Apertures Float Like a Butterfly

We get letters ♫ … I got an email recently regarding apertures from a compound archer. Some interesting points were raised. Here it is:

I’m working on a steadier hold. I switched to a dot from my aperture because the new (kinda) 80 cm target for compound @ 50m didn’t work with the aperture I’d been using for the 122cm target. That aperture also worked perfect in my garage at 28 feet as well as 18 m indoors. The dot seemed to be the same size at all distances. I was doing holding drills this week and tried both the dot and empty aperture, then noticed something interesting. When using the dot, it wanders out of the gold and you don’t want to take a shot when it does that but when using the aperture you always have some yellow in the circle made by the aperture even when the dot would be out. It’s an illusion, somewhat, you’re always in the yellow while you’re “out” with the dot even though it’s really the same position you’re holding on.

Here’s my response.

* * *

For compound people, there are a multitude of rings in different diameters and thickness … and colors to try. You can even combine rings and dots and use one or the other under different situations.

You were perceiving what is called relative steadiness. A bigger dot seems to move less than a smaller one (possibly because the extent of the motion is a fraction of the diameter of the larger dot, rather than a multiple of the diameter of the smaller one). Same is true for larger rings/apertures v. smaller rings/apertures. If you are using a central dot in your aperture, you want to have the dot be small enough it does completely cover the gold, nor does it leave the gold often. This is why I prefer a larger ring decal on my scope lens apertures. The gold floats inside of the ring and provides the information my brain needs to see that it is “centered” in that ring.

Imagine a dot so big it covers the gold. (Some have used old sight pins with beads glued on the tip to create such a thing for indoors compound archery.) In this situation one feels the urge to move it off to see if the gold is actually behind the dot. If you are in a situation like that, due to the distance to the target, it is better to “see” the dot as being inside, say, the blue ring, and looking to have it centered in that ring because the gold is not helping. On a target like the NFAA Hunter targets, you are SOL as there is only the small central dot on the face and no outer rings to help as with the parti-colored target faces.

Small dots make you feel more jittery, larger ones less so, but larger rings/apertures include the ability to see what is behind the aperture while keeping the sense of stillness.

We are never perfectly still. The fact that out hearts beat continuously, and each beat changes the location of our center of mass slightly, which means we can never be perfectly still. So apertures, scope lenses, dots will always be seen to be moving. Small objects moving a distance equal to their own size appear to be moving a lot. A large object moving the same distance appears to be moving very little. The empty ring aperture (recurve) and the ring decal applied to scope lenses (compound) provide the best of both.

Again, these are my opinions, my analyses. There ain’t no gospel here. If you are someone which an elevated innate sense of calmness, you made need no extra help like this. I am not one of those people and was born jittery, so I needed all of the help I could find. Steve

1 Comment

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

One response to “Apertures Float Like a Butterfly

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    Once again, Steve you hit the nail on the head! There are numerous different types and sizes of dots and apertures that are commercially available, and most of them work just fine.
    Many years ago, when “scopes” first became popular, the dots on the lenses were put in with water-soluble ink! Of course, when shooting outdoors and it was humid or it rained, those dots would wash right off the scope lens. I quickly caught on and started painting the dots on with fluorescent orange paint that I took a toothpick, dipped into the paint and then dotted it onto my lens. The problem there arose with the size of the dot and how it appeared with regard to size of the dot on the scope versus what that did in relation to the size of the “spot” on the target. So, I was wandering through a hardware store and ran across bumper reflective tape in fluorescent red. The light bulb went on (pun intended) and I bought a roll of it.
    I went home and put on my thinking cap as to how I could cut out “dots” and apertures from this roll of tape. Didn’t take long and I figured it out. I took a cheap set of drill bits and flattened out the end of the bit that goes into the drill and removed that burr. I then took a piece of soft basswood (pine works, too) and, using a mallet placed the butt end of the drill bit (not the drilling end) onto the tape and struck it with the mallet just hard enough to go through the tape but not the removable backing. I started with the largest bit I had, tapped out several of that size and then went across the piece of tape, changing drill bit sizes by 1/64″ increments down to the smallest bit I had in the set.
    Then, it was a matter of comparing that new tape dot to the sizing of the dot currently in my scope, clearing the painted on dot and placing the new stick-em on dot onto the lens. What I found was most interesting. I no longer had dot wash-out indoors or outdoors and I could always see the dot in my scope regardless of lighting or the color of the target background!
    I then worked on making ‘rings’ with the center “hole” different sizes and the outer diameter the same size. Centering that inner circle up was a challenge, but I found out that that outside border didn’t really have to be perfectly even. Since I tend to drop low, I simply put the thicker part of the outer ring on top and the thinner part on the bottom. I am looking through the hole, not the outer border anyway! Eyes are naturally concentric so will line things up.
    The key for me here is the sizing of the hole or the dot. Sometimes, for whatever reason, I have to use either a larger or smaller dot or ring because I’m not holding as steady, or I’m out of shape, or whatever. I simply change the tape ring or tape dot size until I’m “steadied up” and I’m not as panicky with it. I found that outdoors I can get away with a smaller dot or ring than I can indoors! Sometimes I have to increase the size to get steady, sometimes I decrease it. But, for ME, going in 1/64″ increments is better than being stuck with a particular size out of 4 or 5 selections on purchased apertures or dots.
    I have outlined this process in my book, “ProActive Archery”, Section 8 Chapter 47, “Making Your Own Custom Dots & Circles”, Chapter 46 is about “Making Your Own Custom Finger Slings” (yes, the length of your sling DOES make a huge difference!). Isn’t it weird (and funny) that things that can drive you crazy with regard to your shooting is the “Section 8” of “ProActive Archery?


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