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.

Hunger Games great for Archery

Anytime a movie features an archer the archery business gets a good shot in the arm, however with the success of a blockbuster like The Hunger Games, and with less than 100 days until the Olympic Games, I believe it is a great time for archery coaches and businesses everywhere. Many businesses are already reporting increases in business since the movie opened. I personally have witnessed a significant jump in the interest in archery recently when I had 10 new people show up to join my school archery club at our last meeting.

The Hunger Games is about a game show where young people between 12-18 years old are pitted into a life-or-death situation. Twenty-four Tributes, as they are called in the game, one male and one female from each of the 12 districts in a post-apocalyptic future to fight each and the elements until there is a single victor. The movie is based on the first book on the young adult trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. With the popularity of the film, which has grossed over $350 million worldwide so far, Loinsgate has already announced it has plans for a sequel based on the second book “Catching Fire” and it will be directed by Francis Lawrence.

The movie centers on Katniss Everdeen, played by actress Jennifer Lawrence (no relationship to Francis), who uses her hunting archery skills to survive. Jennifer developed her archery skills in preparation for the role under her mentor Khatuna Lorig. Khatuna, originally from Georgia and a naturalized American, is a five-time Olympian and earned a bronze medal as part of the women’s team at the 1992 Olympics.  With the movie having a strong female heroine, I am sure the interest of young women all over the world will reach new heights.

If you have not had an opportunity to see the movie yet, I highly recommend it and afterwards contact you local archery club to try archery for yourself.

Pulling Arrows

One of the first things every archer has to do is pull their arrows from their target. As an archer develops and increases in draw weight, arrows can become lodged deeper and deeper into a target making them more difficult to pull out. Additionally, new target materials make this more difficult since they are denser, more rigid, and designed to last longer.

Arrows should be removed on the same angle at which they entered the target and while twisting an arrow can help loosen the arrow, it can also crack the shaft and damage it, so this is not a recommended approach. So, if an archer is struggling retrieving their arrows they can unintentionally bend or break them.

This can be a problem, especially for younger archers, who have bows that drive the arrow deep into the target but have not yet developed the strength to retrieve their arrows.

Generally, pulling arrows doesn’t have to be difficult with a little preparation before shooting.

First, apply arrow lube to your arrows. By lubricating your arrows, it makes it easier to pull your arrows from the target. Alternatively you can use bar of soap.

Next, get yourself an arrow puller. An arrow puller wraps around the arrow providing a better grip to help remove a stubborn arrow.

Every archer should have an arrow puller, so when selecting one, make sure it is large enough to wrap around your arrows, yet small enough to work within tight groups of arrows. Check out Cartel Doosung’s new Midas arrow puller, it is small, inexpensive and very effective, and it is the one I use.

Sometimes, an archer can miss the target and the arrows find themselves in more difficult material for removal such as the wooden target frame, a tree stump or even a concrete wall.  Although arrows stuck in concrete wall are lost, arrows stuck in wood sometimes can be retrieved by loosening the wood around the arrow with a sharp knife or a hammer and chisel. If attempting such an extraction, remember to work slowly and avoid damaging the arrow or point.

New Tournament Target Faces for 2012

On December 27, 2011, FITA Council approved the introduction of new target faces mandatory for World Archery Indoor Championships.

The change includes the removal of the extra rings on the 40cm vertical (and triangular) triple face. There is a distinction between regular triple faces and Recurve (R) and Compound (C) 40cm triple faces. The 40cm triple face (both triangular and vertical) will differ in the size of the 10 ring: the 40cm-R has a 40mm 10 ring, the 40cm-C has a 20mm 10 ring and the combined triple face has the two 10-rings.

The changes also affect tie-breakers, now for both team and individuals tie breakers will be determined by the greatest number of 10’s and then the greatest numbers of 9’s. If a tie remains, athletes still tied will be declared equal. For position in match play, a coin toss will determine declared equal archers position.

I am interested in seeing and using these new targets since the new rule took effect as of January 1, 2012 it makes the Vertical R and C triple faces mandatory for the upcoming World Indoor Archery Championship in February.

To review the rule changes and decision announced by the FITA council, please check out FITA website.

Simple Archery Exercises

One misconception about archery training is you need to do a lot of heavy weight training to reach the next level, and this is simply not true. In fact, heavy weight training can actually hinder you archery career. If you develop very large biceps it can hamper your form since you may have problem creating straight lines from the arrow through your anchor point and the back of your elbow.  Since long, lean, strong muscles are preferred over large muscle mass, it is important to do exercises with less weight and more repetitions rather than heavier  weights.

For younger archers, that are still growing, you do not want to hurt yourself or get ahead of your natural body development. Any type of weight training before your body is ready to accept it can do more damage than good long term.

Below are a couple of simple exercises to help increase you upper body strength for archery.

Open Door Push-outs

Anyone can develop some muscle and endurance without heavy weights, by using your body weight. Open Door Push-outs are a safe and easy way to train your back shoulder muscles for archery.

  • Using an open doorway, standing with your feet flat on the floor and slightly less than arm-length away, place your hands on either side of the door frame
  • In a very controlled manner, lean towards the door, similar to a push-up
  • Once your arms are at least 90 degrees, push yourself back out again.
  • Repeat several times.

Once you have mastered the above without any problems, you can vary it by standing further back or doing deeper push-ups.

Ball Exercise

Since it is almost impossible to be completely still for any amount of time, it is important to develop a fine controlled approach with shooting. One simple training exercise that will help develop a strong and controlled bow arm is the simple ball exercise.

  • Standing perpendicular to a wall and using a volley or soccer ball
  • Hold ball at shoulder height at arm length against the wall with a flat hand.
  • Using only your arm move the ball in a figure eight motion
  • Set a timer for 30 seconds.
  • Turn around and repeat with the other arm

Once you have mastered the above without any difficulties, you can increase the time by 30 second intervals to help build control.

Although, these exercises should be safe for just about everyone, it is important, especially for young archers, to consult a qualified archery coach before you add any type of training to their regular program.

Practice can be Fun

In the seasons between indoor and outdoor, it is time to practice. In an individual sport like archery, practicing can be boring, for target archers we are spending a lot time doing the same thing over and over again.  It can be hard to track your progress since all athletes experience growth and development like the NASDAQ industry average with lots of peaks and valleys.

Practicing is an absolute must if any athlete wants to improve however you can help yourself keep focused and motivated by changing things up, working towards the future and adding a little fun.

Different Distances

It is always a good idea to practice all the distances that you need to compete in for a tournament; however, there are several reasons why an archer should practice at longer distances. First, practicing to shoot longer distances will automatically improve shorter distances.  Second, it helps develop strength and endurance since you need to hold your arm up higher and longer. Lastly, especially for younger archers, it prepares you for the future, since every older age category moves further and further back.

Change Targets

For target archers, the smaller the grouping of arrows the better. You can help develop tighter groups by shooting at smaller target faces. Indoors, try a 3 spot target or 5 spot field face for target practice. Try novelty target faces or make your own target using an old catalogue. To this day, my favourite is to shoot balloons, much like a carnival. You can set up different sizes and shapes. Small balloons are great for accuracy and long thin ones help with groupings since you often need 3 arrows to pin and pop the balloon.

Noise

In most individual sports, like archery, athletes practice by themselves which allows them to focus without distractions, however tournaments are rarely completely quiet. A lot of archers end up shooting lower scores simply because of the noise, so why not have some practice with noise and distractions. Invite friends over to shoot with you, play loud music or have friends TRY to “safely” distract you while shooting. Since you cannot predict or avoid distractions at a tournament; prepare for it.

Scoring

A lot of young archers get stressed out at tournaments when they have to score OR when they are score watching. When you are young and still developing your math skills, it can be very stressful to keep score with everyone looking over you.When you are at home, practice quickly adding scores together to become good at it. Score watching is can be very stressful no matter your age or experience, sometimes you get caught up in the score for each end, how far behind you might be, or even focusing on one bad arrow.  Practice focusing on consistency and grouping ; ignore the score because if the group is good you can always move your sight.

By keeping focused, practicing, keeping it fresh and fun and being prepared for all types of tournaments you can enjoy the sport for the long term and reach your goals with a smile on your face.

Weather Conditions

For outdoor tournaments, it has been my experience that organizers only cancel archery tournaments for lightning and tornadoes.  Therefore, as an archer, you have to shoot through a wide variety of weather conditions. Although wind is a common troubling weather condition for all archers there are many other types of conditions can also adversely affect your shots at any given tournament.

SUNNY

 “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Steve Martin

Most people would think that a bright sunshiny day would be the ideal conditions for shooting outdoors and this is “usually” the case. However, it depends on how the target field has been setup. If the sun is behind the target, then you can have the sun shining directly into your eyes, which it not that ideal. If the sun is directly behind you and the target has a reflective surface you have the same effect.

Sun reflects off everything, so if it is bright in your eyes you need to protect your eyes with a brimmed hat or sunglasses.  Although most tournaments try to abide by the rules about direct and reflective sunlight it is not always possible.

WINDY

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  Jimmy Dean

The wind conditions are something every archer needs to watch. They are completely unpredictable and can quickly change speed, direction and location.  Windy conditions can be a nightmare for young archers who have a lightweight bow or low draw-weight for different reasons.  Lightweight bows sometimes can become a sail, catching the wind, creating a constant fight to keep it steady and aligned. Low draw-weight bows usually force the arrows into a greater arch to reach the same distance; therefore, they are in the air longer and more affected by strong winds.

Quick Tip: Check the trees, grass, and flags to understand the wind through your shooting plane.

Most archers need to be patient when shooting in high winds and wait for as long as possible for low winds. Remember, the more you practice in different kinds of winds the more you learn about how they affect you.

RAINY

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain”Unknown

Unlike wind, which can blow your arrows off the target, rain only adds weight to the arrow and causes the arrow to fly a little lower.  Try to remember to keep strong through the entire shot and aim a little high. If your shots were weaker than normal, the rain will make that mistake 10 times more noticeable than it would be in clear weather conditions and produce lower scores.

HOT AND HUMID

“I like to play long matches and in hot weather. Those are my conditions. I like it hot because it’s bad for other players. A lot of them don’t like it hot.”Yuliana Fedak

Most new archers do not think about humidity affecting their arrows however, if the air is heavy it can cause varying effects. If it is very humid, it can cause your arrows not to spin as quickly leaving your shots grouping lower since they do not gain as much distance.

The heat affects the archer too with hot and sweaty hands. Sweaty hands affect your grip on the bow possibly changing your point of power and the heat causing your hands to swell which in turn affects your feel for the string in your fingers. Another possible affect is quicker dehydration resulting in loss of energy that is extremely bad for any endurance athlete. Therefore, in the heat it is important to know how you react in the heat and humidity and know how to keep cool.

FOGGY

“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.” Joseph Conrad

Shooting in the fog can be one of the most difficult and dangerous weather conditions. Whenever you are unable to see the target or able to review the shot and compensate it can be extremely trying on your patience and self-esteem. Some archers absolutely refuse to shoot in the fog with associated dangers and for fear of loss of arrows and the associated costs.  If you choose to continue to shoot in the fog focus on hitting the target and understand that tight grouping of your arrows can be a real problem.

Quick Tip: Numbering your arrows and tracking your arrows can help so you can adjust your shots.

COLD

“It doesn’t matter if the water is cold or warm if you’re going to have to wade through it anyway” Teilhard de Chardin

Although outdoor tournaments are rarely held during frigid weather with conditions of snow or hail, it can be very cold in the morning at the start of a tournament in the spring or fall.  Muscles tend to tighten up and you can injury yourself if you do not properly warm-up or wear appropriate clothing. Make sure you are appropriately dressed in layers that can be shed as the day warms up.

“I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore – not even in batting practice.” Hank Aaron

It takes time to figure out what happens to your shots in the different types of weather conditions; therefore, it is important to practice a lot, in all types of weather, to prepare for not so ideal weather conditions.

 “Practice is the best of all instructors.” Publilius Syrus

Thanks to Luke Pacholski for the use of his web images