Archery – from a relative newbie

Since my original article – Archery from a newbie I’ve spent a considerable time on the shooting range since my July article, and I would like to think I’ve learned a bit along the way.

As Mrs W is wont to say, I don’t embark on things half-arsed, and I’ve shot an average of 1,000 arrows a month since then, about 6,000 since I started last year.

During the halcyon summer we’ve enjoyed, I have been first up at the range on a number of occasions, and let me tell you, there’s nothing nicer than having a full archery range to yourself, with the occasional horse to critique your performance. Although now and again they like to get in on the action

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

Daybreak at the range

Some of you might be considering archery as a ‘sport’ and I use those quote marks advisedly, as, lets face it, its not really a sport now is it.

Its a bit like ‘big darts’ and we’ve all had a go at archery at centre parks or a stag do, its a doddle really.

And indeed it is, its a doddle, and a great hobby. Its really easy to do, you make new mates, and you feel great hitting that gold bit in the middle of the target, and then WHAM.

You are hooked. Properly addicted.

You end up with an exercise band, stretching those vital back muscles to make sure you get the correct take up of your back muscles. You stand in front of the mirror, ignoring your beer belly to make sure your alignment of your elbow to your bow arm is correct.

You move from 20, to 30, 40 yards, banging arrows into the gold, and then you hit the 50 yard mark. Oh yes. Thats your nemesis.

50 yards. 150 feet. That’s quite a long way. And incidentally, that’s the first ‘adult’ distance in competitions. So not only do you realise that all your achievements to date are to naught, as realistically, you have been shooting at a junior distance.

So now you take a deep breath, put your big boy y-fronts on, and go for the man size distance.

There’s a rule of thumb with recurve archers (thems the ones on the Olympics with the big stick out in front) that every 10 yards gives you an extra 1” of leeway on the groupings you are aiming for.

Bearing in mind the gold bit in the middle is about the size of a dinner plate, 150 feet away, any poor form at this distance is magnified.

So you can do one of two things, accept that you are going to be the best ever archer at stag do’s or at centre parcs, or you can push on, improve your form and get past this hurdle, and on to compete.

This is where I am now. I live, eat and breathe archery.  There are a couple of good books which can help, and its really a question of understanding what your body and your bow are doing together. If you are in a club, everyone has been there, and everyone helps you improve.

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

I’ve bought a clicker. This is a device which clicks when the arrow is drawn past a set point, the idea being that you draw the arrow to the same, consistent point every time. After a while, you become conditioned to automatically release the arrow as soon as you hear the click. Of course, this does mean you can’t practice draw your bow with an arrow in place at home, unless you plan on doing some decorating.

I’ve drawn up a form critique to memorise, it helps me make sure that I am keeping to the correct form for EVERY SHOT. And the critical mental approach is that you only ever concentrate on the current shot. Not the last one, that’s gone. And not the next one, the one which might win you the competition. The current shot.

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

So where am I now, and where do I go from here?

I’ve attended many a competition, been placed in a few, and somehow ended up becoming the social organiser for the club (not sure how that came about)

I’m still struggling at the 50 yard mark, but intend to have it done by February.

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

Localised fog at the 50 yard mark. As if archery wasn’t difficult enough!

Paul Wicker, Going Postal

This hurt. This is what happens when the bow string goes behind your arm guard.  Looks like a smiley face, hurts like a bugger.

I’m at the point where I’ve started upgrading, bearing in mind that a set of new limbs costs about the same as everything I have already bought, plus I will be into the realm of carbon/ aluminium mix arrows, which are considerably more expensive.

Like any hobby, you can amble on for years improving gradually. I’ve embraced archery and since I am enjoying it so much, I am putting a lot of effort into it.

For anyone thinking of taking up archery as a sport (and it is a sport), it appeals to any age group, we have members in their seventies who are pretty decent archers, it does require a degree of investment, in time, effort and, after a while, more kit.

It really is worth it. It is addictive though.

© Paul Wicker 2019

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