Keeping Your Equipment Dry

NB 2013 1 546All weather conditions present various challenges for competing as my earlier blog about weather can attest. If you have been shooting for some time, you probably already have experienced what the weather can do to your equipment. The rain, or any adverse weather, can have some undesired long-term effects on your bow.

Rain is especially tricky as it can get into all kinds of small places that you would never even expect like inside your string, inside your plunger or other various tiny screw holes. It can even impact the inserts for your limbs. If ignored, rust can form and make things very difficult to adjust in the future, which can lead to a lot of work to fix or money to replace.

peeledRain can also create havoc during competition with your equipment like impacting plunger performance, making your handle slippery, and it can even impact limb reaction speed. However the most common and problematic is with your sight. Besides the potential of additional weight on the arrows, impacting your sight marks, there is the potential of faded sight marks or the sight mark tape losing adhesive and peeling completely off.

Although shooting in the rain is unavoidable for any competitive archer, there are a few things you can do before, during and after a rainy competition.

Pre-Competition

  • String: Make sure your string is waxed
  • Handle: Add grip (adhesive or wrap) to the handle
  • Pack: A Towel, Small Tarp, Plastic bags, Umbrella, Footwear, etc…

During Competition

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  • Before Each End:
    • String: Pluck your string to remove any accumulation of water.
  • Between Ends
    • Sight : Protect your sight with a Ziploc or small plastic bag when not shooting
    • Bow: Store your bow under a tent, tarp or umbrella
    • Finger Tab: Store your finger tab in a dry place.
  • During Breaks
    • All Equipment:  Use a towel to dry off all surfaces

Afterwards

  • String: Pluck the string before taking it off the bow.
  • All Metal and Plastic Equipment: Thoroughly dry off all surfaces and meticulously towel dry all small parts of your bow including sight, limb fittings, plunger, any screws, etc..
  • All Other Material Equipment: Take a hair dryer to your finger tab, sling, arm guard etc…
  • Bow & arrows: Towel dry each arrow shaft and dry your feathers.

Personally, I love shooting in the rain, it can be lots of fun if you are in the right mindset. So, if you are prepared, all you need to do enjoy it.

The Evolution of the Riser

2012-MidasIn this series I am going to discuss the evolution of the riser or the structural strength of the bow which houses the handle, to which the limbs are attached and other various accessories.  Originally the riser and the limbs were actually one piece, as you would see in a bare bow or instinctive bow, however in most modern bows the riser is completely independent component.

Historically, the original construction material was wood and sometimes combinations of different types of wood. Other historical materials included horn and sinew (A piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone or bone to bone; a tendon or ligament) to create composite bows.  Beautiful laminated wooden bows and risers are still manufactured for lightweight, beauty, tradition, and style.

1212210010_L1Although some bows are still manufactured from various laminated hardwoods and are quite durable, the development of other modern components with materials such as carbon arrows and various strings, wooden risers were strained.  Therefore bow makers were forced to invest in the development of other more durable materials for competitive archers to maintain that competitive edge.  Competition target archers need enough arrow speed with great sight marks, with minimal string creep, since they practice a lot of shooting (anywhere from 150 – 1000 arrows a day).  Wooden bows will eventually break under the additional loads of pressure applied from the stress and strain.

Today there are two primary types of risers used by Olympic target archers, CNC machined aluminium and Carbon fibre or a combination of the two.  In the past, other materials and manufacturing methods were used such as forging and casting.

Forging

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This method hammers a metal bar under high temperature and high pressure that results in an extremely strong riser. Typically forging is an expense development process which requires machining, straightening and painting with very few variations.

Casting

ben-castingUsually a mix of aluminium and magnesium were developed with either die-casting or sand-casting methods.  Still available in the market today with low-to-mid range bow are a relatively cheap to make once you have the mould.

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CNC Machined Aluminium

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A computer controlled method to machine a riser from stress-relieved aircraft grade aluminium alloy until they weigh less than 3 pounds. Sometimes, in order to reduce the costs, risers can be extruded through a die to minimise the amount of machining required. CNC risers are usually anodised to provide a hard wearing finish.

Carbon Fibre

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A method of layering synthetic fibres usually over a dense foam core mould, which is cured with resin epoxy to develop an extremely strong and lightweight riser. Although this method can be expensive to develop and test with, the process has almost infinite number of possibilities in terms of strength and flexibility of design.

Currently, the market is primarily CNC Machined Aluminium with overlayed Carbon Fibre to gain the best of both worlds. Who knows what the future holds for risers as target archers look to find the competitive edge and manufacturers investigate in cost savings.

Archery takes you places

ArcheryOnce you decide to become a competitive archer you will need to start planning to travel. Traveling is a big part of competitive archery, and the higher the level of competition, the further you need to travel.

Indoor archery can take you all over the planet at the upper levels however most competitions can be “mailed-in” because the conditions are controllable. For indoor archery, I have had the pleasure of visiting Louisville, Kentucky a couple of times for the NFAA Indoor Championships and Las Vegas, Nevada for the World Indoor Championships.

bb45s5817Since, hosting any outdoor archery tournament requires a fair amount of space, in Canada, you will need to travel a lot. Canada is the world’s second largest country by total area and stretches about 5000 KM (3000 Miles) from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  Since 2009 to participate in the Canadian National Outdoor Championships I have visited Laval, Quebec; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Delisle, Saskatchewan; Victoria, British Columbia and this year our family will travel to Woodstock, New Brunswick.

Even competing at the provincial level requires a lot of travel since the province of Ontario is larger than Egypt, Spain or France and therefore even for Provincial competitions you will have to travel a lot. I have visited London, Sudbury, Ottawa, New Market, Petawawa, Caledon, Athens, Peterborough, Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie. All this and I do not participate in every tournament.

Budget is a large factor in participation; our family uses our family vacation budget to participate in tournaments. Unfortunately, only the highest level of Canadian archer receive funding to help pay for travel, lodgings, tournament fees and equipment. For the rest of us, it often falls on us or our parents to help fund those Olympic dreams.

So if you are planning to venture in the realms of competitive archery, I offer the same advice that was afforded to me when I started. “Start saving now” however be assured that it is a worthwhile investment.

Archery Judge

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Have you ever thought about becoming an Archery Judge? For Canadians, there are basically five judging levels towards becoming eligible to judge at the Olympics:

  • Level 1: Local/Club Judge
  • Level 2a: Provincial Judge Candidate
    • Level 2b: Provincial Judge
  • Level 3a: National Judge Candidate
    • Level 3b: National Judge
  • Level 4a: Continental Judge Candidate
    • Level 4b: Continental Judge
  • Level 5a: International Judge Candidate
    • Level 5b: International Judge: (Eligible to judge at the Olympics)

With the exception of the local/club judge, each level requires successful completion of the previous level. A judge with candidate status means they have completed the training but may need additional practical experience to complete the certification. Also for national, continental and international level judging, the governing body (or bodies) must recommend the judge for advancement to the next stage.

Over the past weekend, we hosted a provincial archery judging clinic at our home instructed by International judge, Randall JonesI want to congratulate my father who is now a provincial judge candidate with the successful completion of the course and passing the exam. He will now need to judge three tournaments including one indoor, and one outdoor with one major tournament such as Ontario Target Championship to become a certified provincial judge.

If you are interested in becoming a Ontario provincial judge, the next judging clinic is being hosted by Archers of Caledon in May 11th and 12th. If you are interested in becoming a provincial judge, contact the Ontario Association of Archers for more information.

Getting Information

better-wayOne of the main reasons I started this blog was to help beginner archers find archery information. The biggest challenge I found starting out was getting information about various tournaments, equipment, etc…. thankfully I have an extremely helpful and knowledgeable coach who helped me find the information I wanted.

A lot of my readers are beginner archers and utilize this blog and many others to find archery information. Do you know other locations to find reliable archery information besides blogs?

world_archery_smallWorldwide the main governing body for archery is the World Archery Federation formerly known as Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc (FITA). It is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is composed of 140 national archery associations, and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Wikipedia

IFAA logoFor Field Archery the Worldwide governing body is the International Field Archery Association. The IFAA is an archery association that was founded 1970 when a group of field archers from the USA, Sweden, England, Scotland, Wales and Canada agreed on a set of basic rules by which Field Archery tournaments would be run. The IFAA now represents over 50 000 field archers in over 40 member countries from all continents.

Additionally, the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) that was created in 1984 by a dedicated group of bowhunters who shared the desire to ensure that bowhunting and the ideals of wildlife conservation will survive, expand and flourish to be shared, enjoyed and passed on to future generations. 

Archery Canada LogoFor North Americans there are a couple of major archery associations including the Archery Canada (formerly known as the Federation of Canada Archers or FCA). Archery Canada is members of both the World Archery Association and International Field Archery Association and is composed of nine provincial archery associations including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Yukon.  Archers who are members of the provincial clubs are automatically members of Archery Canada and are eligible to participate in national tournaments.

US ArcheryIn the United States, there are separate associations that are affiliated with the two major organizations. USA Archery is the member of World Archery Federation and the National Field Archery Association is the member of International Field Archery Association. Each USA association are comprised of state archery associations. Additional USA Archery has a special Junior Development Program known as JOAD. NFAA logoThe Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) is a program of USA Archery that teaches archery to young people, provides great opportunities for awarding achievement, and helps archers to enjoy the sport recreationally or progress to the excitement of competition!

At the local level, most archery clubs are affiliated with an Archery association and can provide information about national membership, opportunities for development, upcoming tournaments, and provide insight and order various archery equipment. To find an archery association in your area, start with the Wikipedia national members for World Archery Federation and for local clubs in your area try searching the web.

Please continue to visit my website for all kinds of information about archery, training, tips and tricks, upcoming tournaments and all things archery and continue to ask any questions you may have.

Moving Clicker Question?

Back-musclesConsistently using a clicker is one of the most difficult things for an archer to master, however once mastered you will love your clicker. Check out my earlier blogs about clickers and learning to shoot with a clicker.

Recently, one of my readers asked:

This is a bit late of a response, but I’ve started my clicker training and one of the things I’m having trouble with is nocking the arrow behind the clicker. I move the clicker with my fingers while nocking my arrow, but every time I do so, I move its position. 

First, there are three types of clickers…

riser-mount-clickerRiser-mounted clickers
The clicker is mounted directly on the risers and is still relatively vertical about 1-2 inches beyond the pluger/ pressure button.

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extended-riser-mountExtended Riser-mounted clickers
The clicker is still mounted to the riser however the click arm is adjusted horizontally beyond the face of the risers (1-3 inches beyond the front edge of the riser).

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sight-mount-clicker

Sight-mounted Clickers
The clicker is mounted to the arm of the sight and is used for archers whose arrows are well beyond the face of the riser (2-10 inches beyond the front edge of the riser at full draw).

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Ideally, the clicker should be positioned as vertical as possible and should extended a couple of mm beyond the bottom of the arrow. If the clicker sits on the top half of the arrow it may apply downward pressure and cause inconsistent arrow flight. So select a clicker that can be mounted as vertical as possible.

Next, I suggest you mark your riser/sight arm so you can ensure the clicker position before every use. Part of your pre-game bow assembly is to verify the clicker is in the correct position and the screws are tight secured. If you are still noticing that your clicker is still constantly moving the screws may not be providing a tight fit. Try replacing the attaching screw or add a locking or plastic washer.

I hope I have been able to answer your question and I would love to hear more from you.

Do you have any questions?
Are there any topics you would like me to cover?

Although, I will continue to write articles about my experiences, I want to hear from you. Everyone has questions, I would love to hear yours and I love answering them. I also encourage you to leave comments or share additional information on any article on my site.

Bow Tuning – Advanced Tuning

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So far in this series, we started by discussing the basic Olympic recurve bow setup. We covered what tools you require for bow tuning and to basically setup your bow. This included limb alignment, how to measure, installing the arrow rest, nocking point and setting up your basic center shot.

Now that your bow is basically setup, you have been practicing with it and have a fairly consistent arrow group it is time to do some advanced tuning of your bow. Remember that basic step-up and tuning can be done quickly to get you started however advanced tuning is a time consuming task through trial and error.  Proper shooting technique is always the first thing every archer should focus on. If you are still struggling with the basics then get your bow basically setup and work on consistency.  To avoid massive amounts of frustration, it is very important to focus on changing and tuning one thing at a time. Read my earlier blog about Consistency and Change.

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Next we will focus on individual areas for you to tune such as nocking points, bowstring fit, centering, clearance, brace height, sight alignment, tiller, clicker and plunger adjustment. Since I already created several blogs about tuning specific components your bow, you should start by reviewing the following…

Sight : Following the arrow and adjusting your sights

Clicker : Adjusting and shooting with a Clicker.

Arrows and various tuning methods : Arrow Series – Part 8 – Fine Tuning and Numbering

Remember, bow tuning is an advanced technique and if you can I recommend you employ the knowledge and experience of a trained coach, since another pair of eyes can really help make the difference between a good tuning and perfection. In the next part of the series we will continue and take a deeper dive into the remaining areas of your bow that can be tuned. 

Bow Tuning – Basic Setup

IMG_7304For a beginner, if you purchased your bow from an archery shop, hopefully they worked with you to “basically” setup and tune it for you. If you are in the unfortunate situation were you do not have a pro shop near by and/or purchased your bow online you will need to perform the basic setup yourself. This may be a difficult task if it is your first bow and you are a green horn to archery. Shooting form has the most impact on your performance and you need to be relatively consistent to see any major impact from bow tuning.

That said in the first couple of blogs, I will give a basic overview of how to setup your bow so you can begin shooting with it. Later in the series we will discuss the intricacies of tuning each area of the bow.

For any bow setup you should have a couple of basic bow tuning tools

IMG_7604Bow Square: T-shaped tool for measuring brace height, tiller and nock position.

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IMG_7606Nock Pliers:  Specially designed pliers for installing nock points.

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IMG_7608Bow Stringer: Provides a safe and convenient way to string recurve or long bows.

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You may also need an Allen Wrench Set (Hex Keys), Pliers, adjustable wrench, scissors and/or various screwdrivers depending on the composition of your equipment. Reference the manufacturer’s manuals for necessary tools. There are a ton of additional bow tuning tools such as a pressure button measuring tool, bow scale, electronic chronograph, bow press and leveling tools. These are optional and will not be used for the basic tuning.

Completely assemble your bow, for a quick and simple step-by-step guide check out my earlier post about Putting an Olympic Bow Together.

Make sure you gather all the pieces that you are going to use including the riser, limbs, stabilizer system, string, nock, arrow rest, sight, clicker and plunger. It is important to start with everything when tuning, since even one change can have you starting all over again.  Start by making sure that all the pieces fit together, and are correctly assembled so you have a tight fit.

In the first blog we will make sure your limb alignment is correct, the string and brace height are within specifications, and the tiller is properly set so the limbs are correctly set. Olympic bows are typically take-down bows with risers that have International Limb Fittings (ILF) so you can easily replace them. It is very important that limbs are aligned straight and that both limbs are aligned with the center of the grip. Some risers ILF slots can be adjusted side-to-side and you may need to make some adjustments to align the limbs.

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For good limb alignments the things to check are…

  • The limbs are correctly installed and the top limbs in the in top slot, and bottom in the bottom. (this may sound obvious but it would not be the first time someone got their limbs mixed up)
  • The string is lined up with the center of each limb and the center of the grip.
  • The limbs are not twisted – check out my earlier blog about Twisted Limbs.

brace-heightNext we need to make sure you are using the correct string for the bow. This is measured using the brace height or the distance between the center of the string and the grip when the bow is strung using a bow square. Each bow manufacturer provides the specific tolerances for the brace height however the following chart is a pretty good guide.

62” Bow            7 3/4″ – 8 1/4″              197 – 210 mm
64” Bow            8” – 8 1/2”                    203 – 216 mm
66” Bow            8 1/4” – 8 3/4”              210 – 223 mm
68” Bow            8 1/2” – 9”                    216 – 229 mm
70” Bow            8 3/4” – 9 1/2”              223 – 242 mm

If your brace height is just slightly out of range you can try to add a couple of string twists to adjust within the specific tolerance however never put more that 20 twists in a string.

tiller-measureNext we need to make sure the correct amount of draw weight is shared between the limbs. The difference between the top tiller and the bottom tiller will effect the bow reaction on release and your ability to hold steady at full draw and aim. Your hand on the grip is centered in the bow however your arrow is actually above center, the bottom limbs needs to be slightly heavier to compensate. This is accomplished on an Olympic bow using the adjustable tiller. Most risers are shipped with the tillers adjusted to the correct depth. Adjusting the tiller is an extremely advanced bow tuning technique, and should ONLY be adjusted by a someone with experience. The thing for you to check is to make sure that top tiller is about 1/8” to 1/4″ (3-8 mm) greater than the bottom tiller, if not take your bow to a professional pro-shop or coach to help you adjust it.

In the next post, we will cover installing the arrow rest, nocking point and setting up your center shot.

Bow Tuning – A Simplified Series for Beginners

IMG_7304Your bow is  very personal to you and should be tuned specifically to you and your shooting style. Since there are tons of in-depth, technical articles about bow tuning produced by many organizations and manufacturers, my goal is to simplify the concepts for beginner archers. Although, my primarily focus will be an Olympic recurve bow, some or most, if not all, the principals can be applied to other disciplines.

In this series we will discuss, but not limit to, nocking points, bowstring fit, centering, clearance, brace height, sight alignment, tiller, clicker, plunger adjustment and discuss various tuning methods. Remember that basic step-up and tuning can be done quickly to get you started however advanced tuning is a time consuming task through trial and error.  Proper shooting technique is the first thing every archer should focus on. If you are still struggling with the basics then get your bow basically setup and work on consistency. From there, a well tuned bow can help compensate for personal idiosyncrasies and help you achieve the maximum performance.

So, in preparation for this series, review and ensure you have the correct equipment for you. You need to have equipment you can use. If the bow is too small or light, or alternatively too heavy, in-depth tuning is not going to provide many advantages. Alternatively, if your equipment is just above or below were you need to be; advanced tuning can help rein a bow in. Also, make sure you have selected the correct arrows for your setup. Review my Arrow Series about arrow selection to make sure you have selected arrows that are best for you.

StudyingAlways remember that there are several steps to properly tune your bow for maximum performance. You should record every adjustment so you are able to retrace your steps should an adjustment provide negative results. Remember to adjust only one thing at a time and then test. Remember that even one piece of new equipment will require bow tuning and the amount will depend on the importance of that piece. For example, a new plunger a little bit of tuning and new limbs with higher poundage means you may be starting from square one.

Bow tuning is an advanced technique and should be only attempted by archers with at least a good understanding the bow mechanics. I recommend you employ the knowledge and experience of a trained coach. I still work with my coach to tune any new bow that I receive, since a second or third pair of eyes can really help make the difference between a good tuning and perfection.

Archery is not all about Winning

victoryaSport should be about participation and physical fitness, not solely about winning. Archery is a sport you can participate in for your entire life. One of the things my coach always told me was there is a real danger of achieving success too earlier in young archers. Young kids sometimes get use to winning, and they start to expect it. They never expect to have to work at it again to win and archery (and sport in general) loses more participants that way than any other.
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As a national level athlete, everyone expects me to win all the time. I sometimes want to yell out “It just doesn’t work that way”. There is very little difference between top level athletes and it is more than a game of inches. As you develop into one of those athletes that are lucky enough to gain sponsorship, there is even more pressure to win. This is why I believe some athletes turn to performance enhancing drugs or cheating.
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The movie “Cool Runnings” has an excellent scene where Derice Bannock ask Irv why he cheated…
CoolRunningsIrv: It’s a fair question. It’s quite simple, really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Understand?
Derice Bannock: No, I don’t understand. You won two gold medals. You had it all.
Irv: Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.
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Personally, it really troubles me to hear about athletes that use performance enhancing drugs or cheat, especially successful ones. They have made winning their whole life and they are not enough without it.
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As part of your New Year’s Resolution, why not make sure you are participating in Archery or any other sport for the right reasons. Whether your are participating for the competition, hunting, social aspect, physical fitness or just for pure fun, make sure you set your goals to participate whether you win or not.