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

Shoot Report – Severn Valley – April 2014

SVYF shoot April

SVYF shoot April

Okay so I’ve been a little slow in getting this posted, sorry all. So a couple of weekends ago we had a very tiring time. Two long days of helping sorting shots and 3Ds but it all proved worthwhile. 
On the Sunday Severn Valley club (or to give it’s full name,  Severn Valley Yeoman Foresters) hosted it’s first open shoot of 2014 so Sharon and I were helping on the run up to the shoot and marshaling on the day. So it was a busy day preparing the course on Saturday daytime.
Saturday night saw us entertaining Paul and Rhian. They were shooting the course on Sunday so were staying over as it saved them a long drive down on Sunday morning. It proved a Great night chatting with take away food and a drop or two of wine.
Sharon Sunday morning

Sharon Sunday morning complete with metal detector

Sunday morning saw great shooting weather, with light wind, bright spring sunshine and not so warm as to wake all the mosquitos from their winter sleep. 

We welcomed 191 archers to the club from 8:30 onwards (200 is our maximum limit so we were nearly full).

Shot on B course

Shot on B course

 There were many familiar faces joining us and It was great to catch up with some friends from Black Arrow and Artemis.

John and Ben Straw of Artemis

John and Ben Straw of Artemis on B course

The course consisted of 40 Mixed 3Ds and Paper Faces ranging in distance from 6 yards to nearing 60.
Archers on A Course

Archers on A Course

There seemed to be a real buzz on the day and not only from all the newly emerging bees but from the archers too who seemed to be enjoying the sun and the day.

Group about to shoot target 38 B Course

Group about to shoot target 38 B Course

I was lucky enough to watch a few groups and take a load of photos. 

Double Deer shot on B course, but only back one scores.

Double Deer shot on B course, but only back one scores.

As always the course was split in two halves A and B.

3D bear on B course

3D bear on B course

A course was set by Steve Colin and Phil,  with Chris and Keith doing B.

Tiger Shot on A course

Tiger Shot on A course

With few hold ups other than archers stopping to enjoy the food at tea stops the day flowed well. 
The only negative thing being an accident which befell one of the archers where her metal riser snapped at full draw. Thankfully she wasn’t seriously injured. (Details can be found here )
Personal congratulations to newbie course layers Keith and Chris Harley.  You set a great course.  Well done. 
Feedback from all attending has been very positive and I’d like to thank all those that either attended as competitors or helpers for giving up their time. 

As always thanks for reading.

Equipment Review – Bohning fletching tape

With the stormy weather hitting the UK at present, many archers are retreating to the indoor ranges or their making and doing rooms and sheds, fletching arrows and sorting gear for the new season. It’s been not so much of a white Christmas and New Year as a very, very wet one.

Here is hoping everyone is safe, warm and dry.

I thought I might take this opportunity to post my findings on using Bohning fletching tape. Been a while since I’ve written a review so here goes.

Just to make this clear from the outset. These are my views and opinions. I have no commercial interest in these products I review or the companies.

Double sided tape

Bohning Double sided tape

For years I have been using fletching glue to attach my feather fletching to the wood shafts. HMG has been my glue of choice. The only issue I’ve had is the time it takes for the adhesive to cure which is 15-20 minutes depending on air temperature.

For plastic vanes I’ve used simple bostic glue from local hardware shop which seems to work well on Sharon’s aluminium eclipse arrows.

At a shoot last year I was mentioning this and Bob one of our old club members from Black Arrow mentioned he used double sided fletching tape for all of his arrows and had never had any problems. Bob shoots longbow for both field and roving so his arrows can take some abuse. No offence Bob if you are reading this.

Initially I found applying the tape a little fiddly. Not so much when taking it off the roll and applying to the feather, but when trying to take the second covering layer off the tape when applying the fletching to the arrow shaft, but you get used to it.

Make sure you have aligned the fletching right as the tape adheres fast so you don’t have the time to re align if you make a mistake.

Quick tip. Ensure the shaft is dry and free from any dust which would cause poor adhesion. I don’t oil or varnish the shafts prior to fletching them.

Using the tape saves a lot of time as I found it quick and easy to use once you got the hang of it. I was able to fletch half dozen arrows in 15 minutes a significant time saving as it used to take 45-55 minutes using the glue to fletch one arrow.

Allow a little more at each end

Allow a little more at each end to make it easier to apply.

Leave a little extra at the front and rear of the fletching as it makes it easier to remove the second side of the tape and easier to apply the fletching to the shaft.

Extra length at front

Extra length at front

I was concerned the tape might come off in the rain but so far so good. I’ve been using the arrows for a little over six months and they seem okay.

My other concern was if the fletching might peel off the shaft, but this hasn’t happened either. I don’t know if this might be different if you varnished the wood first.

They have stood up to all the normal abuse I can throw at them, from being soaked in the rain, to encounters with trees and other vegetation. I’ve also used the tape for a new set of wooden arrows for Sharon and they seem to eb working well for her too.

Not sure how well it would work on plastic fletching but I am thinking of testing this shortly so it might be an update in near future.

The tape is available from most good archery shops, I got mine from Merlin in Loughborough. ( I’ve used less than half the roll so far and produced a couple of dozen arrows so its pretty good value for money at just under £7 a roll.

So in short my verdict is thumbs up for Bohning tape, a good product that can save you a lot of time. 9/10 (could be higher if I had chance to try it on shafts other than wood)

Let me know if you have any experiences with this or anything else.

Happy New Year and as always thanks for reading.