Monthly Archives: March 2015

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Advice

QandA logoThis is a question from a frustrated coach on a topic you may have some experience with.

Dear Coach Ruis,
In the past, I’ve dealt with students who wouldn’t follow all of my advice. But now, I have a student who not only doesn’t follow even half of my advice, but also argues with me constantly. She always finds an excuse to not do what I want her to do, even if I am able to prove her ideas wrong. How do I deal with students like her?

* * *

It is the teacher’s role to teach … and the student’s role to learn.

And, since this is a voluntary arrangement, I would simply not spend any more time with her. You are providing a service, if someone doesn’t want what you are providing, you don’t help by irritating them by insisting upon it.

At a deeper level, my coaching philosophy involves helping all archers to become independent, to be able to take or leave coaching as they see fit. I can’t do that by taking away their autonomy, by telling them they must do as I say or I will take my marbles and go home.

I suggest you respect your student’s right to ignore you. The flip side is I certainly do not want to spend time with people who ignore my advice and/or cherry pick my advice, distorting it into something it is not. If I must continue to work with such people, I tend to get more formal and less casual and instead of making statements, I ask questions. If they are insisting on doing everything their way, I honor that by making them do it. I can help by asking questions that lead them to think, but I cannot do their thinking for them.



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Midnight Flyers (Black and Blue)

QandA logoDear Coach Ruis,
I keep having one arrow fly into the blue or black (3 o clock or 9 o clock) almost every single end. It’s not a specific arrow as I’ve tried using different arrows. It’s also not sequence specific. Sometimes it’s my first arrow, sometimes it’s my second arrow, and sometimes it’s my third arrow. The other two arrows are almost always within the red, if not, then in the yellow. But somehow I manage to get one in the blue/black regardless of how well the other arrows do. I think it might be form, but I have no clue what part of my form is flawed. What should I do?


I can’t say for sure. One possible source of this could be a lack of good “line” that is alignment of the string arm with the arrow/string plane. (The Two Pillars of Consistent Archery are: soft hands and good full-draw-position, aka “good line”.) If you are still consistently not having good “alignment” then you will be basing your performance on athleticism more than having structured it into your body. (You are depending on muscles and timing rather than bone structure and posture.) When this happens you will have dramatically different “good days” and “poor days.” What this will manifest as will be: on good days, your groups will be smaller. You said that recently you have been pounding the middle. But on bad days, your groups will be poorer: meaning some blues and blacks will occur normally. Yes, I said “normally.” A shot not based on secure body posture will have quite variable groups sizes and you will normally have arrows in the blue and black.

Having said that, it is quite common for people not getting to full draw to miss left and right, so maybe that is a hint. Either have a shooting partner or use a mirror to check your alignment. One quick way to do this is to draw looking directly into a mirror. If you get into good FD position, you will be able to see your back in the mirror as your shoulders should be 10-12 degrees closed to your aiming line.

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Arrow Rest Basics

A question came in regarding the differences between recurve and compound arrow rests.

I have a different approach regarding arrow rests than some other coaches, which I will explain after some background.

When an arrow is loosed, it flexes. This is because the force acting on the arrow through its nock is not lined up exactly with the axis of the arrow’s shaft. In a finger releases, the string is sliding off of the string fingers toward the archer. This causes the arrow to flex, first into the bow and then back and forth as it flies to the target. The arrow’s fletches damp out most of this flex within the first 20 yards of flight. The flexing of a shot arrow is mostly horizontal when shot with fingers, hence the use of cushion plungers to absorb much of those horizontal forces while the arrow is still on the string. Since the arrow is bowed in toward the bow, as it slides forward on the rest, it pushes up against the arrow rest, which necessarily (action-reaction) pushes back. On modern recurve bows, a cushion plunger as used to absorb some of that force and to control the amount of “push back.” A stiff arrow rest (usually a stiff wire) is used to maintain the elevation of the shaft as it slides forward, very little flex is allowed for in the vertical plane of the bow.

Compound arrows, shot with fingers, behave in the same fashion.

Compound arrows shot using a release aid flex much less and mostly in a vertical plane, making the use of a plunger ineffective and a stiff arrow rest less than effective. Rests designed for compound bows have most of their

The blade of this launcher rest (left) acts just like a diving board at a swimming pool.

The blade of this launcher rest (left) acts just like a diving board at a swimming pool.

flex in a vertical plane. The most popular rests used by compound-release archers are called “launcher rests” which are like diving boards. They allow flex, resisting it gently, in the vertical plane but have little effect in horizontal planes because there is so little flex involved. Common launcher blades are made of spring steel with little notches at the end to keep the arrow from sliding off.


My Approach
I put a simple, screw-in plastic arrow rest on my student’s bows when they buy their first bow, compound or recurve. I do the same for my own bows. (My last new bow was a Hoyt GMX and I fitted it with one of those $2.95 plastic, screw-in rest. With the threads, I can set the centershot fairly closely and the rest has flex built into it. Very simple. (When the bow was shooting well because I had a good basic tune, then I installed a plunger and rest.) With students who are building releatable form, I only recommend a plunger and steel wire rest when they will benefit from it (almost always quite late). Otherwise, a complicated arrow rest is just an added expense that produces no benefit, plus they make the bow heavier and require a lot of adjustment. The same is true for my compound students. I tell them that the first perfect NFAA Field Round was shot by a professional compound-release archer using a springy rest (Terry Ragsdale), a rest that is much like the cheap plastic rest I recommend now. A launcher rest comes much later when there will be a perceived benefit from its use.Springy Rest Montage

Basically my point is why use something that is much more expensive, more complicated, harder to adjust when there is very little chance of that piece of gear allowing an improvement in performance (basically by supplying better feedback to the archer)?

Plastic Arrow Rest

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