Last Tuesday I decided I’d try my hand but more importantly my bow at shooting clout. For those who aren’t down with the toxophilite lingo (someone who loves archery) then clout shooting is where you put a flag in the ground at a distance of 180 yrds – 140 yrds for the ladies – and try and get your arrows as close to it as possible. You get three dozen arrows shot in ends of 6 and scoring takes place using a coloured piece of rope which you use to see how close your arrows have got to the flag. In short it’s golf, with arrows.
Now I have to admit that I’ve only shot clout twice before so I am by no means knowledgeable on the subject but I have to say that I enjoy myself every time I shoot it. There’s something really satisfying in loosing an arrow and then watching it sail through the air. I suppose it invokes some romantic English notion of loosing arrows at a French aristocratic. Either way it’s good fun.
Shooting clout however, is totally different from shooting at an upright boss. For one you have to aim a lot higher so that the arrow can get the distance. As the arrow is traveling higher is also a lot more susceptible to crosswinds which can push it off target and slow it down. The arrows are also slowed down by any extra drag or weight which can equate to a loss of distance.
It’s amazing how the arrows I use for my target archery really impacted on my performance in clout shooting. My target arrows have fairly large fletchings and heavy tips, which is great for shorter distances as the arrow is still full of power so travels relatively flat. Once you get to clout distance, however, any extra drag or unneeded weight can really hinder your distances, as was the case with me as I was around 40 yrds short of the flag on most arrows.
To tackle this I believe I have to get some arrows with lighter tips to reduce the arrow weight and get some more streamlined fletchings to reduce the drag. This, I hope, will gain me some distance and then I can work on technique for the rest. The technique will come with practice which will give me some time to save my pennies for new arrows.