BOM Media Coverage


Australian Masters

Written by Josephine Evans

The Georgian UWA Newsletter Winter 2022

Congratulations to Kitty Drok (1988) and Valentine Yau (1988) who competed in Archery in the recent Australian Masters Games in Perth with great success.

Over four days of competition, Kitty won silver medals in her age division with the longbow in both the Long Target and Short Target events and took out the gold medal in both the Clout and Field competitions.  Val won gold medals in his age division shooting in the fiercely-contested recurve category in both the Long Target and Short Target events.

Kitty discovered archery as a teenager and shot for two years before having to abandon the sport when her family moved to an area where there was no convenient archery range or club nearby. Then, five years ago, she tried it again at the archery tourist park down at Vasse while on holidays and she remembered how much she loved it.  Kitty and her son did a beginners’ course and then joined a club, Bowmen of Melville, where she has been shooting ever since. She shoots both recurve (Olympic style) and longbow.  She is the current state record holder (female longbow) for both the single and double clout events (shooting over 125 m at a target laid out on the ground).

Val took up archery about six years ago with his eldest son and is a member of the Baldivis Archery Club. He is currently one of the top-ranked male recurve shooters in the state for outdoor and indoor target archery. He is focused on recurve target archery at this stage, but Kitty has been encouraging him to try other styles to broaden his horizons!

And, as an aside, the Bowmen of Melville club shirts look suspiciously like Georgian shirts with a knight and dragon on them!

State Clout

Written by Kitty Drok

The further away the target is, the better we shoot!

The WA State Clout Championships were held on Sunday 11/9/22, with eight archers from Bowmen of Melville competing. From the two first-time competitors to the seasoned regulars, all eight archers ended the long day of competition with a medal:

Gold – Davis Bicheno, Open Male Longbow
Silver – John Dunsire, Open Male Barebow Recurve
Gold – Kaye Duncan, 50+ Female Recurve
Gold – Kitty Drok, 50+ Female Longbow
Gold – Jim Tunsch, 50+ Male Longbow
Gold – Ross MacCulloch, 60+ Male Longbow
Silver – Brent Jackson, 60+ Male Barebow Recurve
Gold – Samuel Matthews, 70+ Male Longbow

Leading the field (by a long way) was Jim Tunsch, who is now waiting for confirmation of his scores as new WA state records for both the single and double clout, in both the Male Open and 50+ age divisions.

Thanks should also be given to Alistair and Michael Duncan, BoM archers who are also State judges, who forfeited their own shooting to officiate at the event.

Light winds, blue skies, soaring arrows, sunburn and sporting success – the 2022 State Clout Championship had it all.


Back to Archery across the nation

Written by Kitty Drok

Even archery, as a non-contact, socially-distanced sport, had a ceasefire when COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in 2020.  But as soon as State restrictions were eased last June, the Bowmen of Melville in Leeming re-opened for individual archery practice, socially-distanced club competitions, and eventually public Come ‘N Try sessions to re-introduce people to the sport.

Across Australia, others were less fortunate, and State- and national-level competitions are only now being reinstated.  Archery Australia celebrated a staged return to national competitions with a BackToArchery tournament in November and December, a postal shoot allowing every archer to compete from their very own club in compliance with the COVID-19 restrictions in their area.  Each archer shot under the same competition conditions (weather notwithstanding) across several weekends, with their best two scores during the competition compiled across Australia.  Across two months, 824 archers from 53 clubs participated.  Rick Hastie, Archery Australia CEO, said: “We would like to thanks all the clubs for hosting the events and encouraging their archers to participate.  It proved a great way to ease back into competitions and prepare our archers for 2021”.

Bowmen of Melville archers were nationally competitive, benefiting from their relatively short COVID-19 absence from their training grounds in Leeming.  Shooting longbow, Garry Cocks won the Male Veteran (60+) division, with Carrie Lachance and Alan Horrocks each placing third in the Open Female and Open Male divisions.  The Master (50+) Female Recurve competition was dominated by Bowmen of Melville archers, with Kaye Duncan winning and Fiona Haining taking third place.  Local compound archers were similarly successful, with Deborah Mason placing second in the Veteran Female division, and Kevin Cottier and Gary Jackson placing second and third respectively in the Veteran Men’s competition.

“2020 was a challenging year for many, but our rapid return to archery provided both physical and psychological benefits for our members”, said Bowmen of Melville President Gary Jackson.  “We’re very thankful we can continue to enjoy the sport we love, even competing nationally, and again welcoming the local community to try archery.”

Bowmen shooting for the stars

Written by Natalie Duncan

Melville Gazette 24-12-2020

Four junior Bowmen of Melville members have claimed wins at the final competition of the Archery WA calendar.

The annual junior tournament, held at the Kalamunda Governor Stirling Archers club in Maida Vale earlier this month, comprises a 90-arrow shoot for a maximum score of 900.

Melville’s Georgia Hunt, Keeley Dunsire and Troy Jones all shot the Geelong round at a distance of 30m.

Hunt, 15, claimed first place in the Intermediate Barebow Recurve division, shooting a personal best score of 588, while Dunsire, 14, took out first in the Intermediate Recurve division with a personal best of 741.

Jones, 15, scored 690 to place third in the same division.

Fourteen-year-old Chayton Baldwin dominated the Short Canberra round, equalling his personal best of 571 while shooting at 50, 40 and 30m.

“We were lucky to only be closed down for three months due to COVID, so we’ve been able to practice and hold club shoots since June,” Baldwin said.

“Having full-time access to our club grounds in Leeming has been a big help for training and an advantage over other archers who only have access to their archery ranges on the weekend.”

Melville’s oldest junior, 18-year-old Michael Duncan, bagged a win in the Under 20 Recurve division. Duncan managed to post a score of 619, shooting the Canberra round over 60, 50 and 40m.


Bowmen show their clout

Written by Kitty Drok

Clout Championships Melville Gazette 10-10-19

The Bowmen of Melville were well represented at the 2019 State Clout Championships at the WA Archery Centre in Whiteman Park last month.

Clout archery is a traditional archery event, having its roots in medieval times when archers would lob their arrows skywards to fall inside castle walls or on to advancing armies.

Competitive clout archery is shot at distances up to 180m, depending on the bow type and age category, at a target laid flat on the ground.

Seven of the Leeming-based archers competed across five divisions, with the Bowmen of Melville winning gold in all five divisions.

Kitty Drok won gold and Clair Lee won silver in Open Female Longbow, shooting over 125m. Drok also set a new state record for the single clout, improving on the previous record by 16 points with a score of 269 out of 360.

Peter Choy won the Open Male Recurve division, shooting over 165m. Ashley Jackson placed fouth at his first State Championship. Natalie DUncan won the 20 and Under Female Compound division, shooting the same distance.

Her brother Michael Duncan won the Cadet Male Recurve division, shooting over 145m.

Michael was joined at that distance by their mother Kaye Duncan, who won the Master Female Recurve division.

Ye Olde archery contest

Written by Kitty Drok

Sticke and Stringe 5-9-19

The Bowmen of Melville have again celebrated archery’s humble roots with a traditional longbow tournament.

Compound and recurve archers put the shiny modern bows away and joined the traditional longbowers for a day of competition at this year’s Ye Olde Sticke and Stringe event.

Participants dressed the part too, with traditional finery adding to the spectacle of the day.

The target event was contested in the morning, wiht arrows shot at a 10-ring target over 50, 40 and 30 metres.

The Robin Hood Trophy was won by Steven Padley from Baldivis Archery Club and the Maid Marion Trophy by Kathy Dickinson from Kalamunda Governor Stirling Archers.

The afternoon event was a traditional ‘split the wand’ competition, with arrows shot at a six foot twi inch tall thick vertical willow wand – the modern replacement of which was a foam pool noodle.

Padley won the 50m event, but the 30m event was hotly contested and required a four-way shoot off, eventually won by Jo-Ann Whalley from the Bowmen of Melville.

Roving marks were contested to finish the event, recreating the way historical English longbowmen amused themselves by shooting at a variety of ad-hoc marks on their way from Sunday Mass.

Bragging rights went to Alan Horrocks from the Bowmen of Melville for his accuracy.

Taking a bow on world stage

Written by Kitty Drok

Craig World Championships 15-8-19

Bowmen of Melville archery Craig McMurdo is continuing a meteoric rise in the sport he took up only three years ago.

Since his bronze medal win in the Australian 2019 Para and VI Archery Championships in January, he was selected for the Australian Para Archery Team, competed at the Fazza World Ranking Championships in Dubai in April, and most recently the 2019 World Archery Para Championships in the Netherlands in June.

McMurdo said it really hit him that he was competing in high stakes events.

“There is lots of fanfare, lots of spectators,” he said. “And more pressure because of the technology involved; when you’re shooting, you can see your name against the Australian flag and your scores ranked up against everyone elses.”

“After each arrow I could see whether I was moving up or down in the ranking.”

McMurdo said the immediate feedback and the focus on competition ranking affected his shot process at the World Ranking Championships.

“You’re on a stage with world-class archers, so you’re self-conscious and hoping you deserve to be there,” he said.

“I learnt from Dubai. In the Netherlands I think I only looked at the live scores twice, they didn’t worry me.”

McMurdo’s next major event is the Australian 2020 Para and VI Archery Championships next March.

Club hit by arrows of outrageous fortune

Written by Aaron Corlett

Break-Ins Melville Gazette 1-8-19

Bowmen of Melville members have been left distraught after thieves took aim at the club during a spate of break-ins.

The Leeming archery club was targeted by burglaries on June 15, July 6 and July 20, with the latest attack leading members to call for help to catch the culprits.

Executive member Kitty Drok said food was taken and property was smashed during each of the robberies.

“During each robbery they cleared out the fridges and freezers, taking chips, party pies, drinks and more,” she said.

“Some of the damage has also been malicious; they destroyed every bit of crockery plus some wine we had for a fundraiser and they also smashed out trophy cabinet and quite a few trophies.”

“We’ve been improving security with things such as motion lights and cameras, but their is only so much we can do as volunteers.”

Dr Drok said the archers were angry that the damage had occurred, especially as they were trying to promote the club and the sport.”

“It’s happened on days where we are trying to show the general public about our sport and we’ve had to cordon off damaged areas,” she said.

“It’s disheartening because it also happened just before we held a junior tournament and we had to buy more food in a hurry for all the visiting kids.”

A Murdoch police spokesman said they were continuing to investigate the crimes and would increase patrols at night.

Duncan and Jones shoot to the top

Written by Kitty Drok

Indoor Championships Melville Gazette 1-8-19

Pre-edited Text:

Sixteen archers from the Bowmen of Melville contested the National Indoor Archery Championships at the Claremont Showgrounds on the 21st of July.  They ranged in age from 16 to over 60, and competed across all archery categories, spanning longbow, barebow recurve, recurve and compound.

The Indoor Championships are unusual events, as each State holds it’s State Championship on the same weekend, and the results are then collated nationally, as indoor events are not affected by ground or weather variations.  Archers shoot at a target 18 metres away where the 10-ring is the size of a golf ball.

The Bowmen of Melville team won 13 medals in the State competition across the various age and bow type divisions, and two members also reached the national podium.  Kaye Duncan won bronze in the Master Female Recurve Division, and Robyn Jones won bronze in Open Female Compound.

Jones in particular was very pleased that the practice and hard work paid off.  “Being six months pregnant did make it more challenging than usual, but also extra rewarding.  It’s hard to concentrate on your aim when you’re getting kicked from the inside!”

Duncan was also very pleased with the club’s success.  “It’s a great result, seeing as all of our ‘indoor’ practice at the Bowmen of Melville happens outdoors,” remarks Duncan.  “We’re planning to build an indoor archery facility at the club once our location is guaranteed over the long term.  It would really complement our existing facilities, as in addition to allowing us to train under competition conditions, it would also allow all of our archers to train when it’s dark, raining, or blowing a gale outside.”

Targeted approach for siblings

Written by Kitty Drok

Natalie and Michael Melville Times 21-5-19

Natalie Duncan picked up her first bow at the age of two.

Four years later, her little brother Michael did the same thing.

Archery is a family affair for the Kardinya siblings, with their parents both life members of the Bowmen of Melville in Leeming.

Natalie, now 20, has been shooting competitively for 12 years with both recurve and compound bows, and Michael, 16, has taken archery seriously for nine years, shooting both recurve and longbow.

In April, the siblings represented WA at the 2019 41st National Youth Archery Championships in Armidale, NSW.

As part of a nine-member state team with ages ranging from 12-20, both competed in target, field, clout, short-distance qualifying and ranking events, and team and individual matchplay over the seven-day tournament.

Natalie, who transitioned from recurve to compound only 18 months ago as a result of a back injury, exceeded her expectations shooting against more experienced compound competitors, with a highlight being a bronze medal in Female Under-20 Compound Clout.

Michael also won a bronze medal in Male Cadet Recurve Clout in a field stacked with competitiors who have represented Australia.

It is the end of an era for Natalie, with 2019 being her fifth and last appearance at the National Youth Archery Championships, having also competed in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017.

“I love seeing my scores improve now I’m shooting compound,” she said.

“I’ll be too old for the Youth Championships next year, but I’m aiming to compete in the Senior Championships instead.”

Michael is aiming to go one better than his big sister, having now competed in the Youth Championships for five years in a row and still eligible to compete from 2020 to 2022.

In the meantime, he is aiming for national selection to compete at the 2020 Trans-Tasman Championships.

The Path to the 2019 Para and VI Championships – and beyond

Written by Kitty Drok

Archery X-tra Issue 13 5-19

The paths at the 2019 Para and VI Championships at Mt Petrie Bowmen are smooth and open, very accommodating for the archers who gathered to contest this year’s event.  But the roads that lead individuals to the para nationals are often much more difficult to navigate.

Craig McMurdo’s path to the para nationals began four years ago, when a motorcycle accident resulted in a broken back and paralysed legs.  “The accident changed my life, and my family’s lives, forever.  It hasn’t been easy to learn new skills and ways of doing things, absolutely everything had to adapt,” he acknowledges.

Craig had always been involved in sports, from Aussie Rules football to cricket, squash, and baseball.  After his accident, he thought he’d never play sports again.  Wheelchair basketball and rugby were suggested, but as Craig admits: “I didn’t really like either of them – I wouldn’t have played them if I was able-bodied.”

Eighteen months after his accident, he took his twin sons to a Come ‘N Try session at the Bowmen of Melville, finally worn down by several years of pester power as a result of the boys reading The Hunger Games.  During his third week of sitting on the sidelines watching his boys, the coaches suggested he have a go too.

“I tried a recurve bow but it was a bit unwieldy and hard to load.  Unfortunately, the club didn’t have a left-handed beginner compound I could try.  That didn’t stop them though.  A club member, Clair, brought her little left-handed PSE Stinger and a release aid for me to try the following week.  I liked it a lot better, it was much easier to manage in the chair, so I shot it for about a month, by which time I’d bought my own bow.”

Craig hasn’t looked back.  After joining the club’s social competitions and winning his first beginners’ tournament outright, he started taking the sport more seriously.  Within two years, he was competing at the 2017 Australian National Archery Championships in Perth, and came to the attention of the national paralympic archery head coach, Ricci Cheah.

2018 was then spent training as the first disabled archer in Archery WA’s State Development Squad, with regular (mostly) long-distance coaching with Ricci, leading to the para nationals in January 2019.

“Ricci thought I was ready, and thought it was realistic to aim for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.  I had to start competing at that level, take that step onto a larger stage and get myself into national selection events: it started with the para nationals in Brisbane.”

“I was pretty nervous to start with, it was my first para event.  And although I’d seen video of several of the archers I had to compete against, I hadn’t met or shot against them myself.  But once I got on the line and got that first arrow away, I started to relax more.  The other competitors hadn’t seen me shoot before either, so I was a bit of a dark horse.  I think I surprised a lot of people.  I surprised myself too, and was thrilled to win bronze in both the indoor and outdoor events.”

Competing at a national event on the other side of the country is hard work, and it’s harder if you’re an athlete with a disability.  A wheelchair and an assistant are only two of the additional things you need to plan around and rely on.  But the venue at Mt Petrie Bowman made things as easy as possible.

“The facilities were great,” says Craig.  “The indoor setup was awesome, and the outdoor setup was fantastic.  The bathrooms catered for disabled people, and there were bitumen paths everywhere.  It wasn’t an obstacle course to get around, which was great for not just the para people, but the visually impaired people too.  And the shade on the shooting line was brilliant.  You could take your hat off, you didn’t feel the sun at all.  When you’re stuck in a chair you’re at the mercy of the local conditions, so we really appreciated it.  I can’t compare, but other archers who have shot at previous nationals were also commenting about what a great setup they have at Mt Petrie.”

Craig has since been selected on the Australian para archery team, and will be representing his country for the first time at the Fazza World Ranking Championships in Dubai in April.  If that goes well, he’ll also be off to the ‘s-Hertogenbosch 2019 World Archery Para Championships in the Netherlands in June.  Both are selection events for Tokyo 2020.

“Archery really has changed my life,” Craig observes.  “My dream to compete at a national and world level is now becoming a reality.  And I’m showing my twin sons that anything is possible, despite what life throws at you sometimes.”

“On a personal level, archery has given me a sense of worth again, I don’t feel so useless.  When you end up in a wheelchair you really start questioning what you’re capable of doing anymore.  But archery has shown me I can still have a sporting career, and do new things.  I’ve also met some amazing and inspirational people along the way, from the people at my club – the Bowmen of Melville – to incredible disabled paralympic and world champion athletes like Jonathon Milne.”

“It’s also given me a real feeling of belonging again.  It’s a very inclusive sport, and a very social sport.  It covers all ages, from kids to veterans, and obviously caters for all abilities, from abled to disabled.  I can shoot alongside able-bodied recurve archers at the top of their game, next to my son with his longbow, alongside the retirees who see the weekly club shoot as a highlight of their social calendar, or with a 10-year-old trying archery for the first time.”

In team sports, you’re reliant on your team members, and success and failure can sometimes be beyond your control.  Given Craig is now more reliant on others in everyday life than he used to be, he finds archery ironically satisfying: “it’s an individual sport, it’s all about you and your ability.  At the end of the day, you’re competing against yourself, trying to improve.  The wins in this sport seem sweeter, because the positive outcomes are all up to you.”

Craig has since competed in Dubai at the 5th Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament, his first international even and ranked 17th. Congratulations Craig!

Archer takes a bow

Written by Kitty Drok

Gail Melville Times 9-4-19

A long-time member of the Bowmen of Melville has been recognised for her contribution to the sport.

Willeton resident Gail Gibson was awarded life membership of Archery WA in February, with president and two-time Olympic archer Deonne Bridger handing over the award.

Gibson began archery in 1981, joining both the Bowmen of Melville and AWA. She represented WA as a member of the State archery team at the 40th Australian National Championships in 1987 and represented Australia in the World Masters Games in Perth in 1993.

Over 38 years she has set 53 State and three Australian records with the compound bow, and 116 State records with the longbow. She has set eight State and five Australian records in the extreme sport of flight archery, where shooting an arrow the longest distance wins.

Gibson has also been a tireless volunteer for the sport, working as an AWA committee member and the State recorder for archery for 17 years.

“I still enjoy archery for the company of the other archers, the exercise, and the achievement of getting a good score,” she said. “It’s great to stay competitive and get that respect from young people on the range.”

Bowmen’s aim is true

Written by Kitty Drok

Aggregate Champions Melville Times 2-4-19

The Bowmen of Melville archery club is becoming a recognised powerhouse in State-level competition.

State Aggregate Champions are recognised by Archery WA each year as archers who have achieved the highest aggregate scores at State competitions across the archery disciplines of target, field and clout.

In late February, four of the Leeming-based club’s archers were rewarded for their sporting success throughout 2018.

Kaye Duncan became the 2018 Master Female Recurve State Aggregate Champion, continuing her dominance in the competition , having also taken out the title in 2015, 2o16 and 2o17.

Peter Choy was awarded the hotly contested Open Male Recurve State Aggregate Champion for 2018, having claimed the title in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Alan Horrocks, became the 2018 Master Male Barebow State Aggregate Champion, having only taken up archery two years ago.

Natalie Duncan, the Youth Female Recurve State Aggregate Champion in 2011, 2012 and 2017, transferred successfully from shooting recurve to compound last year and was recognised as the 2018 Youth Female Compound State Aggregate Champion.

Supporting this individual success, the Bowmen of Melville regularly field a large number of competitive archers at State archery events, recognised through being Archery WA Club Team Recurve Champions in 2016, 2017 and again in 2018.

Choy said he attributed the Bowmen of Melville’s success to the facilities available at the club.

“Having a dedicated archery facility here in Leeming means we can train throughout the week, not just once a week when an oval gets turned into a temporary archery range,” he said.

Taking long bow to expectations

Written by Kitty Drok

Craig Melville Times 19-3-19

Hamilton Hill archer Craig McMurdo has been named in the Australian Para Archery Team.

The Bowman of Melville member recently won two bronze medals at the 2019 Para Archery Championships in Brisbane.

After only three years in the sport and his first para national event, McMurdo will represent Australia at the Fazza World Ranking Championships in Dubai in April. He will also compete at the 2019 World Archery Championships in the Netherlands in June, with both competitions selection events for Tokyo 2020.

Four years after a motorcycle accident put him in a wheelchair, McMurdo credits archery with changing his life.

“After the accident, absolutely everything had to adapt. You really question what you’re still capable of doing,” he said.

“But archery really has changed my life. I’ve got a sporting career back. My dream to compete at a national and world level is becoming a reality and I’m showing my sons that anything is possible, despite what life throws at you sometimes.”

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the support of my local archery club, the Bowmen of Melville, Archery WA’s State Development Squad, and long-distance coaching from national Paralympic archery head coach Ricci Cheah. I’ve also had a heartening amount of community support via a GoFundMe page as travel and accomodation costs pile up.”

Archery changed athlete’s life after bike accident

Written by Kitty Drok

Craig Melville Times 19-2-19

Hamilton Hill archer Craig McMurdo was thrilled to bring home two bronze medals from the Para Archery Championships in Brisbane.

The competition was the Bowmen of Melville member’s first experience at a national level; he took up archery just a few years ago after his spine was injured in a motorcycle accident.

McMurdo’s dream is to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

“I’ve shot the qualifying scores but I’ll just have to wait and see if I’m selected,” he said.

“In the meantime I’ll keep training and working on raising funds I need to get me there.”

Competeing as an athlete with a disability come with real challenges, including travel costs, equipment – often wheelchairs – and the costs of taking an assistant.

“I’ve been really fortunate so far,” McMurdo said.

“I’ve been sponsored by two brilliant companies: Archery X-tra magazine and stabiliser manufacturers, Atomic Rods. I’ve also had a great community support via a GoFundMe page.”

“After my accident four years ago I thought I’d never play sport again, until I took my twin sons to a ‘Come-n-Try’ session at local club, the Bowmen of Melville in Leeming, and it changed my life.”

He was the first disabled archery accepted to the State Development Squad for Archery WA.



Learning Longbow – an adventure in archery

Written by Kitty Drok

Archery X-tra Issue 11 11-18

I took up archery about 15 months ago.  From wooden club recurves to my very own bow in about three months.  And then, predictably, within a year I’d upgraded absolutely everything.  Nothing of my first bow remains in my current setup.

I shoot freestyle recurve, and the learning curve has been steep.  Technique, technique, technique.

I sort of look like I know what I’m doing now, but I still feel like a beginner.  My first Championship event was just last month (National and State Indoor), and I’m slowly pushing out to the maximum distance I need to shoot for Outdoor (70 m, eek!).

I’m really enjoying it, and finding that archery is a constant progression of new challenges.  My current ‘exploratory’ challenge is learning to shoot longbow.  How hard can it be?  I’ve got my basic shooting technique (as a work in progress), and I’m coping with all the additional equipment that goes with freestyle recurve archery…….

But I’m discovering that longbow is a completely different beast, which was one of its attractions for me in the first place.  The simplicity, the ‘zen’, the joy of a more traditional approach to flinging arrows about for the sheer pleasure of it.  I thought it would be a good alternative and offset to my OCD freestyle recurve habit, obsessed with technique, precision and improving scores.

I thought longbow would teach me many things, and I haven’t been disappointed.

It started with acquiring one.  A friend at my club makes longbows as a compulsive hobby, and I asked him to make me one.  One afternoon he pulled me over and asked me to choose a bit of wood to form the central grip of the stave.  “Pick a piece that speaks to you”, he instructed.  A bit like choosing pearls I think – apparently the right one finds you (not that I have any experience in that regard either).  As it turns out, I gravitated towards a beautiful piece of tuart immediately.  Lovely grain, nice colour, it just felt right.

A week later he thrust a stick into my hands.  That tuart was now the central piece of my new bow, laminated, long-limbed, rough but ready.  He strung it and asked me to get a feel for it.  The draw was a little too heavy, and the grip a little too tubular – I was hoping for something a bit more like the pistol grip on my recurve, and I told him so.  But I was a bit gobsmacked to see him whip out a wood rasp and start cutting away at the bow I’d just handled!

Another week later and he handed me a finished bow.  It’s beautiful, in my eyes anyway.  I asked for his arrow spine recommendations and tried shooting a few different arrows to narrow my choice down.  I’m discovering that the degree of centre shot and difference in limb speed can make the spine recommendations taken from recurve arrow charts more of a ‘best guess’.

Then I came across my first really ‘new’ longbow concept.  Arrow length wasn’t just about the right spine to match the bow weight and my draw length and being able to use a clicker (that was one less complication at least).  I was originally going to leave my arrows uncut, but was informed by experienced longbowers at my club that surplus arrow length could affect aiming – the further away the point of the arrow was, the more variability if I was going to ‘gap shoot’.

Right.  Deep breath.  Aiming this thing?  I’ve got no idea about instinctive archery, and face walking or string walking don’t appeal to me as a creature of habit.  Or maybe it’s the freestyle recurve mindset – same execution, every time?  Gap shooting makes sense to me – aim on the point of the arrow.  Just aim somewhere appropriate, which is probably not the gold in most cases, unfortunately.

So then I shot my new longbow in earnest, with matched arrows (and feathers, how exotic!).  Hoping to hit the target.  Longbow has given me different expectations already!

I originally wanted to maintain as much of my recurve ‘form’ as possible – I didn’t want to confuse or mess up all that hard-earned technique.  But that didn’t happen…

A vertical setup and pre-draw to set the shoulders and alignment?  The arrow kept falling off the shelf, and there was no weight in the bow to work with, compared to my recurve.  I tried canting the bow during the setup and pre-draw a bit, then straightening up on the draw.  But the arrow still came off the shelf.  Again and again.  Rookie error – I was pinching the nock.  Not enough to affect my skinny carbon arrow sitting on its arrow rest and under a clicker, but enough to affect my fatter aluminium arrow sitting on the shelf of my longbow.  I needed to change my hook, and spread it out.

Where to anchor????  I started out with my under-the-jaw recurve anchor.  ‘Technique’ and all that.  But I quickly discovered that it’s not much fun aiming at grass, nowhere near the target.  So I tried the traditional and tested finger-to-the-corner-of-the-mouth anchor.  All of a sudden I lost any sort of string picture, any ability to get the string to my nose (a basic fact of geometry, but ‘technique, technique, technique’, aargh!), and any sense of where my draw elbow was.  Never mind the variation in my draw hand.  But yay, I could gap shoot aiming at something at least relating to the target.

Progress of sorts.

And then I shot a scoring round.  Longbow is so humbling!  I used to obsess about how many shots were in the red at 20, 30, 40 m.  But I celebrated every scoring arrow with the longbow.  Anything in the gold was a Scrabble triple-word-score bonus.  It was so much fun too.  My bow was so light in the hand, and the sound of the arrows loosing – I’ll never get sick of the wooden ‘boing’ I hear, rather than the ‘snap’ of my recurve.  It’s so quiet.  I was concerned about hand shock, but what little there is is kind of reassuring.  It lets me know I haven’t dropped the bow (no finger sling – messing with my technique again).

Reassessing after that shoot, I really wasn’t sold on the corner-of-mouth anchor point.  Too much variability in my draw hand, a string picture I couldn’t make sense of, and the lack of string contact with my nose made me feel guilty in case a coach was watching!  The vertical variability in my shots was also an eye-opener, without maintaining a decent set of the shoulders and relying on a clicker.

How on earth do these longbowers shoot with any degree of accuracy?

For my second scoring attempt I went back to my under-jaw anchor, aimed at grass, and tried to maintain as much recurve technique as possible.  Apart from canting the bow, spreading the hook, and forgetting about solidly setting shoulder alignment and expanding through a clicker.  It’s definitely not ‘approved’ recurve technique, and it’s definitely not ‘traditional’ either, but it’s working for me so far.

Adding to the learning experience, my most recent foray was shooting clout with the longbow.  I’d never shot clout at all before, so this was an experiment on multiple levels.  It was great fun, and the under-jaw anchor wasn’t a disadvantage as I was aiming at the tops of trees anyway.  It was incredibly satisfying to loose an arrow with nothing more complicated than a stick and string, and watch it arc through the air across the entire length of the field to the clout.  Scoring points was a bonus, just shooting was a reward in itself.  I think I’m hooked.

I’m still a very long way from being a proficient longbower, but it has taught me so much already.  Every change or compromise from recurve technique makes me think just that bit more about what I’m doing, and why.  I can only hope it makes me a better overall archer in the long run.  But more importantly, my longbow reminds me why I was attracted to archery in the first place.  It has a beautiful simplicity, but it’s not simple, or easy.  It’s great fun to just shoot, and reminds me to appreciate the small things, and take nothing for granted.  Every arrow on target is a celebration.


The Sticke and Stringe

Written by Kitty Drok

Archery X-tra 9-17

The day dawned bright and clear on the verdant Field of Play in the Duchy of Melville. Commoners and nobles alike gathered from the surrounding estates with one thought in mind: to demonstrate their skill with the Sticke and Stringe, and to be acclaimed as the best archer in the land.

The Sticke and Stringe Tournament heralds the return of Spring each year, begun in the Year of Our Lord 2003 by Sir Keith ‘Longbowtom’ and Count Bob Cowley-Cooper to promote the noble art of longbow among the populace.

Contestants gathered in their finery, grouped by allegiance, birthright or homeland, with travellers from as far afield as the Mongol Empire and the Far East Orient. Much ‘friendly’ banter was heard between the groups as old rivalries were rekindled, wagers were laid down, and challenges were made afresh.

Thirty-six archers took to the field controlled by the Director of Shoot, Master Michael of Duncan. Competition to split the wand was fierce, with the 50m event dominated by the fairer sex and won by Lady Kathy Dickinson of Kalamunda. Earl James Whitehouse of Burswood surprised everyone with a shapely turn of leg, which served to distract his rivals at pivotal moments during the next competition. However the 30m event was also hotly contested, and eventually won by the mysterious traveller Sir Adam Price, who was immediately welcomed into the Duchy of Melville on account of his demonstrated archery prowess.

Sir Graeme Broadbent of Melville, although unable to contest this year’s event, still made a fine showing as a master bowyer. More than hald of the longbows on the field bore the marks of his craftsmanship, and their owners were rightly covetous of their bespoke and elegant weapons. The distinctive yumi and shooting style of Mark Weston-san, as the single adept of Kyūdō present, was also the subject of much attention.

The trophy even was a Short Canberra target round as the sun reached its zenith. Lady Moya Longbottom was in attendance to witness the spectacle and award the eventual victors. The Keith Longbottom Memorial Trophy was claimed by Lord Paul Coffey of Melville, and the Maid Marion Trophy was carried aloft by Marquess Angela Simpson of Kalamunda. The victorious archers also aquired spoils kindly donated by Sir Kevin of Toxophilite Archery Supplies.

At the conclusion of the tournament, the champions were celebrated with much quaffing of ale and embellishment of deeds. As the shadows grew longer and tales became taller, challenges were issued afresh as there is always next year…