I had a go of contemporary archery last night. I think I'll take it up. I've only done a tiny bit of SCA archery, so I'm not sure of the differences. I hope I'll be able to use the same bow and style for both. I *think* what I used last night would be allowed for general archery in the SCA, but not for period divisions of competitions. It's a recurve that can be taken apart (take down bow?).
There was a sight on the bow, but I didn't use it. This meant a bit of conflicting advice, with one person saying to draw back to the cheek, which makes the arrow closer to eye level, and another saying to draw to under the chin, which makes for a more consistent draw.
One of the most helpful bits of advice was to think about the elbow and forget about the fingers. Pull it back, not allowing it to go out to the side, then pull back further, and the string will automatically release. I had started off happy enough with my shots, but they started getting worse, jumping as I released. This got me back on track, and I felt so much better about the shots, even though they initially didn't get any closer to the centre. They just felt more "right".
Someone else adjusted my grip, which made this a lot easier. Holding the bow with the string drawn became simple, rather than a challenge that had a lot of strain on my hand and arm and some shaking. This is a big difference between the way I've been shown in the SCA and the contemporary Olympic way. At events, the advice has been to have your hand at an angle, leaving a gap between your arm and the bow. The string shouldn't hit your arm, and a bracer is only to hold your sleeves out of the way. In Olympic, your arm is straight and the pressure on the bow is directly opposite the pull on the string, making it much easier to hold. An arm guard is for protecting your arm from the string. My shots got more consistent, as well as much easier to do, once I adjusted my grip.
On reason I've only done a little bit of archery at events is that I find it hard to hold the bow the way I've been shown there (I don't know if it's a standard SCA way, a local SCA way, or just Baron Pól's advice) and, with no arm guard, I'm afraid of hitting my arm, even if I do hold it Pól's way. So my preference would be to wear an arm guard—under my clothes, or hidden under/disguised as a bracer—and hold the bow the contemporary way.
If/when I buy a bow, I'd be looking at using it for both mundane and SCA archery. It would be ok for me to bring a medieval one to the club, but as a beginner, I'd want to learn from other people, and I don't know how much difference a more medieval bow would make to technique. And the contemporary archery is every week and the SCA events every month or two, so it's in the club that I'd be doing most of my learning.
There is weekly SCA archery meet in Dublin (Dun In Mara) and I think in the midlands (Epelheimer), but they're quite a distance from me, so I wouldn't be a regular. Dun in Mara practices are on Friday evenings: http://duninmara.org/practices-meetings/
And I have a small A&S project lined up: a finger tab of sufficiently thick leather. The one I used initially was a bit thin, and my fingers started hurting despite it. Though not as quickly as they would have done without one! I was able to switch to a stiffer one towards the end, but it looks like most of the loaner ones are thinnish. Should be an easy project - just cutting, no sewing. I just need to get the shape right. I think I'll make it for drawing with all fingers under the nock point, not a split one for one finger above the nock.
A bit of contemporary renaissance music: