Shoot report – Artemis October 2012

Artemis Shoot

Well it was a very tiring weekend but it was worth it.

Last weekend Sharon and I were camping in Derbyshire, helping at one of our old clubs (Artemis) in their annual shoot.

Artemis ground is in a large mixed leaf wooded hillside just outside Belper, with the course being made up of 36 targets. Due to the geography i.e. lots of rocks just under the leaf cover all but one target was a paper face.

Artemis is both an NFAS club and EFAA one, with a permanently set up EFAA course.

Setting up

Setting up the Artemis sign

We arrived just after midday on Saturday, having been slightly delayed due to traffic and having to grab some batteries for the two-way radios.  The site was already very busy with people. The weather was clear, though there was a slight autumnal nip in the air. But most importantly it was dry which made finishing off the course, setting up tents and marquee much easier. A few of us were camping to provide security overnight on Saturday as sadly the site has seen vandalism and arson in the last few years.

Setting up for shoot

Setting up catering tent for shoot

As it was we enjoyed a moonlit night with clear skies, add to this was the campfire that kept the evening chill away, helped with an early supper in the form of some great fish and chips from local take away.

Whilst my fellow marshals enjoyed the warmth of the campfire I set off to patrol and am so glad I did. No, I didn’t find anybody, but I did hear something. So I settled myself down and waited.

As a child I used to go bird watching and knew that patience and silence would be key to spotting anything. I’d also positioned myself down wind and covered any visible flesh ( like many people who go hunting or wildlife watching, I knew exposed flesh would reflect in the moonlight). The result of all this patience was the opportunity to see a young badger trot in front of me, its stripped head reflecting in the moonlight. Sadly this was the only one I saw up close. Others I heard and only glimpsed from afar as they went about their nightly activity.

This is one of the things I love about field archery, it gives you the opportunity to see so much of the British countryside and sometimes wildlife.

After the encounter I headed back to my friends and settled down by the fire for a few hours before heading to bed. Sunday was going to be an early start and long day.

We were up by 7 am and patrolling again. Sadly, no sign of my 4 legged friends other than a few scrapes in the ground. Sharon dismantled the tent whilst I checked the first 18 targets putting the faces in place and ensuring no branches had come down overnight etc. there had been rain overnight and the forecast was predicting more in the afternoon.

Turkey shot

Turkey shot – target 10

Catering were up and running by the time I got back from patrolling, so I grabbed a quick bacon sandwich and it was time for a marshalling brief by Paul and Mark. Radios were issued, final checks and instructions issued to us where needed.

Then it was just enough time to take our marshalling gear up to our posts before doing the walk out with all the archers.

Paper face fox target

Paper face fox target

We had just over 120 archers on the day to shoot the course, a few had dropped out, I think due to the weather forecast.

Paper face deer through trees

Paper face deer through trees, think this was target 8

Unlike other shoots I had a static marshalling post at target 11, Sharon was covering targets 9-10.

Target 11 was a  shot out of the woods, over a stone wall and into the field at a 3D deer or leopard (archers could choose which target they wanted to go for) The deer was slightly closer but smaller body, the cat about 4 feet further back but slightly larger.

3D target in field

3D target in field from red peg

There was much discussion between archers as which target they thought was easier. If you can judge distance well then the deer was closer and allowed for going for the leg line. If though you have a tendency of going offline (ie left ) then going for the cat was possibly a safer bet.

Those archers using scopes seem to struggle the most in the morning due to the contrast in light from inside wood and out. The weather also played a part as the wind picked up blowing across the targets after lunch. Well done Danny and the others for getting it, there weren’t many that hit it with first arrow.

This was the only 3D target on the course and we had to make sure we got all missing arrows in as the farmer was putting livestock into the field the following week.

3D target in field

3D target in field

It would be fair to say quite a few of the archers found this shot challenging. Judging the distance the targets were in the field wasn’t easy, with many going just over the top and burying their arrows into the ground.

Me at the target

Me at the target, before the rain came

Fortunately I’d brought my metal detector with me and this proved invaluable in finding arrows. Considering it was only a cheap model it managed to find the metal inserts in carbon arrows buried 2-3 inches into the ground. I’m glad to say that I found every missing arrow.

As predicted we had a light shower at about 12 and then the heavy rain came at about 3:30. As many of you know wet weather really affects archery, those using scopes struggle with water on the lens, traditional archers with feather fletching see their accuracy deteriorate, strings get wet and archers get cold.

Despite all the rain the feedback has been positive, and everyone got their cars off the field and away safely.

Who knows, maybe we will get to shoot it next time as we won’t be members. (Having moved house we are not renewing membership to Artemis due to the travelling distance involved)

Just need to dry all the camping gear and everything else out now.

Thanks for reading

Field Archery & nature

Spring in the woods
One of the reasons I enjoy field archery is the opportunity to be out in the British countryside, enjoying the fresh air, fine weather and occasional random encounters with wildlife. Granted this year the fine weather has been in short supply with unusually high rain fall, strong winds and thunderstorms with hailstones the size of golf balls.
Despite this I still enjoy being out and about, seeing how the woods change over the months, from the first signs of bluebells poking out of the earth to the jungle of green ferns that have appeared almost overnight.
Blue bells in the wood

Blue bells in the wood

The changing seasons are amasing to watch from the first onset of Autumn and change of colours through to the shorter shooting days of Winter and first frosts or snowfall.
Spring at Black Arrow Woods

Spring at Black Arrow Woods

As the seasons change so do the habits of the wildlife and your chances to see them.

Each Saturday when we get to the wood I walk the course, partly as a safety check for fallen branches and to see if target faces need replacing. It gives me the chance to see wildlife too before the wood is filled with the sounds of archers and arrows.  I often see a selection of animals and birds going about their business. Last week I disturbed a fox who looked somewhat surprised to see me appear from behind a tree, before he retreated down the hillside.

The other Saturday I was walking along one of the lower paths when I spotted a grey squirrel some 25-30 feet away heading straight down the path towards me. Standing perfectly still I let it approach, wondering how close it would come before it realised that I was there. I’m guessing it couldn’t recognise me as I was wearing my old army surplus camouflage jacket. It came up to a couple of feet and sat there looking at me. What was it thinking? Maybe it was trying to work out if I was a threat or just on oddly shaped bush?

After a few moments it must have decided I was no threat and to move on so hopped within inches of my feet onto the moss-covered  perimeter stone wall of the wood and then it was gone. This was a really magical moment for me, to have the opportunity to be  so close to animal as to see the individual strands of fur and the colours of their eyes as they look straight at you.
I so wanted to reach  for my phone and record the encounter but knew if I moved it would spot me and disappear. So archery can be far more than just shooting a few targets

I’m sure anyone who enjoys field archery has similar stories to tell of their encounters. Thanks for reading