String Alignment

Consistency is the key to a successful archer. In an earlier blog, we developed a consistent anchor point to develop a starting point for your hand and grip to help develop consistent vertical groupings. Now we need to address consistent horizontal groupings through the use of string alignment.

IMG_8525So, while at full draw at your anchor point, you should be able see a blurred image of your string; align this “blurry” image of the string with the riser. If it’s slightly off, rotating your head either left or right slightly will correct this. (Remember to maintain your anchor as you quickly check for this alignment). If the string picture is in the wrong place, then your aiming accuracy will be off and the result will be groups which are spread horizontally.

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Quick Tip : Note that sometimes a dark string is difficult to see against a dark riser, therefore try adding a small strip of white tape along the inside of a dark riser to help see the string.

Ideally, you should try to use the same spot for all distances, however this can be different for all people. It can help some archers by aligning the string on the inside of riser for close distances, middle of the riser for middle distances, and outside of the riser for long distances. The best alignment it is different for everyone because everyone has different head and nose structures. Therefore, you will need to experiment with the string alignment until you have the perfect string alignment for you.

Quick Tip: If you are having difficulty seeing your string, try closing you non-dominant eye.

Remember once you have your string alignment, changing things such bow length, draw length, arrows or anything else can effect your “perfect spot”. Consistent form is vital for consistent groupings, if you get a consistent string alignment, the bow will be at a consistent horizontal angle, and your horizontal grouping should improve.

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Dominant Eye Training

To reach your potential in any “shooting” sport your eye dominance must take precedence over your dominant handedness. Do not assume your eye dominance is your hand dominance. If you do not know your eye dominance, read my earlier blog about how to check. Samantha asked….

I took archery lessons a few years ago. I own three bows, a compound, re-curve, and a crossbow. But one thing I never thought about until after I stopped taking lessons was eye dominance. I soon found out that I was left eye dominant, but I am right handed. So I have been having trouble hitting the target since my dominant eye is not the one being used to aim. This has been making it difficult and a little frustrating. I have tried left handed bows so my dominant eye was focused down the arrow shaft but it made it even harder to steady and was uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions on things that could help my aiming? I do not wear eye glasses or contacts. I have had my eyes checked very recently and was told that I had great vision.

If your hand and eye dominance match, you are very lucky. It is important to note that level of dominance can vary from person to person. For some archers it is very difficult to tell the difference and in some cases your eye dominance can change, although that usually happens at a young age. My little brother’s eye dominance changed when he was 8 after a year of archery lessons with a right-handed bow.

For those archers that end up cross-dominant (left–eye dominant and right-handed or vice versa), it can be extremely frustrating, especially for those who take it up later in life since you have already developed your dominant handedness.

Some archers try to force the eye to match their handedness and end-up very frustrated. Trust me you will be far more frustrated trying to force your eye dominance than training your body to do the tasks with your other hand. It may start out unsteady and uncomfortable but it will get better with practice.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

To help train your body to shoot with your dominant eye, you need to add extra practice using resistance bands to develop the muscles. Also If your eye-dominance is closer to the middle or you have switched recently; shoot with an eye-patch on the less dominant eye to help train yourself to aim using the dominant eye.

The key to achieving success is purely perseverance. Although it can be costly to purchase another bow, you need to match your shooting to your eye dominance.  My coach was already a successful archer before she discovered her eye dominance was incorrect. She changed and became even more accomplished and never regrets the work she had to do.

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.

Girl Guides

Before I was in archery, before I competed internationally in robotics, I was a Girl Guide. Girl Guides is a parallel movement to Boy Scout for girls in 1909, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting decided that girls should not be part of Scouts.  Therefore, in 1910 Robert’s wife Agnes started the Girls Guides, named after a famous frontier regiment in the British Indian Army, the Corps of Guides. Guiding makes a positive difference in the life of every girl and woman who experiences Guiding so she can contribute responsibly to her communities.

The Girl Guides of Canada’s goal is to develop confident, courageous and resourceful girls who will make a difference in the world.  Girl Guide values are

  • I Promise to do my best,
  • To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada
  • I will take action for a better world
  • And respect the Guiding Law

The Guiding Law challenges me to:

  • be honest and trustworthy
  • use my resources wisely
  • respect myself and others
  • recognize and use my talents and abilities
  • protect our common environment
  • live with courage and strength
  • share in the sisterhood of Guiding.

My introduction to Girl Guides at a young age has helped develop me into the person I am today. I started as a Spark, continued through Brownies, until I graduated from Guides at which point I had collected two full badge scarves and the coveted Lady Baden Powell award.

This past weekend, I was invited to a Girl Guide camp to introduce archery to a group of Girl Guides. It was a real trip down memory lane and it was a lot of fun to see young girls enjoying the same experience that I did when I was young. I remember the Saturday afternoon events at camp were always my highlight of the weekend.  This time, it was my turn to make it the best part of the whole day and teach this new group of guides how to shoot a bow and arrow. Everyone loved it, so much so I actually had a little 9 year old girl come up to me and hug me telling me how much she loved it.

To witness someone enjoy the sport and love it as much as you is the best part of being a coach. Being a part of the start of a new dream in another person’s life is so rewarding, and gives you the unwavering desire to do it over and over again.

Without people willing to help develop new dreams in kids, there may not be as many adults with successful dreams.

Arrows – The Series (This time, it’s personal)

Since arrows are extremely important for an archer, I thought I would do a couple of blogs about arrows starting with the various components. I will be focusing on arrows for recurve target archers, since there are a lot of articles about arrows for both compound and traditional archery already. Selecting the correct arrows for your best performance is not simple task. There are tons of things to know and understand and it may require some trial and error. In this first blog we will start with the basic components.

An arrow is comprised of four major components the shaft, the point, the nock and the fletching.

Shaft : The shaft is primary structural component of the arrow and all other components are attached to it. Originally arrows shafts were made from wood however new shafts are made from aluminum, carbon fibre or both.  It is very important to properly match the arrow stiffness (or spine) to the archer for the best groups. Spine, or stiffness of the arrow, references how much or little the shaft bends when compressed through the shot and it typically matched by using the archer’s draw length and the bow poundage.

Fletching : Glued towards the back of the arrow, fletching are the airfoils for the arrows designed to stabilize the arrow in flight. Traditionally made from real feathers, target arrow fletching are now typically either plastic feathers or plastic vanes. Most target arrows have three fletches that are attached with a slight twist to help the arrow spin and stabilize faster in the air.  The quicker and more stabile the arrows is, the more consistent your groups will be.

Point : The point, or arrowhead, is the functional part of the arrow that is inserted and glued to the front end. It provides the weight and is typically made of various types of metal include tungsten.  Target points are usually bullet-shaped and designed to penetrate target butts easily without large amounts of damage.

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Nock : Found at the rear end of the arrow, target nocks are typically made of plastic. They are inserted, capped over or combined with separate medal pins inserts and held in place by friction. Target nocks are designed to gently pinch the bowstring to hold it in place when the bow string is drawn.

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Over the next few blogs we will dive deeper about these components, various discussion concepts like center shot, arrow indexing and numbering your arrows in upcoming posts and help understanding things like spine and Archer’s Paradox.

Remember, this blog is not meant cover everything about arrows. I am still learning and visit my coach regularly to help me develop my understanding about everything archery. I encourage you to share your knowledge and experiences so we can all develop together.

Remember Cartel Doosung offer a wide variety of arrow lines including aluminum and carbon fiber including their new line of Arista arrows for young archers. If you are in the market for some new arrows check my earlier blog about selecting and purchasing arrows.

Follow the Arrow: Adjust your sights

Unless you are a traditionalist, one of the first things you will need to do as an archer is adjust your sight. Unless you are a compound shooter with the same setup for ever, you will need to make adjusts again and again. For recurve archers there are many reasons why you will need to make adjustments including…

Environmental Differences : Every location is different, wind, rain; check out my earlier blog about Weather Conditions here.

New Distances : As you develop and change categories, distances change. Junior women need to shoot 70M and junior men 90M, if you are not there yet, do not worry, you will be.

Growth : As you get older, your body changes, you get taller and stronger and your draw length changes, using a clicker can help with consistency, so check out my Clicker blog.

Equipment Changes : As you get stronger and you are required to reach longer distances you need to change equipment, such as higher poundage limbs. Eventually equipment wears outs and we all want the latest and greatest technology.

Archery Form Changes : As you develop as an archer, you will perform better as an archer and your archery form will get better.

For young recurve archers adjusting a sight is a frequent event and is actually quite easy, the hard part is resisting the temptation to adjust it after every shot. Remember that consistency is your ultimate goal, so track your arrows before making any adjustments. You can do this on paper or there is an awesome free application for your IPod Touch called Archery Score Free by Yakoob Ali.  Once you are warmed up begin to track your arrows and determine the centre of your arrows grouping and then move the sight accordingly. Remember, if your groups were good yesterday and are not today, evaluate your form first. Also, if you have one arrow consistently out of group, check the arrow for defects.

When you are ready to adjust your sight, apply this simple rule, “Follow the arrow” or in this case the centre of the group of arrows. If the centre of your arrow grouping is to the left, then move your sight towards the left or opposite if your group is to the right.  The same principle applies for the group’s height; move your sign up or down if the group is not centered.  By moving the sight towards the arrow, the trajectory of the bow is altered to better centre the arrows on the target.

Remember, consistent form is essential to archery, and before you start micro-adjusting be sure you are grouping consistently first. Otherwise, if you are always making changes to your sight you will never truly know if you will consistently hit the bulls-eye.

Annual Shoot for the Cure

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). In 2011:

  • An estimated 23,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,100 will die of it.
  • An estimated 190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 55 will die of it.
  • On average, 64 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day.
  • On average, 14 Canadian women will die of breast cancer every day.
  • Probability of developing or dying from breast cancer
  • One in 9 women is expected to develop breast cancer during their lifetime and one in 29 will die of it.

Trends in breast cancer
Breast cancer incidence rose steadily from 1980 to the early 1990s, partly because of increased mammography screening. Breast cancer death rates have declined in every age group since at least the mid 1980s.

Every year Canadian Archers gather for a tournament at the Bow Shop in Waterloo to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. Last year, the tournament raised over $9,000 and this year is very special as Bruce Savage, Vice President of Administration for the  Ontario Association of Archers (OAA) is donating his beard. It’s has been over 30 years since he shaved his beard. Below is a letter by his daughter Racheal to all archers…

Hello Everyone:

I am putting out a call to one and all to dig deep into their wallets and purses and to help me spread the word far and wide!

As many of you know, my father has had a beard for probably as long as you have known him. In fact it has been 30 years he has had that same beard! I do not remember ever seeing his chin.

After a lot of convincing, I have worn him down. He will be donating his chin this year to the annual Canadian Archers For A Cause – Shoot For A Cure held annually at the Bow Shop in Waterloo. Last year alone, this tournament raised over $9,000 all sent to breast cancer research. This year we are hoping to do even better. Check out the web page for tournament information as well instructions on how to donate. This year the shoot will be held on January 21st at The Bow Shop in Waterloo

As I’m sure you can imagine, Dad is pretty attached to his beard and I’m hoping to make his beard a worthwhile incentive for donations to a great cause from across Canada.

I am asking for not only your donations, but I would like all of you to help me get the word out far and wide. Please post this information on provincial and club web pages where possible, email to friends and family, contribute personally. There is not a lot of time for us to pull all of this together as the shoot is being held January 21, 2011 but I REALLY appreciate any assistance you can give.

Not only are we shaving his beard, we are planning on shaving it in the middle of the range as part of the weekend event. Of course this will be well documented via photos and will be dispersed for entertainment value after the shoot. What else would a good daughter do?!

Donations can be made by contacting Michael Martin at The Bow Shop at (519) 746-8139 or via email at media@bow-shop.com . Any size donation is greatly appreciated and can be made via cash, cheque, or credit card.

If you have any questions or would like more information please do not hesitate to contact me. Sorry if you receive this information more than once as I’m trying to get the word out quickly due to our short time lines.

Thank you.

Racheal Savage

If you are planning to be in the Waterloo area for the weekend of January 21st, please consider participating in the annual Shoot of the Cure, however  if not consider donating a couple of dollars to this worthy fundraiser.