What a contrast to last week at Belhus Park, thankfully. Woodford Archers ground at Ray Park, Woodford, 8-30am and it was bathed in bright sunshine, as the work party prepared the field. The ground was damp underfoot, but no sign of the snow which had caused so many cancelled archery events the previous Sunday.
Booking-in was soon completed in the clubhouse, accompanied by the smell of bacon butties being prepared. Then on to the normal procedure, unload car and ship equipment along to designated clout, No 8, near the far end as usual. This year we had boards with large numbers on the shooting line to identify our shooting positions and in the distance (180yds in our case) a row of red, yellow and white flags to identify “our clout”.
After a brief introduction from the organiser, our judges for the day, Mike Pearce and Graham Sibley started the proceedings. As very few clubs, ours included, have the opportunity to practice clout shooting, accuracy has to take a back seat. Most people managed to get the general direction of shooting OK, but distance was a different matter altogether for the sighters. This included my arrows, for after having had a practice afternoon at Runwell, I had had to change my arrows of choice and found I was a good 20yds past the clout I was aiming at.
First end of shooting in earnest and I was still ten yards or more past the far limit of the clout circle. However, as I retrieved my errant arrows and prepared to help scoring, I realised that my companions from “8”, were standing by a yellow flag. This was a surprise, as I had shot at the red one next to it. I would have been really furious if had had any scoring arrows, but as I didn’t, it didn’t matter. But a thought for the organisers for next year, please, can the numbers or boards on the shooting line be colour co-ordinated with the flags identifying the clout!!!!?
So, on with the shooting and it was very interesting to see the various devices being used for sighting, in the Recurve and Compound Freestyle classes. Modified sights, sights added to long rods, long lengths of curtain rod attached to the side of the bow and sticky tape or “Blutack”, with coloured pins stuck any where that helps to line up the bow with the clout when held at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees to the horizontal.
Things went smoothly until the last end of the first clout, when a great black cloud came over and emptied its contents on us all. Fortunately this was also the last end before the lunch break, so after collecting the arrows and scoring, everyone retired to their tents or the clubhouse while the clouds passed over.
The afternoon session continued much the same, with April showers interspersed with bright sunshine, but at least we could keep shooting and the day ended with most of us and our equipment, dried out. So, to the formal ending of the day, with the raffle and presentation of prizes in the clubhouse. (Raffle prizes and a Silver medal for me, so I can’t complain)
So thanks to the organisers for a good day’s shooting and here’s to next year and better practice beforehand.
Mitch Vaughan (Mayflower Archers)