Improve Your Game – Why field archery is the most fun!
Louisa Piper, European Junior Field Champion, explains why she has such a love for field archery and why everyone should give it a go this year!
I’ve been shooting field for around three years, after being persuaded to try it by Joe Fairburn when we shared a hail-sodden target at the Bucks or Bounty shoot back in May 2016.
Up until then my reasons for not trying field might be like quite a few reading this article; not really thought about it, had thought about it but 1) worried about losing arrows 2) don’t know how/where to start.
None of these should be reasons not to try field!
Firstly, field archery is about as much fun as you can have with a bow! Some archers specialise in field archery, many others only do target but some do both as they find it helps them to read field and weather conditions and to become more resilient all-round competitors.
I do it because I love the fact that every 24 targets on each of the two days are completely different (faces/angles/distances, (marked and unmarked)/etc) and that you get to walk around, often challenging, but always beautiful terrain.
I’ve shot off towers, across and into quarries, over water, from floating platforms, off rock faces and the thrill-seeker in me absolutely loves this variety.
If you have already mastered the basics of archery then you should be able to tackle a field course without losing arrows. I was always told that most people lose arrows in field because they raid their club’s beginner sets and shoot these rather than their own arrows, with mismatched arrows they are more likely to miss which then “proves them right”?
You might lose the odd arrow, but your target companions are always watching and successfully hunting for arrows is part of the fun. I’ve damaged more arrows through target than I’ve lost shooting field (including at international shoots).
There is also no formal requirement for you to shoot your distance, so you could ask a TO to shoot from a closer peg to start – you just won’t be able to claim any awards etc, but often that’s not the point anyhow.
One of the tricky things with field is that it’s hard to practice outside of competing, but don’t let that put you off either. There are field clubs around the country and, with basic instruction in gauging and with a full set of field sight marks, you can learn as you go – which is what I did.
In field you will usually be put in a group of four archers for your two-day shoot; field archers are the nicest, most generous people and happy to share tips between targets. In the run-up to the European Field Championships, I was in a group with a two-time Olympian and highly experienced field archer, an international judge (and GBR field archer), and GBR field archer Daisy Clark, which was very handy as she ended up being my amazing Gold Medal match coach in Slovenia!
At Fort Purbrook, in 55mph winds, I was with GBR Field Team World Champion Tracey Hill and, respecting that they were there to compete rather than coach, they all helped with tips and pointers across the two days (although unfortunately not with the unmarked distances!).
The other way is to “buddy” with an experienced field archer who can help you navigate the world of field, for me that’s Joe and Colin Fairburn and I can’t thank them enough for all their help.
I’m no field expert, I still have so much to learn, but there are plenty of experts out there willing to share their love of the sport. Here’s a link to two very helpful guides Nell and I used to get started: https://www.gbnifield.co.uk/about-us
Make 2020 the year you give Field Archery a go – you won’t regret it!
Find a tournament here: https://www.archerygb.org/shoot-compete/compete/find-a-tournament/