First Aid Kit

Carry a simple first aid kit

It is the time of year when the days have been getting longer and we are out more often. Some will be out on two day shoots, camping in some beautiful British countryside, or maybe course laying in readiness for the shoot.  The downside of the warmer days is it results in me having to start taking antihistamine tablets due to slight hay fever and possibility of insect bites.
I’m pretty lucky, as I’ve been bitten or stung by most things including a swarm of angry bees one time when we disturbed a nest putting in a new target. The only bug that tends to result in a very bad reaction are horse fly bites and those I really react badly too. You can see below how my hand swelled up after a few hours, following one. Luckily I got my wedding ring off before the fingers swelled up too much or I might have had to have it cut off. (The ring not the finger)
horsefly bite

horsefly bite = very swollen hand

It is also when I go through the first aid kit on my quiver belt to check things are still in date. I do it every year and whether camping, skiing, hiking or enjoying field archery I always carry a simple first aid kit, either in my backpack, day sack or on my quiver belt. It doesn’t take up much space and weighs nearly nothing.
Top tip – put everything contained within the kit into waterproof zip bags. It keeps the kit together and more importantly dry.
The kit is pretty basic, the sort you can pick up from most outdoor stores with a few extra items, I’ve added  like antiseptic wipes, spare micropore tape, antihistamine cream, dehydration sachets etc. I’ve also added in a tick removing tool, as the numbers of ticks seem to be on the increase and we as field archers tend to frequent areas infested with the little things.
When asked why I bother carrying one as the organisers are bound to have something I tend to reply saying “It’s one of those things you hope to never have to use but am glad to carry”.
Thanks for reading.
stream running through valley

Field archers are a lucky bunch of people

stream running through valley

Stream running through valley

I just want to share a quick thought with you. I have come to the conclusion that we field archers are in many ways a lucky bunch of people. Why?

Well we get to walk round some wonderful woodland across the country, whether this is at a local clubs ground or at a championships. Not only that we also get to shoot bows in woodland. How cool is that!
Okay so the latter makes us sound a bit like big kids, which granted some of us are. In fact one reader of this blog commented that to me at the Paget shoot a few weeks back. He said how if he was having a bad day he’d just remind himself he’s in a wood shooting a bow, like a big kid.
But to be serious for a moment, that connection to nature should not be forgotten as it is too easy to overlook in an era where the majority of use work 9-5 in offices, and have lives packed full of different stresses or when we are having a bad few shots.
A course - 3d deer panorama

A course – 3d deer panorama

To highlight this just think about this fact and you’ll realise how lucky we are.
Much of the woodland that is used for the NFAS championships over the years have been privately owned woodland, or parts of country estates which are out of bounds to the general public normally. Yet we’ve been lucky enough to see it and wonder round enjoying it. This is not half due to the hard work and considerable effort of the organising committee of the society who work long hours at finding suitable venues.
View of the field surrounding Y course

View of the field surrounding Y course

So when you have a bad day at a shoot, stop and have a look round. Try to enjoy the scenery, you might not get the chance to see it again. Taking that moment can really  help. I know at least one very capable archer, who when they are on the shooting peg, tries to tune into the sounds around them (no not the chatting of the group) but the sound of the birds or wind in the leaves. Its’ a way they use to calm themselves before making the shot.
It can be a bad shot, but not a bad life being a field archer.
Thanks for reading.

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 (www.hodder.co.uk) 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