By ‘Hamster’ Grylls
Once the summer arrives and archers are forcibly evicted from their warm, dry indoor venues … all British archers are at the mercy of our climate. There are few things in life as unpredictable as a Scottish summer 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 any other outdoor range. (This article is really for the summer but with Covid preventing us from getting indoors … perhaps read these suggestions on what to wear outdoors in winter.)
What to Wear:
The first consideration is clothing – as important for a club night/sunday session as it is for a competition. 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 as they are easier to fine tune if it gets warmer or cooler suddenly. Compression Tee’s like those made by UnderArmor (or less expensively, Decathlon) are ideal base layers … UA have thin ones for summer (long sleeves great for sun protection) and double thickness for warmth in winter or when the breeze appears to be coming straight from Iceland (country or freezer supermarket .. which ever is colder).
The reality of our weather is that it is going to rain when you want to go shooting. So 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 and not constrict your draw. If there is some impediment to the string, tubigrip bandages are excellent to getting sleeves tucked away. Being wind proof would be an added advantage. Golfing jackets can be your friend here as they often have removable sleeves … places like TK Max can carry such garments discounted. Brollys should be storm-proof ………… seriously, you’re asking “why?” .. in Scotland? .. on an open field? .. with no shelter? .. Just moved here have you?
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 (Honest mister, it has happened. Would I lie to you? :o), trainers are perfectly acceptable on the field BUT NOT toe less sandals/flip flops or similar. Toes MUST be covered. If your toes are bare/covered only with socks you will NOT be allowed to shoot. This is for your protection from arrows in the grass. Think spike sticking out of ground at very shallow angle and your foot being impaled! (This is defined in rule 307 (b) of the Rules of Shooting … and is the rule before the notorious 307 (c) that defines camo, denim and crop-tops as crimes against the dignity of archery).
Hats are a major part of archery as every archer needs at least one silly shooting hat – the sillier the better. (Not covered by rule 307 :o) 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 cap as these might impede your draw. Early and late in the season, a beanie will keep your ears warm.
With clothing dealt with, other items are fairly optional for comfort. Water on hot days, flask for hot drinks on cold. A collapsible chair if you want a seat and the ground is wet. A snack (non greasy) … all fairly standard stuff. Just dont bring too many things … you do have to carry them onto and off the field.
So there you are. A few things that will make shooting outdoors a little more amenable and a whole lot less miserable if the word “inclement” is lurking before the word “conditions” when you want to shoot.