Liberty Archers Turkey Shoot – 19th November 2017
by Queen Bee
KLFA Roving Reporter and Crossbow Queen
As anyone who reads my reports knows I NEVER have a straightforward journey to shoots. Today was exceptional as I ended up under an armed guard.
My satnav was new – my previous one having gone mad – and I had yet to use it. Stupid to leave it just before setting off for a shoot when I couldn’t be late. Because I don’t have a postcode for Liberty I have always used Brandon where I turn right at the T junction which delivers me safely. But not today. I was in a bit of a hurry as I’d forgotten it was a 9.30 kickoff and as I pressed the unfamiliar buttons the satnav began to argue. I chose Suffolk from a long list of Brandons and was asked for house number, street name etc. Pressing ‘done’ to avoid this I was returned to the long list. After four frustrating efforts I suddenly noticed tiny writing in the top corner stating ‘go to Brandon’, I tapped on them and off we went.
From the start the satnav wanted to go in entirely the wrong direction and I hadn’t noticed the tiny hieroglyphs stating that I would arrive at Brandon at 3.43pm. It is not a good thing to spend years relying on a bit of technology without paying any attention to the passing countryside. Fortunately a lot of the turns and villages were vaguely familiar so, doing the exact opposite of my instructions, I arrived within spitting distance of the shoot. It was then that I lost my way with a wrong turn.
Being ex-RAF, when I spotted a sign to RAF Lakenheath I thought I’d pop in and ask for directions. Following a sign ‘Permit holders only’ I arrived at the security gate where a gun-toting uniform approached me from either side and asked for my pass.
Whether it was the fact that they were Americans when I’d expected civilised Britishers, or the size of their weapons so to speak, I began to talk a load of gibberish.
Not only were they unfamiliar with Brandon, they also had no idea who Ruth and Randy were, or indeed what Liberty Archers was!
“Do you have any identification, ma’am?” (At least they hadn’t called me ‘sir’), “We can’t let you through to turn round without identification.”
“Can’t I just reverse?”
The grip on their guns became more aggressive.
The only ID I had was my NFAS card but it was in the boot with my crossbow. The uniform on the right moved out of reach for me to exit the vehicle and I began to worry about what they’d do when they saw the lethal weapon and the yellow-tipped missiles I was attempting to smuggle through their security.
As I opened the boot (or trunk, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are from), I tried to make myself as wide as possible whilst pretending to look in my boot bag as I moved it in front of the bow. My hands were shaking as I took my card from the pocket on my quiver and gave it to the guard. Whether he’d seen the bow and realised it was no match for their guns I don’t know but I was greatly relieved that it wasn’t mentioned.
“Follow that guard – slowly – to the white line and stop.”
This I did, very slowly, and was then instructed to drive round a concrete barrier and stop by the guard who had my ID. Another guard was on a radio, obviously checking me out, but eventually shrugged his shoulders and held out his hands. Thanks to the anonymity of my NFAS card they were totally flummoxed. It was returned to me with instructions to turn left once outside the gate.
Knowing I couldn’t be far from the shoot I guessed the way and after following miles of military fencing came across the beautiful sight of Liberty’s board with less than 10 minutes before the start. I have no idea which Brandon my satnav was trying to take me to but it was now seven and a half hours away!
There was a good turn-out and with 34 targets there was mostly 5 on each peg. With me to represent KLFA were Dexter, a very croaky but very brave Ro, Nicky and Ian, and Rick and Bridget. Because of the short day we were to shoot a maximum of two arrows and if both those missed a score of 8 was given for a ‘blank’. I was with a lovely group, all of whom I’d shot with before and we had a great day.
However, all was not enjoyable at the start as we were behind a group of 5 extremely slow compounds, one of whom was a Cub and looked as though he was being coached. At each target they all looked for the numerous errant arrows before scoring and after just under 2 hours we’d only managed to shoot 8 targets. The group of four behind us didn’t stop for tea and jumped us and the group in front, and it wasn’t long before we wished we’d done the same. We stuck to the rules and struggled on for five more targets but when there were four groups with us waiting for the compounds we decided we’d had enough and jumped, as did everyone else.
Mike always very kindly makes up my arrows for me but I hadn’t seen him for some time and was now down to only 4 arrows – 2 of which had damaged nocks – most of the others I’d left behind had been damaged by other archers. After 10 targets I was down to 2 – one arrow lost and the other with a damaged point. I then lost another one in the thick tufty grass and had to soldier on with only one for quite some time before a lost one was returned to me. Oddly enough I shot better when I only had one chance!
Liberty is always a good shoot. Because it’s flat it looks easy but is far from it. There were two 50+ and the rest were all between about 25 and 45yards. I discovered another lady crossbowess who’d had to come to the Dark Side because of injury. I didn’t know her or her standard and waited with bated breath at the end of the day. The prizes were a turkey, a turkey breast, and a packet of American-style stuffing for third place.
My name was called first and a turkey breast was thrust into my hand so I assumed I’d not shot well enough and had been beaten. As I stood and waited to congratulate my conqueror, Randy turned away and began to call out the results for gent’s crossbow
“Is there not another lady crossbow”? I asked.
“No,” he replied.
Drat. She must have gone home – I needed to know how good this other archer was!
KLFA weren’t disgraced. Nicky and Rick went home with the stuffing, Bridget and I went home with a turkey chest piece, and Rick had the booby raffle prize of a 3D rabbit.
My journey home was threat-free and my satnav behaved immaculately as I gave it a postcode instead of risking the word ‘Wisbech’.
Does anyone know how many Wisbeches there are in the world?