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- by L.

I sigh deeply when squatting before my bowcase. Fortunately, it was the last game, therefore my sighing. While folding my bowstring, I realize that it is going to take another year before the next indoor shooting. Today, me and my fellow club members participated at the last game of a local winterchampionship. I have been enjoying these Saturday evenings between bow and arrow, particularly since they were always followed by the obligatory excursion to the local pitta house.

 

It is during these moments, when drinks are being served, that the impressive shooters-stories are coming alive. They are comparable to fishermen-stories, filled with lies and exaggeration, only lacking the fish.

I put away my button and realize that the binoculars that are tucked away in my bag, finally merit to regain their place at the belt. I take them out of the bag and tie them to my hip, next to the quiver. I then untie the belt and put everything back into the bowcase. That's that.

While putting on my coat I wonder where the group is going later on. It's still chilly outside this early month of March. Will we go for french fries or a Turkish roll? Who is joining us?

While the others are debating, I head for my car. I put on my hat. I figure that I should put this woollen hat into my bowcase. I could be needing it later on and I love shooting with it. I can pull it down to the edge of my eyes that way blocking the sunlight. I should note that somewhere!

The others have already departed by the time I leave. I am the last person arriving at the Middle-eastern eathouse. Everybody is already comfortable inside. Dinner is ordered, the glasses of wine and fresh drinks are being served and conversation is getting along. The winterchampionship is quickly fully analysed. Once again we were unable to defy the bigger clubs because there weren't enough of our own club members. Hell, we did what we could. This analysis also concludes another matter. It puts an end to the big stories and to future plans for the next season. It is time to begin the field season 2005.

Those who were paying attention had already noticed that I am a 'fielder'. The binoculars were a strong indication. Fielders are known for being fully equipped. What is not hanging at the belt, must be in the backpack.

One of the pleasant consequences of the winterchampionship is that the big stories that are told at the after-shooting gatherings always seem to persuade a few people into wanting to join us the next year. Still we don't only tell them about the times when the weather is wonderful, about shooting with a splendid view on the target plus breathtaking sights, about the cosy nights playing cards outside of our tents or caravans in the moist grass, about the pleasant barbecues and plastic plates on Saturday evenings... No, we also tell them about shooting during cloudbursts on steep muddy hills in a German wood, about flooded tents, about shooting straight up while water is running down your sight and falling straight into your eyes, about the howling wind that destabilizes your bow when standing on a cliff while aiming at a target 50 meters further ... and 30 meters below, about shooting with painful fingers which you cannot warm up for hours because your pockets are soaking wet and there's by far no possibility to find a shed.

It is very likely that, through these stories (which off course are all true), we have turned ourselves into heroes, by that stimulating the other shooters into wanting to share our heroic status. "Utter Foolishness" is rather how I would personally describe it.

And thus, this year too, some members have decided to join us... and, just like the years before, we tell them : OK, but PREPARATION is indispensable!
Let there be no mistake about it, dear reader, we do not tell them this out of shear compassion or concern about the achievements and career of our club members. Our reasons are undoubtedly mainly selfish. We will be the ones having to intervene when our fellow club member get into trouble during one of these field championships. It's better to anticipate than to be stuck far away from home. And so we already warn them in advance, over a drink and a pitta role in a nicely heated room.

Because we don't want to give them too many advice on one Saturday evening, we go by bits and pieces:
Start regulating your material. Tuck those big indoor arrows away. Now is the time for the summer arrows.
We advice them to take light arrows, which fly faster and are less susceptible to weather conditions such as wind and rain. A faster arrow will also make the flight curve flatter which makes errors in distance-estimation less critical.
But that doesn't cover it all. Field requires a better use of your sight than any other (boring) fita-competition does.
You have to know your personal sightsettings for the 5m up to 60m shooting distances. Preferably per 5 meters. It is not as difficult as it seems. Armed with a measuring tape you just spend an afternoon on the outdoorstand and put an old arrow in the ground after each 5 or 10 meters. After that, you shoot away and write down your findings. But! Mais! Aber! Before that, it is advisable to intensively train outdoors with your 'new' arrows during a week or 2. After all, you have to get used to the shot and the reaction of the bow.
First you tune yourself to the bow, then tune the bow to the arrows, then you determine your sightsettings.

I scratch my hair (mainly grey by now) with a grin. Numerous are those who do not stick to this, who cold-blooded uncover their outdoorarrows and head straight for the outdoorstand to set their sightsettings. My experience showed me that you then end up setting your sightsettings for weeks. My advice: 2 weeks of outdoor shooting and tuning of the bow. The third week, determining the sightsettings over 10m, 30m and 60m. Continued by more outdoors training.
Good and intensively tested sightsettings will make a difference during the first competitions!

The club members nodd. They all agree. That's good advice, they will certainly follow it up!
" ... and then, I didn't tell you yet about the material you'll be going to need!" Curious looks. More field secrets?
"But that will be for next Saturday", I add while I get up and go pay my bill.

 
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