September Update

With the official start of autumn, I thought I would take some time to write to all my followers to let them know what is going on with me.

???????????????????????????????A quick recap, August 7th – 10th was the Ontario Summer Games , which was  held in Windsor Ontario.  Since I am no longer eligible to compete at the Ontario Summer Games, because I have competed at the Canada Games, I decided to coach the Eastern Zone team.  This year was supposed to be Niagara Falls but there was a change in plans and the city of Windsor was kind enough to take over. They did a very good job with such sort short notice.

???????????????????????????????Being the coach at an event like this was a very different experience for me. At times I forgot that I was not shooting and other times various people forgot I was the coach.  One great experience was coaching my little brother Joshua, at 14 years old, in a very competitive field in his very first summer games.  The other athletes seemed to tower over him and yet he was able to capture the Men’s cadet recurve silver medal.  This year delivered the best results for the eastern zone archers since I have started participating, with almost half our athletes going home with medals.   I would like to believe in some small way my coaching assisted our athletes, probably not since they are all amazing athletes without my help, but it is nice to think about.

Recently, I had a couple of questions posted to my website and thought I would take time to answer them now….

My 3X10 arrows for 18M/40cm score is ~ 175 for a long time (both indoor and outdoor). I feel hard to improve the score/consistency. How can I make a breakthrough? I am a 12 years girl. Maybe I should buy more expensive arrows?

Having had been 12 at one point of my archery life, I can understand the frustration you are feeling. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about your set up, or form, or even how much you practice. However, that being said this would be my advice to you. (Assuming form is fine) I would try to see if there is a better arrow spine that would work better for you and maybe try to see if you can increase your draw weight a little (do NOT jump too much if you can’t handle it). The draw weight should help you get some more speed off the arrow making it more forgiving. The arrow spine/type sounds like it could be the main issue, you may not have enough or you may have too much flexibility in your arrows for your draw weight so it is causing it to fly crazy. Keep in mind given your age you may have to change a lot because you are at a point in your life where your body is making a lot of changes too, like your height. Remember when you are making changes it is just like a science experiment, where you change only ONE factor at a time otherwise you don’t know if you are making it better or worse, and you won’t know what is causing it.  Also make sure you remember where everything was before you make changes so that you can go back to it if worse comes to worse.

How to avoid bow arm (and shoulder) drop right after release? My understanding is that the bow arm should be strong and straight, and only drop the bow hand (dog sit) with the help of sling. My bow is very heavy; I have a tendency not to hold the bow strong after release. Maybe my bow is too heavy. I also shoot very fast because of not to holding bow long enough. How can I overcome these bad habits?

If you are finding it hard to hold the weight you have, then yes you should take off enough weight so that you can hold and control the bow.  Periodically I take off the weight, so I can make sure I have the basics of archery correct. Don’t worry, practicing and training will allow you to reintroduce the weight back in no time whatsoever, but listen to your body first and foremost.

It is important to stay strong and straight throughout the shot however remember not to be tense. When you see other archers “dropping” their wrist, this is result of the stabilizer when it moves with ease, out of your hand and swings itself down. So it looks like your wrist is bending but it really isn’t, your wrist is just tagging along for the ride.

Concerning shooting too fast, if you are finding you don’t have enough energy between shots as you practice or compete, you should practice waiting a little bit of time between shots. This is the 10th step in the 10 steps of archery.  It is important to take your time as well as be fluid with your form, so that you are building up the power to shoot the shot.

I hope this helps, :)

redeemerunivThis summer was very nice, it was a much-needed break from the university grind and an opportunity to shoot, work and enjoy life. I’m kind of sad to see the summer ending and having to leave all my friends and family behind once more, but on the bright side I get to see all my new school friends again. This school year should be a lot of fun looking forward to it, and I’m really looking forward to diving deeper into my chosen field of study (Kinesiology) after completing most of my mandatory subjects.  This year will be special as my younger sister has also chosen Redeemer University to study and I will always have someone around who gets me and is ready to give me a hug if I need it.  She has chosen to study International Development in hopes that she can work for a NGO and change the world for the better.

I know I should be blogging more however my first priority is university, and if there is time for anything else I will do it.

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

NB 2013 1 437

  • 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.

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 continued

IMG_7304Now that your bow is together we need to make sure the arrow rest is installed correctly, install a nocking point and adjust the center-shot. It is my recommendation to always install the arrow rest before installing your nocking point. So, let’s start with the arrow rest.

Installing the Arrow Rest

There are a lot of types or arrows rests available on the market. Check out my earlier blog about the various types of arrow rests. For this blog, I will be focusing on the most commonly used one for Olympics style bows, the pressure/plunger rest.

The main purpose of the arrow rest is to hold the arrow in place until the arrow is shot. A  plunger style arrow rest is designed with a support arm just long enough to hold the arrow, with a slight inward angle to the bow, and it moves out of the way with the shot.  They should also be adjusted so that the support arm does not protrude beyond the outside of the arrow. This is to minimize contact with the arrow and minimize impact on the arrow flight. Lastly the arrow rest must be positioned so the plunger/pressure button is square to the center of the arrow.

arrow-rest-backhole

Olympic recurve bows come with a threaded hole for the plunger/pressure button and the arrow rest typically is installed and centered over the hole as the arrow rest and plunger work in conjunction with each other. Note, some risers have two holes and you should use the back one as a starting point which should be directly over the riser’s pivot point.

Pivot Point: The deepest part of the riser handle.

Alternatively, if your bow did not come with a threaded hole or you are using a traditional bow the arrow rest should be installed at the contact point of the arrow onto the rest directly above the “pivot point” of the bow. You may also want to investigate other types of arrow rests to match your style of bow.

Nock Pointing

Although some recurve archers use a tie-on nocking point, I recommend starting with a simple clamp-on type nock. Clamp-on style nocks are fairly easy to install and simply require your bow square and nocking pliers.

Nocking point: The location you attach your nock, it is usually measured 5mm (1/4”) above square from the center of the plunger and arrow rest.

measure-nockingAttach your bow square to the string so it is centered on the plunger ( or plunger hole) then measure up 5mm, attach a clamp-on nock, and secure it with nocking pliers. If your arrows are loose on your string, you can consider adding a nock serving for a better fit however once the nock is installed you can begin shooting.

Center-shot and the Plunger

For an Olympic archer the plunger (pressure button) is probably the best thing to attach to your bow for fine-tuning. The plunger can be adjusted to help match an archer’s release and counteract a lot of archer’s paradox. For a better understanding of arrow selection, center-shot and Archers Paradox check out my earlier blog.

To set your center-shot, set you plunger to the middle and install it in the threaded hole. Attach an arrow to the string, below the nock, and from behind the bow check to see if the tip is pointing slightly to the left (or right for left-handers).

center-shot

Although adjusting the plunger WILL require a trial and error approach, it is important to set the plunger to the middle position using the screw on the end. The amount of pressure setting for your plunger will depend on the archer, the limb poundage and your form. The best approach is to start with medium pressure and adjust accordingly after shooting a couple of arrows (Typically clockwise for more pressure and counter-clockwise for less).

Your bow should be basically setup and ready for you to focus on  developing consistent form. In upcoming blogs I will dive deeper into fine-tuning your bow.

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.

limb_align2

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.

Anchor for increased Accuracy

All archers need an unchanging anchor point for their draw hand, a location on or below your chin to ensure you have a consistent starting point for your hand and string. One of my Tumbler followers, Andy, asked…

…Since I’m just an amateur with the bow and don’t have any training… why you and archers in general, when they stretch to the full pose, set the hand that is stretching the string with the arrow bellow the chin? That helps for a better accuracy shoot? or is because the type of bow?(sorry I don’t know any terminology if you can help me with that too it would be cool). Thanks for the help…

There are four basic locations for an anchor point; under-the-chin, beside the face, over-hand anchor, and floating anchor, all have there pros and cons depending on your shooting style.

Under the Chin      

Draw the string to the center of the nose and middle of chin. A good anchor point consists of an unchanging triangle with the string touching the center of your nose and the center of your chin and your thumb tucked squarely under your jaw line and the shelf of your index finger riding along your jaw. (Alternatively string to the side of nose and the corner of your mouth however this is typically less accurate for recurve archers and better for peep sight usage on compounds.)

  • Advantages: This anchor has multiple touch points for triangular consistency and helps avoid overdrawing.
  • Disadvantages: It takes a little longer to position and master, and can be less comfortable depending on the archer.

Side of Face

Typically the string is drawn back until the tip of the index finger is at the corner of the mouth with the hand tight against the face. Some archers tuck their thumb under their jaw.  Depending on the tournament, some archers can face walk for difference distances. (move your hand up and down on your face)

  • Advantages: Anchor style can be established quickly and allows bare-bow to sight down the arrow shaft.
  • Disadvantages: This style is not typically as precise as under the chin and sometimes leads to plucking the arrow string.

Over-hand (Mechanical Release)

Typically over-hand is associated with a mechanical release. Mechanical release aids offer less interference with the string and are most commonly used by compound shooters and hunters. When having an over-hand release for a compound shooter you would have either your knuckle(s) or your thumb touching behind the corner of your jaw.

  • Advantages: Very accurate and it allows your elbow to align with the arrow at release
  • Disadvantages: Takes longer to set and position and a release aid needs to be setup based on the individual archer. Also since it very accurate scores are VERY high in competition and you have less room for error.

Floating Anchor (or partly floating)

A floating anchor is another option for some archers, the shape of some people’s jaw can make it difficult to do an under the chin anchor position. Some people take this position literally and have their hand floating in the middle of nowhere; this is really hard to make consistent because you have no point of reference to make the anchor position easily repeatable. However, you could go with a ‘partly’ floating anchor where you can have your hand touching a point of your jaw (or more if you can).

  • Advantages: Can provide an easier anchor point  for people with wider jaw lines.
  • Disadvantages:  Typically, not as consistent or as easily repeatable.

The anchor needs to be consistent and repeatable  on every shot. Some tips include…

  • Keep your head straight and still and bring the string to you so you can easily make your anchor and draw length consistent.
  • Chewing bubble gum, talking, or even moving your chin will result in inconsistent shots and therefore lower scores since you are changing the angle of the string as our jaw moves.
  • Keeping your shoulders relaxed and in their sockets and pointing your draw arm directly behind you.
  • Check your string alignment by matching the blurred image of the string in relation to the bow’s riser.

You will want to establish as many touch points as you can manage to help develop the most consistent anchor. A great consistent anchor leads to a happier more consistent archer.