Wet Wet Wet visits Cloth of Gold shoot 8th April 2018
by Queen Bee
KLFA Roving Reporter and Crossbow Queen
Being a ‘true Brit’ as far as being able to forecast the weather I set off for every eventuality – works every time!!
I was on my way to Cloth to Gold near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. The last time I’d visited this cracking little shoot was in June 2016 when I achieved crossbow Master Hunter status having failed the previous time in Barebow. With Avalon closing their gates to the likes of you and me last summer this was the first time I’d traveled the A1 past their grounds since, and to be honest I’ll probably never use that part of the A1 again! The road works for the A14 improvement were a nightmare – even on a Sunday – goodness knows what they are like during the week.
Although the temperature was reasonable the sky grew more threatening and I had an inkling that it wouldn’t be a pleasant day weather-wise. The further I traveled the lower the cloud base dropped and very soon it was difficult to see the tops of trees. The rain began as I drove into Hertfordshire but the hedgerows had turned emerald green overnight and the white May blossom glistened in the dampness so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
Most of the rivers and lakes I passed had ignored their boundaries and had overtaken nearby fields. At the top of flimsy trees, groups of magpies swayed back and forth like aerial killer whales awaiting delivery. I held my breath as I drove under a bridge displaying a huge wreath on its railings and hoped that it was just a calm demise on its track and not a suicide bridge.
My satnav was still misbehaving herself having earlier pronounced Peterborough as PaTerbera (like Gerbera!). She now took me down a very wet, very narrow, very pot-holed lane called Chequers Hill which she pronounces as Cheekers Hill. However, thank goodness for satnavs and postcodes because I arrived safely at the shoot just after 9 and immediately stuffed the most enormous sausage and bacon ciabatta – much nicer than the usual dry rolls.
Feeling very full I tested Bernard, my bow, through the crono to discover that he was no longer a limp teenager and was now shooting missiles at 204 fps! We’re smoking!!!
There were five of us representing KLFA – Nicky and Ian, Neal and Mikki, and yours truly. I was shooting with newbies Neal and Mikki who were visiting for the first time. Neal has mobility problems as did two others of our group, one of whom had taken a year off with serious, and on-going, medical issues, so we started on target 1.
A good turnout began in the gloom (not raining – yet) just after 10. Each target was double-pegged with A being shot first and then B the second time round. For those of you who have never shot C of G it is rather like a miniature Lyme Valley – VERY undulating with steep climbs and descents and acres of dead ground. A very challenging course upon which one can learn a great deal. Full marks and grateful thanks to the club who had made a valiant effort of digging steps and laying barrow-loads of chippings which, on a fine day would have been perfect.
Just before noon the rain began and it carried on non-stop for the next 6 hours. Very soon the steps began to fail and the chippings had been trodden into the mud. Even though they were replaced regularly they couldn’t survive the onslaught. Neal and Terry were having great difficulty managing the steep steps and undulating mud and our group was getting slower and slower – not because of these two valiant archers but because we were ALL struggling.
It was a complete contrast to Rednex. Most of the targets were between 20 and 40 yards with a smattering of 50yds + with one at nearly 70. Someone mentioned he thought many of them were too stretched for the size of the target and I must admit I had to agree, but I do like a challenge – I don’t do easy and considering how difficult I was finding judging distances over VERY challenging terrain I was pleased with quite a respectable first half score – no target panic this week!
After we’d finished the first round we were all wet, cold and filthy dirty and had to go out for the second round. My 100% waterproof coat was now letting in water on my back and I was very tired; Bernard had become very heavy. Had C of G known what the weather was going to be like they may have had just one round with archers shooting both pegs – but one is always wise after the event. Off we went again to find that our penultimate target – the tiger at 50 yards – was now at over 65 yards. Just a little bit too far methinks, especially as there was dead ground all over the place. My final arrow – that I’d set at 65yds – landed on the ground just under its tummy level with the kill. ‘Good line’ I hear you cry!
At 5pm we were the last group in and although Terry had had a nasty fall and was really struggling we all completed the course with a smile.
Ian achieved Silver, Nicky a Bronze, Neal and Mikki a new club under their belt, and yours truly with no competition. However, because I very rarely have competition except in the ‘Big Shoots’ I always challenge myself against the gentlemen crossbowers and today I beat the second! Chuffed!
Today’s accolade goes to Neal who, although struggling badly, managed to nail the moving honey bear that shot down the wire like a bat out of hell – TWICE!
Well done Neal – KLFA rules!