Category Archives: Articles by Club Members

Why do some archers shoot with a tab not a glove?

Your hands are one of the most important elements in archery. They are the crucial connection between archer and bow. Correct hand positioning can be the difference between hitting the golden ten… or the neighbouring target. Your hands and fingers as an archer are arguably your most important asset (and indeed in life!). It is therefore essential that one wears protection to prevent any blisters, numbness and nerve damage, whilst also aiding your string release and performance as far as possible. Therefore every archer, whether Olympic gold medallist or novice, will need to work out some finger protection. But how do you choose from the multitude of styles available?

One of the deciding factors which will help with this decision, is determining the style of archery you wish to pursue. When shooting a traditional style bow, gloves are inherently more advantageous. They provide superb protection through reinforced fingertips (particularly helpful for bows with a heavy draw weight) and as gloves tend to be made out of thick leather, they therefore provide product longevity. For practicality purposes, gloves give the archer the ability to be “hands-free” to do other things, such as, retrieve arrows (or rearrange their Robin Hood hats). Many traditional archers not only feel that it synchronizes with their style of going “old school”, but that there is a more intuitive, natural release when shooting with a glove.

That said, the most common finger protection among archers is the finger tab. Modern Olympic-style shooters will find the tab the most universal piece of equipment. A basic finger tab is simply a piece of leather with a retaining loop or holes to keep the tab in position. More upgraded versions might have a platform, plate and/or a spacer. Although from the perspective of protecting your fingers tabs may be thinner than gloves, this does give the archer more sensitivity allowing them to innately fine tune and reflect on their release. Importantly, tabs provide a smoother release by having a lower friction surface, ensuring the least interference with your arrows. Many tab designs, such as the shelf tab, will further ensure this by stopping the archer from pinching the arrow (which is what makes for that frustrating arrow swing whilst drawing back). Many archers also find that their shooting becomes more accurate when using a shelf tab as it allows them to anchor the string better with their fingers.

All in all, gloves and fingers tabs basically do the same thing, with subtle differences. Gloves and tab products have a range of price points, they aren’t an expensive investment and they are usually one of the first pieces of equipment a beginner archer will buy. Although the style of archery tends to inform the style of finger protection, there is no reason why an archer cannot shoot a traditional bow with a tab or an Olympic-style recurve with a glove. Archery is very personal and therefore it is important that you ask yourself, which elements resonate with you. Consider the following criteria when choosing: protection, sensitivity, smoothness of release and practicality.

And finally as with everything else in archery we tend to teach what works best for the majority of people. There’s a reason that no-one has ever won an Olympic gold medal shooting a freestyle recurve with a lovely tooled leather glove. Conversely if you shoot a hunting style American flatbow you’re going to pick up somewhat strange looks if you’re rocking a Cavalier Elite Cordovan top of the range shelf tab while trying to master your instinctive ‘at one with the arrow’ shooting style.

Finger Tab

Archery Glove

 

If you want to be a record breaker …

On 5 September 2015, Hamish Murray of Swindon, UK, shot 10 arrows into a 40 cm target, from an 18m distance, in just 1 minute and 0.5 second. With a 62 lb longbow. And he was just 17 at the time.

If your reaction to that is less “Ooof” and more “Guard my beverage”, then there’s nothing stopping you from having a go yourself. Murray currently holds the Guinness World Records (GWR) title for “Fastest time to shoot 10 arrows”, which is just one of a whole host of archery titles that GWR monitor.

Other current titles include “Farthest accurate distance (men’s archery)” for which the challenger must shoot an arrow into any scoring ring of a 120cm World Archery target. Which might sound reasonably do-able, until you consider that the current record stands at 283.47 m (930.04 ft). It’s held by US Paralympic legend Matt Stutzman, AKA the @ArmlessArcher, who, as his bio says, does everything with his feet. You might not want to put that beer down just yet. Another archer with proper foot skills is American Nancy Siefker who, standing on her hands and holding the bow with her left foot, shot an arrow into a scoring ring of a 5.5 cm target from a distance of 6.09 m (20 ft). If you fancy having a go at this, be reassured that the rules allow for a larger target than the one Nancy chose – anything up to 12 cm is allowed. Easy.

But in all seriousness, if you’re willing to put in the work you could be in with a shot (yes, I know) at one of the other records. Certain club members – and at this point the Wednesday evening crowd come, unbidden, to mind – might fancy their chances at this one: “Most balloons burst simultaneously by arrows.” The current holder, American Randy Oitker, loaded multiple arrows onto his bow and with this lethal cluster managed to burst seven balloons, pinned to a target, at the same time.

If endurance is your thing, there’s a record for the “Longest archery marathon”. This is pretty much what it sounds like: the longest time to continuously shoot arrows under World Archery conditions (with designated rest breaks allowed, so you can take care of requisite business). That record currently stands at 30 hours and 16 minutes, and is held by Dutch amateur archer Ton van Eekeren. Those who prefer outdoor shooting might like to consider the as-yet unclaimed title for “Highest archery score in 24 hours under World Archery outdoor conditions”.

Another, rather intriguing, record category also currently stands unfilled: “Most bottle caps removed using a bow and arrow in one minute”. That’s pretty much what it sounds like: the most crown cap bottles opened using a bow and arrow in one minute. Anyone taking home that title will not, in all likelihood, have to buy a beer for a very long time.

If none of the above records (and there are a few more on the website) sound like your thing, the GWR team are open to suggestions for new record categories. There are a few criteria to bear in mind if you want to propose a new category, though. One of these is that your proposed record must be based on a “single superlative” – so you could go for farthest, highest, fastest or most, but not a combination of these (so no “Farthest accurate shot whilst doing the loudest burp”, for example). Another important one is that the activity can’t be too niche: it’s got to be something that is currently subject to, or is likely to provoke, international competition. As impressive as it is, no-one is going to accept your suggestion of “Most zombie hostage targets hit by a vaguely hungover South London archer in 30 seconds (female)”.

You can also request that a record be split by gender, if there is justification for this. There’s no reason why women and men shouldn’t compete with each other for “Most balloons burst simultaneously by arrows”, but you could argue that “Heaviest longbow draw weight” – a record which, at 200lb, has remained in the arms of the UK’s Mark Stretton since 2004 could be split into female and male categories.

If you feel like having a go any of these records, you can fill in a short online form on the GWR website. Then, the records management team will send you the guidelines – basically, what conditions must be fulfilled and the quality of evidence they’ll need to see to evaluate your claim. Record verification is taken very seriously by GWR – the majority of archery records listed above must be undertaken using unmodified, World Archery-recognised equipment in the presence of independent expert witnesses registered with either Archery GB or the equivalent nationally-recognised governing body. By “independent”, GWR mean that the witness can’t have any personal investment in the outcome, so you can’t ask the club to do it.

But we will claim it was our training that got you there. Naturally…

Scythian Exhibition at The British Museum

The Art of Scythian Warfare – at The British Museum

The British Museum has its latest blockbuster Winter show on… and it’s archery related! (and also Game of Thrones related as apparently the Scythians were the inspiration for the Dothraki – more about that via this link).

We’re lucky enough to have a club member who managed to get us a few tickets to one of the launch events which was a talk by Military historian Mike Loades. We couldn’t resist asking her for a short review.

“Mike Loades entertained the audience with his amazing skills and his reproduction Scythian bow and saddle. His enthusiasm for the history and the archaeology of the Scythians infected everyone. Who are the Scythians? Well to cut a long story short, they are an ancient nomad tribe who roamed the steppes of Russia (you can learn more here). Before the Mongolians, you had the Scythians!

Mike was fascinating. He was especially enjoyable when demonstrating the loading of the bow. His first hand experience with horse archery meant that he added some interesting points about how the Scythians would have shot from a saddle without stirrups.

Overall Mike Loades is such a great presenter, the lecture was fun and informative.”

Thanks tons to Holly both for the tickets which she made available to the club and for writing the review for us.

The exhibition runs from 14th September until the 14th January and if nothing else you should definitely click through and look at the fabulous 35 sec promo video on the British Museum page here.

It’s too late (sadly) to see Mike Loades but if this has whetted your appetite here’s a couple more Scythian related things happening that you can still catch!

  • There a gallery talk on Sat 2nd December called ‘Scythian Archers: law and order in ancient Athens‘ (more details here and it’s free!).
  • There is a film called ‘Scythians – Amazons of the Steppe‘, part of the Epic Warrior Women series, on Sat 16th December at 2pm (booking here – only £3)
  • And there’s the final Curator’s Introduction to the Exhibition happening on Sat 13th January at 1.30pm. It’s a 45 minute illustrated lecture and it’s free but you must book (other dates have all sold out so grab it now if you want to go!)
Now where's that third arrow?

Archery for the Average by Corrinne

 

“So, how long have you been shooting?” asks the course member, eyeing my distinctly un-grouped triumvirate of arrows. “Well, about three months …” I begin, to which she responds with an understanding nod of the head. “And, uh, a year.”

 

The course member blinks. Tumbleweed rolls, accusingly, along the shooting line.

 

It’s fair to say I’ll never be the best in t’club –my scores are currently drifting lazily about in the lower quarter of the Traditional scoreboard, like leaves in a late September breeze. That doesn’t bother me – I’m only out to compete against myself. What does bother me is that Myself sometimes plays dirty. Like a lot of people, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to shooting. But of late, I’ve developed a better awareness of when my own mind is getting in the way of a good shot. How so? Oh, let me count the ways:

 

Fighting with the bow

Yeah, I initially did that classic newbie thing of overbowing myself. Partly ‘cause I got cocky and told myself that being a 5-foot-1 woman was no barrier to shooting what the big boys shoot. Pfffft. Your bow should feel like an extension of your body, not a demon determined to take you down. If your arms hurt, your draw is jerky, and you feel like the bloody thing is shooting you, not the other way round – go down a few pounds. 30 lb is my limit.

 

Lack of concentra … ooh, helicopter!

It’s really easy for me to drift off somewhere in between nocking and releasing (as the nurse said to the vicar … honestly, who came up with these terms?). Gotta keep focus on that target all the way through. Harder than it sounds for someone like me, but it makes a big difference. Tune out the chatter – other peoples and your own bloody head’s.

 

Rushing, rushing

There’ll be time for everyone to shoot their ends (and there’s that vicar again). I always have to guard against rushing, doing that overly-self-conscious thing of wanting to get myself out of the way so my target partner – a better archer, in my head, regardless of who they are – can shoot. Don’t rush. Give yourself permission to be there.

 

Going instinctive too soon

No, I am not Byron Ferguson, nor was meant to be. I stopped consciously counting out my sequence, and damn, I sucked for a while. Going back to that stance-nock-set-hands-etc. malarkey has made a big difference.

 

Grumbling

Yeah, you missed. So what? During a round, try not to have an emotional response to any shot, good or bad. Getting annoyed at a bad shot will have a knock-on effect on your next.  Conversely, getting too cocky at a good couple of shots will only lead to Third Arrow Syndrome, and we all know how annoying that is. Do your celebrating in the brewery afterwards.  Quietly, preferably.

 

Now where's that third arrow?

Now where’s that third arrow?

 

Now, where could that third arrow be?

That’s it for now. Just a few more things, afore I go:

 

  • It’s meant to be fun. Try to find that balance between performing at your best, and not letting your hobby become another source of stress.

 

  • Get a mate to film you. It does help. No, you don’t look like a twat. This video someone took of me helped me see I was yanking that string like an old-fashioned bog chain: https://vine.co/v/OFY1AvdD3hM

 

  • I didn’t get better without ongoing support from the coaches.  If you can’t figure out where you’re going wrong, do ask them for advice.

 

Time for my evening beverage. Happy shooting, one and all.

Club Member Richard P’s Competitive Weekend of Archery!

It was a busy weekend for a few 2020 Archers over the weekend of 1st / 2nd March as we went along to two separate competitions on two consecutive days! The King’s Cup, hosted by the Chessington Bowmen, was on Saturday 1st March. This is a world record status FITA 18 event (60 arrows at a 40cm target 18m away) and a group of regular 2020 shooters went along to take part. Some of us were representing 2020 (Me, Roger, Kim and Jeff) and some shot for their other regular club Sutton Bowmen (Bryn, Trent and Tim).

 

The venue at Chessington is great as it has loads of space, it’s nicely heated and the club has a very friendly atmosphere. All was going well as we arrived – we had a little chat and got ourselves registered. Then as I started to put my bow together disaster struck! I hadn’t packed my sight! This was going to make my shooting a little difficult as I am rubbish at barebow. Fortunately with so many generous 2020 shooters around I was able to borrow a sight from Bryn and the organisers allowed me to move my session so I could shoot later.

 

It was also a stroke of good luck that in a World Archery round you are allowed two rounds of two minutes to shoot as many sighters as you can. This meant that I was able to set up the new sight and get a sight mark…. and hope for the best! In the end I managed a score of 509 which I was pleased with as this qualified me for a FITA target award for breaking 500! It also secured me a 10th place overall.

 

Roger and Tim had a bit of a nightmare by their usual standards, but I think that most people were reasonably happy with their scores.

 

Richard Parker (10th) – 509

 

Trent Rosenbaum (21st) – 476

 

Bryn Bache (24th) – 471

 

Kim Li – (25th) – 470

 

Jeffrey Chan – (32nd) – 449

 

Roger Huggins – (33rd) – 449

 

Tim Tilford – (5th) – 324 (Barebow)

 

The following day – Sunday 2nd – brought the Southern Counties and Sussex Indoor Championship which was held at the K2 in Crawley. This is a really impressive venue with 66 targets (!!) set up. They were even selling event t-shirts! This time the round that we were shooting was a Portsmouth – the more familiar round for indoor club shooters.

 

There were just the three of us this time myself, Kim and Jeff once again representing 2020 – and this time we were also representing the County of London! Jeff gave us a bit of a scare as he arrived just in time due to some issue with the trains. I was hoping that would be the only excitement today…

 

The organisers kindly put us together on adjacent targets and on the same detail so we could chat between ends. We were interspersed amongst a group of archers from Hillingdon – all decked out in green. They were a very friendly bunch which was great. It seems that Kim and I and are getting known on the competition circuit as a couple of the Judges came over to have a chat with us.

 

So off we went! Everything seemed to be going well and with one end to go I was on 523. I knew that if I could shoot 27 or more it would be a personal best for a competition. So, I walked up to the target for the last three arrows of the day trying to clear my mind in order not to pressure myself.

 

The first arrow looked to be a 10, then, releasing the second arrow, the bow kicks strangely in my hand. This was followed by a loud ‘clunk!’ My longrod has parted company with the rest of my bow..! Thankfully it didn’t result in anything less than an 8. Also thankfully, I am able to declare an equipment failure. The clock is stopped to allow me to put my bow back together and shoot my last arrow, I have 26 seconds left on the clock.

 

Once the stabiliser is securely screwed back into place I trot back to the line (now on my lonesome) and shoot my last arrow – a 9! Leaving me with a joint competition personal best of 550.

 

We are all happy with our scores (Kim hadn’t shot for two weeks so it took him a while to get into the swing of things). There were 114 Southern County entrants overall to help you make sense of the rankings.

 

Richard Parker (47th) – 550

 

Kim Li – (89th) – 501

 

Jeffrey Chan – (97th) – 479

 

I hadn’t realised that the three highest scores for shooters from the County of London would be entered as a team score but they were – and we came 8th out of 10. Not brilliant but I don’t think there were many County of London shooters as mine was the best score.

 

The indoor season for competitions is drawing to a close now but I would encourage all club members to think about competing when they can. It’s another great way to track your progress, the atmosphere is usually very relaxed (despite the rules and regulations) and where else will you find so many new archery fans to chat with?

 

 

 

Team 2020 Archery at The European Archery Festival 2014

This piece is by 2020 Archery Club Member Kim Li – huge thanks to Kim for writing this account of his experience at the European Archery Festival.

 

Friday 24 January 2014 – Day One 

 

7.30am – It’s an early start today as I have to pick up Roger and Sarah from the station for a three hour drive to Telford. Sarah’s just texted to say they are running late as Roger has forgotten his ID so the day is already off to a good start…! Half way into the journey I have a sudden panic attack. Did I pack all my documents? I know I have my GNAS card and photo ID on me but what about my entry ticket? Do I turn around? Not likely. Professor Sarah wisely points out that we can check at a service station. 20 mins later my worries are gone. I packed it after all. I’m already a nervous wreck and I haven’t even arrived at the venue yet!

 

12.30pm – Wahay! Mr SATNAV has not let us down. We arrive at our hotels and the International Centre in one piece. We’ve plumped for the hotels which are right next door to the venue. Sarah and Roger are in the International which is about a 4 minute walk from the venue. I’m another minute down the road in the Holiday Inn. The rooms are pricier but it’s so much more convenient. And the hotels are very well kitted out. There’s a bar, restaurant, gym and pool. I can see I’m gonna like it here.  However, check-in isn’t until 2pm. So, what do three young archers do at their first competition? They go shopping at the trade fair! Bring on the new kit!

 

OMG!  We’ve just seen the targets and the shooting line.  The targets look so small and miles away.  What have we got ourselves into?  Maybe entering the competition wasn’t a smart move.

 

12.45pm – New finger tab acquired.  Hello Fivics!

 

12.50pm – Bump into Claire Conner and Richard Poole.  They are busy getting some arrows downrange in the practice area. They are scheduled to be first in our group of intrepid archers to shoot in the competition.  Claire looks relaxed.  Richard … well I don’t think relaxed is the word I’d use.  Only two nights ago we found out that Richard had been assigned the target face between Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski.  No pressure there then!

 

Hey look it’s Fadil, another 2020 member.  He’s not here to shoot but has made the journey to support us.  Good man!  We do our best to persuade him to buy some gear.  I think he’s got his eye on the KG Archery stand …

 

13.00pm – Brady Ellison!  The man himself has arrived … we’re all staring at him!  Ladies and Gents, we’re in the presence of an Olympian and World Champion! We also spot Aida Roman of Mexico.  Sarah is due to shoot right next to her!  No pressure Professor!

 

As Claire and Richard go off to the main hall others from 2020 start to arrive.  Trent, Karine, Akos and others all arrive with various levels of nervousness and trepidation.  Well, maybe not Karine.  She’s done this thing before. My first and only foray into the food offerings of the International Centre leaves me … hungry.  Next time I’m bringing a stove and a wok!

 

2.00pm – Claire and Richard shoot their first arrows whilst we check into our rooms.  I must admit, I like the Holiday Inn.  The rooms are very well fitted out and the facilities in the hotel are top notch.  There’s even a spa and pool!

 

2.05pm – Danielle Brown!  I swear I’ve just spotted Danielle Brown in the reception area getting a beverage from Costa.

 

2.08pm – Rick van der Ven!  On the way to the hotel we bump into Rick van der Ven in the car park.  He seems to be in a hurry to get to the practice range.  Both me and Roger are showing unheard of levels of excitement at the Dutch archer’s presence.  Such a moment necessitated a fist bump!

 

I return back to the main hall to catch Claire and Richard finish their sighting rounds and start scoring.

Richard and Brady Ellison

That’s Richard sandwiched between 2 archery legends!

 

Rather than sit up in the stands I decide to hover behind the coaching line and provide moral or logistical support wherever I can.  Both shooters seem OK.  Richard is doing an exceptional job despite his position.

 

5.50pm – The next session starts.  Sarah, Roger, Trent, Akos and Bryn are all up for their moment of glory.  Again I hover on the coaching line to add my support.  Bryn is first to flag me down, about half way through the session.  He needs chocolate.  Unfortunately I am not in my usual archery setup so I have none to hand.  A quick visit to the food hall results in water and kitkats for those who need it.  Then Akos throws a polite come hither at me.  He needs a pen to mark his arrows.  Again, my casual spectator setup doesn’t include a pen.  In an unusual moment of clarity I decide to visit the expo stands.  Surely one of them has a pot of pens to give away as a freebie … nope.  Not a single one.  We have wristbands and t-shirts but no pens.  Luckily Bow International save the day and kindly donate a biro.

 

Wow, Brady Ellison has come down to watch and support some archers.  I find myself standing next to him … AWESOME!  I even get to exchange a few words with him.

Brady and Kim

I sneak in a cheeky photo op with the big man himself!

 

9.00pm – The final arrow of the night is shot.  I’m not there to see it as I am at the station waiting for my beloved Ceri to arrive.  The weather has moved on from slight drizzle to heavy rain.  Just another day in Telford then.

 

That’s more than 3 hours for 60 arrows.  I’m beginning to feel concerned as it usually takes me 2 hours at most to shoot my 60.  And I know my own endurance levels will only last for two hours.  Thank God I’m not shooting today and I have until tomorrow afternoon to gather my energy.  I think I’m gonna need it.

 

9.30pm – Dinner at the Beefeater is not what we hope for.  With beef in their name you kinda hope that they know what they are doing.  Turns out we were wrong.  A handful of rib-eyes turn up looking … microwaved.  There’s no hint of heat on them and they look greyer than the sky earlier today.  Sarah and Karine are vocal about their discontent and we manage to get both meals refunded.  The beers are flowing thank god.  We won’t be back here tomorrow night.

 

Saturday 25 January 2014 – Day Two

 

8.00am – It’s early and Richard Parker, James and Jeff should be on the line getting in their four sighter rounds.  I am still asleep so I miss most of their arrows. I only get a chance to see Richard during the second half of the shoot.  Seems fatigue and timing has hit the silver fox (his own words).  It’s not going well.

 

10.00am After a nice hot bath and a filling breakfast I am ready for my turn on the line.  Ceri is curious about how I will do (it’s her first time seeing me shoot arrows and she is intrigued by the kit).

 

10.30am – I manage to shoot 18 arrows on the practice range and my kit is inspected by the judges.  All is good.  Time to control my nerves for the qualification round. A few 2020 members pop over to wish me luck.  I’m now a nervous wreck.

 

12.00am – Here goes nothing.  I’ve got my bib and my number is attached to my quiver, I’m ready to shoot some arrows.

kim li

Boy I’ve got my anchor sorted!

I’m shooting next to Josh from Scotland and someone who is waaaay too young to be left alone with a pointy stick (little did I know… ).  Josh takes up the paper scoring duties and I get to play with the electronic scoring device.  My first shot feels strangely natural and hits the target.  Maybe it’s all gonna be alright on the night…. ?

 

28 arrows in and I’m feeling pretty good.  I haven’t missed yet.  I’m on target to beating my PB and maybe beat Roger!  I’ve got plenty of water and chocs in my belt and nerves don’t seem to be an issue.  I’ve got Ceri and Sarah cheering me on.  What else could a man need?  Refocus, arrow 29 is ready to fly. I adopt the freedom stance (my own name for my rather wide stance). Arrow 29 is nocked and lined up. I draw back and take aim ….

 

MISS!!

 

I don’t believe it.  My first miss!  Calm down and reset for arrow 30.

 

I adopt the freedom stance again … Arrow 30 is nocked and lined up… I draw back and take aim ….

 

HIT!

 

Phew.  I can live with one miss.  So I end my first 30 arrows with 245.  That’s higher than I have ever shot.  With a bit of luck I might be able to nudged 500!

 

5.30pm – 30 arrows later and it’s all over.  I don’t bother looking at my final score.  I know I missed 6 times.  I haven’t performed as well as I had hoped but that’s the reason I’m here. Where else will I get the opportunity to learn what it’s really like on the world archery stage?  Today has shown me that endurance also plays a key part in your performance.  I need to be able to last more than 2 hours and where necessary adapt my shooting when things go wrong.  Lessons identified.  Lessons learnt.

 

So it’s back to my room for a shower to relax and then drinks at the bar in the Holiday Inn.  The silver fox – with James and Jeff in tow – turns up for a few drinks too.  Eventually the whole gang is in the bar chatting about the day’s events and archery in general.  Somewhere in the conversation we learn that Brady Elllison has been knocked out of the competition and ranks 5th in the final scores.  That’s a bit scary given he’s just set a new world record with 593 in the qualification round.  But that’s not important now, we’re all a bit dejected and down after realizing that not a single 2020 member shot within their abilities.

 

9.00pm – A quick trip back to the International Centre through the cold night leaves us in shock.  The men’s recurve second chance shoot is tomorrow morning at 7.30am!  OMG!  That’s the final smack in the face.  Someone has a rather dark sense of humour in Archery GB and Telford.

 

10.30pm – Well that’s an early night I guess.  See you all at 6am!

 

Saturday 26 January 2014 – Day Three

 

6.00am – There’s no way in hell anyone should be up at 6am and contemplating shooting arrows.  Even if it is only 15 arrows.  But that is exactly what I’m doing.  Having not made the top 32 cut-off for the qualifications round I have automatically been entered into the Second Chance competition. If I can score well with my next 15 arrows I might be in with a chance of getting some of the goodies in the prize fund.

 

6.30am – I’ve trudged my way to the main hall thinking of nothing but wanting to go home.  It’s early, dark and cold.  My beloved Ceri is still snuggled up in bed.  We didn’t really see the need for her to be there as this’ll all be over in about 30mins.

 

OMG!

 

Entering the main hall I see just about every archer who didn’t make the top 32.  I thought this would be a nice quiet affair.  Boy was I wrong.  I might as well make the most of this experience.  We’ve all travelled many miles to get here so why waste it?  I guess I better man up and string up!

 

9.30am – I’ve shot my last arrow for the competition.  And I must admit, I had more fun shooting in the Second Chance competition that in the qualification round.  Most of the archers were there to have fun.  The targets were unfamiliar (a triangular Vegas three spot with all three targets overlapping) and most shooters didn’t really stand a chance (I saw some county champions there).  So the arrows were flying and so were the jokes.  Good times.

last arrows

Here’s me shooting my last arrows. The guy on my left ended up with no arrows with a full set of vanes. Hell he was shooting a bareshaft! 

 

9.45am – Last chance to support the team.  Karine is still setting up whilst Claire is ready to shoot her first round of sighters.  Karine waves me over and needs a bow stringer.  She’s left her kit bag in the bag area and has only just realized her string is on upside down.  Fortunately, I’ve just completed my shoot and have everything on me. One red bow stringer to the rescue!

 

10.30am – Myself, Ceri, Claire and Richard Poole settle down to our last breakfast in Telford.  We chat about our experiences and what is happening in the archery world next week.  Of course I don’t miss one final chance to rib Richard about his position on the line between two Olympians.

 

12.00pm  – Checked out and homeward bound. I didn’t feel like queuing up and watching the finals, ArcheryTV will be showing that later on and they have better seats than me.

 

It was a pleasure to come and shoot at Telford.  Archery GB came up trumps when they managed to steal the competition and host it in the UK.  Where else will shooters of all ages and abilities get to shoot against the world’s greatest? I may not have shot my best but I’m not complaining.  Next time (whenever that will be) I’ll be back…

Pranava : A new bow comes with new challenges

I finally bought a bow! My very own and very first so I thought I’d share the experience. 
I first started shooting in October 2012. I contemplated buying a bow in December but just before I planned to go shopping I went on vacation. When I got back I felt a bit like I was starting all over again. After a couple more useful months of practice (in February 2013), I realised that I was still shooting the 18lb club traIning bow. As I’d been practicing for around 5 months at this point I felt that I could probably manage something a little heavier. So each week I pushed myself a little and in three sessions I moved from 18 to 26lb (still using 2020 Archery bows)!
At the same time as I was increasing the poundage of the bow I started to gather information about equipment to try and make myself look like a knowledgeable buyer and mask (at least some of) my ignorance. So, on a sunny Saturday in March I set off to my nearest archery shop. A number of people had suggested that I should try out different risers so this was my plan. However, once I got to the store I discovered that there were only two risers within my budget (having a budget makes life far simpler). 
The first riser that I tried was pretty awesome, and felt much heavier than the wooden club bow. By the time I tried the second one I was super tired from practicing with the first so it seemed heavier – despite the sales girl insisting that it was in fact lighter than the previous one. Even with the extra weight I thought that the second bow was pretty awesome as well! I basically couldn’t tell the difference at all. Except that the more expensive one was prettier to look at. I thought for a bit… and then thought a bit more… and then decided to buy the pretty one! 
So I ended up with a beautiful red Hoyt Horizon riser and 26lb SF Premium limbs to go with it. I did buy an entire kit, mostly going for the cheaper options where possible. In total I came out with the bow plus 8 Jazz arrows with red/white fletchings, a basic sight, bow-stand, quiver, arm guard, finger tab, arrow puller and bow-stringer. I also bought a backpack as I can’t possibly carry it all without one. Most people told me that the whole thing would take about 3 hours, but I reckon that I did it in only about 30mins! 
I was really eager to try it the next day, but as always seems to happen when I get very excited about something, bad luck followed and I woke up with flu. I had to wait an entire week before I could use my new kit. I turned up to the practice session at my usual time and found that It took me a good quarter of an hour just to fix everything together! I also made a good many mistakes as I did so and required a bit of help! Eventually I managed to get started and it then took me the next half of the session to nail down the sight marks. At this point I realised that shooting a club bow was a lot easier! 
My second attempt was much better. I set up my kit in roughly 10 minutes – and managed to do it completely on my own without help. I also learnt that there is an upper limb and a lower limb and that they are not interchangeable! Ahem. 
I’m now gradually getting to the point where I feel like the bow is right for me and its starting to feel like mine. Just as important as this is learning how to take care of it properly and – easier this one – learning to love it!
If you’re interested in taking the same course that Pranava did she was on the Fast Track Archery course – these courses run throughout the year and cost only £95. http://www.2020archery.co.uk/lessons-courses-7/Weekend-Beginners-Course

Dan – Traditional Bows : a Beginner’s Guide to Wooden Longbows

I got my first traditional bow last year and I was happily hooked soon thereafter. Even if I am wielding something that is more usually found in the gloomier regions of the Amazon Rainforest in an indoor hall near London Bridge it’s still rather a lot of fun! I soon decided to look into buying something better. What followed were many weeks trawling through the internet looking at random bits of tree and talking to some spectacular beards, and as such I thought it might be worth passing on some useful little tips which I picked up. 

Modern traditional bows are an oxymoron as they are normally made up of 2 or 3 layers of wood called laminates. This is because different parts of the bow require different technical properties, specifically the ability to withstand compression or tension, and it’s impossible for one type of wood to do both equally well. Laminate bows therefore utilise woods with different types of properties in different parts of the bow which makes them better but more expensive than single piece self-bows.

Your bowyer will be able to give you detailed expert advice on the best types of wood to use and different bowyers prefer different types of wood. The following however is a good starter for 10, regardless of whether you go for an off-the-shelf bow or a more tailored one.

Bellywood. The belly of the bow is the part of the bow which is closest to the archer, and requires a wood which is capable of withstanding compression. The most common bellywood is Lemonwood which is cheap to use and found in most traditional bows. It won’t last more than a couple of years though before it starts to have a bend in it called string-follow, but it is excellent for a first traditional bow. [NB according to many bowyers, string-follow actually improves the performance of a bow, so like wine your bow will improve with age!]

Other bellywoods include Ipe, Yew, Osage Orange and Putu Jumau. Each of these is excellent under compression making them ideal for the belly of a bow, if in doubt, go for the one whose colour you like best – a traditional bow can, and indeed should, be something beautiful.

Corewood. The core or middle of the bow is the foundation of the bow and is typically made of a very hard wood, indeed the harder the better. The most common are Purpleheart or Greenheart which are excellent corewoods and, because of their availability, they are cheap.

Other corewoods include Balau [“harder than the knockers of hell” as one chap colourfully described it], Ipe, Yew, Padauk, Bubinga, Snakewood and a whole host of other woods I have never heard of – as with bellywood if in doubt go with the one whose colour you like best. 

You will note that Yew and Ipe, and indeed several others, can be used as both core and belly woods, in such a case you would end up with a bi- as opposed to a tri-laminate bow. 

Backwood. The back of the bow is the part of the bow furthest from the archer and requires a wood which is capable of withstanding tension. By far the best backwood is Bamboo, which unfortunately is also the most expensive. If you are buying a tailored bow, it is worth sacrificing cost elsewhere in the bow to be able to have a Bamboo back. Hickory or Maple are also perfectly good choices for heavy (60lb’s or more) and lighter bows respectively.

Traditional bows come in a whole host of different types, shapes and sizes from delicate flat bows to 140lb warbows, each of which however will incorporate the ideas discussed above. Go on give it a go, you won’t regret it!

Josie : Attention in Archery

Hi all, I’m on a slightly different tack this week and thought you might like to come along for the ride. I’ve been musing on concentration recently in an attempt to improve my shooting technique. In the course of my research I’ve come across this issue in many archery books and articles I’ve read. It may sound like something that won’t become relevant until later on, but believe me: it’s as important to the absolute beginner as the seasoned pro. Different people approach it in different ways. This is my take on it.


Attention in Archery

Attention moves around the visual field independent of the direction of gaze. This is the “attentional spotlight”, utilising peripheral vision as almost a second set of eyes. We use this in everyday life all the time, in general totally unaware of the split connection. Even if we find ourselves looking directly at something we don’t expect to see, we’re no more likely to notice it than if it appears at the edge of our vision. Hence, attention roves across the field of vision like a spotlight, picking out points of interest that are not necessarily where our eyes are pointed. It also acts as a kind of built-in risk assessment, constantly scanning the environment and submitting information to the subconscious which informs motor function.

Attentional spotlight has a major role to play in target archery. Have you ever got to full draw, focused on the gold, held on just a second or so too long and found your arrow tip wanders away from the centre? Attention is critical for this. It also works the other way: taking too little time may allow your eyes to point the right way but is by no means a guarantee of attention.


It’s why I find rhythm so important for shooting: I know, more-or-less, how long I can keep my attention fixed to my gaze and I know how long it takes me to get to full draw and do the necessary pre-flight checks. The tricky bit is marrying the two to create the perfect shooting conditions. Working to a rhythm or counting the draw can help you become more consistent. If you try this then remember also to develop a breathing pattern that is the same every time you draw. (While we’re on that tangent, try to avoid taking a deep breath while drawing, especially when at full draw; it causes too much upper body movement and it’s harder to hold position when the lungs are either completely full or completely empty. Try various breathing patterns and see what works for you.)

Attention can take up to half a second to divert, which is a long time in psychological terms. On some days you may find your attention just won’t stay. This can make shooting extremely difficult and frustrating. It’s up to you whether you stick with it on that day. There are mental techniques that are said to be able to help with this which take time and training to master (I’ll be coming back to this another time). Despite how long it may take I believe it’s not only worthwhile but crucial if you wish to discover how good an archer you can be. 

It is possible to shoot fairly well without getting to grips with attention-mapping, just don’t expect top-quality scores! If you are willing to invest the time it will add an extra facet to your ability that will be useful in everyday life too.

There’s another side to the same coin known as ‘ironic processes of control’. Sometimes too  much attention is just as detrimental as too little. Imagine you’ve just shot two 10s. You’re on course for an excellent score and mentally rehearsing the final shot as you prepare to draw. Concentrate, release and – it’s a 6. Been there? I have. This is a prime example of the ironic processes of control. You over-think the shot in anticipation, moving what would usually be a subconscious process into the conscious mind. The conscious mind cannot treat the process in a likewise fashion and makes subtle alterations, enough to throw the shot off completely. There are ways of dealing with this, though none are foolproof. The best way I’ve found is to gain control over your conscious mind, push its focus to one side and let the subconscious regain control of the shot. For example, focus your attention somewhere closer to home: focus on your grip on the bow, keeping your bow shoulder down, what you’re planning to do after the session or what’s for dinner. Don’t expect miracles, but you’ll improve your chances of a great shot.


I took some advice from a friend about focus. He shoots high-powered rifles over long distance at targets the size of a 50p piece so focus is a major factor. He told me that when he shoots he gets into position, sights, then drifts his eyes and his attention away from the target for just a moment before snapping them both back to the target and squeezing the trigger. This overcomes the split-attention issue by refreshing the mind just enough (and releasing any built-up tension at the same time). I’ve tried this myself at the club with good results so I’d recommend trying it. Just don’t try shifting attention too far or the conscious mind will move your arm. I drift my focus down to the border between black and white on the target face. Down works best for me as I find it doesn’t lead me to move my physical position. Make sure you drift your eyes only, don’t move your head.

I should point out that even if you follow this to the letter there’s no guarantee that every shot will be perfect. There are so many factors to consider and I don’t even know them all yet!

What are your thoughts?

Pranava : Coming back into Fashion

As I travel around London, buses and tube stations alike are adorned with huge posters of the much awaited younger Lara Croft holding a fully drawn bow with the tagline ‘a survivor is born’. As I look at all these images I think to myself, is it just because I picked up archery recently or is it really all around us nowadays!

Archery also features heavily in almost every medieval fantasy world – Legolas in The Lord of Rings, The Hobbit and almost everyone in the TV series The Game of Thrones portray archery as a weapon of precision and talent. However, it’s also interesting to see archery feature in modern day comics. I didn’t even know there was a character called the Hawkeye before I watched Marvel’s Avengers! In all fairness, that’s my shortcoming since Hawkeye has been part of the Avengers since the 60s. Of course I was glad to find that there is an archer in the midst of the expensive-gadgeted billionaires and born-with-powers gods, etc. For whatever reason, there he is!

There is also a new TV series Arrow based an old DC comics hero Green Arrow. Apparently he survived 5 years on an island and is a billionaire in Starling City, much like Gotham’s Batman except Batman never thought of getting a bow. The survivor theme seems to be key. Katniss Everdeen survived The Hunger Games with more help from her bow than from Haymitch her mentor. The Hunger Games movie apparently brought many people into archery, so much so that a lot of people have asked me if that was my reason. Funnily enough though the movie never actually seems to focus on the shooting itself – unlike Merida in Brave. Even though it’s only a couple of scenes, Brave does make a good go of portraying archery accurately. Even the fletchings on the arrow are correctly aligned (unlike Avatar where the technique is so horrible archery looks to be somewhat risky for both hunter and hunted alike). Brave also portrays archery as having a lovely rebellious edge.

So, to conclude, although archery is an ancient skill it is also definitely the newest fashionable sport in town! You simply can’t have fantasy fiction without an archer! And actually.. I’ve just spotted another theme. Green Arrow and Hawkeye are old comics but the newer archery heroes are all women! Ha! Now I am definitely trying to pull a fast one!