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What's the Difference Between a Partridge and a Grouse?

In the interests of keeping the fun in archery diverse and interesting, sometime ago I devised a competition type which I called the Species Identification Round, because I can't come up with clever names for things.

As I am sure I have said before, 3D and animal rounds are my favourite. The diversity of animal target types available, with the potential for each target to be unique, leads to a course where the challenge and fun behind all twenty four targets really does differ from target to target. Not to mention the challenge of the targets themselves; sending an arrow low on a standing deer and missing what would have at least been a 2 on a field target.

To put a spin on this popular and exciting competition type I devised a round whereby archers are presented with two animal targets at once. Both will be different to one and other, and a post by the number board will inform the archers which of the two animal targets they must shoot. Of course, it is then up to the archer to figure out which of the two animal targets is the valid one. They shoot their arrows at whichever target they believe is the one stated on the board, and if they are wrong, then it's M, M on their scorecard - regardless of which rings are hit.

Now, to keep things straight, the archers, prior to shooting must say which of the two targets they are aiming for. This is done by saying aloud to the others in their group, 'right' or 'left'. This upsets the cheats from shooting one arrow at each target.

Being a pedant, I am often surprised on 3D rounds, by how many archers get the names of animal targets wrong. We had a debate in the club one evening regarding the identity of a 3D target of ours; was it a boar or a javelina? It is by the way, the latter, but that does not stop members of the club calling it a boar, much to my chagrin.

Can archers tell the difference between targets made to look like a beaver and a coypu? Or prairie dogs and muskrats? A running joke in my club is that we don't have a polar bear target, but a leucistic black bear. Do archers know what type of animal the target is modelled on? Beyond a broad species name like, bear or deer, that is.

From these misunderstandings and misconceptions I came up with this Species Identification Round. A few times I have ran mini-versions of this in my local club, which have been successful and very much enjoyed by the juniors who have asked for it to be held again.

In the interests of logistics and heavy lifting, with these reduced versions I used 2D paper animal targets, but the same challenge is there. Is it a brown bear or a grizzly bear? Is is a hartebeest or a wildebeest? What even is a hartebeest? To take things further, for a novelty Christmas target I placed a reindeer 2D target and an elk 2D target on a boss, each with a red nose stuck on them. The archers were then told that they 'were not to shoot Rudolf'. More over I added a mythical theme to another round, placing animals associated with Viking legends on a boss: a deer, a squirrel, and a crow. The archer was to then shoot the animal known in Viking myths as Ratatosk - which was the squirrel.

Regarding the logistical side of things, it would be heavy going to say the least. A field course would need forty-eight 3D targets carried out and carried in. Alternatively forty-eight 2Ds could be used, but that would require at most 48 bosses. And although some 2D's are small enough so that a pair can be placed on the same boss, the larger ones would require a boss to themselves. Thus the total number would be, well, many. A mixture of both 2Ds and 3Ds would likely be the best option.

Now this is only for a 'bit of fun', so the fiercely competitive may not enjoy shooting two perfect arrows into an 11 ring, only to have them declared null and void because they guessed the animal target wrong. It would still be hilarious to see that though.

This was just another novelty I had come up with, to keep archers entertained and ensure there is always a bit of craic going on in Lough Cuan Bowmen. If you are an archer in the area of Newtownards, do come along an join us!

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