Rests

Basically an arrow rest is part of your bow setup that holds the arrow in place, ready to be shot. Allen asked…

What kind of rest would you recommend for a beginner recurve shooter? I’m a COMPLETE newbie to archery, so I blindly went with the archery shop guy’s recommendations when buying my first bow. I ended up buying a Samick Polaris that he set up with a rug rest. Is this a bad kind of rest to use? Wouldn’t the two non-index fletches hit the bow on the way out? My arrows tend to hit the target at an angle instead of perpendicular, so I wonder if the rest could be causing it.

First lets cover the various types, most people say there are four basic types of arrows however I believe there are five; shoot-thru, containment, drop-away, pressure/plunger rests and the additional shelf. The shelf is often overlooked because it is part of the bow, however you do “rest” the arrow on it.

Here is a general overview of each type.

Shoot-thru (or prong) rest : A two-pronged arrow rest with a gap between and spaced about two-thirds of the width of the arrow to create a cradle. The arrow sits on top of the prongs with one fletching pointing down between them and is usually spring-loaded to allow additional clearance for the fletchings. These rests can be tricky for beginners because the arrow can fall off with wind or bad form.  They are best for hunting and the use of a mechanical release.

Containment rest : A totally encircled or a simultaneous 3-point contact arrow rest holding the arrow completely in place until release. These are the most common choice for archery hunting, they are relatively easy to install and tune. Great for beginner hunters since the arrow will not fall off the rest.

Drop-away (or fall-away) rest : Designed to drop out of the way upon release and therefore eliminate any chance of contact with the arrow. Activated by the release of the string, the rest holds the arrow long enough to keep straight and needs to drop out of the way before the fletching reaches the rest. Since this can be very tricky to tune; it is best suited for a compound bow. It is popular for hunting with large fixed-blade broad heads and helical fletchings.

Pressure/Plunger rest: Used commonly by finger shooters (no-mechanical release), they are designed to counter-act the horizontal oscillation from release with your fingers. Standard type bows without a cut-away, typically use a simple flipper rest (a rest with an additional “flipper” that acts like a plunger to help push-back against the pressure). Bows designed with a cut-away for your center shot typically use a rest along with an adjustable plunger. A pressure rest is used on Olympic bows and can be used be any finger shooter.

Shelf: Most traditional longbows and modern recurves bows are now designed with a cut-away area in the riser which includes a shelf area. For this type of bow instead of a pressure rest you can choose to shoot off the shelf. An arrow rest is attached to the shelf of your bow and is usually installed with an arrow plate to the side. They serve as protection for the bow and arrow and act as a soft, smooth surface for the arrow to be shot from.

Selecting a rest depends on a list of things including…

  • Type of bow (compound or recurve)
  • Chosen application (hunting or target shooting),
  • Type of release (finger or mechanical)
  • Budget (cold hard cash)
  • Experience (your ability to tune the rest and bow)
  • Form (some rests are more forgiving)
  • Tradition and historical nostalgia
  • Competition division (division restrictions)
  • And personal preference (bling factor)

There are a ton of rests available on the market and most bow manufacturers follow the same AMO (Archery Manufacturers Organization) standards. Therefore the drilling and tapping for the majority of bows are universal however before you purchase or upgrade make sure a selected rest will work and function with your bow.

A rug rest is a type of rest for a shelf and could be a very good selection for your shooting style if you are shooting traditional however it would not be the best selection for an Olympic archer or a compound hunter.  I am not in a position to recommend the best rest for your bow, since the bow is only as good as the alignment between the rest, release and nocking point. Obliviously, a better quality rest for your style of shooting can impact your accuracy.

To specifically address… My arrows tend to hit the target at an angle instead of perpendicular, so I wonder if the rest could be causing it.

A rest is only one small piece of the bow, and has very little to do with controlling the oscillation of the arrow. I would personally need to watch you shoot and inspect your bow to provide any valued and specific advice. There are a ton of things that can cause your arrow to impact the target on an angle. The bow may need tuning, you may be plucking the string, the arrows may be too stiff or too flexible, and a lot of other things.

Quick Insight: “Bows only perform actions as directed by you; so make sure you have good form first.”

For more information on good form check out my website page The 10 Basic Steps of Archery and to understand controlling arrow movement such as oscillation, check-out the complete Arrow – The series.

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Bow Selection

I am often asked what kind of bow should I shoot. Selecting a bow should be based on your goals and usage. Are you just wanting to shoot arrows as a purest, perhaps a traditional bow would be best. If you are hunting, perhaps a compound bow or crossbow is for you. If you want to compete in the Olympics than you need a recurve bow. Most coaches recommend learning on a traditional type bow first before using a compound to help develop proper form however this is not a “written in stone” fact.

There are two primary classes of bow and then two sub-classes within each primary class. Mechanical (Crossbow & Compound) OR Traditional (Longbow or Recurve)

First ask yourself the following questions…

  • What kind of bow do I want to shoot? (Traditional or mechanical)
  • What am I going to do with my bow? (Hunt, compete, learn)

One of my readers asked….

… I have been in awe of archery my whole life, but I couldn’t do anything about it because there’s no archery club in my country. I’m seriously thinking about purchasing a bow but since I have no one to guide me, I was wondering if you could post something about how to choose the right bow. I also understand that some attachments aren’t necessary (like the clicker), I would want to know what a bow NEEDS to have. What should I be looking out for?

You bow is a personal preference; finding the perfect bow takes time, experimentation, trial and error. Check out this excellent blog by “Off the Arrow Shelf” who provides excellent insight into what you should look out for in your first bow.

Canada Captures the Bronze

Norbert Murphy captured the Bronze yesterday in the Men’s individual Compound -W1 division.

To reach the semi-finals, Norbert first defeated Shinichi Saito of Japan and Peter Kinik of Slovakia.  In the semi-final he faced Jeff Fabry of the United States, the eventual Gold Medalist. After Norbert lost 3-7 he moved into the Bronze medal match to face Osmo Kinnunen of Finland. Norbert shot extremely well tieing only a single end to take home the bronze medal.

Jeff Fabry of the United States went on to capture the Gold defeating David Drahoninsky  of Czech Republic in the Finals 6-2.

Congratulations!!!!

Instinctive Archery World Champion: Peter Garrett Interview

In September 2011, a friend of mine Peter Garrett, shocked the World and became Canada’s First World Champion in Instinctive Archery capturing Gold at the World 3D championships in Austria. Recently, Peter agreed to participate in an interview describing his experience and what it was like to reach the top of the podium for Canada.

Jordan: Congratulations again Peter, first can you give our readers a little information about your shooting background. What got you interested in archery and at what age?

Peter: When I was 49, I moved to Kitchener and joined the Elmira Rod and Gun in 2004 so I could continue my pistol shooting that I had been doing for 25 years. My 11 year son saw the rubber 3D animal targets there and wanted to shoot at them so I bought us each a bow and started archery. After 3 years my son lost interest but I loved it and shot my first provincial championship in 2005.

Jordan: As you are aware North America is dominated by compound bow shooters, what made you want to shoot bare bow and instinctive?

Peter: I started out with an unsighted compound bow but there was hardly any competition, so I switched to a recurve bow as there was lots of competition and I could always put sights on it and make it an Olympic style bow.

Jordan: What inspired you to “take it to the next level” and compete on the national and international level?

Peter: I won my first provincial championship, something I had never accomplished in 25 years of pistol shooting and it really inspired me. The next year the 3D Nationals were held in Ontario so I attended it and won as well. As there was nowhere to go in unsighted compound, I switched to an instinctive bow and have been enjoying it ever since.

Jordan: What is your typical practice routine & how often do you practice?

Peter: My typical practice was to shoot 60 arrows about 3 times a week

Jordan: How do you prepare both physically and mentally for an international match such as the World 3D championships?

Peter: I won two 3D National Championships and had a chance to represent Canada at the World 3 D Championships in Italy in 2009. When I got there I realized how poorly prepared I was. They had different rules, most of the other countries had full sponsorship and they trained 2 to 3 times a day. I was so nervous I missed 3 of my first 4 targets, I hit the next 36 but it was too late and I finished 2nd last. I decided if I went again I would be properly prepared. The 3D worlds are held every two years, so I learned all the rules and started training twice a day in September 2010. I was shocked in December 2010 when World Archery announced a rule change that banned my 3 finger under the arrow grip and made a split finger grip mandatory. I had to change my bow and relearn the way I shot in order to meet the new rules. I got a loaner riser from Lancaster Archery and started practicing 2 to 3 times a day in early January and kept that up until the end of August when I went to the worlds in Austria.

Jordan: I hear that bare bow and instinctive are far more popular in Europe, what was it like competing in the World 3D championships?

Peter: In Canada in 3D, there are about 15 compound archers for every non compound archers. In Europe there are 5 non compound archers for every compound archer, a huge switch. On our Canadian team 6 of 8 archers shot compound bows but their practice area was ¼ the size and number of targets as mine for non compound archers. There is a lot of prestige associated with the non compound archers and the best of the best were in attendance. Both French and Austrian archers told me about 100 archers tried out for their countries 3 Instinctive positions at the Worlds. Canada only had myself in Instinctive and Brock Patton in Longbow.

Jordan: Here in North America, the landscape for archers is different from that of Austria how did you prepare for shooting on hills, valleys, etc…

Peter: I practiced hills by occasionally going to a ravine near by and shooting at any club I knew had a lot of hills. The Flying Feathers Club in Madawaska had the overall best variety of shooting conditions so I tried to go there whenever they had a competition or I was allowed to practice there.

Jordan: Who are your coaches and how did they help prepare you for this journey?

Peter: I did not have a coach for 3D Instinctive archery for a variety of reasons. I did receive help in the spring with general bowman ship and dealing with distractions from Kathy Millar. Larry Smith set up my new bow, figured out the best arrow to use and gave me some great training tips on judging distances.

Jordan: Do you have any sponsors that have supported you through this adventure?

Peter: Lancaster Archery had lent me a 17” Trad Tech Titan riser to try until their 19” was in full production. As the new riser was not released in time I used the 17” at the world championships. Since then Goldtip arrows and Trad Tech have helped me with my equipment as I used their product to win the World Championships.

Jordan: What was the most memorable part of the whole experience?

Peter: The most memorable moment was hearing my team mates and wife sing O’Canada from the stands as they raised the Canadian flag and played the National Anthem. I had great support from my wife and team mates throughout this event that made it extra special.

Jordan: Now that you have succeeded in becoming World Champion, what are your new archery goals for the future?

Peter: This is a great question, I stopped shooting completely for 3 months as I needed a break. I thought I might quit but I love to shoot archery and I have started again. In January World Archery changed the rules again so now I need to use a wooden bow and other significant changes that at this point I am not planning to relearn so I can shoot at the world in 2013. I am just having fun shooting right now and with retirement from work ahead in the near future I am not sure what I will do.

Jordan: Would you be interested in doing a periodic blog now and then for our readers?

Peter: I would be happy to and answer any questions someone may have.

South Nation on CTV

On Valentine Day’s, CTV and Sarah Freemark visited my home archery club, South Nation Archery Club in Winchester, Ontario for a basic introduction to shooting a bow and arrow. My coach Kathy Millar, introduces recurve, compound, longbow and even a crossbow to Sarah as she receives here first archery lesson.

You can watch the segments here on YouTube…

Scoring

Eventually, all target archers need to learn and understand how to score an end, a round and a tournament.  Target archery has a number of types of target depending on the governing body (FITA, IFAA, NFAA etc…) and the types of tournament you are participating in.  There is the standard multi-coloured 10-ring target that is synonymous with Olympic archery however there is also 5-ring field targets, 2D and 3D animal targets, clout targets or flags and even novelty target such as dartboards.

Aside from novelty targets and flags, archery targets are basically comprised with a series a rings. Although 2D and 3D animals targets are fashioned typically in rings based on the animals “kill zones”, all archery targets are comprised of a series of concentric circles were the higher scores are achieved closer to the center.

When scoring, typically for official tournaments you are required to have at least two scorers and one caller. The caller will read out the scores for each archer in descending order such as 10-9-9-6-3-1. The value of each ring will depend on the type of competition and the rules governing the tournament. For simplicity, I will cover just the basic scoring for FITA Target and IFAA Field targets.

FITA Target

The FITA Target is the most commonly known archery target and is used in the Olympics. Also called a 10-ring, the target face is comprised of five colours including Gold, Red, Blue, Black and White.  The highest value are the inner gold rings worth 10 and 9 points respectively followed by red ( 8-7 points ), blue ( 6-5 points ), black ( 4-3 points ) and white ( 2-1 points ).  If an archer misses the target or is outside the 1 ring it is scored a miss or “M” and worth zero points. However any arrow “inside” of another arrow, called a “robin hood” is scored with the same value.

The number of arrows shot are dependent the type of tournament and whether they held indoor or outdoor. Typically indoor tournaments are 60 arrows and outdoors are 72, 144, or 288 arrows. During tournaments, archers shoot within a time limit, two minutes for 3 arrows ends or 4 minutes for 6 arrows ends. If an arrow is shot before or after the time limit, the highest value arrow is scored as a miss.

When scoring, the caller determines if an arrow is between two lines to call the score. However if an arrow is “touching” a higher value line, the higher value is awarded. In the center 10-ring, is an additional ring called the X ring. For recurve archers, an X and 10 are worth 10 points and the number of X’s are tallied and used for a tie-breaker.  For most compound archers the X ring is worth 10 points and the 10 ring is worth 9 points along with the 9 ring.

IFAA Field (5-ring) Target

A Field Target is traditionally comprised of two colours, blue rings and a white center and governed by IFAA international or NFAA in the United States. The inner white ring is worth 5 points and the remaining 4 blue rings are worth 4, 3, 2 and 1 point respectively as you move further away from the center. Similar to the FITA Target, with the inner white is an additional X-ring that is worth 5 points for both recurve and compound archers and is used for tie-breakers.  Conversely, arrows must touch the next ring to be scored as the higher value, simply touching the line is not sufficient.

The number of arrows shot are also dependent on the type of tournament and whether they are held indoor or outdoor. Typically indoor tournaments are a single day 60 arrow event and outdoor tournaments are 120 arrows shot over two days.

One of the side benefits to archery is it gives younger archers a chance to practice their math skills. Often experienced archers do not want to score because they do not want to know how they are doing throughout the match. So, if you plan to participate in any type of tournament you should practice scoring while practising at home and avoid the stress of learning to score during a tournament.  For experienced archers,  they NEED to remember scoring can be difficult for young archers still developing their math skills. While they are totaling the scores, you may be very anxious to know the end results, however you may be putting undo pressure on young archers causing mistakes if you are hovering over them.

Intermediate Level Coaching

This past weekend, I took the next step to my goal of a national level coach by attending the Intermediate Archery Coach Certification course held at the Archers of Caledon.  This two-day course builds on the foundation established in the Beginner Archery Coach Certification course.  The intermediate course digs deeper into the technical requirements for more accomplished and competitive archers, covering finer details of form and detailed tuning techniques for both recurve and compound bows.  Similar to the beginner course, it entails in class education as well as workshops and presentations. It also included group work and video for detailed analysis for form issues and fine-tuning.

A couple of months earlier, I completed course requirements and was Certified as Beginner Archery Coach. After completing this two-day National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) course,  I am now a Trained Intermediate Archery Coach and now have a couple of steps to complete for certification including my intermediate workbook, developing  a training plan for an immediate archer and having my training facility inspected.

If you are interested in becoming a coach, and getting more involved in archery, you can contact your local archery association.  In Ontario, contact the Ontario Association of Archers.