The key to success
Flight shooting aims to shoot the arrow over a maximum distance. Flight shots of over 380 yards (340m) have been attained.
Arrows used are lightweight and are usually barrelled. Their fletchings (feathers) are only 1 to 1 and 1/4 inch long (2.5 to 3.2cm) and 1/4 inch (0.6cm) high.
Key to a good result are; the right arrows (as above); a longbow with a good cast; a perfect loose; last but not least a 45 degree elevation. The latter needs the routine of training to embed it in "motor-memory". It makes a considerable difference.
A flight trajectory is set out in the form of a corridor 40 yards (36m) wide, with marks or measuring panels along the length of the flight corridor at measured intervals. Three arrows are shot per participant and only those arrows landing within the flight corridor score. The furthest arrow wins.
There is some controversy as to flight distance records in the longbow world. Some purported to be records have been shot in following wind and without independent scrutiny. Clearly the way forward here is to adopt methodology used in other sports; that of taking the average of shots taken two-way and having these measured and independently witnessed.
Given the need for maximum distance, there are certain safety aspects to take into account. The thinness of the arrows can lead them to break or shear. Bows have to be drawn back to their limit and breakages are therefore possible. Each of these eventualities can be allowed for if participants stand apart. Those waiting to step up to the shooting line should be at least 3 bow-lengths back to avoid any fall-out of a breaking bow.
Cloth of Gold
A specific flight-shot is the “Shot in the Cloth of Gold”, which dates back to the shot that King Henry VIII demonstrated to King François I of France in the field by the same name between the French enclave of Ardres and the English enclave of Guines in Northern France. The measurement is 12 score or 240 yards (220 metres). The Fraternity of Saint George does at least one shot at this distance and pegs a cloth of gold filament to the ground at 12 score yards (220m).
International Longbow Archers Association (I.L.A.A.) Flight Medals
The I.L.A.A. held the first ever flight championship for the longbow in July 2006.
Every year since the I.L.A.A. has continued to hold its Flight Championship in July. These are usually hosted by the Fraternity of Saint George as part of its Mary Rose Warbow Trophy. These gatherings unite the very best longbow flight archers from all over Europe. The best bowyers too are represented.
And finally; too light an arrow means the bow almost does a "dry loose"; that's not good for the bow.