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.

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.

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.

Exams

StudyingNext week exams start and I am working on managing my time. My education is extremely important and so is training. For me with university next year I need to make sure my grades are top notch so I can increase my odds and be accepted to the University of my choice. Once exams are complete I will continue my series on Bow Tuning and adding new blogs.

Time management is the key to any student athlete and I am working with my coach to create my new schedule.  This includes making sure I have enough time for homework, weight training, practice, and tournaments. When making a schedule you need to consider time commitments from those people that support you including your coach, parents, friends and even siblings. They all have things to achieve and they have schedules to consider.

If you are planning to be a competitive archer while you are a student, start working on managing your time and your personal schedule. Take a look at my Time Management page for the key factors to a successful time management schedule.

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.

Arrows Series – Part 8: Fine Tuning and Numbering

Now that your center-shot is right, you’ll need to continue to fine-tune your bow periodically to change as you grow and develop as an archer. Start by labelling and numbering your arrows. Labelling your arrows with your name or initials is required for tournaments and sometimes is the only way you can distinguish your arrows from someone else’s; especially if they have the same nocks, shafts and fletchings.

Numbering is a good idea so you can track your arrows, if you have a single stray arrow. If the stray is consistent on every end and the number is the same, it may be that something is not right with that arrow.

Once you know your arrows and can track them, you can further tune your bow by adjusting various components such as the tiller, plunger, nock height etc… . You can perform some or all of these various tuning test to help tune your bow for maximum performance.

Paper Tuning Test: Tuning test involving setting up a piece of paper on a frame, stretching the paper taught, and shooting field-tipped arrows (not broadheads, which will affect the arrow flight) through it starting about 6 ft away.

Bare Shaft Planing Test : Tuning process were one shoots a bare arrow (shaft with no fletchings) for comparison with fletched arrows.

Walk-back Test: Tuning process where groups of arrows are shot at increasing distances to give a useful combined test of both centre-shot and button tension.

Check out these two very useful resources: Easton Tuning Guide and Tenzone’s Bow Tuning test documents: for instructions with these tests and many more.

As you develop as an archer you will need to make changes and tune your bow. Remember that making multiple adjustments at the same time can be hard to track and can be very confusing. It is important to only make one change at a time and test again.

This concludes the Arrow Series; Thanks and good shooting.

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.