Having got back into my archery this year, the winter season brings its own interesting issues and problems.
Basically, everyone shoots at shorter distances – twenty to thirty metres, rather than fifty to eighty – and ideally indoors, for the wimps. And if possible, that means dialling down the power in the bow. Heavier/bigger arrows also help, as they’re slower than the usual ones.
Unfortunately, my bow is already dialled down to pretty much the lowest weight it can manage, which is around a 45lb pull. That meant at the short ranges my club uses, I was going to end up putting the arrows through the targets and into the concrete wall behind (indoors) and losing all the fletchings (feathers) as well. Which becomes very expensive, very quickly.
Having looked around a bit, I went back to my normal archery store in Newark (it’s a bit of a slog to get to, but worth it for their customer service, knowledge, and prices) and bought a second bow, specifically for winter/indoor archery. It’s a good little bow, from a Chinese company called Sanlida, and cost me £175 including the sight, arrow rest, and small stabiliser. That’s incredibly good value! Additionally, if I decide to use it all the time, I can also dial it up from its current setting (about 25lb pull) all the way up to 70 lb, which is pretty epic.
I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and have only used it a couple of times so far, but on that limited experience, I’m really pleased with it. It’s doing what I want, and the current power means it’s accurate enough, without damaging things.
But it does also mean I now own two bows – although that’s OK too, as I’m using both. If they’d gone back to sitting doing sod all, that would be a bad thing. But as it is, I’m OK with it.
Yesterday, for reasons I’ll write about some other time, I had to drive up to Newark.
It’s not a horrific drive, about 90 minutes usually, and pretty easy. Straight up the A1 , and then down the M1 to come home.
Yesterday though, was bloody vile. About halfway through the drive up, it started to snow – not super-heavy, but enough to make things interesting in the still-quite-dark winter morning.
It was at this point that I discovered that my car’s heating had packed up. Fuck.
By the time I stopped at Newark, it was snowing fairly heavily, and starting to settle.
When I came out to go home, the car had a good three or four inches of snow all over it, and the roads were full of it as well. The start of the drive home was emphatically Not Fun, although for me that was mainly because it was bloody cold inside the car, and no heating meant it was also steaming up a bit. The real Not Fun was more in the purview of other drivers who couldn’t handle snowy roads and/or hadn’t put lights on, and were generally utter fucksticks.
The M1 was OK – once I got down past Leicester the snow turned to heavy rain, and then it was just a slog through shitty weather and shitty traffic.
All in, the temperature (according to my car) rose by five full degrees (Centigrade) in the hundred miles between Newark and Home.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drive where I was actually thankful to get out at the end of it. But that was definitely one of them.
This weekend was remarkably unproductive, and yet I’m actually OK with it for once.
I’d had a lot planned – initially I was going to be going to a restaurant in London, but I moved that forward by a couple of weeks – nothing about Lockdown, just that I saw the menu two weeks ago had some things I really wanted, and they couldn’t be certain they’d still be on by now, so I moved things around.
Once that had changed, I’d then lined up an archery coaching session on the Saturday, and we were due to have a competition shoot on Sunday. However, with the new Lockdown, archery is (for some fuckforsaken reason) specifically included in the “thou shalt not operate” lists, so all of that got cancelled too. I’ve no idea why outdoor archery isn’t allowed – even in competitions, no-one’s even close to each other, and certainly when I’ve been using the range on a Friday it’s just me using it. There’s certainly no issue with any of it being crowded!
So yes, I had lots of plans, and none of them happened – which is frustrating, to say the least.
However, it’s been good to have the downtime. I meant to do some stuff from home, and failed entirely to do so, but instead caught up on some reading, and did stuff that was exceptionally quiet and relaxed. It was pretty good, all things considered.
I’ve known it’s coming for a while, but this coming fortnight is probably the one that’ll grump me the most about the Lockdown so far.
It’s the time when I had a lot of events lined up, all of which have now been moved to next year. Among other things, that list includes
- Tonight, when I was supposed to be seeing Skunk Anansie at the Royal Festival Hall
- Tomorrow, when I was likely to have been at the Taste festival in London
- Saturday, when I was supposed to be seeing Jessica Chastain in “A Doll’s House” at the Playhouse Theatre
- Next week, I was supposed to be at the Lead Developer conference in London for two days
- Next weekend, I was supposed to be seeing Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe
So yeah, bit of a slump of “I should’ve been doing [x]” for the next couple of days.
I had a similar slump a while back when I got a load of “this won’t be happening” emails over a couple of days, and this is much the same. I’ll get over it, and it all could be much, much worse.
But still, blah.
Decades ago, I used to be highly into archery, and enjoyed it a lot, including shooting up to County level.
Then life got in the way for a while, until I was reminded (15 years ago now) that I enjoyed it when we went to Center Parcs that I went and sorted out a bow and so on and started to get back into it again, and then life got in the way again.
I’d kept the bow and so on, even though I wasn’t doing the archery, and kept on looking for local(ish) archery clubs whose schedules worked with my own. (This is actually a lot harder than you’d think – most of them are on school grounds or similar, so only open specific evenings, and usually ones where I was already doing stuff)
Anyway, about a month ago now, I found a semi-local (within about 30-40 minutes drive) club that has an outdoor range which is open to use seven days a week, which does suit me. But before I could join properly, I had to do their beginner’s course, in order to prove I could use a bow safely.
I did that a couple of weeks back, and again really enjoyed myself.
The final step was to get my bow properly checked out and serviced (it’s not been fired in eight years, I wasn’t going to try it without getting it inspected!) and that happened a week ago on Friday at a place I’d been recommended to use. Again that was a really good – if not cheap – experience, and by the end of my time there, I was grouping my arrows (at a shorter indoor range) within the space one gets if you circle fingers into an OK gesture.
I filled in, signed and sent off the membership forms the following day, so now I’m just waiting to get my confirmation and card.
All told, I’m generally feeling pretty optimistic about it, and looking forward to seeing how things go.
This weekend has been one with a fair bit of travelling. It’s just the way things worked out, but it made for a busy one.
On Friday I was over in Oxford, seeing XKCD‘s Randall Munroe at the Sheldonian Theatre doing a talk about his new book. That was enjoyable – and I’d never been in the Sheldonian before, so that was an additional bonus.
On Saturday I was down in Chichester to see a staging of Macbeth, starring John Simm and Dervla Kerwan.
And then on Sunday I was in Kent, at the Big Cat Experience, as they were doing a “meet the big cats” experience. I’d decided that I wanted to go, and classed it as a birthday present to myself. It was a lot of miles/driving for a two-hour-ish thing, but it was also worth going, and I’d certainly consider going again.
All told, I’ve covered nearly 800 miles over three days. I’m a daft, daft, daft sode.
As usual, my September is looking like it’ll be my normal levels of silliness, with lots of travel and so on.
And also as usual, it started with Meatopia, a festival of various barbecued meats. It’s one of my favourite events of the year – and this time I was at all three sessions. Because I’m a complete lunatic.
I had intended to be more sensible – going down for the Friday was still silly, but I’d intended to then park up at Barbican on Saturday, have a hotel on the Saturday night (being able to collect my bag from the car at Barbican on the way, and deposit it on the way back before Sunday) and then come home.
But then I checked the football schedule – and it turned out that Arsenal were playing at home on the Sunday. Not usually relevant, but when driving back on the Sunday, it would’ve shoved me right through all the traffic and people at Highbury, which would add at least an hour to the drive. And frankly, sod that.
So it meant a change to plans, and instead doing my usual thing, parking in Very North London, Tube to Euston/Angel, and walk to Tobacco Dock. Yes, I *could* have still used the hotel, but it meant that all the travel to and from the car to drop off clothes/bag etc. would’ve made it a lot more hassle and a lot less fun. So it was ‘easier’ to travel further, but on my terms and with less general fucking about.
All told, as well as a ridiculous amount of food, it meant I did six walks of 6km, as well as further walking on-site and so on, so all told over Friday, Saturday and Sunday I covered no less than 44km (27 miles)
Meatopia was totally worth it again, and I’ll be there next year.