On the last couple of weekends I’ve been combining both shooting and being outdoors. I can report that it is a winning combination! The first Sunday was one of those perfect crisp (freezing!) autumn days, whilst the second was mild, with a comforting smell of fallen leaves in the air.
I kept pinching myself that I was sitting outside all that time, in beautiful surroundings, chatting and shooting arrows every so often. The archery club is situated in a field next to a stream, accessed by a packhorse bridge, with a hillside rising up to one side. You could be in the middle of the countryside … oh, you are!
I have been contemplating the similarities between outdoor archery and going walking (bear with me!) For both you need to wrap up with layers of clothing (ready to be added and removed as you warm up and cool down), you need to pack sandwiches and a flask of warm coffee, you need a rucksack and walking poles (there is the packhorse bridge to negotiate, remember!), you sit admiring the scenery and you have a bit of a chat to people.
As to the archery itself (it’s not all chatting!), that’s been good fun. The trickiest bit, well, the first tricky bit, is getting your sight correct for the distance. It’s amazing how a little adjustment will stop the arrow from flying off target to somewhere near where you thought you were aiming.
I forgot to explain previously that the other main assistance I receive, in addition to a seat to shoot from, is that one of the other shooters will collect my arrows for me when they collect theirs, to save me trying to trek back and forth to the target. Well, generally, that’s not too onerous, and people are very good about it and also tactfully only tell me my scores when they are reasonable.
However, last weekend, I was mortified when one of my arrows went sailing over the target, over the back netting and into the field behind. The lady who had kindly collected my arrows the previous round set down her own arrows and womanfully collected my errant arrow … which involved climbing over a wall to get into the field. Then (I hardly dare admit this) I did it again in the next round and she scaled the wall for me again! I got my sight adjusted quickly after that!
One of the coaches was explaining to me that the club has been getting itself wheelchair accessible – there is a concreted area wide enough for wheelchairs to allow for seated shooting, and a broad footpath has been built up one side of the field. Discussions are taking place about improving the surface of the packhorse bridge, though there will be a limit to what can be done there. It was heartening to hear of this.
The club was open all day so you could stay as long as you wished, with targets set up for practice use whilst more experienced members participated in a competition further down the field. Coaches were available too, giving much welcome assistance even though we had completed the course.
It’s a mellow way to spend a couple of hours at the weekend and my head feels lovely and clear in the evening, which helps to counter the ever shortening days at this time of the year.