2017 3Ds Osmaston – Shoot Report
by Queen Bee
KLFA Roving Reporter & Crossbow Queen
Having spent Thursday evening dumping buckets of rainwater on all the big perennials in our garden, and dead-heading millions of Aquliegia to try and keep them flowering until our Open Garden Weekend in a few weeks time, I was less than perky as I set off at 9am for my third 3Ds.
The journey north was excellent. The oilseed rape had virtually finished and the countryside was lush in every shade of green imaginable, including blue, and the dog daisies that covered the road-sides filled the air with their pungent aroma of dog pooh. The sky, although not exactly Mediterranean, was a clear, cloudless blue, and I had both windows down to try and keep cool.
There was hardly any traffic at all and I arrived at the NT’s Sudbury Hall about, 20 miles from the 3Ds, in good time, and spent a pleasant hour wandering the grounds and re-living ancient memories in the Museum of Childhood. The house didn’t open until 1pm so as I wanted to get camped and set up quickly I didn’t stay and arrived at Osmaston about 12.30. The sun was merciless and beat down at just below 30 degrees so I found a nice spot in the shade of an ancient oak. As the weather was so hot bonfires didn’t cross my mind. Who needed a bonfire in such heat? About an hour later a group of archers set up camp the other side of the tree, and with a determined breeze blowing in my direction they lit a bonfire in a metal bucket.
Now, I’ve been brought up to always consider whether my actions would adversely affect other people, either verbally or physically, but maybe that’s not important nowadays. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with stinging eyes and a sore throat. Even 100 miles north on what was supposed to be a stress-free weekend from inconsiderate neighbours I was STILL living next to inconsiderate neighbours!
I went to bed with everything in the van stinking of smoke, and knowing that I would probably have to go through it all the following evening. But it wasn’t all bad – I didn’t have a barking dog as well! Yet even with two or three more bonfires being lit and with loud music echoing from a tent nearby decked in lights like a brothel I slept soundly (with huge ear plugs wedged in my ears!) and woke to bird-song just before six.
It was a totally different day weather-wise with a stiff wind, overcast skies and the odd spot of rain. Everybody had booked in by 9 and before walking out a two minutes’ silence was held for the victims and families of the Manchester bombings and what had occurred in Westminster recently.
All the KLFA contingent of Mike, Logan, Chris, Ben, Ian, Nicky, and myself were on C course. I was on target C11, almost as far away as one could possibly get, and we had a mile and a half walk to get there. When we’d arrived at the start of the course we were informed in no uncertain terms that if an archer trespassed through the pheasant fencing to retrieve an arrow the entire group would be escorted off the course. I felt this was very unfair for the innocent and perhaps would have been simpler to not have had a target in front of the fence in the first place.
As we set off into the woodland a chap behind me suddenly fell flat on his face. He lay stunned for a moment and obviously couldn’t get up unaided as he’d seemed a bit unsteady in his pins. I proffered my arm and told him to use it to get up because I was ‘well strong’. He took me at my word and nearly pulled me over with the effort so I had to use both hands to help. I saw him at odd times throughout the day and he seemed none the worse for his spill.
The shoot was started with a shotgun blast around ten. I was in a nice group, one of whom I knew. Towards the end of the day she, too, fell flat on her face. This was becoming a habit! I helped her up, and although shaken she rallied bravely and carried on.
The course was excellent – it actually didn’t look too difficult, but turned out to be very exacting and needed some thought. At the top of the woodland we were quite exposed and a stiff, chill wind made me wish I hadn’t taken off my fleece. The forecasted scorcher with thousands of midges didn’t materialise and by the time we’d done half the course I was really cold. There were three mosquito targets during the day, one I killed and the other two I pro’ed. But the strong, blustery wind made the longer targets difficult to hit accurately and blew ferns and small branches across the kill zones. Looking forward to some hot stew, or burger, or anything hot, we arrived for our second break to find that the kitchen had completely run out of hot food.
Knowing I couldn’t relax shooting against an opponent I knew was better than me I actually shot reasonably well. The only snag was that because I’d had to leave my bow in the van the day before I think the string had stretched in the heat, and the majority of 16s I shot were all an inch or so below the kill, so my careful calibrating the week before had gone to pot. I’d rather have missed by five inches! Really irritating. Not being very knowledgeable about crossbow strings, at the end of the day I gave it a couple of turns. I’d find out if I’d done it wrong in the practice butts the following day.
I hadn’t expected to shoot slightly better on the second half but finished the day in the low 700s. As I’d only shot four second arrows with two of them 14s one can easily see that I’d shot too many near misses. But I was reasonably pleased and would just have to do better on the morrow.
We finished shooting about 5pm and then had the mile and a half trudge back to the campsite. The weather had deteriorated to the extent that we all had to take our awnings down because the wind was like a miniature hurricane, and it was far too cold to sit outside. This I didn’t mind at all because the bonfire crew drove off to the pub! By 7.30pm my bed beckoned my tired limbs and I didn’t resist.
The storm-force winds continued through the night affording me very little sleep, and had me staggering out of bed with the alarm at 6am slightly the worse for wear. The birds, however, seemed unaffected and chirruped brightly in the branches above my head. At the practice butts my string adjustment hadn’t made the slightest difference and I began to worry that I’d have to shoot higher to accommodate it and I had enough on my plate trying to work out distances.
The weather was slightly overcast with the temperature difficult to judge. I wasted a lot of time putting waistcoats on, replacing them with fleeces, then returning to waistcoats. I eventually decided on a waistcoat over my quiver in order to take it off quickly if needed.
We set off promptly on to the A course. My first target peg, for the velociraptor, was in the Midge Zone on top of a sparsely-treed hill. I was shooting with a different group, none of whom I knew. We introduced ourselves and stood around awkwardly. The shotgun blasts echoed through the course and I approached the red peg. I’m always nervous and a bit self-conscious when I’m with archers I don’t know so I promptly forgot to put an arrow in the slot and dry-fired with a loud bang. With shaking fingers, and with my companions looking on with interest, I wobbled through the process of re-stringing my bow. Feeling very embarrassed, and slightly stupid, I tried the shot again at great speed and managed to get the top of the head. However, I’d broken the ice and we chatted amiably towards the next target, taking clouds of midges along with us.
I felt this was a slightly more challenging course than the day before with taller ferns and fewer trees making it difficult to work out distances. Not only were there a few more long shots there were also more slopes – and, of course, the midges. Using about the same amount of second arrows but with less success I began to feel disheartened sensing that I was beginning to struggle with my distances.
I was shooting with a 12 year old girl who was very polite and personable, she was also a very good archer. Some people have rain clouds that follow them, I have trip hazards, and again I had an archer down in the undergrowth at my feet! However, she was up in a flash and shot a very fine arrow.
Not being particularly good at figures – after four years I had yet to give in a score card that I hadn’t had to alter – my brain began to fail as I struggled to find blades of grass and bits of fern to use as markers. Then suddenly I clicked and I began to shoot amazingly well, getting pro after pro, and kill after kill even when I didn’t really know what I was doing.
My climax of the whole shoot was the final target which was a large grey and white reindeer the far side of a small valley full of trees in plastic tubes. With nothing level in front of me to work out the distance I looked sideways down to the track on the right below us and used some of the trees on the edge of the wood. There was a huge shrub blocking a clear judgement to the far bank and the target but I worked it out at about 60 yards – I’d done a great deal of working out at ‘about so many yards’. My bow’s knobs and dials only showed me the way to a maximum of just over 50 yards so I just guessed where to aim and loosed my final arrow. When I eventually heard the thunk that is every archer’s dream I let out a very unladylike whoop of joy and shot a hand skywards, well, as near skywards as a decrepit shoulder would allow. With a big smile on my face we reached the target and not only had I hit it but I’d also scored a pro kill!
By the time we’d sorted out the scores it was nearly 6pm and I was exhausted. We’d spent a great deal of time waiting to shoot at most of the targets, some with two groups in front of us, but this isn’t a criticism of the course at all – it was obviously a good challenge for most archer’s ability.
KLFA’s youngsters both kept up their amazing standard and came away with a trophy and a runner-ups medal.
At the end of the day I was pipped at the post by about two second arrow’s worth. Although I was disappointed – naturally – I’d achieved my personal best two day score of ten short of 1500 and 24 spots.
And I’d pro killed the reindeer!