Sorry for the lack of posts and event listing updates, as everything came to a pretty quick halt with the dumb COVID19 pandemic.
But, Liam and I got to shoot our first 3D shoot yesterday at the Norfolk Rod and Gun Club, in a fun shoot hosted by the Norfolk Archers. As this was our first shoot, and I found out it was actually happening about 48 hours before the event, we did not have a lot of time to prepare or get stuff together, so we just did out best. This is a quick write up of our experience at a first time shoot and a general review of the event.
Like I said, preparation was quick. I had Liam go out and shoot 20-30 arrows on Friday at 10 yards, as I figured he would just shoot all of the shots in the fun shoot at that distance rather than having him potentially miss targets trying from longer distances. I had a bit of a conundrum, as I have a single pin sight (HHA Optimizer Lite King Pin Sight KP-5510) that you use a dial for the distance. I have the sight dialed in at 20 yards as that is for the most part the distance that I shoot at home. Knowing that I wanted to shoot from whatever distance the typical male archer would shoot from, I knew I had to get some additional distances. So, I opened the gate to my yard, got out the rangefinder and marked the distances for 30/40/50 yards. 50 yards had me practically shooting from the street (which may have been unnerving to anyone driving by, but either way). So, I took enough shots from each distance to dial in a number. I ended up with what I believed was pretty good numbers for the shoot, but a funny thing happened when I was shooting at 50 yards. I had a robin hood on my last 2 shots. It was awesome and frustrating at the same time, as I had never had a robin hood before, but now I had to dig out a few more arrows.
In addition, I had not a had a chance to really think much about going, or what I might actually need for the shoot. I went and found my binoculars, found an old hydration pack to carry a couple of gatorades, some bug spray, and my keys so I didn’t lose them somewhere on the course. I also packed a gunsmith screwdriver with a bunch of attachments in case we needed to make a change, an extra release in case on of course went bad and some arrow lube.
Ok, now it is Saturday, we want to go early so we have time to figure everything out and get on the course. We showed up around 8:10 or so, and were welcomed by a bunch of people from the Norfolk Archers Club. They helped us get registered and I paid my fees ($10). Liam was free and they also let him pick between a bunch of water bottles and apparently a few squirt guns, because that is what he picked. They also let him pick a paper target and gave him a free coupon for a scoop of ice cream at Stewarts. He was already pumped. I told the group that I have never shot a 3D shoot before and that I didn’t know where the course was. (I have been a member of the rod and gun club in the past, but only used the pistol and rifle ranges). They pointed us to the archery bales to warmup and then told us to follow the trail around shooting the targets. They told us we could go around twice or if it wasn’t too busy, we could shoot 2 arrows at each target and just go around once. Since we didn’t plan on a long amount of time, we planned to just shoot two arrows at each target once around. They offered me a scorecard and I just said that we would not score for this time, that perhaps next time we would.
We got our gear together from the back of the car and started off. There was a group of 5-7 archers in front of us that were just leaving the practice area so Liam and I shot a few arrows to loosen up. I didn’t know how many groups were off in front of them, but I figured it would kind of be like a round of golf, if they were shooting a target, we would just wait our turn, especially not knowing how far it would be backed up at all.
Once we entered the woods, it was really easy to follow. The path was mostly a combo of cut grass with gravel and was really easy to walk. All of the target lanes were clearly marked with yellow diamond numbered signs. All of the targets were really easy to see/identify from the shooting location. The had different distances marked for the different classes (blue for open, different colors for the others – I didn’t really pay much attention as I just shot all of my shots from the farthest blue and Liam shot all of his from about 10 yards). Like a golf course, they had different markers for each circuit (plain blue for the first round, and blue with an orange clip for the second round). Most of the targets had a target bale behind them as a backstop, which was nice as far as if you missed, but was a little distracting for Liam as some had multiple other animals or targets on them. At the end of the day, seems like a great thing for missed shots, but not sure how other clubs do this, especially if they use the lanes for other things like field archery. It was a really nice course with 20 targets, which were all different. Most of the shots were mostly level, with one target being up on an angled log and a few were slight downhill shots. Almost all of the shots were taken down a cleared lane, with you returning to the shooting end after collecting your arrows. The few (maybe 2-3) that you followed a secondary path from the target to the next shooting location were done in a way so that you were very clear of the target zone before you would stop for the next shot. I liked that most of the targets had the lane that you walked back up, seemed like a really safe method with no chance of having to unsafely return to where others were shooting.
The target variety was awesome. We shot a few deer, a dinosaur, monkey, rabbit, bear, caribou (1/3 scale), pronghorn, elk (1/3 scale), and even an African Lion, which Liam was very excited to see as the last target. All of the targets looked great from a distance and most were in very good condition. Some targets had been shot a lot, and when you got close it was difficult to see scoring lines. In our situation, not a big deal as we were not keeping any score. I am unsure how this would be handled if someone was keeping score. Hopefully next time we can shoot with someone more experienced and try keeping score to see how we do. In addition, I felt a bit lost on some shots as I had not seen the animal before. I was able to, for the most part, guess the ideal placement for a shot to try to execute. I have since looked into some target cards that identify the scoring zones, so we can have a better idea next time. Also would have probably been something that a more experienced shooter would have been able to explain going in. In the end, it didn’t negatively effect the experience, but how do you know where to shoot a dinosaur…
So, what did we learn from this experience?
First, remember the arrow lube and lube the arrow at least every other target, if not every target. This would probably not have been an issue if we were shooting in a bigger group as there would have been more time.
Second, get a better arrow puller. While most of the targets were in good shape, some were clearly older targets that had hardened over time. Also, the body of some of the targets that were just outside of the removable scoring zone, were a bit difficult to remove arrows, especially if you forgot to add lube to the arrow before shooting. I have an Easton rubber arrow puller that allowed me to get all of my arrows back, but a few times during the shoot, I spent way more time than I have ever imagined fishing an arrow out. I have since ordered a new puller, that is made of metal and allows you to pull easier (reportedly).
Third, I did not need everything I brought. We were close to the car the whole time and could have gone back out if needed. We did not touch the gatorade during the shoot for a few reasons. We didn’t have any waits, other than one target where we caught up to the larger group and had to wait for them to pull arrows before they allowed us to shoot and pass them. Also, it was a cooler morning (only 48 degrees when we started shooting) and never really warmed up. Also, we only did one round, so it was not a 3 hour day. I probably don’t need to carry a book bag at all. I did not use the binoculars at all, however, I barely noticed them on my neck the whole time and if we were in a larger group, or if I had anyone shooting from the same distance as me, I probably would have used them more. I used the rangefinder on every target, first for me to gauge distance then to make sure Liam was shooting from about 10 yards each time. I didn’t need the tool, and am not sure if that would travel with me in the future, perhaps if I can identify the 3-4 most common Allen wrenches for our bows, I could have a small one to carry, but I don’t need the full gunsmith screwdriver setup for an event like this. I could leave it in the car in case we had any major issue.
Fourth, we brought the right amount of arrows. It was nice having 6 arrows when we were warming up, as it allowed us enough shots without having to pull too often. While we only had one situation where an arrow didn’t hit the target (Liam had one shot where the string hit his sleeve and sent the arrow into the ground short of the animal), I felt good with 6 arrows. Liam didn’t complain about having 6 in his quiver and I barely noticed mine.
Fifth, I need to spend more time shooting at longer distances. Having only shot at 20 yards has been ok up until this point. Now, I need to spend more time shooting at longer and in-between distances and at different inclines and declines. The few shots that were slightly downhill had me shooting high or low. This was likely the combination of a few factors: I only shot at 20/30/40/50 yards on the button. While a few of the targets were right at 20 or 30 or 40 yards, a bunch were between. I need to do more shooting at 25/35/45. In addition, I need to spend more time with my sight. It has the ability to shoot at 20 yards and 60 yards and then you have a few sight tapes to apply to a second wheel so you can in theory, dial in any distance between 20 – 100 yards. This would have been helpful, but it did not take away from the experience.
Lastly, this stuff is fun. We enjoyed every minute of it. I think we would have enjoyed it even more if we were shooting with people in a similar situation (adult shooting from farther back with a kid shooting up closer) or if we were shooting with more seasoned 3D shooters to just give some pointers throughout the shoot. Everyone we talked to (organizers, the group in front of us that let us pass as we were moving faster, the single shooter behind us who we let pass) was awesome and very welcoming and encouraging. Everyone was out to enjoy the shoot and the cooler weather. I am going to put a bunch of pictures in a gallery at the bottom of the page if you want to flip through.
FINALLY –> If you know of a shoot locally please email me so we can try to attend. We loved it and want to do it again, as soon as we can!