Fun at the Portsmouth Shoot

We held our annual Handicap Portsmouth at Pool Academy on Sunday 29th November, and what a nice day it was. At least, it was a great day to be indoors in good company listening to the gale blowing outside! 35 archers from across Cornwall and Devon joined in and all had a good time. Thank you to everyone who attended for making it an enjoyable event, to John Nunn and Peter Consibee for officiating, to the club members who helped and to the visitors who helped us take the targets down at the end. We even managed to get everything back to our container before it got dark.

The results can be downloaded here. The Gents’ Recurve in particular was a close-run thing, with a mere one point between first and second!

Your first tournament

Most archery clubs organise tournaments that are open to any Archery GB members. New archers are often reluctant to go to tournaments as they feel they are not good enough, might feel out of place or whatever. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tournaments are a little more formal than normal club shooting, but they are always friendly events where new archers are made very welcome regardless of how good you are. Having said that, you do need to keep to a distance you are comfortable with – just keep it realistic and nobody will mind if you miss a few. Most archers regard the tournaments as social events rather than competitive ones, so give it a go and treat it as a bit of fun.

You will generally need to fill out an entry form and send it to the club’s tournament organiser. You will be asked who you are, for your Archery GB membership number, what kind of bow you shoot and your arrow colours. The latter is so that organisers can try to avoid having people with the same fletching colours on the same target. If you are new enough that your ArcheryGB card hasn’t arrived yet, make sure you have a copy of a receipt from a club official. Tell the organiser you are a beginner, then they will make an effort to put you on a target with experienced archers who will help you out. When you arrive, someone will ask to see your membership card or receipt to prove that you are a member, just to be sure you are covered by the insurance.

Food and drink is sometimes provided on site, sometimes not. It is a good idea to bring your own anyway. Depending how long the shoot is, there will be at least one break part way through. Good things to bring: water, diluted fruit juice, tea, bananas, cereal bars. Bad things to bring: sugary fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, alcohol, anything stodgy. The idea is to keep nibbling at things with complex carbohydrates to keep your energy up. Despite what some people think, carbs are not bad for you if you are burning the energy off! Sugar is no good as it gives you a short boost but then leaves you more drained afterwards.

Try to arrive with plenty of time to spare before the start – at least 30 minutes. That will give you time to find the place, get set up and get used to the surroundings. DO WARM UP properly before you start, even if nobody else is doing it!

Tournaments start with an assembly, where the organiser and the judge will say a few words about how the shoot is being run. The role of a judge is to make sure everyone follows the rules, but they are there to help archers, not to shout at you. That’s unless you try to cheat or do something dangerous, but you are not going to do that, are you? 🙂

Somebody will tell you your place on the target when you arrive, normally a number from 1 to 4. This just means there are up to four people shooting at one target, although only two shoot at a time. Numbers 1 and 3 shoot together and 2 and 4 shoot together. You shoot in details, meaning that the pairs alternate as to who shoots first. Shoot the round, but don’t worry too much about what your score is. It is perfectly normal that you don’t shoot quite as well as you normally do at your club. It will soon pick up as you go to more shoots and get used to them.

At the end you hand your scores in, making sure you sign for your score. Some people are tempted to leave at this point, but it is good manners to stay and see the awards being handed out. All shoots have raffles alongside as well, so you never know, you might even win something after all!

Christmas Meal with Mounts Bay club

Every year we share a Christmas meal with our friends at Mounts Bay Archers. This year it will be at Trevaskis Farm, Connor Downs, on Sunday 13th December. Members are welcome to bring partners and children. The cost is fixed at £22 for three courses plus coffee and a mince pie, or £20 without the coffee and mince pie, or £17 if you skip either starter or dessert or £15 if you skip the coffee and mince pie as well. Please sign up on the sheet at the club ASAP.Here is the menu.

Beginners’ Course Gift Vouchers

We can now offer gift vouchers for our beginners’ courses that you present to friends or family. Just pay the normal fee for the course (£40 for an adult and £15 for a junior) and we will send you the vouchers. They will be valid for 12 months after the date of purchase, so the recipients can have some choice over which course they attend. Contact us for details.

Handicap Portsmouth 29th November

Yes, it’s coming up again, our popular Handicap Portsmouth shoot at Pool Academy. It is open to all ArcheryGB members. A Portsmouth round is 6 dozen arrows at 20 yards distance. What we do is a Half-Portsmouth in the morning (i.e. 2 1/2 dozen arrows). The scores from this are used to set a handicap allowance, then you shoot a whole Portsmouth after a leisurely lunch. The handicap allowance calculated earlier is added to your total for this round. The idea is that this creates a level playing field where anyone, regardless of how good you are, has an even chance of winning.

Download your entry form here

Practising vs scoring

It seems to be tempting for a lot of people to do a scoring round each time they come and shoot, particularly indoors. There is nothing wrong with scoring. I mean, archery is a competitive sport, it’s what we do, and it is how you measure your progress. However, if you are serious about improving your shooting then you need to have practice sessions when you don’t score your arrows. When you are scoring you are naturally focussed on where the arrows hit the target, and to achieve the best score you have to make each shot the same as the last. So, you can’t be changing anything in your technique.

If you want to work on improving some aspect of your technique, say hand position on the bow, or shoulder alignment or whatever, you are acknowledging that what you are doing now is not perfect and needs changing in order to make it better. If you are changing your technique your arrows will fly differently and (in the short term, at least) your score is likely to go down. If the change is worthwhile then your scores will improve when you get used to it, but scoring is likely to discourage you from making that change. Even having a target face on the boss can be distracting, so take it off and shoot on a blank boss, using just a target pin or a small piece of tape to give you something to aim at.

If you are practising, don’t score. If you are scoring, don’t practise, just shoot!

Indoor shooting starts soon

The evenings are getting shorter and we are rapidly approaching the end of the outdoor season. Indoor shooting starts on 1st October at Leedstown Village Hall and on Saturday 3rd at Ludgvan Community Hall, and will continue on Thursdays and Saturdays from then onwards. See here for details of times and locations.

Ludgvan Fun Day 16th August

Penzance Lions Club invited us to run a ‘have-a-go’ stand at Ludgvan Fun Day on Sunday 16th August. The event runs from 10am to 5pm (weather permitting) at Ludgvan Community Hall. We shall be there with a couple of short distance targets and some lightweight bows, so come along and try it out!

Too much to remember? Build a sequence

Let’s face it, a good shot looks simple when you watch somebody else, but there is a lot to remember to get right all at the same time – hand position, shoulder alignment, fingers on the string, reference position, where your feet are and much more. It can all be a bit overwhelming, especially when you are holding the weight of the bow and trying to keep it pointing towards the middle.

Actually, it needn’t be quite that difficult. The trick is to build up a sequence to the shot, so you start with step 1, then step 2, then step 3 etc. The movement should flow smoothly through the steps, but if you take the time to do things in the right order then you don’t need to try to think of everything at the same time.

Resist the temptation to get to full draw as quickly as possible once you have nocked the arrow. Slow down, and take the time to get each step right before you move on to the next. You can work the details out for yourself to some extent, but the steps should go something like this:

Step 1: make sure you are standing in the right place.
Step 2: place your arrow on the string.
Step 3: place your fingers on the string.
Step 4: adjust the position of your hand on the bow.
Step 5: pull the string a few inches to settle your fingers in.
Step 6: lift the bow without pulling the string any more.
Step 7: get your shoulders in alignment.
Step 8: draw to your reference position.
Step 9: keep steady pressure on until you let go.

The idea is that you set up as much as possible of the shot before you pull the string. At each step, once you are in the right position it is relatively easy to maintain that position through the rest of the shot without thinking about it too much. At least, it is much easier than yanking the string back first and then trying to fix everything else!

Warming up

Just something they teach you in a beginners course because they have to, isn’t it? Nobody else bothers, so why should I?

Actually, warming up is important. Everybody should do it every time. Make it a habit before you shoot, and it is easy. It is often said that it reduces the risk of injury. The evidence is actually a bit mixed on that one, but on balance it seems sensible. Warming up does literally warm up the muscles, and warm muscles work more efficiently, there’s no doubt about that. Why handicap yourself by not doing it?

DON’T STRETCH! How many people do you see do a cursory pull of the elbow round with the other hand a couple of times before shooting? I know a lot of people were taught to do that, but please don’t, it isn’t good for you. Stretching before physical activity can actually make you perform worse.

Don’t get me wrong, stretching is good. Those of us over 40 in particular benefit as the range of movement in your joints tends to reduce as you get older, if you do nothing about it. A regular stretching routine can help keep you supple, but do it after you shoot, not before.

I’m not going to go into details of the specific exercises – there are lots you can do, so ask your coach or look it up. Spend a good five minutes on it, concentrating on the upper body but doing something for the whole body. Your whole body is involved in shooting, after all. Warming up should be gentle repeated movements to get things moving, gradually increasing in intensity, but always staying within your normal comfortable range of movement.