About John Fyfe
John was born in 1942. Over the years, he has been the senior partner in a firm of chartered architects, director of a leisure consultancy company, director of a swimming club, an expert witness in buildings-related litigation cases, author of advisory text for facilities and curriculum for physical education in Scotland and a Western Equestrian Society approved riding instructor.
His hobbies have included golf, dinghy racing, gardening and plant rearing, poultry breeding, bee keeping, photography, art, yoga, horse riding, driving fast cars, teaching, woodworking and, in recent years, archery and making crowned and crested custom wooden arrows for sale to discerning archers.
A major passion of his, developed over the last 20 years, was to promote Western riding, and to support people who train their own horses. Horses and people need to be able to enjoy their life together.
Having studied the techniques of renowned American and European Western riders and trainers, their ways, attitudes and skills, John eventually zoned in on the physical language they all used to communicate with their horses.
He wrote down his findings and they became the foundation for his teaching of people and horses.
He taught for several years before being persuaded by Bob Mayhew to acquire a Western Equestrian Society instructor’s qualification. Over time, John has taught and mentored people of all levels of experience and has encouraged many to purchase horses to be trained and ridden in the Western way.
Messages from John: –
My five-star pupil, Olivia Lochhead, became FEQHA European Senior Ranch Riding Champion in 2019.
I can’t take all the credit for that, of course. She has picked the brains of several other Western teachers and put in a power of work on her way to becoming a horse trainer, clinician and Champion competitor.
She came to my yard for lessons when she was twelve and I mentored her for about 10 years. Over that time, she became an accomplished Western rider and determined to make a life and career for herself in the world of Western horsemanship. She has done that in style. Onwards and upwards, Olivia.
I have, of course, helped many others with their riding skills but Olivia’s outstanding achievement last year made me think that this might be a good time to retire from being a Western Instructor. That will make it the third career I will have retired from.
Architecture, Leisure Consultancy and Western riding consultancy have all given me satisfaction, a modicum of success and a lot of personal pleasure.
Don’t think I will be looking for another career. I will just sit in an arm chair all day watching daytime tv. Is that not what an old person is supposed to do? Don’t think that’s altogether me. Beekeeping, poultry breeding, arrow making and a bit of horse riding will probably be enough to keep me from pining away.
I thank everyone who has allowed me and encouraged me to pass on my knowledge. I may not be teaching Western Horsemanship anymore, but my door is always open for a chat on the subject.
I will also host like-minded instructors, trainers and experts to run clinics, seminars and demonstrations at Blackford Glen so keep an eye on the Blackford Glen Riders Facebook link on this website.
My thanks to all for making my life, so far, seriously interesting.
The Archery Adventure
This started as a bit of fun in the yard arena where I tried to shoot a friend’s bow. I found that consistency was far less of a problem than accuracy. All of my arrows shot to the right. Knowing nothing about archery, I just assumed I was useless. Then she told me she was left handed and her bow was designed for lefties. I didn’t feel so bad then but the experience made me keen to investigate the whole business. Investigating the “whole business” is what I do. It is a curse.
I downloaded kindle books, audible books, bought paperbacks about modern archery and archery through the ages. The first search was “How did they do that?” The next search was “What equipment did they use?” That opened a Pandora’s box of information. This activity remined me a lot of my study of Western riding in that I had to track down, in my research, the people who had established the best techniques, matched technique to well designed equipment and practiced their art to near perfection, if not absolute perfection. The people I was now studying came from many archery disciplines, past and present, and it took them years to reach that high standard.
It was at this point, I think, that I decided I was unlikely to live long enough to get close to that level as an archer. On the other hand, I had learned that an archer can be only as good as the bow and arrows he or she has to hand. Remember my left hand bow failure?
Bows come in many shapes and sizes, draw weights, draw lengths, string types, strike plate offsets, etc. etc, to maximise the archer’s ability to achieve his or her goal of hitting a target at the distances he or she chooses. Archers are renowned for their relentless practice. The accuracy and consistency with which they do that time and again depends, not on the bow alone, but on the combined strengths of the archer, the bow and the arrows that are used. Arrows should be matched to the bow characteristics and the archer’s physical ability to draw the bow.
On the internet there is a bewildering range of equipment for sale and I assume some archers see this as the proverbial “sweetie shop”. I naively bought a bow on the internet, made a guess at the poundage, was persuaded by the seller that an extra 5lbs draw weight would make little difference and accepted delivery. I was lucky. The bow was beautiful. The poundage was a bit much at first but a field archery friend said it was the most effective bow he had fired in a long time.
That friend made me a set of arrows matched to my bow and I was very impressed with the way they flew but particularly impressed with the craftmanship he had used to make them.
Thereafter, I resigned myself to the fact that, at my age, I might not be destined to be a very competitive archer but I did consider that I had a skill-set good enough to make arrows to specification, and to exercise my artistic side by crowning, cresting and fletching them in many colour combinations.
Nothing is as easy as it first seems. I needed a studio, equipment, measuring equipment, computer programmes and raw materials. That was done and the first arrows sold.
This website is an attempt to introduce my custom arrows to a wider audience. The ability to build the website comes from an earlies bout of “Investigating the whole business” because that is what I do.” The curse lives on.
I hope my site meets with your approval and that you might persuade some people to buy my arrows.