Watership Down Open Field Competition

Watership Down Open Field Competition

Overon Black Arrows, Watership Down Open Field Competition

WA Field Archery, 12 Marked, 12 Unmarked Targets
The good folks of Overton Black Arrows have been working hard with AGB to ensure that the shoot did go ahead, unfortunately due to the restrictions placed on us all, the planned celebrations for the 50th Watership Down Open shoot were not able to happen. (The celebration will happen next year, so keep an eye out Live music, hog roast, beer and a fun clout tournament are going to make it a weekend to attend!)
This was the first AGB approved shoot, post the lock-down, and from our experience worked exceptionally well with little to no impact on the flow of a normal field shoot. Sure there was none of the usual on-site catering or end of shoot awards. Extra signage reminding of distancing and pulling your own arrows. (But who pulls someone else’s arrows without first checking anyway.)

Sanitiser and hand washing facilities were available at various locations around the course and in the common areas.  Field archery by it’s very nature requires minimal changes.

Basic common sense ruled the day, archers did as much or as little as they personally deemed necessary.

 

The other changes to the weekend meant that instead of being a two day event with record and arrow status, it became a one day event of twelve unmarked and twelve marked targets. Shot on a single day, with the tournament running over two days.
This was the first time we have shot at the Kingsclere course and what a beautiful course it is set in a bowl of hills the stunning nature of the site was magnified by blazing sun and temperatures in the mid to high 20’s, good thing that the sunscreen was in the bag.
Due to a bit of confusion around arrival/start time meaning we only got to shoot three arrows at the practice butt’s and then it was off to collect scorecards and head of to the first target. In to the woods on the right hillside for target one of the marked targets.
The bow only got back from being restrung on Wednesday. So with little time to shoot it in and fine tune the new rest, it was with a some interpretation that I stepped up to take the first shots. Luckily this was on 20cm targets, so not a large distance to shoot over. Three reasonable shots (for me poor by the standard of a compound archer), calmed the nerves a bit.
What tree!
On to the second target, more distance and use of the hill provided a slightly inclining shot, something that was to be come a feature of the day in a big way. All too quickly we had completed the first eight targets of the marked section and head past a pen of very inquisitive piglets to our first break stop.
View over the valley to an uphill shot
On to the second target, more distance and use of the hill provided a slightly inclining shot, something that was to be come a feature of the day in a big way. All too quickly we had completed the first eight targets of the marked section and head past a pen of very inquisitive piglets to our first break stop.
View over the valley, with downhill shot

Resuming we headed out on to the open hillside, should have remembered the walking pole, as the steepness of the slop and the rabbit holes ended up taking a toll on both my hips and lower back.

On the move again

Targets were made challenging not only by the distance changes but by the angles they were placed at. Keep the bow upright, don’t align with edge of the target, too many a time I got dragged into that mistake and ended up with an arrow left or right of centre.

Standing on even ground was becoming a luxury that was in short supply, a lot more practice taking shots with ‘less than ideal’ footing is defiantly something for a number of practice sessions over the coming weeks. Feet together? Feet well spaced? Depends on the situation, but becoming unbalanced when at full draw isn’t a good feeling!

Another thing that is high on the priority for practice is shots involving high degrees of incline/decline. The Watership Down course made that very clear, it’s amazing to be stood on the hill faced with a shot at a 45 degree angle looking down at a target off in the distance, thinking how far is it? How much should I subtract because of the slop of the shot. Every time it was wrong, but was that poor distance judgement or too much/too little adjustment….. practice practice practice.

Another eight targets shot and its time to find a little shade under a tree or two for lunch, before heading out on our final loop over the right side of the hillside.

View down the bowl
Target 19, Uphill shot to bunnies
Which target is it!

A combination of slope and angled target butts made for some great shots, that had you thinking about multiple things at once, as we traversed our way around the final eight of the unmarked distances.

A target on the flat! At the top of the course on this side, a great shot along the track, which having a hedge along one side closed in the open shots we had been making before. This also caught me out on my first shot, as I judged it to be somewhat further than it was.

A view to the practice butts

All too soon we were stood in front of the final target of the day where all of our group shot well, with only one arrow outside the yellow centre, probably the best combined target of the day.

Then all that remained was to check the score sheets, this didn’t take long as no one had been silly enough to let me near them. Say our goodbyes and head home to await the results.

Our groups best target

So finally a big congratulations to all the winners and perhaps more importantly to Overton Black Arrows. For all the hard work they have put in to insure that this shoot took place, all be it in a curtailed form. But proving beyond doubt that it is entirely possible to run a shoot in conditions very close to normal.

We hope that with this will lead to more shoots being arranged in there full formats and we can all get back to enjoying the sport we all love so much in full in the very near future.

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