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.

Valentine’s Shoot Results

On sunday we hosted our Valentine’s Shoot, this year consisting of a Worcester round shot in the morning followed by a Vegas in the afternoon. Both of these are on small target faces and are quite challenging. The full Worcester face for recurves and longbows are 40cm, and the compounds only get the middle bit. The Vegas is the middle 5 scoring zones of a 40cm face, so only a 1/4 of the area.

Everything went swimmingly on Sunday, and we hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

Thanks to everyone who helped transport targets and set up on Saturday evening, provided food, and helped during the day on Sunday.

Bob has compiled the results, which can be downloaded here.

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