Currently Oxford Kyudo Society facilities only allow for basic form training and practice on a straw practice butt (Makiwara Shaho).
For formal shooting over the standard 28 metre distance (Kinteki Shaho), members of the Society have use of London Kyudo Society's practice facilities, kindly provided without any extra charge
These sessions include an extended practice functioning as a monthly formal meeting (Getsureikai). Getsureikai are used as much as a social occasion for a dojo as a training opportunity. This sense of collective spirit is very much part of Japanese culture and another opportunity to place others before oneself. The format for Getsureikai is to open the event with formal shooting by the teacher followed by the senior grades, and then for dojo members to also offer up their shooting. The later part of the meeting is less formal and usually has a competition and even "fun" targets (Asobi-mato).
Students are taught progressively all the elements that will prepare them to make a safe release into the traditional straw practice butt (Makiwara) in preparation for shooting on the target.
As Kyudo is as much about developing the quality of release, as accuracy on the target, at all levels the Makiwara is constantly used to examine and study the shooting form.
A Makiwara is made from Japanese rice straw that has been specially treated, cut and bound into a tight bundle. Like all the equipment and elements of a Kyudo practice place, it is made with care and aesthetic consideration.
Once a controlled and safe release has been established then the student begins to practise shooting on the kinteki target.
These targets are set in the earth bank of the target housing (Matoba) close to ground level over a distance of 28 metres.
Kinteki-shaho requires the student to learn all of the formal movements to enter the shooting area, bow to the targets, proceed to the shooting line and follow the sequence of movements for shooting, in harmony with the other archers in a group (3-5 archers).
Until this time the student has concentrated exclusively on his or her own form and shooting, but now they must develop the awareness to relate to the movement of others, the breathing and the correct use of space, observing the correct etiquette and manner.
Competition is also a part of modern Kyudo and gives the student the chance to test their feeling in the intensity of the situation. Competition form is also taught as part of practice and as a contrast to the more formal shooting.