Going Outdoors

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By ‘Hamster’ Grylls

The 'summer' season is here and we're now at the mercy of our climate. So I thought it a good idea to highlight a few key items you might require when shooting in the wilds of Pollock Park or perhaps even further a field.

What to Wear:

The first consideration is clothing – important for club night as well as competitions. Scottish weather and Glasgow weather in particular is unpredictable. Craigholme takes this a step further and quite frankly, has its own micro climate often completely at odds with the rest of Glasgow. Craigholme has been known to have torrential rain while the rest of Glasgow basks in the sun. Alternatively a perfect shooting day can be had down on the field while the city centre is under 6 inches of water! With this in mind “expecting the unexpected” is an attitude that never goes wrong.

So, when selecting clothing for outdoor shooting it’s often a good idea to have several layers handy. These should be fairly form fitting (so as not to impede the string) but not so tight as to limit your draw. Depending on temperature variations, several can be worn for warmth. Several thin layers are better than one thick and easier to fine tune if it gets warmer or cooler suddenly.
Competition note: There is no longer any requirement to wear greens and whites or club colours at competitions. Check out the new rules here but there's nothing wrong with turning up in club colours.

The reality of our weather is that it is going to rain when you want to go shooting. Unless you want the epithet “fair weather archer” tagged after your name, you are going to have to shoot in that rain at some point. Waterproof trousers are fairly straight forward (black being very useful being GA club colours) but a waterproof jacket should be light, form fitting yet not constricting … again to allow free movement of the string on release but not constrict your draw. Being wind proof would be an added advantage.
Competition note:
If it’s raining it’s likely that the judges will call ‘Inclement Weather’. This means that any colour rain wear may be deployed without worrying about club colours.

Footwear is important as well. Craigholme’s field has a nasty habit of retaining water after prolonged rain or a cloudburst. This is due to poor drainage. After one of our torrential summer days, welly boots are de rigueur but normally stout hiking boots if well waterproofed (and treacle like mud is not a problem in the car) will do. If seagulls are diving for fish in the puddles, we usually cancel shooting. Should we get a period of dry weather, trainers are perfectly acceptable on the field BUT NOT toeless sandals. This is for your protection from arrows in the grass.
Competition note:
The above hold true for other club’s fields as well. Archers don’t tend to be allowed onto well preened, drained and oh so very precious soccer fields.

Hats are a major part of archery as every archer needs at least one silly shooting hat – the sillier the better. Bucket hats are popular to keep the sun off the head, shade the eyes from the sun (or rain for that matter) and gives you another place to put badges. Just remember not to have a large brim or wear a large peaked baseball caps as these might impede your draw.
Competition note: There are no GNAS rules concerning hats … which does go some way to explaining some of things that Michael is seen with on his head while judging.

Kit for Competitions:

Competitions outdoors are often long, all day affairs. While none of the below is required, most of the below will go a long way in making a shoot a more comfortable, enjoyable, drier and repeatable experience.

The first thing to consider is a folding chair. Most of the time you wont need it as you prowl the equipment line but there are often times that a seat is just what you need. It also gives you a place above the damp grass to dump all your other vital things.

Two commonly packed items are sun block and midgie repellent. You can get awfully burnt sitting out on an archery field for 8 hours if its sunny (especially with all the reflected glare from shiny things). Sun block is always a good idea unless you wear long trousers, long sleeve compression teeshirt and sunhat like our treasurer does – his entire, rather impressively dark tan one year was the back of his right hand! 
And if the suns out … so are the midgies. There are many types of midge repellent. Some more use than others, some totally useless – the midgies love them, some dangerously poisonous to mammals(!) but one of the best is (bizarrely) Avon’s Skin So Soft (by appointment to the Royal Marines and SAS). Many a veteran archer has skin a supermodel would die for and are easily identifiable as they smell so much nicer than sweat, arrow lube and fletching glue.

Liquid refreshment is important during a shoot. You can become dehydrated without fluids so always pack drinks. If you have a cold bag and a freezer pack, so much the better. Alternatively a flask with coffee or tea for the Scottish summer days when Captain Oates would have refused to leave his tent.

So the weather is not great and you don’t fancy sitting in a puddle of precipitation for 8 hours …. What's the solution? Well unless you fancy holding a brolly all day or you have a mobile home you can bring to shoots …it’s a tent.  Pop up bivvies are small, easily erectable tents designed for one person and their kit (although in an emergency it will seat 5 if you are all very friendly!). They cost about £50 and larger archery shops like Quicks stock them. If you are on a budget, this sort of tent might be more to your liking.
If you prefer a little more room that you COULD swing say, a hamster (not that I’d advise trying) … a company called Quechua do a large pop-up tent called a Base Seconds. This will comfortably accept a small horde (or indeed The Horde) and cost about £85 on Amazon or from Decathlon (your nearest store is at The Fort, Easterhouse but avoid their archery kit). Popping up in 10seconds, they do require an engineering degree and mensa level IQ to get back in their container – alternatively pack a 5 year old with an inquiring mind.

These items are not an exhaustive list and there are other things you can pack (the kitchen sink is about half way down the list) but the above will give you a good start up the learning curve when shooting target in the great outdoors. Field however is a radically different subject for another day.