Course and Target laying – Target code ARROWS

First view from Red peg

First view from Red peg

When I started trying to setup targets and shots I realised there was a lot to remember, from setting up the target, to how you get the archers to the shooting peg, whilst not forgetting about the overshoot for the shot and always remembering the safety elements.
For this reason I tried to analyse the process and come up with something that would help me remember all of these steps. My answer to this was using an acronym  ARROWS – somehow this seemed appropriate. So these are my thoughts on target positioning and locations . Please remember I’m no expert at laying courses or targets but I hope you find it useful.

Before starting here are a few things to familiarise yourself with. Consider your society rules. Do you have to have clear shooting lanes, marked or unmarked distances.

Style or Class of bow. Are you setting for an open where any and every bow styles might compete or maybe a wooden Arrow only.
Useful Tip – When scouting for a new shot I will often use my camera phone to record the view or angel of prospective shots so I can discuss it with others. I know others have used a gps system to track the target position on to a map of the course.
Anyway back to the acronym.

A – You can read this as approach or arrival at the first shooting peg.  It covers the  route to the first shooting peg and standing area when there. Is the route clear? Where possible at no point should the archer walk forward of the shooting peg as this might give them an advantage in distance judgement.  What do the archers see as they arrive? Is there space for a group or maybe two to stand safely without endangering themselves or causing distraction to other archers. Are the paths to the peg clear of obstructions? Brambles are a course layers worst enemy and  I’m sure the wood elves go out at night and lay bramble trip hazards across every path.
The idea is that as they approach they shouldn’t get a clue as to distances etc from peg to target.

View from the red peg

View from the red peg

R-Red peg (the first shooting peg for an adult in NFAS field archery courses)- but really this covers all the  other peg positions too. We have mentioned the approach to the first peg but archers will need to get from one peg to another.
Think of the route they will have to take. A straight path to the  boss makes a corridor for distance judgement or do you set a twisted path so harder to judge distance?
Pegs need to be driven in well as longbow and afb archers won’t thank you if their lower limbs catch the peg.
R – range – not just ranges to boss from each peg, but range of height of archers,  range of bow weight and dynamics.
Longbows need overhead clearance of branches etc.
Think target size here too. Don’t spoil a shot by putting too small a target face on. Remember juniors pegs too, if placed too close to the target boss they run the risk of bounce back.

First view from Red peg

Consider the tree cover and branches

O – overshoot – What is behind the target location or to the side etc in the event of a glance off from trees.
Do you need a back stop or netting? Are there trees or bushes behind the target that arrows could bury themselves in?
Please remember that simply putting up safety netting does NOT make an unsafe shot safe! 
Over shoot with netting

Over shoot with netting

W – walk off – safe route out. When the archers have collected their arrows how do they leave the boss and make their way to the next target?
Is it a walk back  to the original shooting pegs or heading to a path. Is it clear to see navigation or are direction arrows needed?

S – Safety – last but not least. Review the shot completely and in respect of the entire course. There are times when a shot can look perfect but when looked at in respect to the entire course safety issues could appear with overshoot, waiting groups or access.
Foot paths for the general public. Are there any bridal paths or public rights of way that effect the shot or the course. In the NFAS you can’t place any shot that is considered to be close to or has an overshoot towards a footpath.
Do you need special signs on the course or possibly on the course boundaries for the general public?
Target Boss

Target Boss

Some target bosses have strip binding and care must be taken with the metal fastening. These metal bindings should never face the archer as if arrow hits them it is likely to bounce back and has the potential of causing injury. (See setting up a target boss)

Once this is done for one target you need to repeat the process for all the remaining ones.  A normal nfas course is 36 or 40 targets.
Hope you find this of use and as always thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Hanson Field shoot – May 2012

Hanson May 2012

Hanson Bowmen  only recently took on this large wood outside Derby and I must say they have worked hard to develop the grounds. The wood itself looks to be a mature broad leaf woodland filled with a few beautiful old oaks and a carpet of blue bells at this time of year. You can imagine it in summer with leaf cover and bracken. It lends itself to some lovely long shots with 3D deer set in meadows etc.

Sunday saw dry weather and though cloudy it was bright and warmer than recently. My shooting group for the day was going to be made up of myself, Sharon (my better half) shooting barebow, Scott and Zac Ball shooting compound limited and bowhunter. So again I would be the only wooden arrow archer in the group. There were about 160 archers on the course shooting 36 (37 targets as there was a bonus one)
Last time I shot the wood, Hanson had only recently moved in and it was late winter so there was very limited ground cover. They had lots of problems with access and parking for competitors cars. I think it took over 2 hours for all the cars to get out due to the track being so churned up. Since then they must have had over 5 tonnes of gravel dropped off to create an access road and it was so much better. At the end of the shoot everyone got away without a problem. Well done and thanks for all the hard work.
Meercats 3D

Meercats 3D

The targets, mostly 3Ds with a couple of Hessian faces had been set out to really challenge people. The course layers had framed some of the shots really well, making the  the archer  shoot through gaps between trees as is the case with the sitting 3D lioness, which is nearly 4 feet tall, but doesn’t look it from the shooting peg .
3D Lioness between the trees

3D Lioness between the trees

Other shots had you viewing the target  through windows in holly bushes as was the case with the walking bear  which looked tiny until you got up close.
Sharon shooting White wolf 3D

Sharon shooting White wolf 3D

The wood is pretty flat so there were a few long shots at well placed deer or boar 3ds. They also used dips in ground and hollows to catch you out.
Brown bear 3D through the Holly bush

Scott Shooting at the 3D brown bear

I misjudged one shot at a 3d bear in a hollow and dropped my arrow into its leg rather than chest. But that is good  course laying.
Standing bear

Standing 3D bear between the trees

Our last shot was the 3D cobra which they had positioned in a hollow.
We look forward to returning to see what they change next time.
3D Red fox

Small Red Fox 3D

One thing that was good to see was 3D targets with bosses a safe distance behind to catch stray arrows. This speeded up the search for any arrows that might have missed the intended target. At a lot of shoots 3D targets are put out with no backstop to catch wayward arrows, this results in time spent searching the undergrowth. I know some people say it spoils the look of the 3D but if camouflaged with undergrowth you normally don’t spot them.

So how did I do?

612 (2 points off 3rd place) top AFB was 682, so I guess not too bad.  There was an interesting statement made by Scott when walking between pegs. “In last 5 targets the 4 of us in total had shot 22 arrows.”  I was the only one in the group not to get a medal 😦

1 blank and 8 second arrows,  much better than I thought possible with the limited practice I have been able to fit in round work and club coaching (only got to shoot 12 arrows on Saturday). The one I blanked  was a small deer at about 50 yards, with 1 arrow under its belly and 2 to the left of the chest.

Score Card - Hanson May 2012

Score Card – Hanson May 2012

You might notice that there was one bonus target which if you hit meant you could shoot a small rabbit. That is why there are 2 scores  for 1 target.
You can see more photos here
Hanson May 2012

Thanks for reading