Tuesday, 3 August 2010

3D Archery with Stickman

Ages ago I got an invite to spend the afternoon shooting recurve bows in an Essex woodland, and when diary's and childcare and work all worked out: what an afternoon it was. I journeyed to Romford; an easterly commuter town in Essex, where the girls are bright orange, and the Louis Vuitton handbags are made in China, to meet with my new friend Stickman from the British Bowhunters forum for a lesson in instinctive archery. And what a revelation it was. My previous efforts at target archery were less than distinguished. All that squinting at a pin wasn't making things easy and the lesssons were on a one-shot-and-get-to-the-back-of-the-line basis which didn't help either. I knew I wanted to learn to shoot 'instinctive', I just wasn't sure how I was going to. 

Stickman hails from the Kimberly - the diamond fields of South Africa - and has hunted most things since he was a lad, like many of the more experienced hunters I've met, his passion for the process of hunting itself had led him to traditional bowhunting; where the chance to take a shot is 
hard won, without the surgical strike at 100+ yards of a hunting rifle, field-craft and even dumb-luck become big parts of the contest. At these distances the chance to even draw the bow in the presence of an animal a major achievement. This is hunting at 15 yards or less. Hunting on an unlevelled playing field.

Note: really neat wrist guard with sheath for his field scalpel

One tale that he regaled me with illustrates just how much skill (and luck) is involved in hunting bare-bow. Stickman had been hiding in a blind near a water-hole when a 'Big Impala Ram' in fact the big-impala-ram-of-a-lifetime, had approached the water-hole coming within 15 yards (i.e 45 feet) of the blind Stickman was hiding in. Having been practising to the tune of 500 arrows a day in preparation for the hunt, he drew back and loosed an arrow. Only to be String Jumped. 

The arrow was travelling at approx. 200 feet per second, lets call the distance 50 feet to make it easier, so in a QUATER of a second the Big Impala Ram was able to sense the movement of the arrow and spring into the air letting the arrow pass harmlessly underneath him.  It gets better - if we call the speed of sound 1200 feet per second that means that the sound of the bowstring got to the Big Impala Ram in a twelfth of a second. When the sound of the string arrived at the Big Impala Ram in the next sixth of a second the  Big Impala Ram had taken flight. literally.

Stickman had invited me to the woods his archery club use for 3D archery - instead of the circles on an straw board the targets are various prey animals, there is a tradition of throwing in a couple of humorous examples.

My first shot was a master stroke of beginners luck, Stickbow was impressed, I was double impressed!! Obviously once I started thinking about what I was doing I was back to my usual lummox self. Where I would have remained if it hadn't been for the light touch of Stickman's coaching. In between the banter and storytelling he paitently coached me to - actually hitting the target! Both eyes open, none of that squinting and aiming malarky, just launching arrows that either grazed the target or pounded into it! Yea instinctive archery!

"Call for Mr O'Shay, a Mr Rick O'Shay?"

Ok There were a few that went astray. Although sometimes the arrow, seemingly by magic. regains its trajectory, usually it's found embedded in a tree. If you're lucky. 

A large part of the sport is the time spent searching for lost arrows, not always successfully. Opps! Sorry Stickman.

Any prey animal taken with a stick bow is a trophy - even this plastic fella

I was defiantly well taken with Bare Bow and even felt the first throbbing certainty, that tickle of obsession yet to come, archery is a lot like casting when fishing. The first time you cast perfectly you're hooked, the simple elegance of the motion, the economy of movement and the cybernetic connection between spring and soul. Launched by love and magic the arrow seems to fly on the wings of intention. Once.

By which time you've started to think about how you did it and the next arrow goes at a right angle to you, before burying itself in a pile of leaves.When fishing: the line is now tightly bound around the reel so you cant even turn the handle. But despite the set back, you've been tantalised, you've seen the magic, by then you know, you must, you will. If you could just send another few hours, if I could just spent another few pounds, stay up for just one more hour surfing for infomation. Whoa...

...whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the stuff, oh Yeah it’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough, you know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to [Insert latest obsession here]

might as well face it, you’re addicted to [fishing, archery, deer, blogging, the american girl - delete as appropriate]

So many hobbies, so few pounds to spend on them. Such is suburban life dear reader.

Big shout to Stickman - for a great afternoon - One of the Good Guys

Your pal


Note to self: my victory over The Northern Monkey in last years archery competion needs mentioning again


Dave said...

That's great! It's been years since I've shot a bow and back then it was always a recurve. My dad has actually gone back to the primitive weapon style and sold his compound. Makes me want to go string one up! Nice post!

Chad Love said...

I've shot both trad and compound for years and I still shoot both for different reasons but if I were forced to choose one it'd be traditional hands-down. There is a magic to it that, for me anyway, I've never been able to replicate with a compound.

Now you're hooked. I expect to see you with a nice longbow or recurve soon...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Cheers man

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


There's nothing quite like it is there, even though the target people did manage to wring most of the magic out of it.


Deus Ex Machina said...

Wow! This post makes me anxious for hunting season (expanded archery) ... only 1.5 months away here in Maine. I guess I need to get my bow out! I do enjoy a good bit of searching for arrows ... I mean target practice. Besides, the kids like to shoot, too.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

D ex M

LOL that's what it should be called, the archery is almost incidental!

Hippo said...

...where the girls are bright orange, and the Louis Vuitton handbags are made in China...


There are loads of feral pigs in the woods around my place in the Barra dee Kwanza. The little truffle hunters have destroyed the gardens I was creating around my Restaurant and Cabanas and I am having to spend thousands on a six hundred metre fence to keep them out.

Technically, they all belong to someone but when I tried to buy one for a barbecue, I was treated to the hilarious sight of half the village sprinting around the countryside executing the most determined rugby tackles only to grab thin air. These buggers are fast and mean when cornered.

After reading this post, I am definitely going to find a way of getting a bow here. I am sure the locals will allow me to hunt in the woods so long as the kill is shared. I have no problems with that.

Imagine, a sport one can enjoy and settle a score at the same time...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Its only funny because it's true :-)

May even get some hogs in myself, CHJ has gone back to Italy where he's seen Hooj wallows


Hippo said...

I loved all those Essex Girl jokes...

What's the difference between an Essex Girl and a shopping trolley?

A shopping trolley has a mind of its own...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Lets not forget the scouser joke, that noble comic form.

Q: What do you call a scouse girl in a white shell-suit?
A: The bride.


Hippo said...

That'll be because she is pregnant, right?

Le Loup said...

Good post, this is the sort of thing that might encourage others to have a go. Well done.

Josh said...

SBW, this is a wonderful post! It truly gives one that feel for archery - you've done it justice.

Isn't instinctive archery awesome, in the real sense of the word?

Last, that arm guard is a real thing of beauty, not as much as that profile shot of your archery guru, but still very nice. I'll be making one for me, too. Thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed the thought of a traditional bow and instinctive shooting. It calls to me more and more with each passing year and I must say that your post here, has fueled the fire even more!


The Suburban Bushwacker said...


thanks I hoped so

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Thanks I'm at a loss to explain the stick bow's call.
It's got everything, its simple and elegant, made of nice to amazing woods, I love take-down pretty much anything, its a direct line to Ishi and Pope, and then there's what pope calls the sprit of robin hood. Love it.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...


With your No-Peep strategy you'e already over half way there

GoofyGirl said...

"might as well face it, you’re addicted to [fishing, archery, deer, blogging, the american girl - delete as appropriate]"

Stacey said...

I am a die hard bowhunter but have always used a compound bow. I do have a lot of respect for those who take it to another level with traditional Archery Equipment.

Anonymous said...

Great Article stickman!