Saturday, 23 February 2013

Challenge 7: Hitting the spot

Days out with my big boy on his own don't come along often enough, so I'd been looking forward to today's archery session at Grafham Waters with Joe, my 10 year old son.  Joe is a huge fan of medieval weaponry, well all weaponry really, and one of his most prized possessions is a cut down wooden arrow with natural feathered fletching, a birthday gift from the generous archer at Warwick Castle a couple of summers ago. Whilst I had never picked up a bow and arrow before this morning, Joe is an old hand, having done archery at activity camps with both his school and the Scouts.

Joe assembling his bow
We started the session by assembling our bows, learning the name of the different parts as we did so. First we screwed the two limbs onto the the riser (the central bit which incorporated the handle and the arrow nock, or groove). Stringing involved a bit of knee action to bend the bow far enough over, so we could hook the loops at either end of the bowstring into the special groove (or nock) at the tip of each limb.  As one of my bowstring loops had stretched, the instructor helped with this.

According to wikkipedia, the force required to hold the string stationary at full draw is often used to express the power of a bow, and is known as its draw weight. The higher the draw weight, the more powerful the bow, enabling the archer to project arrows heavier, faster, or for a greater distance.  Joe's bow had a 14lb draw weight, whilst mine was 18lb. 

Once the bows were assembled and a handful of arrows distributed, we four archers took our stations about 10 meters back from the targets for our first round. I'd like to be able to impress you with my archery prowess but sadly dear reader, I missed every shot!  Holding the bow steady at full stretch was harder than it looked but a few tweaks in my technique, pulling in my stomach muscles, and lowering my right elbow led to a gradual improvement in my aim.

Master shot Joe - at full draw.

Reaching for my next arrow...
As we became more profficinet archers, our stations were moved a few meters back up the hall to see what difference it made.

Joe said that he needed to lower his elbow and fire the arrows a bit higher to hit the target but for me it still all seemed rather arbitrary.

Whilst most of my arrows were now hitting the target, the actual colour they embedded themselves in didn't really feel as though it was in my control. The yellow arrows in the centre were accidental hits, rather than evidence of archery prowess.

At full draw...
By the end of our three hour session I was beginning to feel more control over my aim and none of my arrows were going astray. Archery with Joe definitly hit the spot!

My final target, complete with arrows!

7 out of 20 challenges complete:

  1. Climbed my first mountain - Cadair Idris
  2. Learned how to punt
  3. Learned how to hula hoop
  4. First road bike ride;
  5. Taken up tap dancing
  6. First 5K trail run at Wimpole Hall Parkrun
  7. First Archery session

A difficult decision made by one family nearly 20 years ago transformed my life when they gave me the gift of a new heart. This challenge is about acknowledging that gift, celebrating the life I've got and raising a few pounds for two fantastic charitites along the way...

Please visit to make a donation to the Papworth Hospital Charity.

Please visit to make a donation to The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association.

#2020heartchallenge #lifegiven @angie_ridley


  1. Fabulous post Angie. I wish you continued success with your challenge.