Party like it’s 1699

My quest to drag myself into the modern world continues. I rarely play vinyl or cassette tapes these days and even the VCR is getting dusty. Lately I have been concentrating on updating my outdoor aspects.

I have ordered a cutting edge tool to deal with the mass of nettles in the woods. This will be an improvement on the battery strimmer (not powerful enough) and the mains strimmer (powerful enough, but would need so many daisy-chained extension cables that heating would become a problem). The mowers can’t go in there, the long grass and weeds hide too many fallen branches and old tree stumps. The new tool will deal with it – and I have a long dark hooded robe to go with it. I will be the height of fashion! Or was it the depth?

I have also revived my old bow, the one I nearly sold but in the end, couldn’t part with it. I did part with the crossbow due to being fiscally buggered but am now in a position to buy it back (at a profit to the one who has it, if they don’t want it any more). Living in an upstairs flat in town for a year left me with no chance to use any kind of projectile weapons so I am out of practice. Now, I have plenty of space to play William Tell whenever the weather is suitable. I even bought an apple for CStM but she refused to wear it and fed it to the guinea pigs.

Maybe she could have a guinea pig on her head… I probably won’t suggest it.

We should maybe work up to the apple part. I had forgotten how hard it is to string this bow and foolishly tried to stand on the stringer without shoes. No, that will never work. Stand on stringer, raise bow, ow ow ow ow ow, lower bow, get shoes.

I have also to work on my arm muscles – lack of use since I left the janitor job is starting to take its toll. I am getting old and feeble! There’s plenty of weed-digging to do, that will help.

What inspired me to revive the bow was a chance meeting on Twitter with a maker of fine arrows (David Sinfield, @omotforest). I ordered a small number to try them out and today they arrived.

They are much better than my usual stock arrows, which are carbon fibre with plastic flights. These new ones are wider and heavier and have a more solid feel to them. They’re dead straight too. Okay, so are the carbon fibre ones but ‘dead straight’ is easy with synthetics. I wanted to upgrade to something less modern. Wood shafts and real feather fletching. It almost seems a shame to shoot them at anything but… here goes.

Here is my weapon of choice, strung and ready to go…

I don’t use bow sights because I don’t understand them. I also don’t believe in the sticky-out rods people seem to like these days. Some kind of balancing thing? They just get in the way. There is no pressure button on this bow, I don’t know what they are supposed to achieve but I never found one that improved my aim. I use a simple flip rest. This is a very basic setup and I like it that way.

I haven’t yet upgraded to a one-piece longbow because those are in the ‘ouch’ price bracket. One day. I don’t like the compound bows, I know you can pack a lot more power for less pull but… well, I just don’t like them. They look weird.

First thing I noticed was that I can’t fully pull back the bow any more. This turned out to be not a bad thing, it was hard enough to get the missed arrows out of the wooden fence as it was. And I’m going to need a much thicker target, especially when I build up enough to pull it to full power. Possibly a stronger fence too… this is, after all, the bow that sent an arrow through a straw target, through the pallette behind it and through the garage door…

I could have got the light bow out instead – a one piece fibreglass toy one with a pull of about 20 lbs or so – but that’s just for a quick play now and then. No, serious arrows need a serious test.

The black arrow (pun deliberate of course) points to the one metre square straw target in the middle of the picture. I shot from about 25-30 metres although I moved a little to the right to avoid most of the foliage. Not that a few thin branches would make a lot of difference.

I don’t currently have any paper overlay targets but hey, I haven’t used this bow for so long I’ll be happy to hit the straw square. Plus, I have new and unfamiliar arrows to test. I shot a few of the old carbon fibre ones first to make sure I wasn’t going to lose them all in the woods behind the fence – all okay – and went for the test.

Incidentally, if I did miss the target and fence, the arrow would go into the woods and in the event it managed to swerve around every tree it would land in a field of wheat. There is nothing and nobody in the way here.

Weather was good, sun behind me, the only issue was a gusty breeze going from right to left. Not too bad for a practice.

And then I made a mistake. I decided to fire alternate carbon and wood arrows to see how they measured up against each other. First carbon one, fine. In the target, a little low. Compensate about a foot upwards. First wood one, right at the bottom of the target. They are heavier and will drop faster than carbon, but that didn’t register right away.

So I compensated up with the next carbon and it hit the top of the target. Compensated down – but the next one was wood and hit the ground. It just got worse from there. None of this was the fault of either set of arrows, it was all my fault for re-adjusting without consideringย  I was using different weights and types on alternate shots.

Carbon shafts went higher and higher and were more affected by wind, wood shafts went lower although they stayed in line – there was much less wind effect.

I was shooting from low down on the triangle garden to the fence at the far side of the square garden. The very low shots shallow-buried themselves in the ground up to the fletches. If you do that, slide them out backwards, don’t try to lift. You’ll either break the arrow or leave a furrow in your lawn. They slide backwards easily. Give them a quick wipe right away because wood and soil doesn’t mix well if you want to keep the wood. Soil is full of bacteria and fungi who have spent many millennia learning how to eat wood.

Tomorrow (weather permitting, we don’t have the mythical ‘heat wave’ stuff up here) I’ll try with a set of carbons and a set of wood separately.

The big thing for me is the wind resistance of the wooden arrows. Their extra weight means they stay in line so I just have to adjust upwards to get them on target. Sending the carbons higher just let them suffer more wind movement.

There is likely to be a transition period during which I will order more of these wooden beauties. Then sell off my carbons to those who like that sort of thing. Okay, on a fine day with no wind gusts they’ll be great but I live on top of a mountain. Windless days are really, really rare here. Sunny days are hard to come by. Windless days, well forget it.

I think the basic lesson here is – stick to one type of arrow. I had been, before, but that was due to financial constraints so I had a lot of cheap arrows and had learned to use them well. The cheap ones aren’t crap, not really, not once you get used to them. The thing is, when you get used to one type you have to re-learn a new type. It’s not enough to learn the bow. You have to learn the arrow too.

I think I’ll treat arrows like I treat whisky in future. I’d rather have less of the good stuff than loads of the cheap stuff.

So, I will soon have upgraded my mower to a scythe and am in the process of upgrading carbon fibre arrows to proper wood ones.

Now that’s what I call progress.



The following day was cloudy but hardly any wind. Getting the hang of the new arrows now, but I’ll need to practice more before bothering with an actual bullseye target.

As long as I don’t mix different arrows within a session, things go well. Soon be back to decent accuracy and full power. I might well need a thicker target soon…


27 thoughts on “Party like it’s 1699

  1. I still have my bow. No arrows, though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ And, yeah, bare bow is the way to go. I’ve never understood the stabilisers thing. Eventually technology makes things too easy. The fun is in developing the skill without technological aids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll have to team up with LR; I’ve still got some arrows but sold my bow. I’m with Leggy – simpler is better. A 4king expensive longbow would be my choice if, in my decrepitude, I could manage to draw it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting stuff, but there’s one thing I don’t understand. You said “They are heavier and will drop faster than carbon . . . “.

    Is it really the case that heavy things drop faster than light things in the physics of archery? How does that work?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not just about gravity ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s also how much energy is used to throw the arrow from the bow.
      Assuming the bow pushes with the same power each time, the heavier arrow gets fewer joules per ounce than the light one so won’t travel as far – but will hit with a heavier thump when it gets there.
      This was compounded by my bad idea of using alternating arrows. So a light one went high, I compensated downwards on the next one which was heavier and would have landed a little further down anyway. Basically, I was compensating the wrong way every time!
      Alternating the arrows was a bad idea. Later I’ll put up a photo with just one set of arrows.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I must be having a bad attack of stupid, but I still donโ€™t get it. Was Aristotle right after all & everything doesnโ€™t fall at fifteen fathoms per fortnight per fortnight or whatever?

        Are you saying that if Galileo had pushed a couple of these arrows (of a similar size but each having a different mass) off of the leaning tower of Pisa, then the heavier of the two would have hit the ground first? Or would it have depended on how hard he pushed (energised) them?

        Archery is something I must get into, but Iโ€™ll need several stiff drinks first. Itโ€™s a whole new world ;^) .

        Still love your blog though. Please do some more bio-sciency posts โ€“ I have loads of faith in them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The acceleration due to gravity is always the same, but in this case you have to factor in forward velocity as well as downwards acceleration, and forward velocity depends on the energy imparted to the arrow as well as its weight and aerodynamics. If I fire the heavier and thicker arrows with more force than the lighter and thinner ones I could get them to land in the same place. As it was, I was probably giving each arrow much the same force.

          In practice, the difference between the arrows isn’t very much but aiming into a 1 metre square from 30 metres away it’s enough to matter. A shot with the light arrow could hit the centre, the same power of shot with the heavy arrow will land below the centre. Gravity acts the same on both arrows but the energy per ounce is greater in the light arrow and because it’s thinner it has a little bit less air resistance too. So it goes a bit further before it drops.

          If I went up on the roof and dropped one of each arrow, they’d hit the ground at the same time, but I’m not dropping them vertically. I’m firing them horizontally. So their mass and horizontal velocity are important enough to make a difference. Gravity pulls on them both the same but the heavier one has more mass for gravity to work on and less energy per ounce than the lighter one. Given the same force pushing them forward, the lighter one will go further – but the acceleration downwards is still the same. The lighter one just has more joules per ounce to fight against it so its velocity downwards is less – as long as it’s flying horizontally.

          If they are just dropped, with no forward force, gravity has total control.

          The spread would not have been so terrible (arrows in the ground!) if I had not unthinkingly compensated when the lighter arrow went high and the heavier one went low. Doing that massively exaggerated the difference. But I do have to shift my aim up a bit with the new arrows compared to the light carbon ones.

          I’ve put up an update with just the heavier arrows. This time I stuck to one type of arrow and they flew perfectly. My aim still needs work but then I haven’t had a go with this bow for a couple of years – and these new arrows really do make a difference.

          Liked by 1 person

          • If one may be permitted to insert my two-penn’orth… It’s relatively simple. With a consistent draw, the bow will impart the same amount of energy to the arrow, the heavier arrow will thus accelerate more slowly which gives it a lower velocity – consequently its flight time will be longer. The acceleration due to gravity includes a time component (9.81m/s^2) and thus garavity has slightly longer to act on the slower arrow, hence it will fall slightly further during its flight (all other things being equal). :-).

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Leg Iron,
    Do you have a complaints department? Many moons ago I invested brain cells – a diminishing resource -into following raptly your model railway capers and your efforts to replace Japanese Knot weed in Scotland with tobacco plants.
    And then zilch. My brain cells left totally in the lurch. This is not good enough and I am cautious about getting involved in your newly rekindled interest in butts in case the same thing happens. It’s a bit of a pain in the butt actually.
    Kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since you now need a licence to grow tobacco I can’t deliberately grow any ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sometimes I might accidentally drop seeds here and there but I can’t cultivate them. Nor say too much about them…

      There hasn’t been much model building activity for a long time. I have kits in waiting, I must get back to that – lately it’s been gardening and books most of the time! I think the daily rain might have stopped which should at least slow down the grass.

      And I have been buying a few more model railway bits. Some in HO scale, I’ve picked up a few continental and American models in need of refurbishing. So it all comes back around eventually.

      What I need is a big enough lottery win to be able to say ‘sod it’ and just spend a week or so relaxing. But, since I never buy lottery tickets, that’s very unlikely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Since you now need a licence to grow tobacco”

        Scotland may be different of course but AFAIK you don’t need a licence to grow tobacco. What requires a licence is the ‘holding’ and transporting of dead tobacco plants….and this important part; above a certain amount. To which my very first non-lawyer-80s-fist-in-air-activist thoughts are: “are plants picked and immediately frozen’ or frozen then picked legally ‘dead’?”and “making the cut off point a ‘weight’ may not be such a good idea” (if you use a ‘weight’ with tobacco you have to have a defined ‘level of humidity’ -2 kilos of bone dry tobacco…)


  5. Carbon fibre does tend to shoot flatter and faster, but like you, I’m a traditionalist. Waxed wood shafts just feel better somehow and they even sound better. Sexier even. Might be a good idea to weigh your finished shafts to make sure they’re all within a gram of each other. Even small differences can affect the trajectory of differing shafts.

    Anyway, draw elbow up, bow arm not quite straight, let your shoulder and upper back muscles do the heavy work, (not your arms) and you’ll be surprised how well you can shoot. Breathe in. Loose.

    Just imagine your target is the Dreadful Arnott or some other bansturbator and you’ll be amazed at how much your shooting will improve.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello, found you via Roobee. So you’re into the scythe. I’m also interested. They offer courses here in Bavaria but they’re bloody expensive.


    • The scythe arrived today so I’ve been out reaping the souls of nettles and other weeds. It’s surprisingly effortless once it’s set up properly – and I’d watched a lot of YouTube hippie videos about it before it arrived.

      It beats the crap out of the strimmer and it’s not restricted by cable length or battery power.


  7. Awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a one piece long bow because when I was learning to shoot it was the only type which put a smile on my face ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t shot it for three years though ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I really do need to get it out and use it regularly again. Archery is an amazing way too relax, I found.


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