The shrew bow challenge

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The first ever Shrew bow challenge took place in Eisenbach, Germany on the weekend of the 27th -29th of May on the Parcours at the Bogensport Hotel Bad. It was the first ever tournament where all the archers competed with the same brand of bow. The rules were very straightforward, only Shrew bows could be shot. No class distinctions, no other restrictions applied, simply shoot 111 targets. One arrow scoring 20 per kill, 10 per wound and 0 for a miss. This event was publicised on Shrewbow groups across social media, with links to apply online.

For those of you unfamiliar with Shrewbows, they are extremely short, powerful, fast hunting bows. Designed by the iconic Ron La Clair in the 1990s , the champion archer, pioneer and even poet invented an enduring and covetable hunting bow which is as highly sought after now as ever. He designed the forward pointing handle to reduce torque and give precise alignment which improves consistency. Shrew bows are reliable and remarkably stable in the hand, they are super smooth to draw with no stack and deflexing limbs that transition into a graceful reflex arch. They are certainly eye candy, but so much more than just a pretty bow. The American bow hunting community embraced these 52-54" Shrews, and throughout the history of these bows, demand has outstripped supply. Although Ron La Clair recently passed away, his legacy is secure , thanks to an historic agreement between Ron La Clair, Tim Cosgrove and Henry Bodnik, which committed each to preserving the spirit and quality of Shrew Bows and making them available to archers all over the world.

Shrew Bows are extremely accurate and perfectly balanced. They are available in three types with many options for semi and full customisation. The three models are the Classic Hunter II, the Lil Favourite II and the Super Shrew II. All three versions are united in their shortness, speed, power and accuracy. The Classic Hunter II is available in 52- 56 inch versions, from 20 to 80 pounds as standard. The Super Shrew II is the choice for archers with longer draw lengths, something I don't need to worry about. For the tall people out there, it's available in 58 and 60" and is suitable for up to 34" draw length. Both the Classic Hunter and the Super Shrew are reflex deflex longbows, but the third type of Shrew is a recurve. The Lil Favourite is a beautiful, elegant recurve which can be either 54 or 56" . Although though I'm not lucky enough to own a Shrew Bow, I'm lucky enough to know some wonderfully kind people. Timo Döcher and Richie Huggett both offered to let me use their bows so that I could participate in this historic event. I had a choice of three bows. Timo offered me his Classic Hunter takedown 54" , 29lbs @28". Richie offered me his Classic Hunter II siberian tiger 54" 47.5lbs @ 28" and also his brand spanking new, just delivered by Henry Bodnik himself, Autumn Gold Osage Lil Favourite recurve 54" 36lbs @ 28".

I arrived on Friday afternoon and immediately headed out to try these bows. I had previously shot a Shrew only once, when Bjarne Höglund Jamieson allowed me to play with his Siberian Tiger Super Shrew II 60" 39lbs@26" whilst I was visiting his Glasgow fencing and archery academy, Braveheart. I tried all three bows at distances from 10 yards to 40 yards. Although I had expected to enjoy the Lil Favourite the most, as I am mostly a recurve shooter, I actually preferred the Classic Hunter. Unfortunately the Siberian Tiger version felt a little too " heavy" , especially knowing that I would be facing 111 3D targets. I usually shoot 35 lbs @ 28, and this bow was 47.5 @ 28". Timo's Classic Hunter was too light at 29lbs@28", and I was concerned that it might be too difficult to reach the further targets. I decided to shoot the Lil Favourite as it was the closest to my usual poundage. All of the Shrew Bows were smooth, precise and I enjoyed shooting each one. I was surprised by how fast they seemed. After making this decision, we headed back down to deliver the bows to the bow measurement machine and watch as they were drawn back and the draw force graphs were generated and issued as " birth certificates ". The birth certificate lists all of the important information relating to your Shrew Bow. Model, length, the riser and limb finish and the unique serial number. The draw force curve graph is a geeks delight, offering so much data to be studied and analysed. Special stickers were issued, which many affixed to their bows. I watched the Autumn Gold Lil Favourite as it was placed on the machine and drawn back. The graphs generated are specific to the individual bows, with draw lengths from 13 to 32 inches shown. I could see that some bows were not the values stated on the limbs, but that the variations were minimal. The Siberian Tiger Classic Hunter II that I had tried was not 50lbs but 47.7 @28". Later that evening, some of us took part in the night shooting challenge. I have to be honest and say I had forgotten about this activity and had possibly indulged in some alcohol prior to this event. I joined a team with Phil Marr and Misi Vas. It was brilliant fun, we were shooting down a bank towards a river with glow sticks to guide us. The pictures don't really represent how it was, it was much, much darker and quite difficult to see the 3ds. It was a fun and different way to end the first day.

The following morning was the start of the actual 111 target Shrewbow challenge. We all assembled to hear Henry Bodnik talk, although unsurprisingly, most of it was in German so I did not understand. After our introductory talk we headed up the mountain in our groups. I got lucky with Timo, Richie and Stojan. One hundred and eleven targets is a lot, even in a one arrow round. We covered approximately 13km and it was definitely a challenge to complete it, especially when we realised that we had not started at target one, so we were not finished at target 111. By the time we finished, it really did feel like we had accomplished something. I was pretty exhausted after the challenge, and I don't really remember much about that evening. I think some people took part in the Archery time Shooting Cinema, but I certainly wasn't looking to shoot anymore.

The finals took place the following morning. As a gap shooter using an unfamiliar bow, I had known that I would never be in the running for a place, but the opportunity to test shoot Shrew Bows all weekend and take part in such an historic event had drawn me , despite this. The finals followed the same format as the Bowhunter Challenge, a running race to collect your bow as you shoot a 3D with a balloon on it. First to pop the balloon goes into the next heat. The weather was appalling, but no one suggested waiting or abandonment. I love watching the finals, particularly the faces of those competing. It's serious, but everyone congratulates each other. There's no shame in losing, it's not really about winning, more of a family who share a passion. I enjoyed watching Timo and Stojan do so well, and receive their top twenty patches, which they totally deserved, as did all who won one. It’s really exciting to see a brand give back to the archers who support them, not only does it celebrate the bows themselves, but also those who shoot them, the Shrew Crew.

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