These are the voyages of the TIFAM Reporter Stringfellow…

Updated: Sep 20

The fickle twists and turns of fate can be subtle and the turn of events following a curious dabble can change everything. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith, suppressing a fear, or maybe the wonderful opportunity to fulfill a dream. To do it alone is difficult, but with friends and family not so much and a precious thing to appreciate. This is where the leap of faith comes in and where, though perhaps scared and isolated, you so very much need to push yourself at first maybe even facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles both internal and external.

On Sunday, 27th. March a trip to Drewstown House in County Meath for the 2x 14 UAR being held by White Wolf Archers meant a visit to a course that saw its’ first shoot in about 2 years. It’s wonderful to see so many clubs recovering with enthusiasm and steely determination following the travails and curtailments of lockdown. What’s more heartening though is the support being correspondingly shown by archers, new and experienced, by travelling and taking part, adding a value to and appreciation for the tremendous effort made by the organisers or these events.

So, this Sunday, so early in the year, had the sun shining and the sunglasses out. A great turnout was already apparent early on as the carpark filled. I was looking forward to this shoot having heard so much about Drewstown House and its’ beautiful setting and grounds.

As we gathered around the registration table, in front of the majestic lawn, Marjan Boers welcomed everyone, explained how the format of the day would proceed and advised us to pay particular attention to the pathways given the dense spring carpet coming into bloom. Myself and Olivia were shooting with Lynn Ellingworth and Karl Curtis. Lynn was shooting Bowhunter Recurve and Karl Bowhunter Unlimited. It was a pleasant grouping and an education too as Karl giving us a history lesson on Drewstown House up to the present day.

Karl Curtis AMBU, perfect form, magnificent background.

Lynn Ellingworth AFBH-R, unperturbed by this obstacle laden wildcat target.

L-R, Lynn Ellingworth, Olivia Reynolds, some groupie who wandered in and Karl Curtis.

So off we set. While this range may not have the joint-wearing ruggedness of some others, that lent itself to a specific direction for the layout. Full use is made of the dips and hollows, the tight tree-lines and of course the emerging colourful camouflaging carpet not to mention the lake.

The Group 1 standing bear is a perfect example of this, placed as if stepped out from behind a tree, causing you to momentarily doubt yourself, and shooting to the right.

The Group 2 wild-cat again at the end of a meandering tree-line proving to be more of a distraction than an actual obstacle. Group 3s and 4s such as the hare and fox were placed not, as is often case at the end of what is clearly a shooting lane, but very much in such a manner as if they were actually happened upon and surprised in their natural habitat. There in lay the skill and imagination in the layout of this course. You might be within the well-maintained park-like grounds of Drewstown House but there was nothing than appeared formulaic in the positioning of the targets or clinical in the delineation of the routes and lanes.

Some things best left unsaid. Nonetheless, grateful to Laszlo Jenei for retrieving my arrow from there too.

Partners in crime, look of innocence indeed, pffft!Some use a rake to find arrows.

Karl does it with style!

It was a refreshing day, with a certain giddiness in the air and amongst the attendees, only partially captured in the photos taken.

Why was the day such a success? I could just say check out the photo below and leave it that, no explanation needed. From planning to course setting, registration, logging and presentations a massive thank-you goes to Jim, Kerrie, Marjan and Pauline. When you’re in the field or on the range it is sometimes easy to forget the immense amount of work that goes into managing a competition like this. The fact that you do forget sometimes is not necessarily a testimony to a lack of consideration on your part but to the behind-the-scenes support that makes the day pass by with such enjoyment and a fluid ease. One word of many springs to mind…..efficient. Had great fun and really, really appreciate it guys.

L-R, Marjan Boers, Pauline Conroy, Jim Conroy, Kerrie Leonard. AKA The A-Team.

The following week, it was just up the road to the legendary Swan Lake Archers for their 2*14 3D UAR. I’d heard a lot about this course and its’ quirks and was exceptionally eager for this one. Once again, we were graced with glorious weather. Once again, the familiar faces gathered for a later than usual start of 11:00am. This wasn’t a problem for me anyway as it allowed a member of my contingent catch up with a member of another. Word has it that it was the biggest ever turnout at 52 archers, a credit to clubs and their affiliated organizations gathering to support each other. The groups were called, and this time Olivia and I were shooting with Tina Verity AFBBC and Roy Verity AMBU. So off we set. This is a course of variety. Extensive use is made of the extremely steep hollows and the various structures along the route.

The resting deer within the walls of the old factory was a deceptive one. As was the crow, a group 4, but at such an angle one had to take a separate path to reach it. The meerkat at target 8 wasn’t much better. I’m thinking now that the group 4 targets serve to provide a certain few within the coarse-setting element of the archery community an opportunity to release their roguish vivacity. This however is also symbolic of their desire to create something fun and imaginative for their visitors. I can just imagine them walking back, thinking “yeah, that’ll bug them”.

Roy Verity taking it steady. Show of support from that fellow ‘what’s his name’.

From up there…

To down there.

Yaay!! Look what I found, it’s mine, I’m sitting on it and I’m not sharing it.

Sean JMBHR and Alan AMFSR O’Grady, Laois Archery.

Fantastic work goes into the prizes and medals.

And yes, just to beat the Black Castle guys to making a big deal about it, I did leave my bow behind…twice, so now I have to work on living that one down with that lot and I’ve a feeling it won’t be easy.

Disappointingly I couldn’t make the Mayo shoot at Massbrook Woods on the 10th. April. I know a lot of effort went into making it a special day and it’s great that it was reciprocated by the sheer numbers that turned out. Next time.

The 1st. of May saw myself and Olivia returning to Black Castle Archers in Thurles, County Tipperary for their much-anticipated Single Big Game 2 * 18 round. Now this course I have found almost has a personality of its own. Unlike many others, the forestry and cover are extremely dense, and this always makes for the impression of exploring new territory for the first time.

Tanya Embleton & Joe Witherow keeping the show running smoothly.

Arriving for registration at 08:30am for the 09:30am start you’re immediately made feel welcome with the steel whistling kettle on the stove already on the boil. There was a fantastic turnout as the eager word had it there were some tweaks and alterations to the course since the last shoot.

Arriving for registration at 08:30am for the 09:30am start you’re immediately made feel welcome with the steel whistling kettle on the stove already on the boil. There was a fantastic turnout as the eager word had it there were some tweaks and alterations to the course since the last shoot.