NFAS 3D Cham­pi­onships

Alex Tyler was out in the woods

Bow International - - CONTENTS -

You may not think that ‘chal­leng­ing’ and ‘down­right sneaky’ are com­pli­ments but th­ese were wel­come com­ments for the course-lay­ers at the Na­tional Field Archery So­ci­ety’s (NFAS) an­nual 3D cham­pi­onships on the late May bank hol­i­day week­end. With good weather and Thoresby Park Es­tate of­fer­ing two thou­sand acres of mixed wood­land across gen­tly un­du­lat­ing ter­rain, the con­di­tions were per­fect for com­pe­ti­tion, which ended with only four of 2018’s win­ners re­tain­ing their tro­phies.

Un­sighted re­mains the most used ap­proach, with over three-quar­ters of com­peti­tors not us­ing sights. How­ever, with the in­tro­duc­tion of Tra­di­tional Bowhunter (non-com­pound, no sight or sta­biliser, metal ar­rows) in 2018, the

ma­jor­ity of the five hun­dred com­peti­tors were shoot­ing metal ar­rows for the first time, though the most pop­u­lar of the eleven avail­able styles re­mained Hunt­ing Tackle (re­curve bow, no sight or sta­biliser, wooden ar­rows). Archers each shot two of the four cour­ses over the week­end, with all archers of the same style to­gether.

X and Y cour­ses of­fered con­trasts for the metal-ar­row classes, with X con­sid­ered more de­cep­tive and Y more tech­ni­cal. With patches of open grass­land with­out ref­er­ences to help dis­tance judg­ing, X course (set by Phoenix Archers) had a num­ber of longer shots to test ac­cu­racy. Some tar­gets were par­tic­u­larly un­for­giv­ing: on X6, a croc­o­dile sat on a steep bank, head­ing down to­wards a pool. Be­cause the whole tar­get is only ap­prox­i­mately 20cm high, mis­judg­ing the dis­tance by a cou­ple of me­ters sent the ar­row above or be­low. The dif­fi­culty in X2 was not the dis­tance but the an­gle: tak­ing ad­van­tage of a man­made fea­ture of the wood, a frog was set in a gul­ley with archers shoot­ing al­most straight down from a wall six feet above.

The denser, more conif­er­ous wood­land on Y course meant trees and veg­e­ta­tion could be de­ployed to add dif­fi­culty. The only re­quire­ment in NFAS rules is that the kill zone should be vis­i­ble, so tar­gets were set be­hind tree forks or in the midst of ferns which con­cealed the full shape of the an­i­mal. When lay­ing the course, set­ters The Un­knowns made an ef­fort to mix up the dis­tances be­tween shots, so an open shot of red deer stag on the edge of a plan­ta­tion at 65 yards was fol­lowed by a 10-yard rac­coon against a fallen log. The lower light lev­els on Sun­day made as­pects of the course trick­ier, with archers us­ing a scope find­ing it dif­fi­cult shoot­ing at a mos­quito set at 5 yards un­der­neath a pine tree.

Fol­low­ing a rule change in April, Un­lim­ited (com­pound, adjustable sights) archers were al­lowed to use binoc­u­lars for the first time at a cham­pi­onships. As all NFAS cour­ses are un­marked, the archer has to judge the dis­tance and set the sight be­fore us­ing the binoc­u­lars only to iden­tify the higher-scor­ing kill zone. "Hav­ing binoc­u­lars makes such a dif­fer­ence," Tony We­ston (Orion Bowhunters), win­ner of Com­pound Un­lim­ited (adjustable sights, re­lease aid) com­mented. "New tar­gets are com­ing out all the time and this al­lows you to check where the kill is so you can place your shot. This will greatly re­duce the cases where you make a great dis­tance judge­ment, a per­fectly ex­e­cuted shot and hit ex­actly where you aimed, only to find that when you ap­proach the tar­get you had got the po­si­tion of the 24 score zone in com­pletely the wrong place and you end up with a 20 or 16."

The ef­fect showed in the scores; We­ston’s

A FROG WAS SET IN A GUL­LEY WITH ARCHERS SHOOT­ING AL­MOST STRAIGHT DOWN FROM A WALL SIX FEET ABOVE

tally of 69 spot kills (out of 80), com­pared to 44 for Chris Smith’s (In­de­pen­dent) win­ning to­tal in Com­pound Lim­ited (fixed sights, with­out re­lease aid). The high­est to­tal for an un­sighted archer was 30 for Paul An­stee (For­est of Ar­den Bow­men) on the way to the Bowhunter tro­phy, im­prov­ing on his sec­ond place in 2018.

How­ever, the only class where medals were de­cided by spots was an un­sighted one. Af­ter shoot­ing B course on Satur­day, only 8 points sep­a­rated the top three in Long­bow. David Wylde (Pines Park Archers) on 634 led by 2 points from Karl Tonks (Paget de Vasey), with Stephen Black­hall (De­la­mare Field Archers) on 626. How­ever, a storm­ing 698 from Gerry Tier­ney (Archers of Bat­tle) on Sun­day saw him move up into third place, leav­ing Wylde and Black­hall tied on 1314, mean­ing that the re­sult was de­cided on spots, with Black­hall tak­ing the tro­phy by 13 spots to 9.

For wooden ar­row archers on A (set by Pines Park), the dis­tances were gen­er­ally shorter but this did not make them sim­pler. Tar­gets were placed be­hind dead ground to con­ceal dis­tances and nat­u­ral fea­tures such as over­hang­ing branches re­quired archers to kneel or al­ter their stance. Rhodo­den­drons com­ing into bloom acted as an at­trac­tive back­drop and pro­vided a fram­ing win­dow for a frog tar­get. On this course, a mos­quito was placed be­hind dead branches, with the shoot­ing pegs on an up­turned stump.

Hunt­ing Tackle shot A course on Sun­day and saw both overnight lead­ers over­taken by archers shoot­ing the week­end’s high­est scores with wooden ar­rows. With 660, Ruth Han­lon (Co­bra Archers) over­came a 14 point deficit to win by a con­vinc­ing 50 points, while the men’s tro­phy went to Antony Wil­don (Cheshire Oak Bow­men) af­ter his Sun­day score of 744.

Spirit of Sher­wood de­ployed a num­ber of psy­cho­log­i­cal tricks on B course. A baby bear may have been only 15 yards away but it had been set to lean to the right form­ing a di­ag­o­nal line, mean­ing that dis­tance-judg­ing needed to be ex­act. On B1, there were also other el­e­ments to con­sider: a carp tar­get had been set up as if on a bar­be­cue, com­plete with a nearby fish­er­men en­joy­ing a beer – you had to be close to re­alise it was a just dummy in the cam­ou­flage out­fit.

With the 3Ds back in their con­tain­ers, the fo­cus now shifts to the pa­per face cham­pi­onships in Septem­ber. En­tries will be open for NFAS mem­bers from July.

It was *this* big, ap­par­ently

x6: aka the dif­fi­cult croc­o­dile

spot the... ah, there it is

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