So went last night to the Dublin Archers field to see how a “real” archery club does it 😀 It was interesting and instructive in a few ways. Met up with Suzanne O’Hare who was running the session. She’s also the international secretary for the IAAA, so she’s about at where I’ve wound up in the sport/admin spectrum over the years. She’s also quite young, they all are, she’s mid-20s and half the folks there were younger. The other half were not much older. Oldest I saw was maybe in his 40s at the outside, and he was the senior coach who turned up near the end. Rather a change from the usual target shooting club.
Some things learnt, in no particular order:
– Small accidents are common enough. Splinters, scrapes from arrowheads, pokes with arrow nocks, belts from bosses falling over, minor cuts and abrasions and bruises, all that sort of thing. Serious accidents are not common, but not as rare as with us. Carbon arrow splinters need medical attention and often surgical removal, and can cause scirrosis of the liver and kill you (I’m guessing smaller bits break off in veins and move through the body, but she wasn’t specific). Telling herself this isn’t a great idea for enthusing her about the sport 😀
– It’s a muddy field. All the outdoor ranges are. Trekking pants, gaiters, waterproof boots, wellies, waterproof pants, jackets, ponchos, umbrellas, all a good idea. Didn’t see the tents I’ve been hearing about from the UK though, but they don’t shoot and train all day, maybe that’s why.
– Quivers hold more than arrows. Clickers (the counting variety to track arrows), stopwatches, pens and papers, badges from various FITA accomplishments or IAAA standards (just like NSRA shooters’ jackets 😀 ), all manner of stuff was dangling from the quivers of the old hands.
– Kit is shiny. I didn’t see one wooden riser, it’s all aluminum or carbon fibre. However, there’s a progression – beginners with KAP Winstar or Winstar II bows, then Hoyt Gold Medallists and some Samick Agulla‘s and then the high end folks were all using Hoyt Helix‘s in various colours. The Helix setups were topping out at about 1500 to 2000 euro for the full kit, including all the arrows and bits and bobs.
– Cases are usually flight cases. Suzanne was saying she’d basicly broken every other kind from hauling kit about the place. International travel seems far less complex than for firearms.
– The outdoor season is winding down – only Summerhill keeps going outdoors over the winter in Ireland apparently.
– H-frames beat A-frames. WTSC will have to get some at some point and get the backstop netting that hangs in the middle of the frame to catch arrows that penetrate the target boss. In fact, we really need to do a proper equipment checkup and plan out what we need to get, and when, and so on.
– Training is fairly informal and unorganised (or at least it was today, but everyone seemed to be fairly well able to shoot). No training exercises I could see going on. Folks shoot at ranges they want to. Only the tuning exercise (a walkback) was done en masse, and that only because you can’t do a walkback while others shoot targets, because you’re forward of their firing line if you do.
– Only three of the lot that were there tonight were in the club, and the club has 8 shooters in total. They get lots of folks showing up from other clubs to train (DCU is round the corner), and it’s fine with them so long as they’re IAAA members, because that’s the setup with insurance. They charge everyone 3 euro on the night, which pays for the rent of the field. Which, when you tot it up, comes to over 500 quid a year if you train a lot, but still the ability to walk into another range and just train away like that is almost unheard of in the NTSA. A lesson to be learnt (or at least an idea to be stolen) there methinks.
– Lots use bowstands (the cheap cartel model where the string is down to the ground, which cost about a tenner and which we really ought to get a few of for the club) but the high end folks were resting the bottom tip of the bow, the tip of the stabiliser and an arrow in the dirt to form a stable tripod. Not sure I’d do that with an expensive bow myself though.
– Bows, arrows, sights, just about everything is available second-hand, but you’d have to know where to look or hear of stuff going. Ebay stuff is often a good deal, but sometimes not. Cartel stuff is okay for some things, but things like sights and balance rods are not a good buy from them (the cartel sight I have is fine for beginners, but will shake itself apart eventually and there’s nothing can be done, but there is one for about €40 which is good to Nationals level, and beyond that you’re looking at hundreds of euro for the next level).
– They all seem fairly relaxed and friendly.
– No earplugs or ear defenders used or allowed under FITA rules. So there’s a lot more conversation than you get with target shooting.
– Folks walking in on a session are commonplace. They’ve arranged the firing/target lines so you can’t walk into the field without being seen way off in the distance or else coming up behind the firing lines where they can intercept you before you injure yourself.
– It’s a muddy field. Bow stringers suddenly make a bit of sense to me. But you could still string by the step-in-and-bend-it method (assuming they’ve no rule against that, I missed the setup phase).
It’s a nice, informal, usefully close range for when I’m in Dublin. And it turns out there’s another IAAA club near to where I am in Greystones, the Woodbrook Archers in Bray. Might get to do some training there on Thursday nights when WTSC is all set up with the IAAA. That’d leave me training for air rifle at lunchtimes during the week, archery once or twice a week in the evenings, and then fun with both in WTSC on the weekends. Just like the old days, lots of training 🙂
edit: Talking to the folks in Dublin Archers last night, it seems some read the above as being critical of the club – I’m not sure how, but it certainly wasn’t meant to be anything of the sort, I was genuinely impressed with the place, and went back to join up.