Another Cover Being Just Enough

I consider it a bit of sport to see how archers are portrayed visually and in prose in modern fiction. This is a cover of a book, which I will not buy because there are too many good books to read and, well, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. (If the publisher cared so little about the cover, how much could they care about the contents?)

In any case, we see our supposed protagonist drawing a bow as a contortionist might. The arrow is on the wrong side of the bow and seems to being held by the fingers of the bow hand, which is not on the correct place on the bow.

The draw involves a bent draw wrist, a no-no, and a low elbow which tends to activate the biceps of the draw arm, another no-no. The bow wrist is kinked, “heeling” the bow, et cetera, et cetera. If the bow has any draw weight at all, she is in danger of wrecking her shoulder by moving her bow arm into place while under load. <sigh>

Possibly they were trying to establish the heroine’s status as a bad ass by showing her disdain for ordinary archery form, like bad guys from the ’hood holding their guns sideways (making their sights useless and a number of other things).

Maybe the pandemic is finally getting to me, maybe I am just bored, . . .


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The Value of the Personal Best System

I was reading a book last night (What’s It All About?: Philosophy & the Meaning of Life, by Julian Baggini. Granta Books. Kindle Edition . . . don’t judge me, I am a philosophy buff) and a couple of excerpts literally jumped off the page for me as they apply to archery. (So there, judgers, something good came from my weird reading habits!)

Here is the first:

“As psychologists have observed, our own sense of self-esteem is largely generated by how we compare ourselves to our peers. Yet we tend to compare ourselves to those apparently doing better than we are, discounting those who are less fortunate. That fosters discontent, since no matter how well placed we are in relation to the population as a whole, we only attend to that portion of it in comparison to whom we are losers. (emphasis added)”

Wow! I have been emphasizing that we are only competing against ourselves and . . . yada, yada, yada, and, of course, my younger students, at the very least, ignore all of this as clueless adult sayings they usually hear from parents. Of course they are comparing themselves to their peers.

I think the natural tendency to discount those “you are ahead of” is a bit overstated, kids seem to know all about social pecking orders, so I would be shocked that they didn’t know where they stood regarding their archery cohort, the whole cohort. Still if one is ambitious one does tend to focus on those ahead of them.

The author went on in a follow-up to say:

“However, putting this straight is not simply a matter of saying we can all achieve relative success and be happy with that. This kind of thinking is what motivated the idea that in education ‘all must have prizes’. Children are to be thought of as having different abilities, and success should be simply developing those abilities as best they can, even if their successes compare poorly with other people’s. But this too has its problems. The philosopher Gilbert Ryle, writing on a rather different topic, pointed out that the concept of counterfeit coins only makes sense if there are real coins to contrast them with. Likewise, the concept of success only makes sense if there is something that would count as failure. This doesn’t mean that there has to be actual failure. There can be a test, for example, with a pass mark of 50 per cent which everyone happens to pass. The point is rather that there must be a genuine possibility of failure, or else success isn’t success at all.”

I have always hated the “everyone gets a trophy” movement, if for no other reason is that discarded trophies are filling our garages and landfills.

Hey, What About Personal Bests?
Yeah, I roped you in with this topic, didn’t I? I think the PB System is still a good one and valid. Having a goal to shoot a personal best is one of the very best outcome goals because it doesn’t depend upon who else shows up. If your student is all geared up to shoot a better score than Billy, Jamal, and Andrew, what happens if none of those kids show up? The competition becomes like shooting at a target with no target face posted on it.

By targeting yourself, you have a known target and a known score and you will know if you are confident or not that you can beat it. Then, if you do, you may also beat a lot of other competitors or you may not. But if you can’t beat yourself . . . well . . . ? Setting new PBs are the very best signs of progress. You are learning to score better, whatever it is that you are doing. And better is better, no? If your major competition doesn’t show up and you win with a mediocre score, a score you knew those guys could easily beat, how do you feel?

Well, I still am recommending PBs as kind of the only useful outcome goal. If the competition is fierce, you are going to need such a score to contend. If the competition is not so fierce, it will show that you are making progress. And, you will be learning about yourself.

Part of the preparation in going for a new personal best score is demonstrating that you can do that in practice. This leads to confidence that you can do it in competition. (Going to a competition with no such evidence is “hoping” to set a new PB and there are many adages that attest to the value of such hopes . . . and they aren’t flattering.)


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Can This Trad Recurve Be Shot Off of the Shelf?

All of the older trad recurves and longbows were made to be shot “off of the hand” or “off of the knuckle.” There was no “shelf” to shoot off of. Then some enterprising bowyers started including a little built up section at the top of the grip wrapping. This could be something as simple as a little wedge of wood wrapped in place forming a small ledge that could help hold the arrow in place. Soon these bows also included an insert of a harder wood or other material to prevent wear from the arrow sliding against the bow.

Since these little ledges held the promise of better accuracy they grew in size until a substantial arrow shelf was built into a built up handle section. And as sights become popular the little cutout grew to facilitate being able to see your sight and the sight window was born. (Also, “centershot bows” allowed arrows to be aimed and shot closer to the central plane of the bow.)

So, to determine if a bow was designed to be “shot off of the arrow shelf, there has to be a substantial shelf built into the bow (at least the width of your arrows) and the shelf has to have a hump built into it. If the arrow shelf of your bow is flat, it was built to be shot off of an elevated arrow rest (which often were of the “stick on” variety which can and did fall off and get lost even in storage). The crown or hump on the arrow shelf was there so the arrow touched only a small area of the shelf meaning less friction and less possibility of a “clearance problem.”

The shelf and the side of the bow adjacent to us was often covered with leather, to prevent wear on bow and arrows and also to provide a bit of “give” to help the flexing arrow on its way, much as cushion plungers now provide.

When the shelves became very large, a way of “adjusting” the centershot of the bow was to build out the side of the bow with multiple layers of leather or whatnot. This was called the “build out” and you can read accounts from back in the day of archers setting their “build outs.” Now you know what they were doing.

Photos below show the crown of the shelf of a bow designed to be shot off of the shelf, the leather pads used there, and how different shooting off of your knuckle was from shooting off of a shelf.











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Is It Safe to Draw a Bow Behind Your Ear?

This is an interesting question. Is it safe to draw a bow behind your ear? The answer is yes . . . and no.

For some styles of shooting, drawing behind your ear is standard form, such as Kyudo. However, these styles are usually shot with a thumb release. In a thumb release, the draw thumb is wrapped around the bowstring (from inside to out) and then wrapped with a finger or two to lock it in place. Because fairly heavy bows were shot this way, thumb rings were used to distribute the pressure around a wider area to prevent injury.

In a thumb release, the arrow is held on the other side of the bow (if a modern recurve bow were to be shot with a thumb release, a right-handed archer would shoot a left-handed bow) and the string slides off the thumb away from the archer. This causes a string deflection in the opposite direction of the “normal” Mediterranean release. So, instead of the string leaving the string hand moving forward and toward the archer as we are used to, the string moves forward and away form the archer in a thumb release of the string. This is why archers using this technique don’t accidentally rip off their ears when shooting.

Here is a photo of a modern archer drawing a 170# Tartar bow using a standard finger hook (just to show you it can be done). Look carefully and you will see that he is holding the string away from his face (note the shadow of the string). And, do you now know why, boys and girls? Yes, he would rip off his ear if he held a tight anchor. This is why these bows were shot, historically, with a thumb release.

What you sacrifice when holding the string off from your face is accuracy. Keeping a tight anchor, that is against your face is necessary to get your aiming eye into the plane the arrow will be shot in. When your aiming eye is outside of that plane, you are guessing as to your windage. Since the arrow is an ordinary projectile, if you can line up the arrow with your target (in plane, as it were), then your windage is taken care of and the only thing to concern you is elevation of the bow to get the correct distance.

I note in passing that archery was often used as artillery in the Middle Ages. The arrow cloud scene in the movie Braveheart demonstrated this technique. Historically comments on this technique include hyperbole such as “their arrows darkened the sun,” and whatnot. The archers lobbing arrows this way with English longbows (and a Mediterranean loose) often drew to their breasts with their heads turned slightly away so as to not catch their ears on the loose.

So, the answer to this question if you are a coach is “Only if you know what you are doing” which means “No” for all beginner to intermediate students.


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Did the Ancient Greeks Really Think Archers Were Cowards?

One of my favorite bloggers is Spenser Alexander McDaniel, who is a young man still in college studying classics. He blogs about things historical and this post caught my eye. I recommend it (Did the Ancient Greeks Really Think Archers Were Cowards?) to you if you are interested and his blog also.

He writes very, very well for one so young. He does quite a bit of debunking of the stories we tell ourselves about ancient peoples and the more I read his posts, the more “just like us” these people become. Granted they had quite different beliefs and attitudes, but otherwise the ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, Hebrews, etc. would fit into our modern spectrum of peoples quite easily.


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Stop with the Bests, Please

I tend to “lurk” on several archery sites, such as Archery Talk, even Quora has an archery section. I call it lurking because usually I bite my tongue and don’t comment, so I’ll comment here instead! :o)

All too often I see questions on these various sites like “What is the best bow?” and “What is the best broadhead?” and “What is the best bow sight?” and “Can anyone recommend a good broadhead?” These questions irritate the heck out of me because they do not specify for what purpose. What makes a good bow sight for hunting doesn’t necessarily make a good bow sight for target archery. What makes a good bow for historical re-enactments doesn’t necessarily make a good bow for horse archery. What makes . . . do I need to continue?

So, these are stupid questions on their faces. And if one does try to answer them, one is necessarily put in the position of listing a great many different purposes and answering the question for each of those quite different categories, when the questioner is probably only interested in one of those answers.

On Quora, the following question was asked “What is the least expensive bow?” I lost my composure and answered “a free one.” My first bow (and second and third) were free in that they were loaners that got turned into gifts, so the answer wasn’t entirely facetious. Answers to this question would vary a lot if one had asked “I want to explore target archery, how much do I need to save up to get started?” or “What is the least expensive starter bow I can get to go hunting?”

So, pet peeves aside, I see too many posts on websites, articles in magazines, and videos on YouTube referring to the “best” binoculars, “best” spotting scopes, “best” bow sights, “best” hunting bow, “best” arrows, “best” broadheads, etc. The reason these are misleading at the minimum or stupid at the other end is there is no such thing as “the best” anything when it comes to archery . . . period.

Every piece of kit you can acquire for archery has caveats associated with it. One of mine was cost. I have never been what you might call “flush” to the point that money was no object. So everything I bought fit into the category of “the best I could get for under XYZ dollars.” On top of that are restrictions based upon application. Binoculars for most bowhunting scenarios should be small, lightweight, and moderately powerful, possibly wide field also. You may have to pack in these binoculars, so light and small are good, and deer hunters rarely take a shot over 30 yards, so not a lot of magnifying power is needed. Probably want rugged, too. If you are using the binoculars for long distance target shooting, such requirements may not apply. Field archers have to lug their gear around their ranges, so light and small might apply but target archers can have all of their gear in a wheelbarrow, right near their shooting station, should they need any of it.

A bow for target competition also has limitations. If you hanker after an Olympic medal, don’t come home from the pro shop with a compound bow, they aren’t allowed.

Then there is the matter of personal fit. When examining a new bow, the first thing I check is the grip section. I remember a bow Claudia fell in love with that I couldn’t draw because it felt that the grip was going to slide right out of my bow hand as I began pulling on the bowstring and there was nothing I could do to change that. She, on the other hand, felt she had never felt a more solid hold in her life. So, that bow might have been “best” for her, but it certainly wasn’t “best” for me.

What I would rather see are posts/videos/articles with titles such as “What Makes A Good Bow Sight?” and “What to Look For When Buying a Hunting Compound Bow.” Then you might be equipped to find something that is at least “good” for you.

Addendum When I finished this post it occurred to me that anyone who answers a “best” question straight on, “this is best,” or writes a “best” article is actually lying. This is based upon the simple fact that in order to declare a best of anything, you would have to test every possible candidate in that category. Do you think the people who declare a “best hunting arrow” actually tried all of them? Tested all of them? Can you imagine testing all bowstrings, bow sights, arrow points, broadheads, etc? I can’t. So, I sincerely wish people would stuff the “bests” where the sun don’t shine along with all of the other BS.

Apology If I have offended your sensibilities in any way, I do apologize. Being locked up due to the pandemonium gives me no one else to vent to.

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It Is All About Feedback

What do coaches provide? There is a long list of things: information, wisdom, knowledge, emotional support, encouragement, etc. When it comes to counseling an archer with regard to his/her shot, the biggest boon is supplying feedback.

Archers cannot see themselves while shooting so coaches can watch and learn and also control what is going on. But with the video resources we now have available in our pockets, aka smartphones, we now have the capability of watching ourselves, so . . . who needs a coach?

I was thinking about this when I was writing my latest book, Coach Yourself! One would hope that a competent coach could provide a great deal more than a video recording. For one, we would know what to look for, know what is important and what is not. And, a biggie is that the archers, seeing themselves, compares what they see to . . . what? The only comparator they have are the descriptions they read about in magazines and books. Coaches, I would hope, have seen myriad archers . . . while thinking about form and execution . . . and so have a small encyclopedia of things in their heads as to what works and what doesn’t.

Now, consider the feedback loop archers have. Let’s say I decide to modify my stance somewhat. So, I do and I take a few shots. My shot now feels slightly different. Well, that is expected. Any change will feel different, but does it feel “better.” Do we really know how a better shot feels? Can we tell “better” from “different?” I do not think so.

So, our feedback loop is: a change is made and we shoot shots and see where they land. Are my shots centered better on the target? Are my groups tighter? So, the feedback loop is: shot—hit point. That’s it. That’s not very helpful.

I saw video in which an Olympic weightlifter was training. Their situation regarding feedback is much as ours is. They try something new and then they lift. Either the weight lift is successful, or not. And they have “how it felt” as additional feedback. This is identical to our feedback loop. But this chap had electrodes and wired dangling from his body. Researchers had been checking his musculature as he lifted and had recognized a pattern of muscle activation that was closely associated with successful lifts. But the lifter couldn’t feel that muscle or control it much at all. So, the team was supplying feedback. The guy would lift and then the team would tell him whether he had done a good job of activating that key muscle or not. Remember he can’t tell directly. But by providing the feedback, almost “yes you did/no you didn’t,” he learned how to flex that muscle consistently.

Studies have shown that people can adapt their bodies to tasks they have no seeming contact with just by supplying feedback and encouragement. In one such experiment, subjects were asked to pay attention to a light on a wall in a bare cubicle and, if they could, get the light to flash keep the light flashing. They were then rigged up to various sensors and left alone. Subjects reported that the situation was quite boring, so when the light began to flash, it had their undivided attention. They reported some frustration in that they could get the light to flash but after a bit it would stop, then it would start again. But every time it started again, they were able to keep it going . . . until it stopped again. What the researchers were doing is picking a signal they wanted to see if it could be controlled. The subjects managed to raise their heart beat rates, for example when the light was set to flash when their heart rate went up. Then they switch to only allowing it to flash if their heart rates went down . . . and flash it did. They got the subjects to raise, then lower their respiration rates and, get this, raise and lower their blood pressure . . . all by just supplying feedback in the form of a flashing light in an otherwise boring situation.

What I took away from that experiment was two things: one was that we had more control over these autonomic process than I had thought and the other was that . . . feedback is very powerful.

So, as a coach how can you provide more and better feedback to your students. The obvious way to study form and execution to sharpen what to look for and what to recommend as things our archers might try, but consider this process. If you time a number of shots, you can find that many archers shoot higher scores when they shoot at a particular rhythm and keep that shooting rhythm consistent. Does this apply to your student? The only way to find out is to check it. So, your student stands fairly close to a fairly large target (unless very expert and then you can use ordinary target faces) and you ask them to shoot arrows. If you can put up two multi-spot target faces. Then with numbered arrows or numbered spots, your archer shoots a the spots while you time him/her with a stopwatch. (I use the period from when the stabilizer tip begins to rise to the sound of the shot being loosed as the time of the shot.) Then you collect the times and arrow scores for a largish number of shots 40-60. (This is why you have to number the arrows or spots and shoot them in order so you can match the times and the arrow scores.)

Archers who shoot better in rhythm will show that there is a sweet spot . . . in time . . . for their shots to occur and score well. If a shot is gotten off quicker than that or takes longer than that the score suffers. If such a bracket in time (for example 6-8 seconds) can be identified than you can use feedback to get your archer to always shoot in that rhythm. You simply sit behind the archer with your stop watch as they shoot. If they shoot before the right time, tell them “too quick.” If they get to the far edge of the sweet spot time zone, command them to “Let down!” Soon, the archer will recognize the timing themselves, e.g. “That was too quick, wasn’t it?” and will be shooting in the correct time more and more often to the point of “always” doing so (as much as we “always” do anything, of course).

If an archer feels uncomfortable at a particular rhythm, you can explore other rhythms through this feedback, just pick a slightly faster or slower rhythm/shot timing and then train on that, then of course, check to see if the scores follow. If the scores don’t follow, then that rhythm is not the one that the archer really wants, no matter how comfortable it is.

Start thinking about how you provide feedback and how you can improve that feedback. Consider also how you help your students use the feedback. Are you providing enough support, enough drills, etc. to allow them to grasp what you are recommending? we aren’t at the point of wiring up our archers to electromyographs just yet, although it is done for research purposes, just not for training, so the feedback has to be in forms archers can digest.

There are literally dozens of things we do now to provide feedback, e.g. “I am going to touch your scapulae with my fingers, try to move those touch points closer together as you draw.” Do you have a favorite form of archer feedback. If so, share it with other coaches in the comments.

Oh, and I hope it is clear now that a partnership of archer and coach that works has to be better than archer alone. The archer has access to all of the internal aspects of their shot and the coach can see all of the externals and together they can create a complete picture. (If they can communicate and cooperate effectively, and . . . , and. . . .)

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Getting Serious: Trying Remote Coaching

This is the latest Archery Education Resources column from Archery Focus magazine, from an issue that had a special emphasis: “Archery in a Time of Pandemic.”

* * *

Okay, since your indoor and outdoor ranges are closed for the duration, so . . . what are you going to do? Here are some suggestions.

Keep in Contact
Whether by text message or email or any other means, keeping in touch with your student-archers will help them, some of them in any case.

Encourage Rainy Day Activities
So, it is raining and they can’t go outside to do archery, so what can they do. There are long lists of things that can be done to organize and maintain their archery gear. They can start by sorting their arrows into three piles: (1) Competition Ready, (2) Okay for Practice, and (3) In Need of Repair or Replacement. If they have been learning “archery crafts,” specifically arrow repair, maybe now would be a good time to practice those skills on the arrows in Group 3.

Reading About Archery If your students have books about archery, those can help fill the “archery hole” the pandemic is leaving. Archery Focus magazine is proud that they allow you to send individual articles to your students if you think one of those will help. Just download the issue with the article and then use a PDF program to separate out the article from the whole issue and then attach it to an email or a text and voila. (PDF “editing” programs are available for free). They ask that you do not send whole issues this way as they would like to make money from subscriptions.

Internet Archery There are a number of websites devoted to helping beginners, NuSensei comes to mind. We do not recommend random, unvetted Internet archery excursions (at least until they know what is up) so your job is to “approve” of some of those sites and provide links.

Doing Drills Any drills that do not involve actual shooting can be done and, if they are able to shoot at home in a basement or garage, they can even do shooting drills. Your job, of course, is to provide the drills. Just setting them loose on YouTube may be not the best advice.

Try Remote Coaching
With the advent of the communication tools embedded in the Internet, remote coaching has become a “thing” in archery. Clearly there are not enough good coaches available, so some archers are stuck trying to get coached from afar. People use the telephone, email, text messaging, video communication tools like Skype, and even more specialized tools to allow coaches and archers to have back-and-forth exchanges. Our experience is with email (mostly) and attached still photos and video clips. Many younger archers prefer text messaging and whatnot. The advantage of email is you can “nest” the emails exchanged and keep them in a folder for each student, thus you have a running log of your exchanges.

Helping Them Take Photos This can be done as simply as asking a sibling or parent to take photos using a smartphone and then emailing them from the phone. Or a camera and tripod can be sued and if a brother or sister or parent isn’t available, many camera s come with remote shutters (or you can buy them cheaply enough Bluetooth enabled. Where you are needed is to help them take the photos that will help you help them.

We are working on a “handout” that shows what pictures to take from where and listing what they show but we haven’t finished that yet, look for it soon.

I just noticed that Mental Management Systems is offering online trainings now. I haven’t checked out the details, but if one of their seminars has been on your “to-do list,” you might want to check those out.

Which brings to mind the fact that we have been totally concentrating on how you can help your students, and we have left helping you out. One of our favorite sayings is “you can’t give what you don’t have.” So, you may need to do many of the above yourself. Your batteries may be charged up with nothing to do, so think about enhancing your knowledge and skills in support of your own archery, which on the come around, will help all of your students in the future.

And, bottom line, if it stops being fun, most people stop, so keep investing in what makes archery fun for you!

Postscript We make a standard recommendation that you not “authorize” shooting at home. If enterprising archery students or their parents set up a practice station in their home or backyard that allows shooting . . . safely . . . then that is, we think, a good thing. On the other hand if you supply recommendations or instructions as to shooting at home and an accident occurs or an unsafe practice results in an injury, you may have legal liability. Even if you were to inspect the site and find nothing unsafe about it doesn’t mean that the people using it will use safe practices. Think about a young archer who has a friend over while his parents are at work. We suggest a ten foot pole with a ten foot extension on it is still too short to touch this topic.



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I Shot a Lot Better Today Than My Scorecard Indicates

If you have been in archery competition for any length of time you have probably heard someone say “I shot a lot better today than my scorecard indicates.” This usually muttered by someone looking at their scorecard with a puzzled look on their face.

There is only one response to such an assertion and that is “No you didn’t.” And no, you don’t have to be rude and say this to the archer making that claim, unless, well, you like them and care for them.

Each and every day, you shoot your capability that day, period.

Sure, things can go wrong: equipment failures, strange gusts of wind, birds flying in front of targets, overhanging branches that were not there before jump out and deflect your shot, sure. But they happen to everyone. Deal with them.

There is nothing better in archery than our individual responsibility for our performances. You can’t blame the officials. You can’t blame your teammates. You can’t blame the conditions (everyone is facing the same ones).

So . . . “I shot a lot better today than my scorecard indicates?” No, you shot exactly as well as your score indicates. If you want to take credit for the good scores you shoot, you also need to take responsibility for the poor scores you shoot . . . and the mediocre scores, and the up and down scores, and the inconsistent scores, and . . . well, all of them.

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Bow Reaction: Should I Pay Attention to It or Not?

I have been working my way through Jake Kaminski’s YouTube video series on Recurve Bow Tuning to see if I can recommend it to you. (I urge you always to view any videos all of the way through before recommending them.) While I am only about half way through the series at this point, I think this is, so far, quite a valuable recourse.

I am currently on Video #5 which addresses stabilizers and I was learning a lot and I got to the 23:00 mark and Jake basically said this: “I don’t care what the bow does after the shot, the arrow is long gone . . .” So, how the bow reacts after the shot is of no interest to him. This is something that elite archers espouse but one needs to be very careful as to who you recommend this to.

Jake was commenting that the Koreans like to have a repeating forward roll of the bow after their shots and he was arguing against that as a requirement. But there are very sound reasons for that kind of followthrough and paying attention to it as it happens. I will argue these below.

The Forward Roll of the Followthrough
Jake was addressing the weight distribution associated with longrod and V-bar stabilizer systems when this came up. The Koreans weight their bows so that the center of gravity is below and in front of the spot where the bow contacts the bow hand. This results in the bow taking a “bow” after the shot.

This is not necessary but it is desirable. This forward roll is a bias built into the bow, a bias that channels the movement of the bow in a particular direction, which has the effect of restricting movements in any other direction. Imagine if you wanted to stand up a long stick so that you could reach it later and so you didn’t want it to fall over. If you stood it up against a wall, flat against the wall (something that probably wouldn’t occur to you), the stick most likely would fall over immediately. This is because the wall blocks the stick from falling in any direction toward the wall . . . but not away from it. So what do we do? We lean the stick onto the way and it stays there. This lean is a built in bias for the stick to fall toward the wall, with the wall opposing it creating a sort of balance. If you want the stick to stand up in an even more stable way, you would lean it into a corner between two walls, creating a situation in which the stick has even fewer direction it can fall and two walls blocking three quarters of those directions. The lean into the corner is a bias that prevents the stick from falling any direction but toward the corner, in this case.

So, biasing a recurve bow to roll forward, prevents it from rolling to the left or to the right or backward, etc. You are restricting the bow’s degrees of freedom . . . and thereby making the followthrough more regular and restricting the forces that will cause arrows to vary in the launch positions.

Observing the Followthrough
I think the vast majority of Olympic Recurve archers should care about what their bow does after the arrow is away. I instruct my students that “the shot is not over until the bow takes a bow.” The reasoning for this is that if the archer has done everything consistently, he/she will get a consistent rollover followthrough. The followthrough is therefore a consistency meter. It will tell you if you are being consistent. The bow is a mere physical object being acted upon by physical forces and if they are the same shot after shot, the followthrough will be the same shot after shot.

Plus the longrod stabilizer acts like an amplifier. If the bow turns a little bit, the tip of the longrod turns a lot. Small movements at the bow show up as bigger movements in the longrod tip, bow limb tips, etc.

And you can learn to read errors through what happens during the followthrough. If you torque the bow differently, or you heel the bow, or shoot off of your thumb, the bow reaction will be different. And each of those mistakes has a distinctive followthrough pattern which you can recognize and then take action to correct the cause.

But elite archers can often dispense with the followthrough monitoring because they are so attuned to their shots that if they made a mistake, they know it and don’t need to observe what the followthrough tells them because they already know it.

Elite compound archers are notorious for cutting off their followthroughs. Their bows tend to be heavier than recurves, so leaving them out at arm’s length for tens of thousands of shots per year puts a lot of wear and tear on bow shoulders (shoulders being one of the weaker joints in our bodies), so when these elites shoot, they pull the bow back toward their bodies instead of watching it go through a roll over followthrough, thus reducing the strain on the bow shoulder.

So, this practice is fine . . . if you are an elite archer, but I do not recommend it for less-than-elite archers. There is too much to be gained from the bias built into the stabilizer system and the monitoring of the followthrough. This is how you tell you are shooting well, so that you can accumulate the experience of shooting well enough to be able to do what Jake does.

PS The reason I am telling you all of this is my browser was not letting me make comments on the YouTube site (maybe because we are all at home from the pandemic, swamping their service) so I couldn’t comment there, and well I had to get this off of my chest.



Filed under For All Coaches