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.

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Membership Benefits

Archery is a social sport and therefore most archers belong to a local archery club either in their school, community or city.  

Membership offers a lot of benefits including access to the clubs facilities for practice, availability to classes and coaches, knowledge sharing and a place to meet new friends with similar interests. Some additional benefits may include club leagues and tournaments, celebrations, club medal ceremonies, and an opportunity to measure your development through programs like CanBow. Membership to a club can also be a huge savings in shooting fees and tournament fees. My personal club is the South Nation Archery Club in Winchester Ontario, because of the level of coaching I receive from Kathy Millar and Larry Smith.

For those archers who want to participate in tournaments, they usually become members of the provincial and/or national archery association who are members of the world archery association. Membership to these associations provide additional benefits like eligibility for provincial and national teams, access to all provincial and national level tournaments, judge and coaching clinics, and the right to vote on issues and changes effecting your association.  One key benefit is insurance coverage, since archery is viewed as a fairly dangerous sport, although statistically it is one of the safest, most clubs require members to join to gain the advantages of insurance to participate in club events. Insurance coverage helps protect the archers, coaches and the club itself from the worse case scenarios.

If you are interested in participating in archery tournaments in Canada, I recommend you join your local and/or provincial association. In Ontario the provincial archery association is the Ontario Association of Archers (OAA) and the national archery association is Archery Canada (FCA).

Travelling with Archery

As soon as I decided to take archery outside, an archery friend offered only one piece of advice. “Start saving now”. I travel by car for just under 2 hours each way to train with my coach Kathy Millar of South Nation Archery in Winchester Ontario. Between regular training sessions, private sessions and competitions, I visit an average of twice week all year long in every type of weather including snow and sleet.

Travelling is a big part of competitive archery, and the higher the level of competition, the further you need to travel. Canadian’s have to travel for archery, since 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.  Even the province of Ontario is larger than Egypt, Spain and France and therefore even for Provincial competitions I have to travel a lot.

Travelling can take a toll on your body, especially at the national, international and the world level, since most of the time you are either driving for days or flying from one location to another. You are in a different time zone, with strange food, and completely different schedules.

I recently drove to Saskatchewan from Ontario, about 3000 KM (1900 Miles) and it took three 12-hour days. It was difficult to spend that much time in the car, I found it very difficult to eat properly, when driving you have to make quick stops and keep going so it is difficult to eat as well as you would at home. My muscles were starting to tense up from lack of  stretching and practice. It also took it’s toll with my sleep schedule since we travelled through different time zones.

It is now my understanding, that to compete at the next level, there a several things that you should do to increase your chances for success when travelling.

  1. Employ some discipline to eat healthy and according to your regular schedule
  2. Setup a good sleeping schedule to make sure you are well rested for competition days
  3. Arrive early, two days if possible, to become accustomed and acquainted with your new surroundings
  4. Practice, whether shooting of just stretching, to get your body ready to compete after your trip.

MK Archery Vera Limbs

Every bow requires limbs, most beginner, and some intermediate bow kits come with limbs. If an archer moves towards competition archery, they will want to upgrade this essential element. Designers of limbs strive for an ideal combination of speed, stability and smoothness when deciding what materials to use and how to combine them.

Modern recurve limbs are made from multiple layers including fiberglass, carbon and/or wood and usually are laminated over a core of wood or carbon foam. A good archer will be able to shoot well with any good set of limbs, no matter the composition and elite archers often have a selection of various types for different training purposes, they usually gravitate towards one.

Foam-core limbs are more resistant to warping, are usually lighter and are not affected by humidity and/or weather conditions. They provide a consistent straight smooth pull curve and a faster shot. Carbon foam-core limbs are usually a lot more expensive and require a lot care. Archers need to inspect and repair even minor imperfections as they can lead to massive failure. Whereas, Wood-Core Limbs are usually far less expensive than foam-core, and are usually more durable. Although they usually have, a little more mass weight they can deliver a slightly higher speed with the same poundage as foam-core limbs.

Manufacturers produce limbs in various strengths or draw weights to service all types of archers and are measured in poundage (#) at a certain draw length (usually twenty-eight inches) and by length of risers.

Example is 66”-34# @ 28” or 68”- 32#@28”

Since not all archers have the same draw length, the same limbs will be different for each archer. The same set of 34# limbs for an archer with a 24” draw length will pull less than 34# and an archer with a greater than 28” draw will pull more than 34#. You can easily determine your draw weight using a bowscale at your local archery shop.

Limbs also come in various lengths that will determine the overall length of the bow which may be a factor for shorter archers.  This chart can help you determine which length to order.

Riser Size Long Limbs Medium Limbs Short Limbs
23” 68” 66” 64”
25” 70” 68” 66”

Limbs use to be designed specifically for the manufacturers riser and once you purchased a riser you were bound to that manufacturer for limbs or you would have to change both limbs and riser. Now most manufacturers use International Limb Fittings or ILF and are an unofficial standard that allow limbs manufactured by different companies to fit on the various risers.

There are several great manufacturers of limbs and in 2010 MK Archery started producing a great set of competition limbs.  Currently holding world records in recurve men with scores of 1386 for FITA and 342 for 90M. The two top of the line models are the MK 1440 (foam-core) and VERA (wood-core).  The limbs are made from multiple crossed carbon layers, laminated over a foam or wood core. If you are seriously considering investing in a good set of limbs, consider some from MK Archery.

Arrows

One of the ongoing costs for archers is arrows, this is especially true for young archers that are still growing, and their draw length is constantly changing. Once an arrow has been cut and sized, you can only make so many adjustments to a clicker before you will outgrow the arrow length and need to purchase new ones.

One of the biggest questions for competition archers is what type of arrows should I use and what will give me the best performance for how much I can afford.

Historically, this was easy since there were only wooden arrows, however nowadays there are real choices, aluminum or carbon fiber.  Aluminum shafts have been  steadily replaced wooden arrows since their introduction in 1939 however in the 1980’s, carbon fiber shafts were developed as the new technology to challenge aluminum shafts.

Which one should you use? There are no easy answers; it is a personal preferences and both have advantages and disadvantages. There are four key areas to examine; durability, flexibility, diameter and price point.

Durability

Aluminum arrows can be bent easily as they collide with obstructions, other arrows and the target itself. Sometimes, bends can be repaired however; the shaft is weakened and more likely to bend again in the same spot.

Carbon fiber arrows remain straight as the day you buy them until they break. If a carbon fiber is damaged it can be extremely dangerous to shoot with and will need to be replace immediately.

As far as durability is concerned, carbon fiber arrows have the biggest advantage.

Flexibility

Aluminum Arrows are more likely to sustain damage from impact because the shafts are rigid.

Carbon arrows resist damage because they are more flexible. They easily adsorb the energy vibrations transferred during impact of the target.

For consistently accurate competition archers, carbon fiber arrows have the advantage. For beginners this is not a real factor.

Diameter

The diameter of an arrow is very important for shooting outside. The larger the arrow the greater the wind effects the arrow, this is called wind drift. Younger archers with shorter draw length can achieve greater distances be more accurate with thinner arrows.  Although aluminum arrows traditionally have a wide range of sizes available thinner diameters can be achieved with carbon fiber because they are lighter.

In my opinion, this is a draw and it depends on the archers requirements.

Price Point

Obviously, this is the most important factor for a young archer, since it depends on your budget. Aluminum arrows are usually more inexpensive and therefore more widely used by young archers. However, the cost of carbon fiber arrows are dropping, such as the new Cartel Triple Arrows which are often compared to Easton’s A/C/E’s in quality however are more affordable.

If you are interested in purchasing arrows, you need to select the appropriate arrows for your draw length and bow poundage. Having arrows that are too rigid or too flexible will yield inconsistent and unexpected results.

Most manufacturers provide a chart to help archers select the correct arrows. For target archers you need to consider the poundage you actually draw and not just the overall limbs poundage. For Cartel Triples (Carbon Fiber) or Cartel X-pert (Aluminum) arrows check out the following selection chart for recommended Cartel Triple and Cartel X-PERT size selections.

Cartel Recurve Arrow Selection Chart

Top number = Cartel Triple & bottom number = Cartel X-pert

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