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Any archers out there?

Hi all,

Just wondering if there are any archers on the community, I would class myself as a beginner archer and used to shoot a couple of years back (moved out the area of my club), planning to get back into it locally once everything is back to normal again.

I used to live in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, its got the only double moated Norman castle in the world and was where William the conqueror accepted the submission of the English after the battle of Hastings. Thought I would get into some more traditional activities of the area so I had a go at archery, I am already a trained marksman after my time in the Air Training Corp so enjoy shooting of various sorts.

I shoot:

Recurve - currently on just 28lb limbs as this was my main bow
Horsebow - have a basic snakeskin horsebow at around 45lb

I also have a Japanese Yumi bow (Samurai bow) - its around 2.2m long, I have yet to shoot this bow as I need to get some additional strings and make up some arrows as they are just over a metre long with an overdraw to past the ear rather than to the lip.

I also plan to get myself a proper English longbow once I get a bit better, was planning to see if I can pull a Mary Rose bow with a rolling draw with a ridiculous draw weight of up to 185lb - might just go with something nicer to shoot though!

Anyone else into archery at all?

I used to be moderately serious and went to national FITA tournaments around the country for a while. I made 1st Class archer but never made it to master bowman, though I did get moderately close. I dropped out when I decided I didn’t like the competitive side of things and was more interested in the meditational elements. To achieve that I only shot on my own at home (I had a garden with nothing but fields behind it at the time). I haven’t brought the bow out for a few years now but do still keep thinking about getting back into it.

I still have my old recurve with a wooden riser and 36lb limbs (the fancy metal risers were just becoming popular but expensive at the time!). My biggest kit problem was my arrows; because I’m 6’ 4" I have quite a long draw and everyone always complained that these telegraph poles I was shooting were destroying the targets!

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I am the same, I only really shoot against myself, was ok to 80 yards but can tell the arrows are dropping off when going for 100 yards lol was working my way up to a mid 30lb set of limbs which seems to be about right for a recurve up to 100 yards.

Looks like the club I am planning to join does a ‘252’ scheme which might be fun to do to get a score of 252 on various target ranges.

One of the reasons why I bought the Yumi was more of the meditation aspect as its not really a bow used for competition - the huge overdraw might actually work for you as well. I think my father in law has a 32" draw so he has the same issue.

My Father in law has a compound bow - not many clubs allow them to be shot as they usually punch out the centre of the targets!

I’m only about 30" so sounds like your FIL has longer arms than me! And yes the compound is still more prevalent in America than over here. A friend of mine who used to be a recurve master bowman had a bad motorbike accident which messed his elbow up rather badly. Prior to that he had almost made GMB but afterwards he could only shoot compound and, as you say, it was very difficult to get accepted and compete in any meaningful way.

At an indoor shoot in Banbury one time I recall witnessing a compound archer do a triple Robin Hood; shot one arrow down the end of the previous and then a third one down that. Never seen it done before or since. Sadly he had to drop out of the competition as he didn’t have enough good arrows left to continue!

I still have and cherish my copy of Zen in the Art of Archery. A brilliant book!

I will add that book to my list of things to buy once everything is back to normal I think :slight_smile:

I am really looking forward to getting my Yumi sorted to shoot, I see that you can get Kyudo arrows made by Easton rather than the traditional (and a lot more expensive) bamboo which I have seen single arrows cost around £100 each.

I will see what awards the club goes for - might see if I can see how good my ranking will be when doing for the outdoor classifications - something to work towards.

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If you’ve not come across that book and you are into Japanese archery you should definitely get it. It’s not a hippy book like the old Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance mould but a fairly serious examination of Zen philosophy using archery as the backdrop. It was written by Eugen Herrigel and published in 1948. Herrigel was a German philosopher who taught philosophy in a Japanese university in the twenties. He studied archery under a Japanese master with the aim of trying to understand Zen better.

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Thanks for that, I will certainly track a copy down, might also see if there are any Kyudo schools around as well.

Oh how lovely. I made it to 1st dan in Kobudo (Okinawan version) so Kyodo was something our sensei at the Royal Armouries in Leeds used to tell us about. We were incredibly fortunate to have the exhibits to be shown around to give us wonderful context.

One thing that is very interesting to me is how English/Western archery is taught compared to Kyodo - Does it have similar elements of Kata and ‘Kumite/Kumiwaza’ ?

Such a wonderful thing to watch! Thank you for sharing! :slight_smile:

I don’t think you’d find many similarities in how archery is taught in the west. As with so many of these things the western teaching of archery is very mechanistic with the focus mainly on the physical aspects rather than the mental ones. Back when I was practicing, that Zen book was required reading for the British archery team largely, I suspect, to try and provide that balance.

One interesting little memory I have from that time ('80s) was a TV programme where they had a member of the British archery team in the studio all wired up to record his pulse rate. At the beginning he was quite high, around 80-90 I seem to recall which they described as pretty normal for someone unaccustomed to the stresses of being on TV. He went through his normal routine (ritual) to fire an arrow and by the time he loosed his pulse had fallen to almost 30. Quite extraordinary!

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Breathing technique also helps with accuracy so its actually best to be calm when shooting - holding your breath just before you fire etc. I know when I was learning I know I shot better when I went through the same routine - I guess repeatability is the key to archery from a competition standpoint.

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As I felt it it was partly about repeatability but more about the ritual aspect. As you repeat the exact same movements - taking the arrow from quiver, knocking it, settling all the bones into the correct position with the initial tension, going to full draw and release - and regulate your breathing with those movements - in as you take the arrow, out as you nock it, etc. - it becomes a mantra dropping you into a meditative state. So it’s the whole breathing and movements combined that create the desired effect. Much the same as in the katas of any of the eastern martial arts. But I rarely saw it taught that way back then; not face to face or in the (western) literature.

Was archery something you graduated to from another martial art or something you went straight into through a friend/family member etc?

I went along for a try out with a friend who was very shy. She didn’t stick with it and I did. I did do a minor sort of martial art for a little while called Wu Ji (or Wuji) but it’s much closer to Tai Chi in that it is more spiritual than martial, though it did have a ‘hard’ form for practitioners with greater skill than I ever managed.

Even as a child my body was never very flexible and I just couldn’t do some of the movements, despite my instructor’s best efforts, and I eventually dropped out.

Well archery is always going to be amazing for opening out those shoulders and traps from self-isolating at a desk/sofa!

Only downside is that in lockdown conditions you need a space the size of Wales as I can only guess at the restrictions for practising outside a designated practice area firing projectiles.

I imagine it would have to be kept under lock and key at a house?

Probably not as large an area as you might think. A modern target recurve bow would probably struggle to cast an arrow much farther than two to three hundred metres. Target bows tend to have relatively low draw weights. It’s always a compromise between high draw weight giving faster more accurate arrows and low draw weights giving less stressful more accurate aiming.

Never thought about keeping the bow under lock and key. I guess I’ve always figured that some degree of knowledge/skill is required to even get the bow strung and an arrow loosed. As opposed to a gun (or even a crossbow) which can kill with little or no knowledge required. Certainly no licence required. Bear in mind that hunting any live animal with bow and arrow is illegal in the UK.

Ahh ok - I didn’t know if it was a similar thing to an air rifle or equivalent

Well, I hope you get a chance to practice :slight_smile:

Probably a very good argument for it; certainly in the right hands much more lethal than an airgun. And definitely arguable in the case of crossbows.

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Of course we all know who’s the best archer around here…

(Somebody had to)

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I’m afraid that’s the one programme guaranteed to make me turn radio 4 off! :rofl:

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A new use for a catchy theme tune:

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