Steve Allam of Overton Black Arrows explains why field and 3D archery should be on your 2022 to-do list.
Trying any new discipline takes a bit of courage. There are new rules to learn, new places, new people. Trying field archery, if you are a target archer, is a must; the two disciplines are entirely complementary and practice at one will enhance your skill at the other. Target archery requires a consistent stance and posture and the ability to repeat a shot sequence many times at the same distance.
Field archery requires you to shoot one, two, or three arrows at a target before moving straight away to a new shooting position. The target might be uphill, downhill, across a slope and anywhere between 5m and 60m away. These additional challenges require the solid stance and shot sequence practised in target archery, but the adaptability that you will learn in field archery can lead to a better and more resilient target performance.
The fun and challenge of field archery comes from this variability. In a field round, you are allocated to a group of four archers and walked out to your first target. Your round is spent walking and chatting in your group, occasionally meeting other groups as you pass, or on a break, or at lunch. Sound easy? Now look at the challenge! You start by shooting three arrows at a 40cm face, marked as 20m away. Walk for a couple of minutes, and – oh – it’s a very long shot down a steep slope – just try and remember that stance and shot sequence (but tilt it all by 30 degrees, estimate the distance and remember to take some off for the slope). Your next shot is under the trees; you estimate a 32m shot onto a 60cm target, which you can barely see… or is it an 80cm target at 44m?
Replace those targets with a wild boar, polar bear and a fallow deer, and you have a 3D round. The difference is that all the distances are unmarked and you only get two arrows per target. Will that be two in the 11 ring, or one just over and one just under? It was quite a small dinosaur after all!
In a day’s competition, you’ll only shoot 48 or 72 arrows, but feel like you’ve shot many more. The elation of beating an Olympian (if only on one target), of correctly estimating the distance to the stag and the frustration of missing that rather large polar bear cannot be found in other disciplines.
You don’t have to compete as many clubs run practice and fun sessions, but competitions are very friendly. In the five years that I have been shooting field and 3D, everyone I’ve shot with has been friendly and helpful – I’ve shot with eight to 80 year olds, from complete beginners to GB/Olympic team members, in rain, snow, wind and scorching sun. So, come and try field archery. You’ll love it!