The Evolution of the Riser

2012-MidasIn this series I am going to discuss the evolution of the riser or the structural strength of the bow which houses the handle, to which the limbs are attached and other various accessories.  Originally the riser and the limbs were actually one piece, as you would see in a bare bow or instinctive bow, however in most modern bows the riser is completely independent component.

Historically, the original construction material was wood and sometimes combinations of different types of wood. Other historical materials included horn and sinew (A piece of tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone or bone to bone; a tendon or ligament) to create composite bows.  Beautiful laminated wooden bows and risers are still manufactured for lightweight, beauty, tradition, and style.

1212210010_L1Although some bows are still manufactured from various laminated hardwoods and are quite durable, the development of other modern components with materials such as carbon arrows and various strings, wooden risers were strained.  Therefore bow makers were forced to invest in the development of other more durable materials for competitive archers to maintain that competitive edge.  Competition target archers need enough arrow speed with great sight marks, with minimal string creep, since they practice a lot of shooting (anywhere from 150 – 1000 arrows a day).  Wooden bows will eventually break under the additional loads of pressure applied from the stress and strain.

Today there are two primary types of risers used by Olympic target archers, CNC machined aluminium and Carbon fibre or a combination of the two.  In the past, other materials and manufacturing methods were used such as forging and casting.

Forging

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This method hammers a metal bar under high temperature and high pressure that results in an extremely strong riser. Typically forging is an expense development process which requires machining, straightening and painting with very few variations.

Casting

ben-castingUsually a mix of aluminium and magnesium were developed with either die-casting or sand-casting methods.  Still available in the market today with low-to-mid range bow are a relatively cheap to make once you have the mould.

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CNC Machined Aluminium

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A computer controlled method to machine a riser from stress-relieved aircraft grade aluminium alloy until they weigh less than 3 pounds. Sometimes, in order to reduce the costs, risers can be extruded through a die to minimise the amount of machining required. CNC risers are usually anodised to provide a hard wearing finish.

Carbon Fibre

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A method of layering synthetic fibres usually over a dense foam core mould, which is cured with resin epoxy to develop an extremely strong and lightweight riser. Although this method can be expensive to develop and test with, the process has almost infinite number of possibilities in terms of strength and flexibility of design.

Currently, the market is primarily CNC Machined Aluminium with overlayed Carbon Fibre to gain the best of both worlds. Who knows what the future holds for risers as target archers look to find the competitive edge and manufacturers investigate in cost savings.

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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.

Consistency and Change

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency, now I want you to work on…

I can not stress enough that consistency is the number one factor to the success for any target archer. I have witnessed kids and adults alike with horrible archery form that continue to be somewhat successful because they are very consistent.

However, as an athlete starts to explore the depth of their abilities in a sport, there are things they will need change and improve, for various reasons, to achieve the next level, no matter who you are.

In 2003 Tiger Woods, after his second consecutive Masters and Fourth consecutive Player of the Year award announced he needed to make adjustments to his swing to help reduce wear and tear on his surgically repaired knee. Arguably the greatest golfer in history needed to make changes as part of his development and therefore so will you.

Archery and Golf have a lot of similarities; standing a great distance away you send a projectile through the air towards a small target with the goal to put it into the middle.  The main similarity is you only compete against yourself; no one is stopping you from being your best. It is as much mental as physical.

The only constant is change… Isaac Asimov

In your early development as an archer, you can work on a couple of things at the same time however as you develop you need to focus. There are many different approaches to consistent good form and therefore there will always be a certain amount of trail and error involved. Once an archer reaches each level of development they will experiment and need to try various things to find out what works for them. The higher the level of development, the smaller the level of change, and it is often more difficult to implement. Therefore it is important to work on only one thing at a time so that you are not confusing which change is working to your benefit and which is not.

In my own development, I struggle with staying focused on just one thing at a time which is the double edged sword of wanting to achieve perfection. So focus on one thing at a time because you do not want to be second guessing whether it is one change or another that are affecting your shots.

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.