What is a jelly bow? A small, simple and low-poundage bow—we’ve bought 12 for our club. The blue ones we have are 36 inch long (compared to 68 inch for an average recurve), and have a draw weight of a maximum of 12 pounds when drawn to their full 20 inches (by which time they stack like hell). They are not toys though: we’ve shot club arrows to 80 yards with them! So all safety precautions you take for regular recurve bows must also be taken when shooting jelly bows!
How do you shoot them? Up to you. Because of their short draw length you can’t anchor them on your face the same way as a regular bow. And because of the very steep string angle it is best to only use one finger above and one finger below the arrow. You can adjust the grip up and down to set nocking point height, or to change from right to left-handed use. They shoot best if you don’t draw them to maximum, just to the point where they begin to seriously stack (giving a usable draw length of maybe 17-18 inches).
Jelly bows are great equalisers. When we have jelly bow events, everybody shoots with a club jelly bow. You can use your own arrows or club arrows but you cannot modify the bow other than moving the grip up/down. You might have to share your jelly bow with others.
What is a clout shoot? In clout shooting the target is a flag in the ground, and archers try to get their arrows in the ground close to the flag. A regular clout is shot at distances of 140yds or 180yds, so most arrows have to be shot with a fairly high trajectory and land quite steeply—they won’t be hidden in the grass. Regular clout shoots require a field of at least 300yds long to get a safe overshoot (and even then it is entirely possible to reach much further with a high-poundage recurve or compound bow).
How do we shoot a Mini Jelly Bow Clout?
A (St. Neots flavoured) Mini Jelly Bow Clout (MJBC) is shot with the clout (a target flag) at 60yds from the shooting line. The target area itself is half the size of a regular imperial clout target and is 24 feet in diameter, with 5 scoring zones (scoring 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). I’ve made two mini clout measuring tapes, their use will be demonstrated at our first MJBC.
As the target distance is not that far of the maximum distance that can be reached with the jelly bows you’ll need to shoot with the bows pointing quite high (see the picture). Remember that aiming too high will actually reduce the distance you’ll reach. Like longbows they do not have centre-shot so you’ll be aiming off left/right as well.
We’ve done a test, and concluded that the MJBC is great fun (especially Felicity as she beat us all by a wide margin)! We will announce one on a Saturday shortly (once I’ve finished re-serving the strings on the other 7 jelly bows).