Monthly Archives: April 2016

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.



Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

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.




Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

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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Filed under For All Coaches