Monthly Archives: March 2013

Practicing Indoors for Outdoors

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Just a quick post this time. The question is: how does one prepare to shoot outdoors when it is still snowing outside in Spring? This is especially apropos for my college archery team here in Chicago.

There are complicated schemes involving using one scaled down target to aim at and another to collect the arrows that requires as little as 5-6 feet to set up for a 70m shot. But for now, consider this: a 70m shot at a 122cm FITA target would appear the same to the eye as a 35m shot at a 60cm FITA target or a 23.3m shot at a 40cm target. Since the 40cm target is normally shot at 18m, if you can arrange to shoot it at 23m, you will have a sight picture that is very close to that of the 70m outdoor distance.

What won’t be the same is arm angle. If you can arrange to place the 40cm target as high in the butt as possible, this will help. Also, your arrows are no longer “to scale” in that they are larger in diameter than scaled down arrows would be. So, if you are shooting practice rounds for score, require yourself to get the whole shaft of the arrow into the higher scoring ring to count it at that higher score.

FITA Target Face Distance MontageIf you search the Internet you will find that a number of people have created target printing programs that take into account the diameter of your arrows while printing scaled down targets. If you are serious about doing this in your basement or garage, you will find these.

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Working with Adult Beginners

Claude and StudentAn interesting thing happened about a year and a half ago. The Chicago Archery Center put out a Groupon offer for a set of four archery lessons at their center. A whopping 1400 people bought a Groupon! But that’s not the most fascinating thing; that was that the vast majority of those purchasers of archery lessons were young . . . adults. As you are aware, archery is undergoing one of its typical growth spurts, probably fueled by popular movies, like Brave, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games and by television shows like Arrow. Many of these archery newbies are adults. Working with adults is different from working with kids. Let’s explore this.

Are Adult Beginners Different?
We teach all beginners in much the same way but we see three different groups, each of which have to be addressed at least somewhat differently: pre-pubescent youths, post-pubescent youths, and adults. Pre-pubescent youths do not have much muscular development, so the lightest weight equipment is used and “fun” is emphasized over everything but safety. These are pre-teens who usually looking at archery for recreation and not as a competitive sport (but there are exceptions, of course). Post-pubescent youths have more muscular bodies but are often growing rapidly, so much attention must be paid to their equipment so that it fits them, especially if they are getting serious and purchasing their own equipment. Allowances for growth must be made especially in arrow selection. (We go over this in detail in our bowfitting seminar.) Adults, on the other hand, do not have growing up to deal with, but we still start them with lighter weight equipment because archery form, posture, etc. is best learned with as little stress as possible. Once proper posture and technique is learned, draw weight can be increased fairly rapidly, as long as it does not degrade an archer’s form and execution.

How We Treat Adults Differently
Adults have a number of traits archery coaches to be cognizant of; here are a few:

Adults Can Overpower Light Weight Equipment By “Light Weight” we mean bows with low draw weights. Adults can overpower the equipment trying to force it to do what they want rather than learning how to get the equipment to show them how it operates best. The first job in learning to shoot well is learning how to relax. Youths often don’t have the option of muscling their bows into a particular behavior, so they can often learn to relax quickly. Some adults struggle with this. Constant reinforcement regarding relaxation is needed.

Adults are Self-Conscious About Appearing Incompetent One of our coaches went to a family reunion and took some bows, arrows, and a target to teach the kids how to shoot. One particular young lady was shooting very well in short order and this was pointed out to her parents and grandparents. When Dad and Granddad were coaxed into giving it a try within two arrows they were competing with one another and their quite young daughter/granddaughter to see who could score better! (Of course, scoring was not being emphasized.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs adults we want to appear to be at least competent and especially do not want to appear to be foolish. This is akin to teenagers wanting to look “cool” and it is as big a handicap. Our best recommendation is to encourage adults to channel their “inner child” (ask them to revert to being a 12-year old again) and just enjoy what they are doing. Encourage them to avoid thinking about how they might look to bystanders. (Most of the bystanders are other beginning archers in any case.)

Adults Control Their Own Money No parent wants some archery coach getting their kid jacked up about all of the expensive equipment they will need to progress in their sport. So, we make every effort to educate the parents and involve them whenever we make a recommendation regarding a purchase of any kind (organization dues, competition fees, equipment, etc.). With adults, you generally control your own purse-strings, so we talk to you directly.

It is perfectly acceptable for them to use your “program equipment,” as long as all they want to do is shoot arrows for fun. But once they address archery as an endeavor deeper than that, they need their own equipment. Usually the thought comes to them “if I did a little work at this I could get pretty good” or they get home and find that shooting arrows has made all of your “problems” disappear for a while. (Not only does it do that but their problems come back to them in the order of their importance, at least to their subconscious minds anyway.)

In order not to be limited in what they do, they need a bow of the right size, weight, and especially draw weight and draw length. The last two are the two pillars of archery performance and without them, not much can be done. Program equipment has all been chosen to be “enough:” that is long enough (arrows), light enough (in draw weight), light enough (in physical weight), but it can’t possibly be expected to fit every participant and it does not.

If they become interested in purchasing them own equipment, our guiding principle is that folks should buy equipment that matches their level of expertise. Experts should buy top-of-the line gear, intermediate archers should buy intermediate-level equipment and beginners need to buy beginning level equipment. This does not mean all beginners who want a compound bow need to get a Genesis, or other zero-letoff bow, a bow with letoff is good to have, but just not a really expensive one. Not only is the higher end equipment harder to afford, it is harder to use, that is it requires a higher level of expertise to use it to effect. If you want to become more expert in making equipment recommendations we teach a seminar for you in bow and arrow fitting and even if you haven’t taken the course, you may be able to recommend equipment to your adult students that will fit them and their recreation budgets, too. As always, limit yourself to your own competence. If you don’t know much about compound bows, tell your student that they will be better served going to a local shop. Do tell them that they are looking for “beginner level” equipment,” though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdults Often Want Explanations Kids are usually told they need to just do what adults tell them to, so often we give suggestions and they just go about trying. Adults, on the other hand, are used to making their own decisions. Consequently you will need to supply explanations if asked. We recommend you wait until asked for an explanation because our definition of boring is “an answer to a question you didn’t have.” Archery class is supposed to be fun.

We also insist that “the athlete is in charge” in that unless there is a safety violation involved, they pretty much get to do what they please (in the context of the class. Archery is an individual sport and we can’t promote your independent excellence as an archer but denying you the right to make your own choices. If a student insist on drawing his bow with a two finger grip on the strip, please do tell them that we recommend three fingers on the string (to avoid damage to the nerves in the fingers from the pressure of the string) but if they insist, it is their sport and they can do what they want.

So, we encourage adults to ask away . . . but they need to recognize that in a class setting you have many people to pay attention to and you may have to ask them to hold their questions while you attend to one of your other charges. You are not being rude; you are doing what we want you to do. Just monitoring the safety of all participants, our #1 goal, requires a great deal of your attention.

If they are taking pleasure from their excursion into archery, one of our staff has written a book for adult beginners: “Shooting Arrows: Archery for Adult Beginners.” Recommend it to those who want such a thing.

Shooting Arrows Cover v4 (small)

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How Far Out is the Sight Placed?

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I got a question from Jan Tollenaar of Canada via email regarding how far out should a sight’s extension bar be extended. The question was: “I am wondering if you or someone on your staff can tell (or advise) me what is the proper distance to set the extension bar on a target sight. I have not been able to find any reference for setting a proper distance. When you take a look at Axcel sight instructions there is a reference to most archers set the scope 30 inches from their anchor point. (Why 30 inches?) I heard a coach use a rifle analogy: setting the distance on the sight extension bar to its maximum is like a rifle with more distance between front and rear sights (better for long distances). Does distance between the archer and the target have bearing? (indoor at 18 vs. outdoor at 50 m). Or is it personal preference.”

This is a good question and things can be complicated, but the simple answer is you can put it anywhere.
The more complex answer is that there are a number of parameters involved as to what you best sight extension might be. Now, I wasn’t told whether we were talking about an Olympic Recurve target sight, a Compound sight with ’Scope, or a Pin sight, so I will have to include a number of parameters that might not affect you.

Here are the parameters:
1. The farther out the sight bar is extended, the farther apart your sight marks are. At longer distances, your aperture can get in the way of your arrow. At shorter distances you may see some interference with your sight line by your riser (if the riser is short). Youths trying to “make distance” often move their sight bar closer to the riser, even inside of the riser to benefit from these tendencies.
2. The farther out the sight bar (and aperture), the more sensitive the sight is and the more fine you can aim. (This is the rifle sights argument.) In opposition to this is that the farther out you hold it, there harder it is to hold it steady.
3. If you shoot with a peep sight, the aperture may be moved in and out to make your Peep Tied Inpeep hole concentric with your scope housing.

Pins in PeepScope Concentric 4. With telescopic sights, it gets complicated. While these apertures are sold by the power (4X, 6X, etc.) the actual magnification is a function of the distance from peep to lens (the greater the separation, the greater the power).
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5. The farther out the sight bar, the more forward heavy your bow will be (which is why you will see some designs have the sight bar at the bow with a long (and lightweight) carbon fiber boom out to the aperture.

This resulted in a follow-up question: “I’m not quite sure I understand: ‘the aperture may be moved in and out to make your peep hole concentric with your scope housing.’ Did you mean the scope can be moved in and out to make the aperture concentric with the scope housing?”

Yep, you got it in “one,” Jan! One aspect of exact aiming (that compound letoff affords an archer the time to do) is the alignment of the circular peep opening with the circular scope housing (see photo). You want the appearance of a little gap between the two, not so fine that one would fidget trying to get them perfectly aligned, but no so large a gap that you can’t easily see the two openings are concentric.

Moving the extension bar in or out a tad can fine tune this. If you have to move it a lot, you have the wrong hole diameter in the peep. (Generally hunters and indoor shooters shoot fairly large peeps (due to low light conditions), whereas outdoor archers shoot smaller peeps (to cut down the amount of light and also by selecting a smaller part of the cornea to focus the light through, it actually corrects one’s vision. (I have heavy astigmatism—so heavy I can’t get contact lenses—but I can shoot without glasses because of this effect. Optometrists are quite aware of this “pinhole effect.”)

As always, you want to move the bow, not the head to achieve this alignment (assume one’s head position is good ;o).

PS If just one bow is being used indoors and out, I think it is Specialty Archery which makes a peep with removable aperture holes and a variety of peephole insert sizes to choose from. This makes changing around from indoor to outdoor a matter of just changing peep height and peep opening and she is good to go on to the next season.

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