Archery

I’ve been thinking about archery a lot recently, mainly because I’m writing a zombie apocalypse short story set in Lincolnshire.

I got my old shooting bag out yesterday. My quiver and bowstand haven’t seen much daylight since I damaged my back three years ago. It wasn’t the shooting that caused damage; it was slipping on a wet floor at my job at the time. Much painfulness followed.

I still have my longbow – a proper one, not a flatbow but a proper D-section engineered stick – hung on my living room wall above my favourite trophy, a war arrow mounted on a wooden block, that I received when I won the Lincoln Castle Longbow Tournament in 2011. It was my third try, and my last outdoor competition.
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Randomly, watching series three of The Walking Dead yesterday, one of the characters in Woodbury has a fancy compound bow, and boasts about how good she is. But then misses a zombie less than 20 yards away. If you can’t hit a slowly shuffling target that size with a compound bow at less than twenty yards, you’re a shit shot. At that distance you should be able to take an eye out, at least most of the competent compound archers I knew did a fair bit of damage to the X (they get through targets faster than the rest of us…)

My back is still wrecked but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how to shoot, or coach. I saw a fellow-writer had been taught to shoot by a relative and my brain started picking apart her technique. So many mistakes – a competent coach should have picked them up straight away. Just looking at her right – drawing arm – I could have told her three quick things:
Shoulder down;
Elbow back and forming a straight line from arrow tip to elbow;
Head straight, looking forward.

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Basically, you should look like a T and your body should form an A, for stability.

Since I can’t shoot anymore I can’t demonstrate technique to beginners, which means I can’t coach either.

Archery was a massive part of my life; I spent more time and money on archery – coaching, travelling, competing, bows, arrows, ancillary equipment, membership fees, socialising – than on anything else. I miss it; I miss the activity, the people, going to different clubs for competitions.

I don’t miss the petty politics of clubs and national/regional organisations though, those I can happily do without. But, when I wake up on a weekend morning and the sun is shining, I do wish I could get my kit together, get on the bus to Cleethorpes and go spend the morning with my old friends at Grimsby Archers.

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