The setting was 50 acres of privately owned rolling SSSI woodland at Chattenden in north Kent. The shoot was the first ever I.L.A.A. longbow-only Field Archery Championship. The hosts were Bridge Woods Field Archery Club, who normally operate under the National Field Archery Society’s jurisdiction. 30 archers turned up for the event and were formed into six groups for the competition, each one led by an archer from Bridge Woods to assist with scoring and marshalling. It was generally a dry and bright day, but in a few patches the ground underfoot was very wet and slippery.
The Championship took the form of two rounds of shooting twenty targets of 3D foam animals, both real, historical and mythical. The scoring format was big game, where the archer shoots from a fixed peg and looses one arrow at the target. If it hits the animal they shoot no more, if they miss then they get to move forward to a closer
Scores are marked for a kill shot shown on the target and a wound, and scores diminish with the subsequent shoots. The scores range from a kill with the first arrow, which is worth 20 points, down to four for a wound with the third arrow. Naturally a miss is zero. Following a lunch break, when the kitchen served burgers and sausage sandwiches, the second round in the afternoon was a single arrow shot where the archer had the choice of which peg to shoot from, and had to take that relevant score if the arrow hit the animal. The course whilst generally being a normal NFAS course, was specifically set up for longbows, and although some shots were difficult, there were all shootable.
Whilst some of the participating archers had never encountered field archery in a wooded hunting environment, generally all were pleased to have taken part and enjoyed the experience. In addition to the prizes for the winners, Bridge Woods Field Archery Club also award ‘Hunter Patches’ where they recognise the archer has achieved better than 90 per cent of the best attainable score for the relevant equipment. BWFAC were pleased to award five of these patches at the prize giving.
The view from the range: A participant on the I.L.A.A field shoot
Bridge Woods is located in a beautiful setting with fine views whenever the tree canopy opens. It was my first experience of an all-longbow field shoot so I did not quite know what to expect. To start with we were given a great welcome by the Bridge Woods archers – it was quite clear from the outset these guys knew what they were doing. There were plenty of marshals on hand and two ladies in the kitchen valiantly cracking on with getting out serious quantities of breakfasts. It’s often little details: there were racks to put your bows in, there was a tent; there was a piping hot brazier, and someone was roasting chestnuts for free.
The course was beautifully set out; challenging but not absurd. Few arrows were lost because there were generous backstops. There was no detectable bias towards either left- or right-handed archers. The expertise of the club in setting things out showed in spades.
There was a general consensus among archers, that an all- longbow field event was a heck of a good formula. Everyone was friendly and wanted to make people feel welcome, and all wanted the shoot to be a really good experience. And so it was – a shoot to remember, a rack full of longbows, a great course, a good raffle and all the food a hungry archer could ask for.
Many thanks to all those at Bridge Woods who forewent shooting a bow that day, just to look after us. An eminently repeatable experience.