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

Shoot Report – Centaura – September 2016

Centaura shoot - archers waiting for start

Centaura shoot – archers waiting for start

On a early September Sunday morning we loaded the car to set off to Centaura shoot ground near Derby.
On arriving we discovered that sadly the club suffered from vandalism a few days before the shoot, which resulted in the course layers having to adjust some targets and use backup faces they had to hand, rather than those they had hoped to use. This vandalism was reported to the police, with the local press running an article on the damage complete with images of the culprits, as they managed to capture cctv images of the individuals they believe to be responsible. Let’s hope this helps identify those responsible and brings them to justice. I have included a link to the news article here. (http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/just-look-what-morons-have-been-doing-to-aston-archery-club/story-29710480-detail/story.html#)

If you are interested in reading a previous shoot report, you can find one here.
The shoot was slightly delayed due to the number of no shows, 17 in all and this is a lot for a small club to cope with, not just in the loss in earnings for entrance fees but also the cost in food bought based on expected numbers. There were still over a 100 archers in attendance in a variety of classes.

Small paper face between the trees

Small paper face between the trees

Despite the vandalism the club managed to set a 36 target course with a mix of paper and 3D targets, some of the papers are of their own design. There did seem to be a number of small faces but I think this might have been due to the vandalism and them using what they had rather than what they might have wanted to.
Sharon and I would shoot with John from Wolverine who was shooting longbow. I must say John was really good company and great to shoot round with, with conversation flowing freely on different topics from archery to other outdoor hobbies.

target 35 paper face puma

target 35 paper face puma

There were some familiar shots along with some new ones. We started on the club’s signature shot the Polo, this time on Target peg 1 with a small paper face red squirrel.

The now famous polo shot

The now famous polo shot

I particularly liked the bomb hole shot, which saw a change to the norm of shooting straight down.

Bear 3D from the red peg

Bear 3D from the red peg

3D bear shoot, zoomed in from the red peg

3D bear shoot, zoomed in from the red peg

This time they had managed to secure a 3D bear part way up a tree, making for a deceptive shot.

Close up of the bear 3d shot

Close up of the bear 3d shot

They also lengthened the very short shot they have had for the last few shoots, which I think worked much better.
The day flowed well, with no major hold-ups or issues we were aware of.
As always Centaura operates a lunch break 12:30 -1:15 and of course as luck would have it we were on the furthest target when the horn was blown to stop. I think my only critical comment might be that a few of the shooting pegs could do with being hammered in a bit further as anyone with long length bows could encounter problems catching their lower bow limbs. Also moving the target 36 shooting peg so it’s not on the main path, as it’s quite hard to concentrate on your shot when there are archers walking off the course.

Sharon shooting at paper face fox

Sharon shooting at paper face fox

Sharon did suffer from what can be best described as a slight wardrobe malfunction when stepping over a branch. The result was a ripping sound as her trousers ripped from knee to waist. Fortunately a role of micropore tape was to hand to save her embarrassment, allowing her to finish the course, with a pair of waterproof over-trousers being used when we got back to the car. Despite this Sharon shot well winning Ladies american flatbow.
Thanks for reading