My name is Steve Ruis. I live in Chicago and am a former USA Archery Level 4 Coach, an NFAA Master Coach, a U.S. Collegiate Archery Certified Coach and the Editor of Archery Focus magazine (www.archeryfocus.com), the world’s only archery education magazine. I have written a number of books: Precision Archery (with Claudia Stevenson), Coaching Archery, More on Coaching Archery, Archery 4 Kids, A Parent’s Guide to Archery, Winning Archery, Why You Suck at Archery, and Shooting Arrows (Archery for Adult Beginners). All of these books are currently available on Amazon.com and every effort has been made to make sure that they continue to be “in print” (the vast majority of archery books are “out of print”). If you are interested in any of my books, check out my Author Page on Amazon.com (just search for my name and the Author Page will show up); all of them are listed there.

I am coaching the University of Chicago Archery Team (2011-present) and a number of students in the Chicago area. I continue to work with a full range of students from beginners to Olympic hopefuls as I learn from all of them. I support two JOAD (youth) programs, am a member of two archery clubs, am a USCA Certified Judge, and still compete from time to time. In my spare time I serve as Secretary of the Illinois Target Archery Association.

This blog was begun as a service to archery coaches as most of us are volunteers and very little support for our work is available elsewhere. If you have suggestions, questions, or comments, please use the commenting function and I will try to address your submission as soon as possible.

For more information on becoming an archery coauch, running archery programs, or getting certified, please consult www.ArcheryEducationResources.com.

53 responses to “About

  1. Hey Steve! Do you have any tips regarding night shooting and lighted nocks?


    • Hi, Charles,

      Depends on what kind of archery you are talking about … poaching game or a fun “night target shoot.” I don’t recommend the first and the second is a hoot but not to be taken seriously. As far as I a concerned the only purpose of lighted nocks is to find your misses. Care to be more specific?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well since I don’t hunt currently (although maybe someday, and only during daylight), definitely the night target shooting. Obviously I would be taking precautions and using a nice open field that I am fully aware of the area I am shooting in.

        Think of it as part fun (hoot) and part experiment.

        I shoot traditional (aiming off the tip of the arrow) so being able to see the ground and objects around the target is important for me. So I am thinking of placing a lantern / flashlight near the target so I have a clearer picture of what I am aiming at.

        Do you have any thoughts on how I might improve the experience / experiment?


  2. There are a couple of variations I have experienced. One involves marked distances and a laser pointer. On a quite dark night, you approach the target and the laser pointer is turn on. All you have are sight settings and a little colored dot on the target.

    Another variation is to provide a powerful spot light that illuminates the entire target but only for a very short time.

    Since you are shooting off of the point, you are at quite a disadvantage as depth perception goes down with the general illumination and the light has to cover enough of the ground to illuminate your aiming spots. You might want to gap shoot or stringwalk for this exercise.

    And it is indeed a hoot!


    • Hey Steve, just a follow up on this: I have determined glowsticks (the kind normally used by party goers) are very helpful for night shooting. You scatter a handful of glowsticks around the target on the ground and then either gap shoot using the glowsticks as reference points or even move one of the glowsticks to a specific spot for aiming purposes. Quite the hoot!


  3. Peter Missen


    Your post about moving from a hunting sight to a target sight is very helpful. I am in the middle of making this move and I’m a beginner (at 57 yo). I understand the basic physics/geometry but was struggling with questions like “How far should I push the sight bar out in front of the bow”. I find it quite puzzling that target sight manufacturers supply little or nothing by way of proper instructions for their products. Have we gone back to word of mouth before we learned how to write? Anyhow, appreciated your blog and have signed up to follow your posts.


    Peter (Melbourne, Aust.)


    • G’day, Peter!
      The question is “how far should I extend the sight aperture?” There are a number of things involved here. For one, the farther apart the front and rear sights are the finer you can aim (rifle vs. pistol as an example). But the farther out the sight aperture, the farther apart your sight marks are. On effect of this is to reduce sight setting error (a mistake in setting the aperture position for distance is smaller if the sight bar is farther out) but one’s sight settings can be so far apart that the long distance settings can place the aperture too close to the arrow (easier with a large scope than a small pin) and the short distances so high that they can be seen in the sight window (a problem mostly for shorter risers). Pragmatically, it doesn’t matter a whole lot. I will adjust the in-out positioning to fine tune a peep site picture, for example. If you have no peep site and are just using string picture, most people push it out as far as they can to gain the aforementioned aiming advantage. This, of course, moves mass farther out in front of the bow and may require an adjustment in stabilizer configuration to give the bow balance you dsire.

      For young archers trying to make distance, I sometimes recommend taking their extension bar out of its mount and sliding it in from behind. This puts the aperture inside of the bow and raises the lower (long distance) marks, sometimes enough to avoid aperture interference with the arrow. This is a stop gap measure, though, and would not be used for the shorter distance shots.

      So, the reason sight manufacturers do not give advice about how far to extend the sight is that there are all of these variables to take into account. Some favor pushing the sight bar out, others favor moving it in closer, even to being “inside” the bow.


    • Oops, one more thing. Check out my post “How Far Out is the Sight Placed?” It is down … there … somewhere.


  4. Hey Steve, I have an upbeat video here of a young archery, which is sure to inspire others to give it a go. It would be great if you could give it a view 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET1zUFYR_Us


  5. Adam Clark

    Hey Steve,
    I am a beginner hunter and have been shooting for little over a year. I recently switched arrows and didn’t know that they came in different lengths, hints me being a beginner. My new arrows are about 2″ longer than my previous arrows. How much is that going to affect me and my sights. I know I need to go out and shoot them but, just maybe a couple hints would be great.



    • Adam, you have to give me a little more to go on. Arrows not only come in different lengths but in different weights and, most importantly different spines (roughly related to how stiff the arrows are).

      Can you tell me the type (carbon, aluminum, etc.), and the spines of both the old and the new arrows?


      • Adam Clark

        Ok Steve,

        They both are carbon.
        One has 340 65/80 and 9.3gpi
        and then, 400 55/70 8.4 gpi.

        What is gpi?



      • gpi is “grains per inch” and can tell you what a shaft weighs. The 340 and 400 are “spines” (representing measurements of 0.300″ and 0.400″ in a spine tester–larger numbers are *less *stiff).

        The most important thing is the spine match (between arrow and bow). Bows with high draw weights require stiffer arrows (shafts with smaller spine ratings). The 65/80 and 55/70 are draw weight ranges these shafts are designed for. I hope you didn’t bite on the stupid “You need a 70# bow to hunt deer advice.” as those are pretty high numbers. (Unless you are hunting elephants, you don’t need a 70# bow. A 50# bow will shoot an arrow clean through a whitetail deer and once it is out the other side, it has no more effect.)

        Okay, here’s the skinny. If the 400’s are your new shafts, you are in trouble. They have a weaker spine than the old ones and are, as you say, 2″ longer, which makes them even less stiff (the two extra inches, makes them act like an arrow two spine groups weaker on that manufacturers spine chart). So, the new arrows are, in effect *three *spine groups weaker than your old arrows. Consequently, you would need to lower your draw weight 10-15# to get these arrows to fly as well as your old ones. (I have no idea whether your old ones were tuned at all well, so that is the only comparison I can make.)

        Your marks should be quite different now. After tuning in the new arrows, you will need to get new sight marks.

        if you do not need the extra 2″, cutting them off would get you closer to your old setup.

        If I got “new” and “old” switched (you didn’t say which was which), you have the same problem, except that the new arrows are only *one *spine group stiffer, rather than three spine groups as the shaft itself is a spine group stiffer.

        On Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 12:44 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  6. Yod Cai

    Coach, any tip on aligning your stance with the target face. My kid always thinks he is standing right on line with the target but actually the target is behind his back.


  7. Yod

    Hi Coach, it’s me again. Do you have any suggestion on how long should the finger sling or wrist sling is? Thanks


    • Finger/wrist slings should have about a 1.5-2″ gap when pulled out from the back of the bow when the bow is in shooting position. Some use much longer strings and have greater gaps. Shorter is not recommended as you in effect are tying the bow into your hand, not allowing it free release from the bow hand which will produce a recognizable bow reaction after the shot. To some extent it is a matter of personal preference. (I have a photo of someone who at the end of his shot has his bow hanging in an eight inch (approx.) loop. I can’t imagine having such a setup, but he obviously could.


  8. Mark

    I’m looking to improve the alignment of the drawing arm to get the drawing elbow inline or slightly behind the arrow line. The archer is tall 6’4, with a 30″ draw. They shoot split finger, barebow recurve. If They stand shoulder to the target and turn their head ( aligned over the shoulder) and then draw to full draw, when the elbow becomes aligned behind the drawing hand it comes to rest behind the head so hence nowhere to anchor the hand. Any shorter and the elbow sticks out beyond the line. Any ideas how to anchor / change body position to ensure alignment ( more open perhaps?
    I can post pics if required. Thanks!


    • Mark,

      Pictures would be nice. I am, though, suspicious of someone 6’4″ tall with only a 30″ draw length. I am 6’3″ tall and have a 31-32″ draw length (depending upon style).

      Most people tend to focus upon the position of the rear/away shoulder when the problem is in the front/toward shoulder. I often find myself closing the stances of archers because a closed stance forces them to open their front shoulder fully, which allows the rear shoulder to get in line with the front shoulder pointing at the bow.

      This, of course, is general and your case is specific. If you want to send videos/stills send them directly to my personal email account: ruis.steve@gmail.com.


    • Charles Moffat

      The archer should be raising the bow arm up first before doing the draw cycle and horizontally aligning their drawing forearm with the arrow. During the draw cycle keep the forearm aligned horizontally until they achieve full draw. After achieving full draw have a spotter or coach check the alignment visually and make adjustments.

      Re 6’4″ archer with 30 inch draw – the archer in questio might have disproportionately short arms, but only in relationship to the size of their chest. This is not unheardof. Eg. Boxer Muhammad Ali had longer than normal arms and this gave him a reach advantage. In archery having ideal proportions would certainly be an advantage to attain perfect alignment. So I offer two solutions – 1. Oh well, don’t worry about it; 2. Experiment using a Kisser Button and overdrawing so they can achieve better alignment.


  9. Angie K.

    Hi! Steve! Do you have any articles regarding marketing strategies for private coaches? I’m doing a research project for grad school and I decided to attempt to market a private archery coach/training program.


    • Nope, but if you do come up with something, I would like to publish it in Archery Focus magazine and will pay you for your article.


    • Charles

      Marketing Strategies for Archery Coaches

      1. Choose one/several niche topics for your archery coaching business. eg. If you prefer to teach longbow, but also teach barebow recurve / horsebow, make those three bows align thematically with the name of your business. eg. As a personal trainer I chose “Cardio Trek” because I am not solely an archery instructor, I am mostly a sports trainer and I use sports to get my personal training clients outside exercising while doing sports. I am also a fitness nerd, so having a company name that sounded like Star Trek while simultaneously implying that fitness is a journey/quest worked well for me.

      2. Make an archery website/blog for your business and answer questions from archers who are struggling to find answers. See http://www.cardiotrek.ca/search/label/Archery for various questions I have answered in the past, but also more generic and sometimes entertaining posts on the topic.

      3. Content, Content, Content – Being a prolific writer helps when building and marketing a website. Write as much as you can as often as you can on as many topics as you feel are key to your core niche topics. However avoid writing for the sake of writing, only write if you have something important to say. Talking about archery equipment, common form mistakes, and lastly preventing sports injuries are excellent ways of building content.

      4. Make an effort to put your sense of humour into your writing. People are more likely to share links to your page on Facebook/Twitter/etc if your website is entertaining, funny and informative.

      5. Learn SEO or hire someone else to do it for you. To speed you on your way here is a free SEO advice page on designSEO.ca: http://www.designseo.ca/SEO-Advice.html Especially read the page titled “The SEO Checklist”. That website also lists various marketing strategies for websites.

      6. Craigslist, Kijiji and other free classifieds are a great way to advertise. Keep track of which ones bring in the most people and then start using that service more frequently.

      7. Don’t waste a lot of your time on Facebook/Twitter/etc. Those websites are huge time wasters and don’t actually bring in lots of clients. Make a Twitter feed and a Facebook page, but only update them once per week. StumbleUpon is more effective for bringing traffic in than Facebook/Twitter/etc, which will boost your popularity but not necessarily your local clients (see #10 further below).

      8. Make an effort to take photos of yourself shooting, of clients shooting (get their permission to use the photos of course), photos of arrow clusters on the target, photos of sports injuries or form issues, photos of archery equipment elegantly placed, etc, and use those photos on your website either to make a point or to illustrate what you are talking about.

      9. Get Testimonials from your clients. If you do a good job your clients will volunteer testimonials. Often their testimonials will be quite short, like a simple “thank you for teaching me” and other times they will be glowing reports recommending you to other would-be archers. See http://www.cardiotrek.ca/search/label/Testimonials for examples.

      10. Think Local. 3% of the keywords on your website should be the name of your local town/city where you are making your business. Also pay attention to whether the name has other cities in the world with the same name. There is point marketing to Paris, France when you are living in Paris, Ontario so the name of your province/state should be in there too. Your goal here is to include the name of your business location in one out of every 33 to 34 words. Avoid going over the 3% margin.

      11. Old School Advertising = Newspaper, Magazine, Television, Etc, however these advertising methods are more expensive and have a lower Return On Investment. Advertising on such things can get pricey in a hurry, especially depending on the topic. I used to do marketing for real estate years ago before I became a personal trainer / archery instructor, so I can tell you that marketing real estate is super expensive. Don’t waste any money advertising on such things unless you can keep the costs super low and your Return On Investment high.

      12. Get Business Cards – People are always asking me for business cards when they find out what I do. Tip: Don’t list your phone number on there. I don’t like my phone number ringing while I am teaching. List your email address, your website, a nice logo and maybe a slogan. Don’t mention your rates either. Let them look up your rates on your website. Business cards are also a good way to promote word-of-mouth, by giving them to clients and then they give the card to a friend. A good practice is to give each client 2 cards so they have 1 or 2 they can give away.

      13. Don’t use PPC Advertising (eg. Google Adwords) until you are already well established and profitable. You get better Return On Investment from your SEO practices than you will from PPC.

      14. Once in awhile, especially when you are not selling out all your available time slots, you should offer promotional discounts. I also recommend offering discounts to seniors. I love teaching seniors archery because they have very flexible schedules and they are a joy to teach.

      15. Carry a smartphone or pad of paper/pen with you at all times and write down marketing ideas when you think of them and then remember to utilize the idea later. eg. When I think of marketing idea I send myself an email as a reminder.

      16. Offer Gift Vouchers. I estimate approx. 10% of my clients are from Gift Vouchers from people who purchased archery lessons for a friend, lover, relative, co-worker, etc.

      Oh gosh I could just keep going… Anyway, hope this helps. Marketing yourself as an archery coach is just like marketing yourself as anything else practically. The big trick is you have to think in terms of how much of a Return On Investment you are getting for every action you do, regardless of whether the action is taking money or time to accomplish.


  10. Babette Peyton

    Hi Steve. Congratulations for your Archery Education Books, your passion, knowledge, skill and willingness to share educationally, motivationally and techniques of how to become a better.archer and coach.
    I beleive we have met at least once or twice and U mught have mentioned U would live to invite you on my TV Show “Diversity in the Mix.” I also host a radio show and from time to time as your schedule permits maybe youde also like to be on it too.

    However my interest at thus time is searching for a local archery for myself as I aim to become a top archer in the world and earn a spot in the 2016 USA Archery Paralympic Team headed to Rio this summer. Sheri Rhodes, my former coach suggested that I contact you and that if you are not availble you might have several other coach suggestions.


  11. Greg Emerick

    Not a coach. Need a coach.
    Looking for a coach in or near NE Indiana (Ft. Wayne-ish). I’m finding limited results; some Class 3’s and more Class 2’s. What is the best way to vet out a good coach for indoor and outdoor Olympic recurve? I don’t want some body that hunts with a compound bow, just passed a test, and knows little to nothing of proper form and release of a recurve bow. Please help steer me in the right direction.


  12. Marjoné Mulholland

    Hi Steve. I’m coaching kids from 7-16yrs old. I like your idea of how to coach instead of what to coach. Which of your coaching books would be best to buy? (Considering I can only afford to buy one, unfortunately 😛 )


  13. Marjoné Mulholland

    Hi Steve
    Considering that I can only afford to buy one of your books on coaching, which one would you recommend? I coach children ages 7-16.


    • Marjoné,

      (Beautiful name…) The book that would be most apt would be “Coaching Archery” which was written for beginning to intermediate coaches. The other books include quite a bit of more advanced material.

      If you need a comprehensive archery curriculum also available is “Coaches Guide, AER Recreational Archery Curriculum” (Archery Educational Resources). You need opnly one copy of this book. There is a book for students to buy if they want one although it is not necessary.

      Let me know if there is any other way I can help.



  14. Krish Rama

    Dear Mr Ruis,
    I am currently studying high level training for athletes. One of the areas is the heart rate at rest and obviously the same test taken at regular times during training.
    As I am an archery coach, I asked our tutor if this would apply to those participating in archery, as I believe that the opposite would apply to a toxophilite.
    I intend to do a controlled test with a small group of my students this weekend. Heart rate at beginning of course and then each 20 minutes over a 2 hour period.
    I am curious to know if you or any other archery mentors have tried this.
    I have a theory that (if I am right), the archers heartbeat might actually be used to gauge if that person is ‘in the zone’ regarding the link between body and action, as well as that mental state of mind.
    Could it be that an archer is ‘at rest’ during the shot cycle ?
    If proven, then the heart rate test could be used to ascertain the archery students physical and mental progress (in part) as their training progresses.
    Krish Rama.


    • Please consider sharing your results through an article written for Archery Focus magazine (I am its editor.)

      I have thought such an experiment would put the new “fitness watches” to good use and have recommended some such experiment, so I am interested in the results.

      Your friend in archery,


      On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 12:29 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  15. robert Luttrell

    I am a beginning to intermediate archer, and have a strong background in competitive cycling. In cycling, I used a very specific periodized trading program, developed by my coach, to achieve my best results. Would your coaching book help me to develop a structured training plan for archery? I feel like I’m “just shooting,” which isn’t bad, but I like working toward goals in a structured fashion. Any suggestions? Thanks, geoff


    • Geoff!

      Which book? ;o) (If you are serious, try “Winning Archery” which was written for just that purpose.)

      I am not a big fan of periodization for archery because it is such a low arousal sport. Yes, one wants to peak for the Olympics and World Championships, but the competition seasons(indoor and outdoor) and event schedules build naturally. Also, because it is a repetition sport, one wants to get on an even keel and stay there. How to get to a very high level of performance is quite another thing (Simon Needham and I are running a series in Archery Focus currently on how to climb an achievement ladder to elite status.)


  16. Syed

    Hi Steve

    Any Advice can be given, I am a Barebow archer, and I shoot a 36 ilb bow. But i have got into a bad habit no matter what poundage i pull, i always creep at full draw, always resulting with my arrows falling short. and when I try to keep it at a full draw i over compensate resulting arrows ending up high !!!

    I have started reversals with lower poundage, advice given by one of our coaches, is there anything else you can suggest ?

    Kind regards


    • It is hard to say without seeing you shoot … but most people with this predicament are suffering from poor full draw position. Keeping a consistent draw length is key to success in Recurve Barebow; doing that involves having a good full draw position. The reversals will only exacerbate the problem if your full draw position isn’t fixed (they are just strengthening the wrong muscles being used to hold the bow at full draw). The load of the bow on the body must be held by your skeleton, not your muscles. The muscles do feel strain as they are used to hold your skeleton in the proper position. So, have your coaches evaluate your body alignment at full draw and correct that if you can. Then reversals will be of some value.

      I sincerely hope this helps.


      • Syed

        Thanks Steve for the swift reply… and the advice given,, will speak to my coach on this and also youtube any videos discussing “Full Draw Position”/Body Alignment, any videos you can suggest will be much appreciated ,


      • For pieces on full draw position, search for anything on the “Archer’s Triangle.”


  17. Dear Coach Ruis,

    I first heard about you through Archery Focus Magazine. When I discovered you are coaching the team at University of Chicago, I immediately know my former junior team captain will be in good hands. I do not have any other way to contact you at the moment. Please contact me for her personal information and athlete profile when you have time. Take care.

    Tony Ng


  18. Dave W

    It was the plunger spring! I unearthed the other springs. Substituted a weaker spring. At 18m and with a couple of tweaks the bareshafts joined the fletches in the gold on a 40 face. I’ll stick with the 36 lb limbs. They’re just fine.


  19. Robert Furman


    I’ve had a big issue using the clicker and I’ve noticed that I’m shooting better without. My thinking is that I’m not using my back tension in the correct direction, if that makes any sense? I’m pretty sure that I developed bad habits from my younger days. I was wondering if you might have any suggestions that may help me get going in the eighth direction?


    • There are a great many reasons why you might shoot better without a click, the simplest being the clicker is in the wrong place. Your clicker knows nothing about your back tension, not should it. have someone watch your arrow point when you are shooting well (sans clicker). If the arrow point is not right at the back edge of the clicker blade, then the clicker is likely in a wrong place. Also check to see how far past your clicker you can expand holding good form the whole way. It should be about 1/4″. If it is farther, then your clicker is too far out. (We want to be very close to the end of the range of our draw motion … so close that we can feel our back muscles bunching up, but not so close that we can get where we want to be on an “off” day.

      Be aware, however, that if you are not setting your skeleton up correctly, you can get widely different performances from day to day, based on nothing else than normal athletic variation. The whole idea of using out skeleton to set up shots is not have to rely upon muscles to get us in the right place.


  20. When will the Kindle edition of the book “Coach Yourself” be available (if at all)? Thank you.


    • Oh, it will be available. Our workflows are interrupted frequently. For example, For two weeks I have been focused on getting an issue of AF out (It’s up!) so no work got done on book projects. In this case, Claudia tells me that Amazon has changed its Kindle production system (once again) and that always requires some time spent learning the new system. Since you are not the only on to ask, I will announce on the blog when it is available. Thanks for asking.

      On Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 8:11 AM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s me – again. I’m still waiting the Kindle edition. Now I can not even change my mind and order the paper version of the book, because the overseas orders by Amazon are not possible.


      • I am sorry for the delay. Amazon changed the process by which its books are made and on top of everything else Claudia has to do, she has to learn a new complicated process.

        If you will email me directly at ruis.steve(at)gmail(dot)com, giving me an email address for you, I will send you a PDF version of the book that you can read on either your computer or smartphone, if that is acceptable to you.


        On Wed, Apr 22, 2020 at 7:17 AM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:


        Liked by 1 person

  21. Joe Seagle

    How do I register to receive your blog? Thx


    • Go to any page and scroll down to where you can see the header in the RH column “Email Subscriptions” Type in your email address and click on the “Sign Me Up” button and you will get an email announcement every time I post, including a link to the post.

      Also in the RH column you will find a word salad display of key terms. Click on anyone of those and all of the posts with the Key Word will rise to the top.

      And I have also included in the RH column my email address if you have questions you would like me to answer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.