Vision – Glasses, Contacts and Archery

Being an archer, competitive or recreational, does not require perfect 20/20 vision. E Perez asked…

I’m not sure if you’ve worn glasses before but if so, do you have any suggestions on archers who used glasses and are now switching to contacts? I’ve recently switched from glasses to contacts and my aiming is way off!

I can relate to this question, when I started shooting I had 20/20 vision, and around high school I needed glasses. I have not tried contacts yet, however it was an adjustment. Remember, the purpose of a corrective lens helps refract the light or images into in focus so you can see. Check out this website that explains how your vision works and how corrective lenses affect vision.

Wearing glasses or contacts can sometimes be a challenge for archers, since we actually stand to the side of the bow, not directly behind it. Therefore we are always viewing things on an angle, add the complexity of a corrective lens and it may be difficult to clearly focus on the target. It depends on the strength and thickness of the corrective lenses. I have a friend who can not shoot with her contacts on. The angle of the bow, combined with the angle of her contacts and she can not see her string alignment at all, which can affect your group.

Picking glasses out also presents a challenge because of the angle of the lenses and the thickness of the frames. My sister can not shoot with her prescription glasses because the frames are too large for the angle of the bow and she can not see her string alignment. If you need corrective lenses, it may take some trial and error experimenting to find out what works best for you.

I’ve recently switched from glasses to contacts and my aiming is way off!

If you are able to see the target and string alignment in focus, consider your arrow groupings.

Groups open up: Your brain could be simply catching up with your new perception, give it some time and practice. If the groups do not get better, then try shooting with your glasses on again and comparing the results.

Groups still tight; just off center: Move the sight. Even the smallest change can affect everything else, your vision is a large change.

Moved your sight; no change: Check your form, since many things can affect your your arrows including plucking the string.

Vision is important however not as important as good form. In fact, you may have read my earlier blog about legally blind South Korean archer, Im Dong-hyun, who broke the world record at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Im Dong-hyun has only about 20% vision in his right eye and only 10% in his left eye.

Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them – Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars

Your vision is important, however you may want to focus on making sure the shot “feels” the same every time, this is the key to success. For me, my coach still insists everyone warm-up with the following exercise to help us focus on feel not vision.

Close-Open-Close Warm-up 

  1. Close your eyes and draw your bow to full draw; focusing on your form. Try to make sure all your muscles and bones are in the same position with the same amount of pressure
  2. Quickly open your eyes to move the sight to the target
  3. Close your eyes and then shoot.

I hope I have provided some guidance and answered your question. If any other readers have experienced changes from moving to contacts from glasses, we would love to hear from you.

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Arrows Series – Part 5: Cutting Arrows

In this blog, we will discuss physically cutting arrows. Remember, the correct measurement for your draw length is from the nock groove point to the end of the shaft NOT including the point.” For most archers, accuracy within half-inch of your draw-length is close enough. If you are competitive and working towards improving groups you may need to cut just a couple millimeters at a time, until you find the optimal length. I recommend you visit your local pro-shop for assistance at this level. For young archers who will grow and change frequently, you need to weigh the cost of arrows versus the ever changing physical size.

Remember:  Draw length plus 1” minimum for safety and for young archers draw length plus 2” minimum for safety and growth.

The best way to cut Aluminum and Carbon Fiber is with an Arrow Cut-Off Saw or build yourself one using a Dremel wheel saw. Although when cutting wooden arrows you can use a straight blade such as a saw and I have seen some people use a plumbing pipe cutter and this may be okay for recreational shooting however I would not encourage it.

Quick Tip: The first basic rule of carpentry is measure twice cut once. In archery I like to measure a few more times than that.

Personally, I still get my coach to cut my arrows on their shop machine to make sure they are consistent and clean. Usually, when you purchase arrows at a pro shop, they will assist you cutting your arrows to length, most will even help with the fine-tuning.

If you are interested in cutting your own arrows check these two videos: “How to use an arrow cut-off saw” and “How to make a arrow cut-off saw using a Dremel”.

Whether you are cutting your own arrows at home or at a shop, cut them a little long and test them out first. Make small adjustments until you are happy with consistent groups. Remember, once you cut them, you cannot make them longer again.

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.

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.