A little history
We started our shooting in the UK a few years ago by doing a Grand National Archery Society (GNAS) Target Archery beginners course. This is a requirement for safety and protocol reasons and we began by shooting Olympic style recurve. We persevered with that for a little while and whilst I progressed to shooting compound bows (targets) Katie was shooting less and less and it took a back seat for her for a year or so. I, on the other hand,was getting seriously into my compound shooting and going whenever I could, and I was doing well. I could get decent scores I was happy with at will and entered a couple of competitions and did not let myself down!
But, the circle slaying (target shooting) was beginning to get a little monotonous and I had always liked the idea of field shooting so I did a little research and found a National Field Archery Society (NFAS) club, just 30 minutes from our home. This was Riggwelters Field Archers. It was here and later on via the NFAS open competitions, that my shooting and obsession really got out of hand!
I began shooting field in Unlimited (compound) Class which is sighted and using a release aid and I dabbled with an “American” flatbow, or, if you are in North America, a longbow!
I entered a couple of opens shooting in Unlimited Class, missing the placings narrowly in my first and coming first in my second shoot, which was pleasing! But I was getting a little stalled with the compound and I was also getting a little too competitive. I shot another few opens and then made a conscious decision to move onto – and concentrate – on shooting Barebow. So I sold my Samick SLB “Flatbow” and bought my Hoyt Dorado.
Meanwhile at Riggs we had an awesome and challenging 36-40 target course, the folks there were/are a fantastic bunch and I was soon installed as field captain. I also began to get more and more obsessed with traditional & instinctive shooting which to this day shows no signs of waining!
This is where Katie picks up a bow again………it turns out was a bit disillusioned with archery as we had previously known it. Anyway, she was nattered enough to spend a few hours at Riggs with myself and good friend Paul and borrow one of his English Longbows. So she did. It turns out that without the B***S*** of target archery, all the bow add-ons, sights, shooting line etiquette, politics and so on, Katie is a natural! So, she quickly picks it all up again, buys a (“traditional”) recurve and she’s away!
All my shooting was by now, solely 3D and field shooting, Barebow and I was loving it, as was Katie!
I shot a couple of opens and enjoyed the freedom of it all and was not overly concerned if I missed a shot……….although with my own improvement, this is no longer the case! It was all good, the NFAS opens most weekends, usually shooting in some glorious woods in Yorkshire, Lancashire & Cumbria. With some marvellous folks, gaining new friends by the week and starting to take a few medals home – most satisfying! Katie too was getting in on the act and also the medals!
We loved our time as Riggwelters and in the NFAS and all the great times we had with many wonderful people, so if you are reading this and this is how I know you…….. I salute you!
I have picked up a few extra bows along the way but still shoot and love the Dorado. Katie too upgraded to a Dorado. I also have a Bearpaw Raven (Longbow) and a Bearpaw Hawk (one piece recurve) as well as my Bear Truth II Compound bow.
After all that we go and emigrate to Canada!
Since arriving in BC, I have shot in one competition in Enderby, BC and I loved it! I thoroughly look forward to next years 3D “Tourneys”! With hunting now thrown into the mix, this is a new journey for me and I look forward to sharing my experiences.
Bow hunting in the UK is illegal, but there still are some mindless idiots that continue to break the law and spoil it for others. In my opinion, this could see all archery gear in the UK being registered/licensed in the near future.
Traditional Archery, Equipment & Instinctive shooting.
“Trad” shooting is my passion but it is a bit of a misnomer! The bows are actually pretty high tech with synthetics in the laminations. Both glass and Micarta figure in both of my “wooden” bows and whist the still look very pretty they are built for performance, my Dorado has a metal riser and high performance wood core limbs.
My current bows are;
- Hoyt Dorado. 60″ 45# @28″
- Bearpaw Raven. 64″ 45# @28″
- Bearpaw Hawk 60″ 50l# @28″
- Bear Truth II 60lb & 29.5″
Katie’s current bows;
- Hoyt Dorado. 60″ 40# @ 28″
- K.G. Osprey 64″ 37# @ 28″
I intend to comprehensively review all of these bows in the near future.
Like the bows, the arrows are equally as modern. Every once in a while I will “throw a few sticks” and loose a few wooden arrows. Because watching them fly is a thing of beauty. But for me, my arrows are carbon all the way! Woods break, aluminiums bend but modern Carbons are tough as hell and as long as they are in one piece they are straight! I have long been a fan of Easton Powerflights for my Barebow shooting, they perform, are tough as boots and inexpensive! I have bounced them off trees, rocks, metal, you name it and they just laugh it off! I also have some Carbon express Flu Flus and only yesterday I bought some Carbon Express Heritage and began the tuning process for my Hawk (info on tuning to follow) which I am very impressed with so far. Some of my friends rate them very highly too. I have half a dozen Fred Eichler signatured Easton Axis which are earmarked for hunting from the Dorado and these are also very impressive.
I fletch with 4″ feathers in both parabolic & Shield. I like the look of shield but I have found the para’s more resilient. They hold their shape better in the wet and whilst they are supposed to be slightly faster, I have not really noticed; nor am I that bothered about the odd FPS (foot per second).
I like Saunders Combo points for field tips and am just learning about broadheads & other hunting tips; so having nil practical experience, I do not have any preference.
Katie Shoots Bearpaw Timber Sticks, which I believe are Gold tips. They are over a year old and she still has them all so thats a sound recommendation. For my compound, I have Easton FMJ Nano’s in a nice camo flavour which again were bought with hunting in mind. Previously – and for only 3D shooting – I shot Easton Lightspeeds.
I like nice traditional looking accessories if I am honest, preferring a back quiver for roaming but I use a hip field (backwards facing) quiver for indoors and some competitions but usually my arrows are across my back.
I use a heavy duty (Henry Bodnik signature) Bearpaw arm bracer and both Katie and I prefer a glove over a tab and we both choose the Bodnik Speed glove, again from Bearpaw in Germany.
The thorny subject of Traditional Aiming
If you are a user of some of the internet forums, one in particular then you will know what happens on seemingly every thread that opens on this subject so this is only my take or rather my interpretation of it!
Instinctive/gapping/point of aim/split vision, whatever it is, folks online just be loving fallin’ right out over it all!
With Katie its quite simple; she shoots gap or point of aim where she judges the distance and uses her arrow as an aiming device. Looking down it for windage and moving her point up or down creating a gap. i.e. if her ‘point-on’ distance, is say 40 yds, then if the target is closer, her gap is under – the shorter the distance the greater the gap, and if its over then she aims above it. IT works well for her, indeed gap shooters are capable of matching sighted archers.
Katie also shoots 3 fingers under whereas I shoot ‘split’ or ‘Mediterranean’.
I did think I was instinctive and I guess I am to an extent, but I am erring towards thinking I am perhaps in the split vision camp, the reason being that whilst I never lose focus of my target and move to my arrow, I am aware of it in my peripheral vision and I am thinking of its flight. I also read Byrons book and it rang true. To me, he basically picks up on Howard Hills split vision shooting calling it “becoming the arrow” either way I totally got it and it is my belief it made me a better shooter. I also think I revert to gap a little bit, for longer ranges; for example, before tinkering, I knew my point-on range was 60 yards, so I could use that……..
Its confusing and sometimes the water is muddy and people who are far better shots than I am, mix it up. Either way if you cannot pigeon hole yourself then why would you want to or need to?
Katie, shooting her Hoyt Dorado
3D / Field Archery, shooting a KG Osprey barebow