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.

Archery: One of the Safest Recreational Sport… No Really!

safety-firstThere is often a misconception that archery is very dangerous. Although a bow and arrow can be a lethal weapon, archery is actually one of the safest sports because there is a culture of safety. Statistically, archery is one of the safest recreational sports there is with only 0.65 injuries per 1000 participants as outlined in the USA National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and represents the hospitals which actually record the information. Check out the Archery Safety report from Arizona State and Fish Department from 2004.

This is largely because of the culture of safety that encompasses the sport. All coaches start by instructing their students with the fundamentals of archery safety. I remember my first lesson was about safety first. Nowadays, I regularly shoot through my house for practice and we never worry about danger because of the culture of safety within my house. Everyone follows the basic archery safety rules. For archers there are two basic areas of safety that you should maintain, personal safety including equipment and field or range safety.

Personal Safety

  • Always shoot with well maintained equipment and arrows
    • Always inspect your equipment and arrows before shooting
    • Before shooting each arrow inspect the arrow and nock for damage
    • Cracked or bent arrow must never be shot.
  • One should always use a bow-stringer for longbows and recurve bows. This will reduce the possibility of damage to the bow and injury to the person.
  • Shoot with good archery form ensuring you wear proper attire and a properly positioned arm-guard.
  • Never, ever shoot while intoxicated or with anyone who is.

Good Rule of Thumb: If in doubt, stop and get it checked it out.

Field and Range Safety

  • When shooting…
    • Do not shoot with ANYONE in front of the shooting line
    • Do not nock an arrow while anyone is in front of the shooting line
    • Only nock an arrow whwn you are on the shooting line and after the signal to start shooting
    • A loaded bow is only pointed at the assigned target
    • NEVER EVER point an arrow at anyone, whether on a bow or not.
    • Arrow must never be shot straight up into the air
  • When not shooting
    • Pay attention and be respectful of other archers
    • Once finished shooting you must be behind the shooting line and paying attention
  • When retrieving arrows from the target
    • Leave your bow behind the shooting line (hang-up your bow), you will need two free hands to collect your arrows from the target
    • Always walk forward to collect the arrows, never run.
    • Always pick-up arrows on the way first. Whether they yours or not.
    • Always walk up to the side of the target butt, so as to not to accidentally walk into the rear of the arrows lodged in the target.
    • One person at a time should withdraw their arrows from the target.
    • When withdrawing arrows from the target, ensure no-one is standing behind you. Pulling arrows may require a lot of force and they can come out of the target suddenly and could hurt someone standing behind them.
    • When carrying arrows, always hold them to your side with the points down.
    • Make sure that EVERYONE has returned behind the shooting line before starting the next shooting end.

Individual ranges may have additional rules specific to their courses, all ranges will adhere to the basic archery range safety rules. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional archer, if we all continue to practice the culture of archery safety we can enjoy the sport for many years to come.

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.

Arrows Series – Part 6: Fletching and Indexing

Now that you have cut your arrows you need to fletch them. Fletchings are found at the back of the arrow, traditionally made from bird feathers and are used to stabilize the arrow by creating a small amount of drag.

Wikipedia: Fletching (also known as a flight) is the aerodynamic stabilization of arrows or darts with materials such as feathers, each piece of which is referred to as a fletch. The word is related to the French word “fleche”, meaning “arrow,” via Old French; the ultimate root is Frankish fliukka. A fletcher is a maker of arrows.

Nowadays, there are two types of fletchings, real or synthetic feathers and plastic vanes. Some target archers have them attached to the arrow with a slight twist to increase arrow spin because a spinning projectile is more stable and helps reduce the effects of Archer’s Paradox (We will discuss Archer’s Paradox in more detail in the Part 7 of the series).

The most conventional style of indexing is a three-feather fletching where feathers or vanes are mounted to the arrow, evenly distributed around the spine of the arrow. One feather, called the “cock”, is set at a right angle to the string and pointed at the archer and the other two fletchings on the riser side are angled up and down away from the bow. This is done so the fletchings/vanes will not contact the bow when the arrow is shot. For compound archers the cock feather’s indexing depends on the type of arrow rest.

Quick Tip: Choose a different colour for the “cock” feather. It is great reminder to always point it towards you and away from the riser for proper nocking of the arrow.

Fletching an arrow is a time consuming and tedious task to do accurately by hand. In modern times, most people use a fletching jig, especially to fletch arrows with a slight twist. Check out my earlier blog about fletching jigs.

It is important to understand that once an arrow is released it starts to bend and if the arrow is not correctly indexed the feathers or vanes will make contact with the riser. This will cause the arrow to react differently than expected, distort your feathers and possibly cause damage to you or your equipment.

2012 Ontario Target Championships

This past weekend, Algoma Rod and Gun Club in the Sault Ste Marie hosted the Ontario Provincial Target Championships. Sault Ste Marie is situated in Northern Ontario on the eastern point of Lake Superior and 12 hours away from Kingston. Wow, what a long drive for my family, and to give some perspective, in Europe you could travel from Rome, Italy to Frankfurt Germany in the same amount of time. Although it was a long drive 85 of the top archers from around the province travelled to compete in the two-day tournament with a FITA 1440 on day one and a FITA 720 on the second day.

Upon return from the National Championships in British Columbia, I finally received my amazing new bow from Cartel Doosung.  With only two weeks of practice, typically you wouldn’t change anything however this bow is perfectly suited for me; possibly the best bow I have ever shot. Since this is really the last competitive tournament of the outdoor season, I decided to use it.  In my opinion, it was a very good decision. The winds were extremely tricky; flags on targets beside each were other pointing in opposite directions. Every one was having troubles with them. For only two-weeks practice I feel I shot extremely well, perhaps the best I have shot all season, and was able to capture the Bronze medal.  I know this will translate into success in the upcoming indoor season and next year’s outdoor season.

This tournament was also a complete family event as all my siblings participated. My sister Sydney competed in the female cadet recurve division finishing fourth. Joshua competed in the Male Cub Recurve division finishing second, even though he could not complete the tournament because of a shoulder injury. Last and not least, my youngest brother Cole competed in the Male Pre-cub Recurve Division also capturing silver.

It was a great successful tournament and a great family trip since we camped at the KOA campgrounds. I am already looking forward to next year’s family tournament trip.

Shooting with a Clicker

Every competitive Olympic recurve archer uses a draw length checker or “clicker”. A clicker is a device that assists an archer to draw their bow consistently.  The clicker rides along the side of the arrow and produces a “clicking” sound after it passes over the point, hence the name “clicker”. By consistently measuring the draw length of the arrow, you get a consistent power off the bow and therefore a more consistent grouping of arrows resulting in better scores.

There is a lot of debate of when you should start to use a clicker. Anyone who wants to advance and develop smaller groups should start using a clicker as soon as possible. HOWEVER, since clickers take a lot of discipline, patience and practice, maturity is the key factor; age maturity and shooting maturity. If you are disciplined and maintaining consistent form, then you are ready for a clicker.

Recently, one of my readers asked:

I just wanted to ask, with regards to the form, if I should be expanding my chest during the draw (pulling your shoulders back towards the spine) in order to activate the back muscles to take the load rather than the arms.

Shooting a clicker is a relatively simple process however; it requires the use of back muscles to create something called back tension. By compressing the rhomboid major muscles (between the shoulder blades and spine) together, it will draw the arrow past the clicker for the shot when you are at full draw.

First, you need to determine the ideal location for your clicker. Have a friend mark where the tip of the arrow is at full draw. This will be the initial starting location for your clicker. There are tons of clickers on the market however there are two basic types of clickers; riser-mounted or sight-mounted. Depending where the initial starting location is measured it will help you determine the type you need.

Once you have mounted your clicker follow this shot process.

  1. Nock the arrow, with the arrow under the clicker and on the arrow rest.
  2. Raise the bow and draw towards your anchor point.
  3. Continue to draw the arrow until the tip of the point is still just in contact with the clicker.
  4. Aim and while still maintaining, squeeze your rhomboid major muscles together.
  5. Once you hear the “click”, relax your fingers and finish the shot.

It is important that you are able to reach your anchor point at full draw. The clicker needs to be within the distance so your rhomboid major muscles can activate the shot. Remember, over the course of an entire day of shooting, your muscles weaken and you will have to work harder to draw the same amount, it may need to be adjusted to find the ideal location for entire day of shooting.

Important: Once you have determined your clicker location, leave it alone. Making any adjustments will affect all your sight marks, and they will need to be adjusted too.

If you have never used your rhomboid major muscles before this is going to take some time to master. Practice using your rhomboid major muscles with the following exercise.

With palms down and your forearms parallel to the floor, bring your fingertips together at chin level. Try squeezing your rhomboid major muscles together. You should witness your fingers spread apart about an inch. This is all the space you need to activate the clicker at full draw.

You can also check out this website for exercises to help develop strength in your rhomboid muscles.

The mastery of a clicker is essential for any competition archer. You will need to work on it regularly however once you master the process a clicker will become your best friend.

Arrows Series – Part 2: Measurements

As we start to dive deeper about arrows, my goal is to simplify the information so young archers can have a good basic understanding; it is not meant to be all in compassing or a physics lesson, remember I am still learning too. Therefore, the next step is to understand how arrows are measured and how to determine draw length.

The Archery Trade Association (ATA) formerly the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization (AMO) has the following standard for measuring draw length:

AMO DRAW LENGTH STANDARD

For Manufacturers

Draw length is a specified distance, or the distance at the archer’s full draw, from the nocking point on the string to the pivot point of the bow grip (or the theoretical vertical projection of a tangency line to the pivot point parallel to the string) plus 1 3/4”. Draw length from pivot point shall be designed at DLPP (Draw Length Pivot Point) and shall be called TRUE DRAW LENGTH.

EXAMPLE: 26 1/4” DLPP plus 1 3/4” is the equivalent of 28” draw.

For Dealers and General Use

For practical reasons not requiring precise terms, draw length is the distance, at the archer’s full draw, from the nocking point on the string to the back of the bow at the arrow rest.

EXPLANATION: The standard Manufacturers is consistent with the Bow Weight Standard as related to the pivot point. The DLPP plus 1 3/4” is compatible to previous concepts of draw length. Draw length for Dealers and General Use relieves the burden of preciseness not required for general use and facilitates determining arrow length. THIS STANDARD SUPERSEDES THE PREVIOUS STANDARD.

This can be technical and confusing, however with most recurve risers, the distance of the draw length pivot point (DLPP) to the front edge of the riser is 1 ¾”. Therefore, in general terms…

Your approximate draw length is equal to the distance from your string to the front edge of the riser at full draw.

You could use a measuring tape to measure this distance however unless you have a very consistent anchor point and good form you will have varying results, since you should measure several times. Therefore, any archer who is at the point they are fining tuning arrows for high-level of performance they should consult a professional. Otherwise, I would suggest you use the following simple method to determine your draw length.

Arms Length method

Using a ruler (or other straight stick), place one end in the “V” of your neck (where your neck meets your chest ) and relaxed, reach straight out until your palms touch the ruler. At the point for your fingers is your approximate draw length. Your arrows should always be at least 1” to 2” longer than your draw length for safety reasons and young archers often need to set their arrow length little longer ( 2” to 3” ) to allow for growth.

This gives you a basic understanding of draw length and how arrows are measured, however, things get very complicated for young competitive archers who are still developing and growing in size once you add-in arrow stiffness and flex, arrow cost, type of equipment and bow weight.

It is important to understand how things are measured so you can understand why you are using the arrows you have.  I highly recommend you visit your local archery professional for assistance.