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 considering I was using different weights and types on alternate shots.
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.