Archery.... is there a need for further change?

cave dweller

New member
I've been skimming over these posts from time to time to see what's being said, and unfortunately there's still a lot of things NOT being said, so I'll go off on a tangent here and you can hurl your stones at me when I'm done.

For starters, not everybody wants the heavily regimented, overly structured environment of shooting at a club. Personally I'd rather eat a bowl of my own arrows than go to any clubs and that includes field archery and the lot. The main reasons are down to all the unnecessary "rules" about things that don't actually matter or are none of anybody else's business like dress sense and equipment.

Last I heard there was still some weird dress code for competitions, something like no jeans and no camo, but in the real world I sometimes wear those things when I shoot and it doesn’t hurt anybody, and what's the difference if I wanted to shoot my bow and arrow stark naked? Not that I do really, but most hobby archers won’t like being told there's a damn dress code to a leisure fun activity that is actually much safer than riding a bicycle. And the rules for things such as field archery also take the fun out of it, for instance the insane rules that say all my arrows have to be exactly the same length etc? I make a lot of my own arrows and I doubt that I have any two arrows exactly the same length, type or weight.

Even when I'm seriously hunting game I don't carry around a bunch of identical arrows, I have a selection of different ones I can choose from for differing purposes. I might have arrows with me that are suitable for close range in heavily wooded conditions or for out in the open with a strong wind. I adjust the way I shoot accordingly and choose the appropriate arrows for the job. So why would I not be allowed to do that at a field archery competition?

But people who choose archery for fun, and don’t really care about competing, should be able to have the opportunity to enjoy archery in their own way once they’ve proved that they are proficient enough and mentally sound enough. They should be allowed to go out and have fun within reason, whether in your own back yard or somewhere well away from anybody, like out in the woods or at the seaside or something. What's the harm of letting you actually do it for fun? It’s not noisy, it doesn’t damage the landscape, and proficient, sane archers don’t just go around shooting at people.

Archery is not as dangerous as a lot of people seem to try to make it out to be. Yes it carries some risks, but what doesn’t? Anyway, when was the last time you ever heard of somebody actually being killed at an indoor target shoot? Never- and it's not because of all the over-the-top rule making that keeps us "safe", it's because basically archery, especially at that level, is really pretty safe. Normal, sane people don't accidentally shoot themselves in the head with a 25# recurve, but just try riding a bicycle in heavy traffic where you're perfectly legal to do it and see how safe that is.

Some of us don't want to compete, we just want to fling a few arrows at targets for fun. People drive cars all over the place (a much more dangerous thing than archery) and they have to have a driver's license to legally do it. However, once they have the license they can basically drive where they want. There's not some body of administrators telling them how and where they can do it and lecturing them on their "form" or trying to coerce them into competitions.

For reasons too lengthy to go into here I shoot in different countries. Most of them have a pretty decent legal take on the subject so long as you’re not a dangerous fool. However, in the UK you are treated like a dangerous fool from the moment you pick up a bow regardless of how proficient you can be shown to be. It’s the worst place I’ve ever tried to shoot. The fact is that it’s a combination of the insanely strict UK laws that equate shooting an arrow at a paper target as the equivalent of juggling live hand grenades on a crowded bus or waving an AK-47 around on full auto while blindfolded, and the whole archery club mentality itself keeps a lot of people away from the sport. There’s a lot of people out here who’d be happy to partake of some archery oriented fun but who are put off by the expense and joy-killing complications of UK club archery.

Consequently, even though there’s a smattering of clubs here and there across the country it’s still pretty much a non-sport in an environment where media-fuelled knife crime hysteria reasons that if you make all knives illegal then no drug addicted city kids from a hyped up gang culture will ever go around harming each other ever again, without addressing the real problems.

No, knives do not stab people and people with knives do not stab people either. The chef in a restaurant does not run amok just because he’s got access to some really big knives. But bad people will be bad regardless, whether it’s with knives, spoons, spaghetti or arrows . But that’s not most of us and it’s not reasonable to tar us all with that brush and take away our reasonable freedoms. Not all that long ago people in the UK used to be free to practice archery as they wanted and have fun, and the streets were not awash in gore and corpses. When I was in boy scouts in another country we legally carried knives that would be totally illegal for anybody to have in the UK, but none of us little boy scouts ever stabbed each other with them. I can be reasonably certain that as grownups we’d refrain from shooting each other with arrows too.

Archery just for fun could be fun but due to the turgid insanity of a nanny state gone rogue there’s nowhere in the UK we are allowed to do it. That is what really needs to change or interest in and support for UK archery will never grow and it will only remain a marginal undertaking for the minority of people who actually want a regimented archery club experience.
 


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Kernowlad

Active member
Great post Cave Dweller.
Just a minor point; I shoot under NFAS. We all mix arrows. I use cheapies carbons for short range, ACGs for long range.
Plenty of others do too; it’s pretty relaxed.

And many wear camo too but I’d rather be seen clearly so I don’t.
 


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Whitehart

Well-known member
I guess the future of archery is anarchy

Some of the insane rules are there to level a playing field for competition.
For me archery is a sport not a hobby, I have been competitive all my life and that is fun to me.

Camo and blue jeans are not sports clothing and many not practical, these days unlike the old green and white days practical stylish alternatives are not hard to find at affordable prices.

Camo has a stigma born over many years by the irresponsible doing stupid things wearing it - it is not camo's fault but no wonder some people and organisations do not want to be associated with it.

I laugh when I see Americans wearing camo to hunt but still have to wear hi vis vests in case they shoot each other.

Some people just don't like being told what to do. "No" is a word people do not like to hear.

Everybody thinks they are practical sensible and safe - the truth (I have 2 examples this week where archers have been hurt)is many are not and most so called accidents are avoidable if peopled listened rather than preached. So some not all people do need guidence.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
Some of the insane rules are there to level a playing field for competition.
Indeed. If you want to enter a competition then you need to obey the rules. There's nothing unique to archery about that. If you're not in a competition then things are more lax; you can take more liberties with your shooting if you want (but obviously not with the safety rules). Shoot whatever weird and wonderful arrows that you want.

Camo and blue jeans are not sports clothing and many not practical, these days unlike the old green and white days practical stylish alternatives are not hard to find at affordable prices.
The clothing regs are way more lenient than they used to be. And again, if you're not in a competition, then you can largely wear what you want. However, camo on a field course is always a bad idea. You really don't want to be hard to see on a field course. Similarly, the rule against open toed shoes is really sensible if you don't want to be finding a lost arrow the painful way. The rule against denim is harder to defend, but on the other hand it's a really poor choice when shooting outside in the rain. All in all, the clothing regs are less onerous than other sports, even something like football. (Don't want to wear shorts? Tough.)


And as for arrows, as far as I am aware (and correct me if I'm wrong) the regs require them to be identical in appearance, not construction, so there is scope for customising them for distance. Although how you'd tell them apart, I don't know. And it's probably not the spirit of the rules.


All in all, I don't think that the competition regs are AGB's biggest problems.
 


ben tarrow

Active member
Even when I'm seriously hunting game I don't carry around a bunch of identical arrows, I have a selection of different ones I can choose from for
I guess this means you're not based in the UK, though you dont say where you are in the world.
I think with some things there is a lot of difference between cultures as to what is "over the top" and whats not.
As for "rules to keep us safe" and "no one has every been killed shooting indoors" I have a very nice video of an indoor archery club practise session, where the adults are collecting their arrows, whilst a junior continues to shoot at 10 yards. Sometimes "rules to keep us safe" arent enough.
Its a shame CD is so anti-club. I bet you've got a lot of knowledge and skills that it would be great to share with others.
Each to their own
 


I'd say that most clubs can't do both. Owning or renting a target suitable field AND and Field suitable woodland....
oh - accepted.... but for club officials to 'naysay' the other disciplines, or claim a lack of knowledge, and a complete disinterest in.... is (imho) the thin end of the wedge.

As for the separation, I'd say its related. While the idea of field is interesting, I couldn't do it without sacrificing time on the target range. The same reason I don't take the recurve to the club, it would take time away from the compound. I'd be more likely to try field if I enjoyed barebow......but the horsebow takes time away from the compound.......
Aaaa - now that is a problem all of your own making. ;)
 


English Bowman

Active member
One of the things that saddens me about this thread is the view that AGB = Target with a bit of clout and NFAS = field. The truth is that AGB = target, field, clout, and other forms of the sport. This is not to take away from NFAS EFAA or any other organisation, but if you are an AGB member you don't need to join another organisation to do field. I run an AGB target club, we put on a field shoot once a year, and we have just run an introductory session for AGB target archers who are interested in field. Many of them thought that they'd have to join NFAS. This is an attitude we have to change. There is no reason why there should be target and field archers, we're all archers. (I'd also like to see the various organisations cooperating for the good of the sport, but although I've seen that work on a club level, there's no evidence that it will ever happen above that more's the pity)
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
Yes, AGB does do all sorts of styles but the truth is that AGB does have a massive Olympic recurve bias. The fact that so many of your AGB members didn't even realise that AGB does field illustrates that rather dramatically.
 


English Bowman

Active member
Yes, AGB does do all sorts of styles but the truth is that AGB does have a massive Olympic recurve bias. The fact that so many of your AGB members didn't even realise that AGB does field illustrates that rather dramatically.
I agree, but this is changing, we now have dedicated field pages in the magazine, an international field archer on the board and there are people like me running sessions to promote field within AGB, so hopefully that will change.
Sort of sums up AGB Field in the UK, there is not enough of it.
I also agree with you, we run one shoot a year due to not having a permanent field range, we set up the course the day before our shoot and pack it up the day it finishes. I'd love to leave it out and run more open days, but as other people use the fort it's not possible. I think to get more AGB field shoots we need more AGB field archers. I'm trying to do that by promoting field around our local target clubs, or at least will when the restrictions are lifted.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
In the last few years, the club where I shoot has changed. Mainly in the ratio of bow types and shooting styles.These days we have far more archers choosing barebow, with recurves or horsebows. It does seem that the Olympic recurve monopoly is slowly lessening in favour of more choice and less equipment. Field archery is something many of them say they would like to try.
How realisitic would it be to try to tap into these enthusiasts via clubs that are mainly Oly recurve? Not with the intention of poaching them away, but as a way of allowing them more opportunities to do field archery while staying with their current clubs.
 


malbro

Instinctive Archer
Supporter
field shoot once a year
I belong to both AGB and NFAS and there is a world of difference between lining up and shooting at a set of targets a fixed distance away and being out in the woods with a small group shooting at targets that are set at different distances, and heights and being able to do this every week, our NFAS club is open all day for four days a week, all weathers, all year.

If AGB clubs want to promote field archery then many clubs will need much better outdoor facilities which is not an easy or inexpensive task.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
In the last few years, the club where I shoot has changed. Mainly in the ratio of bow types and shooting styles.These days we have far more archers choosing barebow, with recurves or horsebows. It does seem that the Olympic recurve monopoly is slowly lessening in favour of more choice and less equipment. Field archery is something many of them say they would like to try.
How realisitic would it be to try to tap into these enthusiasts via clubs that are mainly Oly recurve? Not with the intention of poaching them away, but as a way of allowing them more opportunities to do field archery while staying with their current clubs.
Loads of the members at our AGB target club are also members of a second field club; sometimes AGB, sometimes another organisation. Not many completely defect; when they do it's generally down to pre-existing disquiet with the club or with AGB.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
My point is more that loads of people are in AGB target / AGB field or AGB / non-AGB clubs without drama or poaching each other's memberships. Loads of people are in more than one club, and nobody raises an eyebrow.

It's mostly when people are upset about something already that they change disciplines or organisations.

So don't worry about taking AGB members to your local NFAS (or whatever) club, if they enjoy themselves, they'll likely join both. And if they switch, they were probably on the road to leaving anyway.

I was kind of agreeing with you.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Hi dvd8n yes, we are agreeing, .....sometimes the words in print get in the way.
It seems to me that there an interest in shooting rather than an interest in only shooting Oly recurve. The internet allows beginners to attend lesson one, knowing far more about the options than I ever did as a beginner
 


to do something different usually has its own costs, either in time or money but sometimes in space as well.
A few years ago i booked a field fire range for testing armour ( work job) and got a few square miles of salisbury Plain to play on loosing off with .50 cal, 30mm cannon etc at the armour being developed by my students. We then blasted away at old cars and anything left scattered about by the army just for fun. Now the problem was the cost of doing so in terms of access to the space and also the cost of the ammuntion.
The MOD wont let jusr anyone loose on their big field and ther law doesnt allow anyone to rattle off machine guns either so rich people still cant use their financial muscle to steal the show but once they had decided I was safe and sane there was no interfernce in what we got up to by the MOD, the National Rifle Association, Sport England or whoever.
So how do you regulate freedom of choice?
One change would be easy and that is change the rounds shot and for those that like to measure themselves against others the handicap and awards schemes as well to reflect the freedom NOT to shoot a York or a WA1440.
The other change is much harder because that is what is set inside the heads of many club members where the attitude is "we cant do that because we havent done it before" and usually saying that the AGB insurance wont cover people shooting anything other than the prescribed rounds when they have never ever read the insurance contract.
Open sessions will stop people from paying their annual fees as they will just pay for what they actually do and as more than 50% of my club fees goes to AGB the laws of diminishing returns will soon mean no archery for anyone.
the change needs to be in peoples outlook as to what archery is all about and that means change to its governance, a single organisation that caters for all aspects of the sport and the abandonment of the addiction to funding for our olympic aspirations as the terms for getting that money are damaging to the rest of the sport. If 14 administrators and 6 Directors of Sport get made redundant that is a sacrifice I would be prepared to make
Admit it is a hobby- structured for those that compete but also allowing the freedom of those who choose not to compete to play along on the same field. This may be limited by the area of the range but allow whatever the safety template allows.
People play football on marked out pitches next to us and they are regulated by the FA when playing organised matches. No-one tells the dog walkers how to dress when they wander about and they have the same rights of access as the ball kickers when a match isnt on.
 


geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Nice post.
Changing attitudes, as you say, is not easy. I suppose it is natural to feel that doing things one way that has worked for 30 years, will continue to work for another 30 years. " We like it this way."
The club where I shoot was mainly Olympic recurve, until about 8 years ago. One person liked longbow and used his own. Slowly, a few others had a chance to try one and they enjoyed it so much they bought their own longbows. Later on a few recurve archers tried shooting with just the barebow and enjoyed it so much they continued that way and later bought a horse bow or flat bow.
It happened by itself, in a way, although the first longbow archer at the club did have to be patient and let others join in as and when they felt they wanted a change. It is now quite normal for beginners to join the club and buy all kinds of bows, not just the recurve that would have been standard ten years ago.
 


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