Tiller? Was Ist Das?

Relatively new recurve archers are often confused by tiller. (Heck I still get confused as to what positive and negative tiller are!) So what is being referred to when people talk about tiller?

The reference is to the same thing a tiller does on a sailboat, it “steers.” The “steering” referred to in archery, though, is confined to an up-down plane, not left-right. It stems from the basic structural paradox of bows. (No, not the Archer’s Paradox.) The structural paradox of bows is this: if you grasp the bow dead center, then the arrow cannot rest on the bow’s centerline, it must be above center. If the arrow is placed at the bow’s center, then the archer’s grip cannot be there, so a compromise is in order. Typically with regard to recurve bows, the center of the bow corresponds to the pivot point of the grip. The center of pressure of the archer’s bowhand is thus a couple of inches lower and the arrow is a couple of inches higher. Basically, the difference is split 50:50.

Note In compound bow design, the arrow is often placed on the bow’s centerline. This results in a very low bow hand, but the bow’s letoff, which results in a much more gradual acceleration of arrows, and the bow’s high Top Tiller Measurmentinertial mass allows this strategy to be successful.

A consequence of this recurve bow design compromise is that since the center of pressure (COP) of the archer’s hand is on the bottom half of the bow, the bow is longer above that point than below that point. Since the archer’s fingers are closer to the middle of the bowstring than the COP is to the center of the riser, the pull on the two limbs is unbalanced. The limbs bend different amounts and, even though the two limbs aren’t exactly equal in characteristics, they aren’t that different. This has the consequence of one limb moving faster than the other and the bowstring traveling in such a manner to move the nock up or down as it travels (depending on the situation). This is not conducive to high levels of accuracy.

There is a test to see if tiller is a “problem” you need to address.

The Recurve Bow Tiller Test The technique I was taught was to remove stabilizers (to allow the bow freer movement), then raise your bow into shooting position and line your aperture up with a spot on the wall (or in the distance), then draw straight to anchor slowly (not drawing low and raising up, it has to be straight). If the aperture moves down the bottom limb is too stiff (or top limb too weak). If the aperture moves up, the reverse is true. When the bow is “balanced” (tiller means to “steer,” remember) the aperture stays level during such a draw. This procedure takes the test out of the usual draw and shoot sequence, isolating the tiller per se. Trying to observe tiller effects while shooting is very difficult. Of course, you need relaxed hands for a successful test.

Fixing Your Tiller There are a couple of approaches to fixing this. One is to fiddle with the limb bolts. Typically the bottom limb is screwed in a bit to make the bottom limb “stiffer,” to compensate for the lack of leverage on the “shorter” limb. This results in tiller measurements (from top or bottom of the riser squarely to the bowstring) in which the bottom tiller measurement is usually somewhere between 1/8˝ and 1/4˝ smaller than at the top (the bowstring is closer to the bottom of the riser than it is to the top).

The other approach is to leave the two tiller measurements the same (if they were set that way initially) and tune out this difference with a slight nocking point adjustment. Moving the nocking point changes the angle the bow sits in your two hands and a very small change in nocking point location can re-angle the bow to bring it into “balance.”

In any case, the ultimate arbiter of your tune is arrow group size. Basically anything that makes your groups smaller is good, anything that makes them larger is bad. The de facto ultimate group size at any distance is the size of a group in which all arrows fit into the highest scoring ring. (Typically this is the diameter of the ring plus twice the diameter of your arrows (allowing for outside-in “touches” that score that ring’s value).


Filed under For AER Coaches, For All Coaches

Adapting Standard Form Recommendations

One of the difficulties coaches have to deal with is students who cannot “do it the right way,” that is the way arrows “should be” shot according to the instruction manuals. I recently received a request for help from a coach who has a student who is very large bodied. The student’s physical size and body composition affects everything about his shooting, apparently. There are a number of important points that arose in our email conversation that I want to share.

Recommendations Are Just That
Recommendations regarding how to shoot are just that: recommendations. They are not requirements. Many great archers, in the past and today, did and do not shoot like the standard recommendations suggest. Here is some of what I had to say regarding a stance difficulty.

“Regarding the stance and balance first. The form recommendations that are made are just that … recommendations. Unfortunately there is little in the way of coach instruction as to how to adapt those positions for those with either physical infirmities or just different bodies (morphologies).

“The key thing is for the archer to be balanced. If that requires a wider stance, fine, if that requires a closed or oblique stance, fine. The goal is to be balanced … and the reason for the balance requirement is for us to be able to be still when shooting. Your archer needs to know that so he can monitor his stillness at full draw. If he is swaying back and forth or slowly shifting from one position to another, something needs to change. What that is will have to be determined by experimentation.

“Regarding ‘Due to the large amount of flesh on his frame, he cannot rotate to the straight line position required.’ Body rotation is not ‘required’ but is recommended. The basis of the recommendation is to make a more stable shooting platform; stability leads to better balance and greater stillness at full draw. The objective is a good full draw position from the sternum upwards, so work backward from that. Don’t make him rotate to that position. Have him get to that position (I have archers use a very light drawing bow, e.g. 10#) and then move his lower body until he is most comfortable—without losing the good full-draw-position (aka ‘Archer’s Triangle’ aka ‘The Wedge’). That is the best starting point. After he learns to shoot from a good full-draw-position, he can then explore changes in his stance, with the only changes allowed being those that do not disrupt that full draw position (which means some stances will be possible, others not so). Please note that, in my opinion, the recommendation for an open stance requires a considerable rotation of the body in that the shoulders have to be 10-12 degrees closed at full draw. An open stance is fighting this position by positioning the feet rotated in the opposite direction (thus requiring a torso rotation for the shoulders to get there). Beginning archers do not need us making shooting more difficult. I suggest we consider doing it the easiest way and then adding “refinements (like an open stance) when the archers interest and body of work suggest it might be worthwhile.

“Regarding ‘He has been unable to find a set anchor point due to the fleshy area under his jaw line.’ You might want to consider using a kisser button. It may be that in the future he ‘finds’ a consistent anchor position but there are a great many archers who have a similar problem (often because their jaw lines are closer to vertical than horizontal). A kisser button can allow this archer to develop his form, enjoy the sport, and make considerable progress. If I am not mistaken, one of the current men’s Olympic team champions uses a kisser button. It is not a crutch, just an aid like so many other things.

It Is Best to Work Back from First Principles
When trying to fit what seems to be a square peg into a round hole (an idiom indicating an unwise effort to fit things that do not) it is better to work from first principles. Unfortunately coaching education doesn’t supply this framework and I am not sure that coaches have taken this to heart as professionals.

The “stance issue” is a clear example. Instructions are often stated as “you must do this” or “you must do that” regarding your stance. I have done this myself in my writings. It is done to impress the importance the writer places upon such things … but it conveys the wrong impression.

Let’s look at this working backward from what we want. We want high scores on archery targets. High scores are created by tight arrow groups in the highest scoring location. Arrow groups can be relocated (moved around) by aiming/sighting techniques, so our fundamental job as archers is to shoot tight groups. Tight groups come from being able to repeat one’s shot process accurately, many times. To be able to repeat one’s shot sequence accurately, one needs to be able to relax and focus and be still under the tension of the draw and then be able to execute a clean release. So, what has a stance to do with this?

Picture an archer on a rotating stand. He/she is in perfect full draw position. Off the arrow goes but misses the target three meters to the right? So what do you do? You rotate the archer so they are pointing more to the left. The next arrow just misses the butt to the left and…. You can see that the stance that holds up an archer so they can operate their bow with their upper body also plays a role in directing the arrows. (This is why I ridicule those who admonish archers to “not aim yet,” to only aim at full draw. Aiming begins with taking one’s stance and one would not set up to shoot arrows back into the spectators (those arrows wouldn’t score well) so we set our stance to make our arrows go into the target’s center. We aim our bows with almost every move we make.)

So, a stance has to provide stillness for the upper body and that stems from the archer being balanced. The stance also helps direct the archer’s bow toward the target. Current stance recommendations include stances that do not direct the archer’s arrows toward the target and require the archer to twist themselves to do so. This is clearly not necessary, especially so if the archer you are coaching cannot do the twisting.

If we start from those first principles (stillness, balance, focus, relaxation) and enroll the archer’s help, adjustments to standard form will be easier, I think.


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Changing Recurve Limbs

QandA logoIt is easy to forget how confusing changing limbs on a recurve bow is. Not that long ago, you bought a heavier or lighter set of limbs (of the correct length) and then just bolted them on. Now things are different. Here is just one of the questions I got regarding this topic.

I read on the internet about the SF Premium forged riser, it says 5 turns. But how do I count 5 turns? I’m not sure about that. Thanks, Steve!

* * *

Turns on limb bolts are counted starting from all of the way in. It is also important that you use the same wrench to do this task each and every time (Wrenches have different shapes which means that if you insert different wrenches you can appear to be in different orientations (bolt head to the riser).) So, the limb bolts are released from whatever locking mechanism involved (typically a screw in the back of the bolt) and the limb bolts screwed all of the way in. This is easier done with the bow unstrung. Then insert the wrench, typically we want to line the wrench up with the body of the riser so as to have a reference (in case the wrench slips and falls out), and back the screw out 5 turns (or how ever many you want, always check with the manufacturer’s specs for the maximum number of turns allowed for safety). Then the locking mechanism is reengaged (usually with a second wrench while the first is used to make sure the limb bolt does move when the locking screw is re-engaged.

Here is an ordinary Allen wrench inserted into a limb bolt. The "handle of the wrench is lined up with the riser in a standard starting position. Note also the red pen mark on the bolt head used as a reference mark.

Here is an ordinary Allen wrench inserted into a limb bolt. The “handle” of the wrench is lined up with the riser in a standard starting position. Note also the red pen mark on the bolt head used as a reference mark.

Then the limbs are fitted. There may be problems at this point. I have found limbs to not fit at the extreme positions of the limb bolts from time to time. If this is the case, the limb bolts have to be adjusted back in until the limbs do fit. (By making this limb bolt position change you are changing the angle of the limbs to the riser but the angle change is being made between the limb and limb bolt, too. Hoyt makes limb bolts with “floating heads” to allow the bolt head to rest flat on the top of the limb, for just this reason.

Typically backing the limb bolts out the maximum number of turns reduces the draw weight by approximately 10%. So, 30# limbs would be reduced by 3# to 27#, etc. Realize that this is approximate and can be affected by all kinds of things. For example, a set of limbs labeled 30# isn’t exactly 30#. Each manufacturer has a “tolerance” it allows itself to be “off” from the listed draw weight. 30# limbs might be 29# or even 31.5#. There is also no guarantee that the top and bottom limbs will be the same, but they will almost always be very close (unless a shipping error ocurred!). The 10% “letoff” is only approximate and it varies with limb butt design, actual draw weight, limb bolt design and any number of other variables.

Because of this fact it is always wise to measure the draw weight with the bolts all of the way in and then all of the way out. This then allows you to determine the amount of change per turn of the limb bolts. So, if the difference between all of the way in and all of the way out is 4# and it is 4 turns, then each turn creates or removes 1# of draw weight.

Here is a different wrench inserted into the same limb bolt. Note the different orientation of the wrench handle. To avoid confusion assign one wrench to make all of your limb bolt changes, so you will get used to its orientation in the bolt heads.

Here is a different wrench inserted into the same limb bolt. Note the different orientation of the wrench handle. To avoid confusion assign one wrench to make all of your limb bolt changes, so you will get used to its orientation in the bolt heads.

Compound bows have much wider ranges of draw weight adjustment, often up to 25% of peak weight and with ultra-adjustable bows the range of draw weights available can be much, much wider. This ability to vary the draw weight is the main reason why a wider selection of arrows is possible for compounds over recurves or longbows.




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Will a “Better” Riser Help?

I just posted an article of this title under the Equipment Forum at the Archery Coaches Guild web site (Archery Coaches Guild Homepage).

Yes, I will continue to post things here.

Yes, I am encouraging you coaches to go over to the ACG website and check it out.

We have figured out a way to make ACG membership free, so you have no excuse not to join. (Not only that but there are freebies offered as incentives.)

Please participate there and help us Grow the Guild!

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Measuring Up

I have commented more than just a few times about the importance of having arrows matched to you and your bow. I was working with a newish recurve student regarding how to do just this an I realized that many archers do not have the required equipment. Here are some “workarounds” you can use to get the information you need to order the correct arrows.

What You Need
Every manufacturer provides a “spine chart” which allows you to select which of their arrow shafts you need for arrows to fly well out of your bow. These charts require your draw length and draw weight to make the selection. I will start with how to get these numbers for recurve bows and long bows.

Measuring Your Draw Length
There are such things as “draw length arrows” which are arrows with printed scales on them. You simply draw back into good form and somebody else reads the scale at the rest/plunger button and you add 1.75˝ and voila. If you don’t have such a device you can use an ordinary arrow. Draw to good full draw position and have your helper by a mark on your arrow right at the arrow rest hole/plunger button. Repeat this a number of times (3-5). All of the marks should be within a quarter inch of one another.. Measure from the bottom of the nock’s groove to the center of the array of marks and add 1.75˝ and voila.

It is important that you be warmed up before doing this and have shot in good order. It also helps if your “helper” can see if you are in good alignment at full draw because you will get a false reading if you are not.

There are many “formulas” that determine draw length from other body measurements. I have collected about a dozen of these. None of them are as reliable or as good as the technique I describe above.

Measuring Your Draw Weight
I have a hand-held electronic bow scale that just requires me to attach it to the bow string and pull an arrow the proper distance and it records the maximum value within 0.1#. Of course, you probably don’t have a $150 bow scale in your pocket, so a bathroom scale will work. An alternative is if you have a large spring scale, you can mount it up high on something sturdy and then hook the string on the scale and pull down (the correct length—you can use an arrow with a mark on it for this) and then read the scale). There are commercial scales sold for just this purpose, although any spring scale is inherently somewhat inaccurate, it is close enough for our purposes.

Easton Spine Chart PageYou can estimate your draw weight by taking the nominal draw weight value of your limbs (24#@28˝, 38#@28˝, etc.), correct this value for any adjustments at the limb pockets (ILF limb pockets allow about 10% of the draw weight to be adjusted off by backing out the limb attachment bolts (typically 4-5 turns max.). Then you need to adjust this value for difference between your draw length and the nominal one (@28˝). To do this you add 2# for each inch over 28˝ or subtract 2# for each inch under 28˝ (use 3# per inch if your limbs are 40# or heavier).

If you want an actual measurement of your draw weight rather than an estimate, you need a stiff stick, at least 3 feet/1 meter long, with a notch in one end. From the bottom of the notch measure down the stick and place a mark at X˝, X being your draw length measurement but without the 1.75˝ extra. The stick is then stood on its end on a bathroom scale and the bow placed upon it with the string (where the arrows attach) in the groove and the riser hanging down. You then press down on the riser until the arrow rest hole/pressure button is even with mark on the stick and read the scale. Of course, this is no more accurate than your bathroom scale, but it is something.

Special Considerations for Compound Bows
Compound bows are different. The draw length of a compound bow is a setting on that bow which may or may not be correct for an archer. It is correct if you can get into correct full draw position with a straight bow arm and your draw elbow lined up with the arrow on the bow. When this is so you can use the techniques described above. If it is not, you need to adjust your bow until it is.

The spine charts for compound bows do not list the draw weight in hand, they list the “peak weight” which is the highest draw force encountered throughout the entire draw. (The draw force reduces to a small fraction of the peak weight at full draw, which is called the holding weight.) If you use the bathroom scale technique described above you have to carefully watch the scale reading as it rises, reaches a peak, and then drops off. You want the highest reading to use in the arrow selection. This is why “digital” scales are not as useful for this task as “analog” scales. The numbers on the digital scale often change so fast as to be a blur and you cannot move the bow back and forth past the peak to clarify anything, otherwise you will get a false reading. You must “pull” the bow down in one continuous stroke will doing this.

My $150 gewgaw registers both the peak and holding weights with one pull of a compound bow. It is a shame those devices are no longer available.

I hope this helps those of you who do not have the tech services of a full archery pro shop nearby.

PS Wood arrows can be quite different but both draw weight and draw length are considerations.



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If I Just Had Better . . .

As regular readers of my diatribes know, the literature for archery coaches is quite sparse and so I often find myself slogging through materials designed for golf instructors and coaches for inspiration, knowledge, wisdom, etc.

Recently I was reading an article entitled The Biggest Myths in Golf  by Adam Young, the author of The Practice Manual, and as I am wont to do, I translated as much as I could into archery to see if it held up. One segment of this article is this:
The main messages I want everyone to get is that
• There are much wider acceptable boundaries of swing style which will produce function
• Lots of things held dear as technical ‘musts’ are nothing more than old wives tales
• Pros have more skill – let’s work on developing skill
• Skill is different to technique
• Form can (and does) arise from function.
• Using motor learning research, we can figure out better ways of learning
• Direct technical changes should be a supplement to a good training program – not dominate it
• There is more to a golfer than their swing style. Trying to get good at golf by only improving your swing style is myopic, at best.
I understand that many of you will have strongly held beliefs challenged after this article.
Good. Maybe it will open your eyes to why you are not as good as you should be.

As you can see golfers obsess over their swings and their equipment, like archers who obsess over their form and their equipment. And by so doing, both golfers and archers miss out on a great deal.

Now, Translating the Above into “Archery”
The main messages I want everyone to get is that:
• There are much wider acceptable boundaries of form and execution which will produce function (aka results)
• Lots of things held dear as technical “musts” are nothing more than old wives tales
• Pros have more skill – let’s work on developing skill
• Skill is different from technique
• Form can (and does) arise from function.
• Using motor learning research, we can figure out better ways of learning
• Direct technical changes should be a supplement to a good training program – not dominate it
• There is more to a archer than their technique. Trying to get good at archery by only improving your technique is myopic, at best.

What do you think?








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Fingers Pressing on the Arrow?

QandA logoSo many questions about arrows; are you all Spring cleaning?

“When I emailed you about my erratic bare shaft test results you mentioned that a possible source of the inconsistent results might be fingers pressing on the nocks. Interesting. That could explain how on a couple of ends where I was able to get a bare shaft above the fletched group, and one below. Almost the same amount above / below.

So, that brings me to the topic of tab finger spacers. I know we’ve spoken about the variety of sized ones out there: non-existent to golf ball-sized. Is the role of the finger spacer to truly keep your fingers apart enough that you don’t touch the arrow? I think I remember reading in The Heretic Archer that there is some finger contact with the arrow … light contact, so as to have that feeling as another point of reference.

“Finger pressure on the arrow does seem like a real possibility for some of the shots I saw on Friday. I do know at times I kind of cant the draw hand over. The top of my hand leans to the left (from archer’s point of view). That may or may not have something to do with different pressure on the arrow. I will focus a little more next time on how my hand is and whether I can feel my fingers pressing the arrow at all.

* * *cavalier elite_tab

There are discussions ongoing about touching and not touching (see The Competitive Archer and its excellent section on finger tabs) and I don’t see a definitive position yet. Clearly though, if there is touching, it has to be consistent. I suspect that if there is touching lighter has to be better than heavier in that a 10% variation is something small is a smaller source of overall variation than a 10% variation in something big.

The finger spacer is there, IMHO, to help your hand and fingers to relax. If the finger spacer is “right-sized” then gentle pressure on both sides of it (and I mean gentle!) should help keep the tab in the same position on the string fingers (a desirable condition). If the tab is so constructed to fit around the arrow nock in just one way, then the combination of these two results in a consistent string grip, no?

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Fletches, Fletches, … and Fletches

QandA logoWhile we have been on the topic of arrows, I had another question emailed in (ruis.steve@gmail.com) on this very topic.

“I have another boring question, what is the difference between shield vanes, parabolic, Spin Wings. Not physically of course.:-)
Best regards,
<name withheld>”

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The shapes of vanes make very little difference, except aesthetically (which I do not discount, I enjoy shooting a lovely bow more than shooting an ugly one). The factors that affect vane’s performance are: surface area, roughness of that surface, and angle the vane makes with the shaft. In addition, the possibly largest factor is mass. Of fletches having the same size and shape, plastic vanes are the heaviest, then feathers, then Mylar vanes (Spin Wings, etc.). Mylar vanes also operate differently from the others but their main advantage is having so little mass.

Wooden arrows . . . you may need a lot of them as they do break easily.

Since vanes function by exerting drag on the back part of the arrow (the front half was made deliberately heavier with the addition of the arrow point, so it has more inertia, aka resistance to changes in its motion). So the drag created by the vanes is actually slowing the arrow down, but the front has a higher resistance to that change in speed, so the vanes serve to bring the rear of the arrow into the flight path of the front by basically tugging backward on the shaft.

Larger fletches of any kind will always produce “more correction” and slower arrow speeds. You will note that people shooting indoors use much large vanes (favoring steerage over speed) while those shooting outdoors use the smallest possible vanes (favoring speed over steerage). Faster arrows are affected less by wind and gravity, for example, for the simple reason that the arrows are exposed to the forces involved for less time.

And, obviously, the shape matters if you are having a fletching “clearance problem,” that is the fletches (or usually a fletch), is clipping the rest or the riser on its way out. Some people opt for low profile vanes rather than high profile ones for this reason, but this is not the only way to address this issue.

The behavior of vanes in flight is complicated. If you have seen any high speed video, you will see that feathers tend to “lay down” reducing their surface area dramatically, and all fletches flutter in flight, changing their angle of attack, as it were.

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Arrow Sense and Nonsense

QandA logoI got this question from a fairly new archer in Portugal:

When I was watching some archery videos I noticed that some archers in indoor tournaments use X7 aluminum arrows with at least 4˝ feathers and others use Easton X10 arrows; that’s just a matter of preference, right? But usually aluminium arrows are better for 18 meters and carbon/aluminium arrows are the best for longer distances, isn’t that so?

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It is wonderful that we now have a video storehouse for archers to browse through. (Thank you, YouTube!) And, at the same time, I have to warn you about what you see. Just because people do something doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do, it just means (usually) somebody was successful doing it.

Please realize that there is a lot of copying amongst archers. Less successful archers copy the behaviors of more successful archers. I consider this to being due in part to our evolution (Monkey see, monkey do.). There is a story that at the Las Vegas Indoor tournament a quite successful archer was dealing with a bow hand injury and so wore a glove on his bow hand. The next year, quite a number of archers showed up with gloved bow hands! (There is no advantage to using a glove other than keeping your hand warm (Vegas is hot indoors) but there are potential disadvantages from doing so.)

The use of “fat” arrows indoors was caused by the more demanding competitions of compound archers. Since arrows that barely touch the line of a higher scoring ring get that score, then having large diameter (aka “fatter”) arrows should help. Arrows that might have missed touching that higher scoring ring. Whether this applies to other than compound archers remains to be proven, but many a Olympic Recurve archer trades in his/her X10s for 2012 aluminums (a popular shaft of about the right spine) when shooting indoors.

I was “taught” that (by watching what others did and then copying) but, being an experimental scientist, on a couple of occasions I used a set of “thin” aluminum-carbon arrows to shoot an indoor NFAA 300 Round (60 arrows at 20 yards, 5-4-3-2-1 scoring). I then took a small piece of large diameter shafting and placed it over any hole that looked very close to touching the next ring and I found out that “fat shafts” are worth about a maximum of 1-2 points per round. If you are in a position to be needing those 1-2 points to win, then maybe it is a good idea.dead center arrow

The whole idea of using 4-5˝ feathers on indoor arrows is another “monkey see” phenomenon. The argument goes that indoors, with the distance being so short, “steerage” is more important than arrow speed. (Feathers/vanes cause the arrows to fly straighter by actually slowing them down through aerodynamic drag.) So, they took the idea from bow hunters to use large feathers as they were reputed to supply more steerage. Unfortunately this is another example of trickle down misinformation. Hunters used 4-5˝ feathers when the only thing available was feathers. Since they had arrows with heavier points (with the blades necessary for bow hunting) they felt the large vanes helped them “steer” the arrows better. Well, 4-5˝ feathers do steer arrows better than 2˝ feathers, but feathers also have a neat trick. When the arrow is first shot, feathers “lay down” and give less drag by creating much less surface area (feathers are made of individual pieces called barbs that “hook” together which is why you can separate them in so many places, these barbs slide against one another resulting in a very small feather during arrow launch). Arrows with feathers are therefore faster than arrows with equal sized plastic vanes because of this “lay down” phenomenon. In other words, feathers offer less steerage than vanes do over the first 220-40 meters or so. So archers desiring more steerage should use 4-5˝ vanes, not feathers.

So, I found myself shooting large diameter aluminum arrows with 4˝ feathers indoors because … because all of the other kids were doing it. Do you know what I was shooting when I shot my one and only 300/300 round (with 42X)? I was shooting small diameter aluminum-carbon shafts with 2˝ Flex-Fletch vanes.

The collective wisdom of archery is a mishmash of ideas from different eras and different styles passed around uncritically. I recommend that you always try to think things through and ask a lot of questions (even if they seem to be “dumb” questions). If something doesn’t make sense, there are probably good reasons why.



Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Recent Thoughts on Release Aid Technique

In an email from a student he observed that “(In the most recent World Cup Compound Finals) Russian Woman Albina Loginova had problems during the team finals and switched to a different release in the middle of it. Russia lost and she also lost the Gold single final as well.

This brought any number of thoughts to my mind. For one, release aids do not have a 100% reliability ratings. I had a release aid stop working during a competition. After repeated attempts to get the thing to go off (it was my last arrow and I just wanted to be done), I had to borrow a release from another archer to finish the tournament.

In another instance I found out that water in a release can jamb the works up (I heard this happened recently from another archer.), and in another case, my release rope broke during a shot and I had to switch to my backup (fortunately and amazingly the arrow scored well when the rope broke). All serious release aid archers carry a back-up release with them while shooting.

I also want to emphasize that there is nothing you can say regarding release technique that is an absolute, maybe other than you do not want the release aid to be moving around during the loose of the string. What kind of release an archer favors is somewhat dependent upon their personal psychology, and that can change. While someone may be shooting along brilliantly using a hand-held release with a thumb trigger, they may struggle and could very well benefit from switching to a triggerless release, and vice-versa. There are all kinds of techniques. Which can be used is a matter of personal psychology. Some are fine with triggers, others not so much. One professional field/3-D archery carried a pouch of six releases with him. Each one was set at a different speed, one was set to not go off at all. This he did for quite a few years to be able to shoot without anticipating the release going off (a major aspect of target panic).Carter Insatiable Release Aid

While I am on this topic, let me re-state that there is no such thing as a “back tension release” even though this term is widely bandied about in compound-release circles. Think about it; there is no way a release aid can know what muscles are being used to operate it. A hinge release only trips and looses the string when the hook is held in place (by the D-loop or release rope) being attached to the bowstring and the body of the release aid rotates far enough (this is an adjustable setting). The release cannot tell whether it is being rotated by the archer establishing good full-draw-position and rotating their draw shoulder, thus swinging their elbow into line with the plane of the arrow (a highly recommended technique) or whether the archer is manipulating the release by rotating it in their hand using their fingers (a commonly used technique, even by elite archers). One technique involves the use of back tension in the process of shooting, the other does not. So, if you are interested in a release aid because you think it will help you utilize your back muscles, well, you are just wrong. If someone is trying to sell you such a release and using that argument, reach down and hold on to your wallet, turn 180° and walk away.

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