seen from the side

A course - view back from 3D crocodile

A course – view back from 3D crocodile

I think it is fair to say A course felt as though it had been set by two teams.
Targets 1-20 proved slower and longer distances, with several waits or hold ups on the peg. Whilst 20-40 flowed well, the only holdup being the long bedded deer , which both looked great and was a technical shot.
A course - 3D Javelina

A course – 3D Javelina

The worst delays of the day were at a downhill skinny turkey followed by an uphill paper face wolf. We were waiting 10-15 minutes to shoot the turkey and another 20 minutes on the wolf, while we waited for the groups in front to shoot. These delays broke up the flow of the day noticeably in those 20 targets and I  think we had two clear targets in those 20.
A course - long paper face small deer and me Robin hooding fellow archers arrow

A course – long paper face small deer and me Robin hooding fellow archers arrow

We were off course by about 4:30 and headed back to the apartment and then to a local pub for food and then an early night.

Sunday

Sunday morning dawned a little cooler than Saturday with a slight breeze. Again we were on site from about 7:30 am for a breakfast roll and registration.

The scores and placing from the first day were posted at administration tent. Sharon was in a slim lead in ladies hunting tackle and somehow I was in second in American flatbow. It is a weird feeling having so many people congratulate you on placing when you felt you hadn’t shot well.
Unlike A course, B course would see us having a mile walkout to the assembly point.
B course - long 3D dinosaur

B course – long 3D dinosaur

I would start on peg 4 an uphill paper face leopard, my group comprising of 2 compound archers Dave and Alan, along with Ken Adams shooting longbow. We were also joined by Joan Adams who wasn’t shooting this year.
B Course - uphill turkey 3d

B Course – uphill turkey 3d

I didn’t feel Sunday flowed well with a few hold ups whilst we waited for the group or groups in front to shoot the target. On one target there  was over 30 minutes while we waited with other groups to shoot a long paper face moose.

B Course - downhill 3D crocodile

B Course – downhill 3D crocodile

One thing Lakeland did was have a marshal checking arrows whilst archers were on course to make sure the arrows were correctly marked.
B course - paper face puma between the tree bough

B course – paper face puma between the tree bough

I knew I’d not shot well on Sunday and think I can put that down to a loss of confidence. I broke one arrow quite early on and a second a couple of targets later and I think this got into my head. Unlike A course, B didn’t have as many backstops for the 3ds so if you did miss there was a chance of breaking an arrow, as David, one of the compound archers in the group can testify to; when he misjudged a long downhill shot on a 3D ram and the carbon arrow exploded as it hit the tree behind. I was very lucky on this target, with my arrow just staying in the top of the animal.

B course - lucky shot of the day

B course – lucky shot of the day

There were a few targets with trees or banks behind that were unforgiving on arrows.
The only advantage of all the delays was being able to chat with Jim Pierce from Artemis and also a fellow ex-Black Arrow member who was in the group in front. He did a grand job trying to keep my spirits up, cheers mate.
I walked back to the parking area on my own thinking over my shots, feeling pretty low. I need to work on coping with delays and not letting it effect my performance.
As the award ceremony approached I met up with Sharon and other archers patiently waiting for the results. The first to be called was Gents AFB and the first name was mine. By some miracle I had managed a third place. According to Sharon my face was a picture when it was announced. I was so touched by the number of people that came up afterwards to congratulate me.
Bronze medal from Nationals

Bronze medal from Nationals

Sharon retained her title as Ladies Hunting Tackle champion. Sharon and I  also won the Nearest and Dearest trophy for the second year running.
Our fellow SVYF member Robin won Gents Barebow, which helped the club towards winning the Instinctive Team trophy. Congrats to Colin who won 3rd in Crossbow too. Here is a link to the full results (http://www.nfas.net/downloads/champs/2015%20Sept%20Nationals%20Reults.pdf).
well done to all that managed to make it round the courses and congrats to all medal winners on what I think were a very tough couple of courses.
Thanks for reading.

Shoot report – NFAS National Championships – part 2

B course - Archers mustering

B course – Archers mustering

Day two of the championships dawned and we wondered whether staying in the premier inn had been a good plan. We had had a very disturbed night having been woken by a fan humming noise which we’d thought was the aircon or heating but neither of these were on and it seemed to come from the corridor. The annoying thing was it would stop only to restart a few minutes later.

B course - Archers mustering

B course – Archers mustering

So bleary eyed we checked out and headed to Catton park. I’d taken some Lemsip tablets so I was hoping my head would be a little better.

B course - views across the fields

B course – views across the fields

The mid point placings were out showing Sharon in first place and me way down at 19th.
Sunday was brighter day with clear skies and a slight autumnal nip in the air. Shooting group would be different on each day so I wondered what to expect.

Sunday Shooting group

Sunday Shooting group

To say my possible concerns were ill founded would be an understatement as we never stopped laughing all day. Thanks to Julie and others in the group we had a great laugh often at our own expense.

Catton Park

Catton Park

I think we were fortunate on Sunday as unlike other groups we weren’t held up by the previous groups. I was speaking to one fellow SVYF member who was waiting over 10 minutes to shoot each target with a 45 minutes delay after food stop. When faced with these delays it is very hard to remain focused. I’m not sure of the cause but a possible solution for the future might be to allow groups to jump slow groups at food stops. This would mean that targets could not be taken down until much later though. (Normally the target you finish on, on the last day is brought in by your shooting group to help the organisers to break down the course. If you allow jumping them you might not be the last group to shoot the target.)

View on B course

View on B course

Think B course had the best grounds in my opinion with two separate pieces of woodland and a few open ground shots and a couple over water making for a good mix for all.

B course - 3D Crocodile

B course – 3D Crocodile

They also set up some interesting shots down the side of the woods or out of the woods into the fields, making distance judgement challenging.

B Course shot after food stop

B Course shot after food stop

Julie Shooting paper face on B Course

Julie Shooting paper face on B Course

Thank you

At this point I would like to say a huge thanks to all the people who gave up there time to not only lay the courses but find the ground initially and thanks to the administration staff for all the work behind the scenes.

Outcome

The full results are available here.
Despite feeling rough I managed to climb 9 places on Sunday from 19 to just get in the top 10. Not too bad I suppose. Sharon did wonderfully well winning ladies hunting tackle making her not only 3D champion from earlier this year but now also the national champion for 2014.

2014 NFAS Nationals - Sharon

2014 NFAS Nationals – Sharon (thanks Alex Tyler for photos)

Svyf came away with the team hunting tackle trophy.

2014 NFAS Nationals - ht team

2014 NFAS Nationals – Hunting Tackle  team (from left to right, Nigel, Johnny, Sharon and me) thanks Alex Tyler for photos

With Colin capturing a bronze in crossbow. Sharon and I also came away with the Nearest and Dearest trophy.

2014 NFAS Nationals - Nearest and Dearest

2014 NFAS Nationals – Nearest and Dearest (thanks Alex Tyler for photos)

So not a bad weekend considering I was feeling rough.
As always thanks for reading.