Category Archives: Articles by Club Members

Is it legal to shoot a Welshman with an arrow?

Occasionally, I let slip that I spent a decent chunk of my life living in Wales. As I teach archery, this commonly leads to the question of whether it’s legally sound to shoot a Welshman with a longbow in Chester or Herefordshire or whichever town or county the questioner can think of that borders Wales or Scotland. Occasionally, extra parameters are added: “It’s fine as long as you’re near the cathedral at midnight and you shoot exactly 12 yards”. That sort of thing.

This idea is so prevalent that even the people that run the country—or at least want to run the country—sometimes get confused. But is it actually legal?

The short answer is, somewhat obviously: no, it isn’t legal. Historic royal decrees and the wobbly process of defining a British person as legally Welsh, English or Scottish aside, murder is still murder, even when it’s perpetuated on the Welsh.

The longer answer is that it was never really a fully fledged law to begin with, and that even if it had been it’s been totally superseded. There are a few theories about how this urban myth came about, but the most likely theory seems to be somewhat ironically based around a decree written by the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales in 1403, that is; not the current incumbent.

It is a matter of historical record that the English and Welsh (and Scottish) have not always seen eye to eye. Despite Welsh archers being common in English armies (including during the famous so-called English victory against the French at Agincourt), loyalties to the Crown were largely dependent on what year it was and who nominally governed any given piece of land.

In the early fifteenth century, Prince Henry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, was concerned about Welsh uprisings in and around Chester. Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy had defected to join forces with Owain Glyndŵr, who was busy causing trouble for the English throughout Wales. Percy and Glyndŵr were unhappy with the then-King Henry IV, who had usurped the throne from Richard II.

During the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, Percy was killed by an arrow to the face. Prince Henry was nearly done for in the same way, but he was saved and left with a permanent scar. Worried about the possibility of further defection to the Welsh cause, Prince Henry (who later became King Henry V) decreed that there should be a curfew on Welshmen in Chester:

“…all manner of Welsh persons or Welsh sympathies should be expelled from the city; that no Welshman should enter the city before sunrise or tarry in it after sunset, under pain of decapitation.”

Welshmen were required to leave their weapons at the town gates and not congregate in groups of three or more. And shooting a Welshman in Chester? Archery was never specifically mentioned in the Prince’s request, at least not that anyone seems to be able to reliably report.

A few years later in 1408, the citizens of Chester elected a Welsh mayor, John Ewloe. There were periodic troubles between Ewloe’s allies and the constable of the castle, William Venables, but these came to an end in 1411 when Venables was forced to pay reparations to certain citizens of the city. In short, Chester itself didn’t have a bone to pick with the Welsh.

In summary: don’t shoot a Welshman with an arrow, even if the person asking you to do so was born in Monmouth and is the reigning Prince of Wales.

The day I spent building a longbow

Longbows are, at least for a British archer, the ultimate type of bow. Robin Hood, if you ignore the latest cinematic flop, shot an English longbow. The English army won at Agincourt with longbows shot by both English and Welsh archers. The English longbow is the reason that yew trees almost became extinct in Europe in the 16th century. Longbows are as synonymous with the history of Great Britain as the royal family, bowler hats, and arguments about Marmite.

Back when I primarily shot a recurve bow, I always said I would get a longbow when I scored 550 out of 600 on a full 60-arrow Portsmouth round. I’ve held a personal best of 549 for a couple of years, and the fact that I mainly shoot an American flatbow these days means I’m very unlikely to beat that. If I can’t reach my target for buying a longbow, I figured I’d just have to build one.

Sadly, I have the carpentry skills of a lump of wood. I sought out a proper longbow making workshop.

Finding a course

These days, longbows aren’t cheap: buying new, they start at around £200 for a very basic model and rapidly go up to £500+. Paying more doesn’t get you any particular advancement—this is a longbow, after all, not a fancy compound bow—but you do get a longbow made with better materials and with fancier nocks, crafted by bowyers clothed in original sheepskin who meditate in caves overlooking the sea.

Courses to build longbows, meanwhile, also hover at around the £300 mark. The courses themselves vary: some are single days, some are full weekends in a group where you camp and craft arrows for your bow. I opted to see Will Lord, an expert in prehistoric survival skills. His workshop lasts a single day and is taught one-to-one. He used to teach groups, he told me, but you end up with people fighting over the equipment and it’s all much less personal.

I visited Will at his home in Suffolk; a beautiful cottage near Bury St Edmonds. We’d exchanged a few emails prior to meeting up, and I’d let him know that I was looking to build a bow with a draw weight in the region of 35 to 40 pounds. This let him construct the initial stave with layers of hickory, purpleheart and lemon wood. After that, though, I’d be doing most of the work.

Building the bow

First up, shaping the limbs. Will had me using a wooden spokeshave, a form of plane originally used to round off wagon wheel spokes and later adopted by shipbuilders, to shape the rectangular cross section of the stave down into the classic curved D shape. He admits that this is not the most traditional method of shaping bow limbs, but it allows the bowyer to attune to and communicate with the wood. In my case, that communication mostly began as an argument, but under Will’s guidance I slowly improved. As the limbs take their required form, they are finely smoothed with sandpaper and—eventually—wire wool.

Once I’d mostly convinced the stave to be the right shape, we attached a premade bowstring and tested the draw weight. This is largely defined by the thickness of the purpleheart core and the lemon wood belly. We drew the bow to 35 pounds: perfect. Shortening the bow might raise the poundage, but we kept it full length at around 6 feet 7 inches: larger than the average and possibly a future cause of awkward journeys on the London Underground, but it looks perfect. We sharpened the points of the stave and attached blocks of water buffalo horn to both ends to form the string nocks. While the glue dried, we moseyed off to make a string of my own.

Making a bowstring involves effectively plaiting the ends of 2 separate strings together, with each of those strings being made up of 6 or 7 threads. I chose a mix of red and black threads; Will demonstrated the braiding technique on one end and I followed suit on the other, before handing back to him to tie it all off. A few twists in the bowstring and we were done.

When the buffalo horns were properly glued onto the bow stave, we then sanded them down to curved nocks. Truthfully, my only major crisis of the day was over-sanding the nock on the bottom bow limb, cutting into the wood that I’d so carefully pared down earlier. Will masterfully fixed most of the issue with his pocket knife, leaving me the relatively easy task of smoothing the wood again so that the mistake was practically invisible, although the nock on the bottom limb of the bow is now smaller than the nock on the top limb. If nothing else, it’s easy to see which end of the bow should point towards the ground.

The final touches

A final sand down of the stave and a coat of wax added a shine to the bow, and then we were on the final stage: building the grip. Will attached a thin piece of wood to thicken the middle of the bow, and then we cut a piece of leather to size for the grip itself. We used an awl to poke holes in the leather and stitched the grip into place, before hammering out and attaching 2 red circles of leather to decorate each end.

Bow complete. I took a few test shots outside in the field behind Will’s house, which allowed me to bask in the glory of shooting the bow I’d built and gave Will the opportunity to up-sell his arrow making course, where participants learn to forge their arrow heads from scratch. At some point, I will be going back.

The day was brilliant. Will is a patient teacher who has a comprehensive knowledge of his subject matter, and who will always step in the moment you have any difficulties. The bow I built is by no means perfect, but I built it and named it (I’ve never thought to name either of my other bows, but this longbow is “Suzy”) and so it will always have a special quality that all the money in the world could not buy. It shoots just as well as any shop-bought longbow you might buy for a similar price. If you’re in the market for a longbow, this might be one of the best and most satisfying ways of acquiring one.

Visit Will Lord’s website for more information about his longbow workshops and the multitude of other courses he teaches.

Our club is the ideal place to shoot a longbow, or indeed almost any other type of bow! Find out more here.

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.



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:


  • 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 ….




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 ….




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.




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.

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!