February Open Tournament

On Sunday 12th February we will be hosting our second competition shoot of the indoor season, a mixed round of a Worcester in the morning followed by a Vegas after lunch. As usual it will be held at Pool Academy Sports Hall. Download your entry form here. Please get your entries to us in good time, as we generally fill all the places so if you book late you might be disappointed.

The Worcester face
The Worcester face
The Vegas face
The Vegas face

These rounds are a nice change from the usual Portsmouth. They are both smaller targets, which focusses the attention somewhat. The Worcester is a special black target face with a white centre and scoring 1 to 5. The Vegas is a triple face with the centre half only of a 40cm face, so you only score 6-10.

Despite the focus of the small targets we try to keep all our tournaments friendly, and newer archers will be made just as welcome as the champions. Even they were new archers when they started…


When we feel thirsty, we drink something, that’s how it works, isn’t it? Actually a small drop in water levels in your body can have a big effect. We take in water through drinks and also contained in most of the food we eat. We lose it in more ways: in urine, through breathing and perspiration. Physical activity makes you lose more water, because as you get warmer you sweat more.

The surprising bit is just how much difference small water loss can make to athletic performance. A 3% loss of water leads to up to a 19% loss in muscle strength. You generally don’t feel thirsty until you get to about a 5% loss, and by that time you could be 30% down on strength. The solution is not to wait until you feel thirsty, and not even to rely on having a cuppa halfway through the round, but to have regular mouthfuls all the way through, say after every couple of ends. Try it and see what difference it makes.

What to drink? Well, water, but a small amount of carbohydrate and salt will help top you up. This is what isotonic sports drinks are all about – they have the same concentration of salt and glucose that is normally found in your body. So use them if you like. They can be expensive, though, and it is easy to make your own. A mix of half fruit juice and half water, with a pinch of salt per litre of drink will do the job. There are plenty more recipes for home-made isotonic drinks on the web as well.

AOW break records at Newquay

Newquay Bowmen hosted their Double Worcester competition on Sunday 13th November. We had a good attendance from our club, and did rather well.

Paul Phillips has broken a club record that has been held by Dennis Gibson since 2005. Shooting his longbow, Paul broke club and DCAS Masters records as well as picking up the gold medal. His score for the single Worcester was 225 and for the double 413. Paul also received certificates for DCAS Masters longbow records he set earlier in the year. These were for a score of 299 St George shot at Redruth in September and at Lizard Peninsula in August for 366 for a single York and 598 for the double.

At the Newquay Worcester competition Stephen Badcock secured a bronze medal for shooting recurve against strong opposition. Susan Mackenzie won the barebow gold. To secure the medal she broke the DCAS County record for a double Worcester set by Lucy Nicholas two years ago at the same competition. Susan scored 191 in the morning followed by 201 in the afternoon. So the total for the double was 392, beating the previous record by 8 points.

All our members enjoyed the day thoroughly and would like to thank Newquay Bowmen for staging the event.

No session on Saturday 3rd December

We normally shoot at Ludgvan Community Centre on a Saturday afternoon through the winter season. However, there is also normally an annual chicken show booked for one Saturday. This year it is on Saturday 3rd December, so in the interests of not shooting any of the competitors there will be no archery session that day.

Handicap Portsmouth on 27th November

The Handicap Portsmouth will take place at Pool Academy on Sunday 27th* November. As usual we will be shooting half a Portsmouth round in the morning (that is, 2 1/2 dozen arrows at 20 yards) and a full Portsmouth after lunch. The scores from the morning round are used to calculate a handicap rating. We then add an allowance onto your score for the afternoon round. So, if you shoot well in the morning you get a low handicap and a low extra. A beginner might get a higher handicap and a higher allowance. The idea is that the people who better than they normally do are most likely to win, rather than the one with the highest score.

If that sounds complicated, don’t worry, we do the sums and there are awards for the highest overall scores as well.

It is a popular shoot and great for beginners, so pop over to the Events page for more details and to download a copy of the entry form.

*It really is the 27th, not the 12th as I originally put in the title 🙂

Fi wins silver at her first competition

Fiona Pine has been shooting with a longbow for a few years, and last Sunday went to her first competition, Redruth Archers’ Longbow Day, where she won a silver medal not only in the two-way Western in the morning but in the clout in the afternoon as well! This is a fantastic achievement, and we look forward to seeing your name in more medals lists to come.

At the time of writing the results haven’t been published yet, but they will appear on Redruth Archers’ website in due course.

It just shows that competitions are genuinely open and friendly events, and any member of an ArcheryGB club will be made welcome, regardless of how good you are.

Holding the bow

The instinctive thing to do is to grip the bow firmly. However, doing that, or worse, grabbing the bow suddenly as you execute the shot, will force the bow to twist. You might think the arrow is gone by the time you grab the bow, but it does affect the shot. You will never do it exactly the same each time, so it results in wider groups.

To start with, you really must have a sling (unless you shoot a longbow). This will catch the bow and stop it falling on the floor. Choose a style that you like, and adjust it so that it is slightly loose. The bow needs room to move forwards and leave your hand for a moment as the arrow leaves the string. If you shoot a longbow, you can still use a relaxed hand, just touch your first finger and thumb together to act as a sling and let the bow leave your hand. This will only work if your arrows are correctly spined, though, otherwise the bow will kick too much in your hand.

When you pull the string slightly in the pre-draw, this is the time to get your bow hand right, before you lift the bow to the target. Your hand should be placed on the bow with your knuckles at about 45 degrees. Allow your wrist to bend downwards slightly so that you feel the bow being pushed against the muscle at the base of your thumb. A lot of people seem to be trying high wrist positions at the moment, but a high wrist is actually less stable than a low one. The point of contact should be aligned directly down your forearm, i.e. your wrist must not be bent sideways. Most important, your fingers must be be fully relaxed. You then need to keep this relaxed position as you lift the bow, draw and execute the shot. The bow is allowed to move. A properly set-up bow will move forwards as the arrow leaves the string. You need to let it do that and trust it to do what it wants to do.

Having trouble? If you find yourself grabbing the bow, try holding a cork gently between the tips of your thumb and first finger. If the cork is tied to the bow with a piece of string it makes it easier. When you let go, the bow should knock the cork out (which is why you tie it to the bow so it doesn’t fly off down the range). The biggest hurdle for most is having the confidence to let the bow leave your hand and trusting that the sling will catch the bow. Shoot at a short target with no face so you have no distractions. It can be a bit of a leap of faith, but trust the sling. Take your time and shoot lots of arrows at the short target to get used to how it feels.

Does the bow kick sideways? That is a sign that something is wrong with the set-up, so fix that first. It could be your arrows are the wrong spine, or your pressure button/launcher is in the wrong place.

Some people will deliberately hold their fingers out straight. This is better than grabbing the bow, but isn’t great as you are still putting tension in the muscles in your forearm which work your fingers, and tension inevitably means unwanted movement, not to mention a waste of effort. Relax those fingers, even if you have to spend time just drawing the bow without shooting to get used to how it feels.

The shape of the grip is important to all this as well, although ‘grip’ is a slightly unfortunate term. The ideal shape for most people is a flat surface angled slightly away from your fingers so it matches the shape of your hand. See the Hoyt Ortho or Jager grips for examples, or make your own. Grips on newer recurves are generally better than they used to be, but don’t be afraid to modify a grip with tape, body filler or whatever to get it the right shape. If it all goes goes wrong, file it down and try again, or just start with a new one. OK, you might not want to do that if you have splashed out on a Jager :-), but most grips are quite cheap. Grips on compounds tend to be very narrow, but bear in mind the vast majority of compounds are designed for the US hunting market rather than for competition target shooting. Target archers need a grip that is comfortable and consistent over a lot more arrows. Some say that a narrow grip minimises torque, but if your hand is in the right place and relaxed you won’t be torquing it anyway.

Success at county Clout Championships

The Devon and Cornwall Clout Championships were held on Sunday 20th March, hosted by Newquay Bowmen at Tretherras School. Two of our archers came away with medals. Marcus Hayward won comfortably at the Gents Recurve 165m distance. Considering that Marcus has been shooting less than a year this is a great achievement! Paul Phillips did well with a longbow at the same distance, and came home with a silver medal.

Clout shoots are long distance and aimed at a small flag placed in the ground. Archers shoot six arrows at a time and score according to how close their arrows land to the flag. Bows have to be aimed higher than usual to reach the distance, so it is harder to aim precisely and there is more chance of arrows being affected by the wind on the way down, so it is not an easy round to shoot.

Outdoor shooting starts Monday 4th April

As per the title, the outdoor season starts with the first session on Monday 4th April at Hayle Football Club. Thereafter we shoot on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays – see here for full details of the shooting times. It will be good to get outdoors again and to shoot at some longer distances.