This course was organised by the Essex Guild of Archery Coaches to provide experience of Field Archery rules and techniques for Target Archery Coaches. Permission was sought from Panther Bowhunters, an EFAA club, to use their ground, as it included a permanent 28 target course, plus space for special targets to be set out as required.
The day started rather dull and a strong possibility of rain, but by the time we came to the outdoor practical session, the clouds had lifted and we even had the occasional spot of sunshine. This was enough to make for pleasant shooting, without waking up too many of the notorious, hard biting mosquitoes in damper parts of the woodland.
Tutors were selected for their Field Archery experience and included; Chris Bushell and Ian Miller from Bowmen of Malgrave, Paul Clark of Chelmsford Tudor Rose & Panther Bowhunters, Robin Frost, National Field Judge and Course Officer for Panther Bowhunters and myself, County Coach & member of Mayflower Archers and Panther Bowhunters. All of us had experience of both Target and International Field Archery, so could appreciate needs of both disciplines. Unfortunately two of the tutors had to drop out at the last minute, Paul to fly off with his daughter Daisy to the IFAA World Bowhunter Championships in the USA and Ian to take his wife to Nottingham for delivery of a second grandchild (a healthy granddaughter we were informed). However, the remaining tutors were able to deliver their material and cover for their absence. This was not the only surprise for the organisers, we had anticipated a turnout of 10 or a dozen attendees, so expected the Panther club hut to be adequate as a classroom. But, in the event 18 turned up and a waiting list had developed. The extra bodies created a very cosy atmosphere in the club house.
The day started with a classroom session to explain FITA/GNAS Field rules and rounds, bow styles and techniques. The techniques described included Uphill, Downhill and Cross-Slope work, plus Range Estimation systems for unmarked distances. Also covered were; clothing, diet and other general needs for Field Archery events. The tutors had prepared some very interesting PowerPoint slides to illustrate their subjects. These included some outstanding shots of field courses and diagrams to explain shooting requirements. This part lasted for just over 2 hours, including a short comfort break, then we had a lunch break to get circulation moving and shooting arms working, ready for the afternoon’s practical session.
The afternoon’s session made use of a selection of existing shooting lanes & targets and some additional targets to give experience of slope work and uncertain footing. This was a GNAS/FITA orientated workshop, so most targets were the regular black and yellow roundels, with a few 3-D animals (and an impressive life sized depiction of a charging elephant, created by Neil Bonner of Panther) to increase the interest and widen the experience.
Each group consisted of 6 archers accompanied by one of the tutors. While they had been warned beforehand to have sight marks from 5 to 60 metres, many participants turned up with quickly prepared bare bows and cheap arrows and no sight marks. Despite this, everyone soon settled in to the new form of shooting and while there were many “misses” at first, all arrows that missed the target were quickly retrieved. Archers new to this discipline, were pleasantly surprised by the informality of the proceedings. However, safety rules were rigidly applied, being coaches they were perhaps a little more safety aware than most archers, and there were no accidents or injuries sustained. This took a little longer than the morning session, but many complained that it ended all too soon.
At the end of the day, we had a short debrief and issued a questionnaire to give us feed-back on what we had presented during the day. From the results it became obvious that everyone had enjoyed themselves immensely and thought they had received good value for their fee. From informal feed-back, additional to the above, it seems the EGAC will be under pressure to run another course in the near future. This, I am afraid will have to wait until we can clear our backlog of work on Level 2 and Level 1 training courses, but the warm response certainly means that we are keen to repeat the exercise.
To close, I would like to thank the coaches taking part for their enthusiasm and good humour and the tutors for their input and hard work in delivering this workshop. I should also like to thank the committee of Panther Bowhunters for allowing us use of their facilities for a whole day.
Mitch Vaughan - Chairman of the Essex Guild of Archery Coaches – June 2009