Tag Archives: Barebow Recurve

We Can’t Cover the Basics Enough

Got an interesting question via email recently. Here it is:
The issue I have is when shooting Recurve Barebow at a small target from distance, say shooting at a compound 40 cm target (just the 6 – 10 scorings rings available) from 18m whilst shooting a FITA 18, when using the arrow point to aim with I find the arrow tip covers the entire target. What would be best approach in this sort of situation?

Great question! Here’s my response:

* * *

The technique when using the point-of-aim (POA) technique is to align the bottom of the central aiming spot (visually) with the top of the arrow point (see illustration). You must then adjust your crawl or gap accordingly. This is more precise than hovering your point somewhere around the gold (worst case scenarios are having it wander around inside the gold with no place to settle and covering the gold entirely—your issue). Having the spot and the arrow point make a “figure 8” is much more precise and solves these problems.point-on-target-fig-eight

You do not need to use the central aiming dot, you can use any of the lower rings, but the smaller the dot the more precise the aim (the larger the circle, the harder to find the exact bottom. You can even use color differences between rings above the center to do this but, again, that is less precise (the top of the arrow and the rings are both convex, so it is hard to see when they are aligned correctly).

I actually had some success using a technique of mentally imagining an aiming dot (of contrasting color) which I can place anywhere on the target face. I used a cue like “7:30 in the blue” or “4:30 in the 5-ring” to make sure the dot was correctly located, and then touched the bottom of the dot with the top of my arrow tip and let fly. (Try it yourself. Look at the target in the illustration and imagine a green circular dot at 9 o’clock in the blue. Obviously you have to determine your crawls and or gaps based upon this technique and you need to size the dot according to the target face. I make the dot the width of one color ring as that can be replicated over and over.)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

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?
Thanks

***

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Communication is Hard and Then We Die

QandA logoI got a follow-up from that last post and I got something wrong (amazing isn’t it!). Here is the follow-up question and my response:

“What I’m having trouble with is the rotator cuff of my string arm. In order to ensure full expansion, I pull back until I feel an intense stretch in my rotator cuff. I’m pretty sure this is overdoing it, but to what extent should I expand?”

So, I got the shoulder with the problem wrong. First off you should not feel “an intense stretch in my rotator cuff” … ever! If you do, stop!Stabilizer + V Bars

There is a “slot” through which your elbow can go comfortably while making a shot. If your elbow is too high or two low, there can be a feeling of something “catching” … which is bad. How high or low your slot is depends on you. I have seen archers with quite high and quite low arm positions/slots.

You need to find your slot. With your lighter limbs on your bow try drawing (you don’t have to shoot) with your elbow way too high … then way too low. Focus in on the feeling in your draw/string shoulder. Then try draws at various other spots. Being of a systematic mind, I would go half way between “too high” and “too low” and then look to slots in the top or bottom half of that range depending on which seemed the most promising. So, eyes closed, focus on your shoulder, draw. Try different arm slots to see if you can find the one that works for you. It should be comfortable with no strain and no pain.

This is something I learned “along the way,” I don’t have any biomechanics to back this up. Let me know if you do.

Also, take it easy. You are still nursing an injury which you do not need to aggravate.

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Expand: How and For How Long?

QandA logoDear Coach Ruis,
I have discovered the secret to shooting small groups for me. All I have to do is ensure that I expand after full draw. I realized this a couple months ago, but I overdid it and tore my rotator cuff. How can I get the benefits of expansion without excessively straining my rotator cuff? Rather, how much expansion should I do and how do I know when I should stop expanding?
Thanks

* * *

This student is a Barebow Recurve and archer and, for those of you on the compound side, the “expansion” is a euphemism for the compound term “back tension” which is a euphemism itself. I can remember a while back when, in compound circles, someone would use the term “back tension” and everyone would respond with “What’s that?” The idea of engaging the back muscles to draw the string of a bow has been around for at least 500 years, but our communication on these topics has been so poor, that generations of archers have had to learn this as if it were recently discovered. <sigh>

The “expansion” is really just the use of the back muscles to swing the rear shoulder around toward the spine so that the shoulder line ends up pointing at the bow. (These are the same muscles we use to eShoulder anatomy #1xpand our chests, hence the source of the term.) This shoulder alignment is required to make the now famous “archer’s triangle.” This flexing of the muscles in the middle of the upper back continues through the release with no let up. To make sure that it happens that way, most recurve archers continue that action all the way to the end of the shot (1-2 s past release). This, in no way, should involve the rotator cuff of your bow arm and only slightly affects the one in your draw/string arm. The purpose of the rotator cuff is to stabilize the upper arm bone’s position vis-à-vis the shoulder socket (which is part of the scapula). Only if these bones are poorly aligned do the rotator cuff muscles get invoked significantly.

At full draw, you should only have a small amount of movement in that direction left (see my former post on range of motion), so little should happen because of that (unless things are out of alignment in the first place). When the loose of the string occurs, though, the entire weight of the bow must be borne by the bow arm alone (prior to that it could be supporting as little as 50% of the weight of the bow) and if there is any misalignment there, a problem could develop.

Now, and of course, this doesn’t address the myriad things archers do post release. If this phase is done correctly, the shoulders squeeze a little closer together in your back and your draw hand moves back a couple of inches (finishing with the draw/string fingers under your ear). If your hand finishes in any other place, then you did something that was neither necessary nor effective. Paying attention to your body position post release is an essential skill for archers: you can decipher all kinds of things about how your body was aligned at full draw from where the bits and pieces ended up later.

PS How come I get all of these questions from recurve archers? Are there any compound archers out there? Steve

PPS I know that I just opened myself up to all kinds of snide comments about compound archers; please restrain yourself.

Leave a comment

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Plateaus in Progress

One of my students has taken on the task of coaching up a college archery team (Yea!). Here’s his latest question.

QandA logoDear Coach Ruis,
I have started seeing a pattern in how people progress through Recurve Barebow archery. From my observations, people score all over the place as beginners, but when they become an intermediate archer, they consistently score around 350. Not only did I observe this with myself one and a half years ago, but my students seem to level off at 350, University of Chicago archers seem to all level off at 350, and other barebow shooters I know level off at 350. Once a barebow archer breaks 400 consistently, their scores once again become scattered all over the place—410, 440, 470, etc (I scored a 437 at the Turkey Trot). With major tournaments, the people that win in Barebow have 400+ scores all over the board, unlike intermediates that always seem to group around 350. 

Is this phenomenon just based on faulty observations, or is there a reason behind this?

My hypothesis is that because Barebow is so difficult, people level off at 350; once an archer becomes an advanced shooter, their skills, methodology, and etiquette allows them to well exceed other archers, resulting in a large skew.

Thanks

* * *

I do not know about the 350 (out of 600?) scoring plateau you mention as I have seen far fewer than 100 barebow archers as a coach (beware the law of small numbers!). But plateaus are normal. I assume you are familiar with the “learning curve.” Near the peak of any such curve you will get a leveling off that, if one stops working at that point one will generate a “forgetting curve,” that looks like the opposite of the learning curve. If one does keep working, though, the tendency is to “plateau,” that is work is done, but little progress gets made.learning-curve

For serious archers, the first major plateau is, I think, a manifestation of the Pareto Principle, also called the “80:20 law or rule” (80% of the progress on any task is made with the first 20% of the effort; the remaining 20% of the progress requires 80% of the effort). Basically, as a beginner the rate of progress is quite great, a little work creates a substantial amount of progress, but as one continues the rate of progress declines. More and more effort is needed to make less and less change. If you are using a 300 round score as a gauge of progress, for example, the first 100 points come fairly easily, then 150 comes soon, getting to 200 is a lot more effort, getting to 250 is even more effort than it took to get to 200, etc. Getting to 290 requires a great deal of effort indeed.

Realize that this is true on all three fronts: physical, equipment, and mental. So, a score of 100/300 can be had with quite basic equipment, which is set up okay and with the focus on the physical aspects of shooting alone (basic T-form, etc.). Getting to 200/300 will probably require fitted equipment, tuned somewhat well. The physical aspects of shooting are more demanding (physical fitness level, timing, etc.), and the mental game is involved at some level. To get to 290/300, you need very good equipment (not necessarily elite level), that is carefully tuned, and you need strong physical and mental games to go along with it.Forgetting Curve

Do realize though, that as you gain expertise, you will become more consistent. (It is a sign, Grasshopper!) The exception, I suspect, is when you break through a plateau, you are still inconsistent in the new things that got you out of that “slump,” so things will be variable for a while and then settle down. It is rare for a Barebow archer to be as consistent as top compound archers, though, as this is the nature of the style.

Plateaus are normal. Coaches should expect them. Staying on a plateau for very long, though, indicates a lack of effort or the wrong kind of effort on the part of the archer. The archer is responsible for the amount of effort, the coach is responsible for guiding the right kind of effort. So if a plateau exists for long, something significant has to change. If you want inspiration, look up the story of Australian archer Simon Fairweather.

I do hope this helps!

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Rather Fight than Switch?

QandA logoHi,
I was reading your blog site and wanted to ask a question. Like many people I’m naturally right-handed but from an early age I taught myself have a level of skill with my left hand. Though not completely ambidextrous I can write, shave, saw, etc. with either hand.

Recently I’ve been coaching a number of left-handed students so I taught myself to shoot left-handed. I wonder has anyone else done this? Don’t think I’ll win any medals but it has helped with coaching and course laying. I found it a very educational process as you reapply learnt and known skills but reversed or, rather, flipped.

It also means the students don’t have to try to learn from you whilst trying to flip round everything in their heads. So I was wondering, have you or your readers done this?
Thanks for all the articles and posts.
Rob
http://offthearrowshelf.wordpress.com/

***

Rob, I will get around to answering your question (I promise!), but first a couple of comments (I am, if nothing ellse, long-winded).

I am strongly in favor of coaches trying everything, especially if you want to coach it. Much of archery applies across the board, but if you haven’t experienced it yourself, you can make some really bad mistakes (I can attest to this). In my “career” as a coach I have learned Barebow Compound, Barebow Recurve, and Olympic Recurve, and Longbow, first hand because (a) I was curious, and (b) I wanted to coach these.

Since I took these up rather late in life, I am not very good at any of them. In fact, I don’t think you have to be particularly good at all of the “styles” you attempt, but you do need to be good at one of them (my primary style when I was younger was Compound Unlimited, now it is Compound Barebow). If you never achieve expert status in any style, it will be hard to work with advanced or elite athletes, not just because you will have no “standing” as someone who never achieved in that style, but because you will lack understanding of the nuances and commitments involved.

My favorite story about deciding to “stand on the other side of the bow” was from George Chapman, a champion archer and champion coach (associated with PSE because he was there at their beginning). He won the Indiana State Championship shooting right-handed and then because of some reason (injury, target panic, ?) he switched to shooting left-handed and won the same title the very next year! For people considering the “right-left” change, please be aware that “results may vary!”

Now, to answer your question, I have tried several times to shoot left-handed (from my “normal” right-handed shooting) but never to the point of any proficiency. Now, I think I am too old and clumsy to pull it off.

But … (you knew that was coming, no?) it is a good idea to at least try it. One of the better tools in a coach’s tool box is “mirroring,” which is standing face-to-face with your archer on the shooting line and demonstrating (mimetically) what you want them to do as they shoot. This has to be opposite-handed to what they shoot so that you look like a mirror image of what they are to do. If you have not actually shot that way, your body positions when “mirroring” may be faulty, so at least some practice that way is wise.

Check out Rob’s blog where he will repost this article and answer the question for him!

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Got Flinch?

QandA logoDear Coach Ruis,
Sometimes, at the very end of my practices, I have issues with deciding when to let go of the string. During these times, I might decide to release the string but then quickly re-catch the string. This problem has also occurred in the past during tournaments, usually during the last third of a tournament. What’s going on and how do I fix it?
Thanks

***

This is called a “flinch” and it stems from having to decide when to release the string. It is an inherent problem with Barebow Recurve. It is one of the reasons the clicker was invented. The clicker was not just a draw check (designed to fix the draw length at a particular value); it was invented in 1955 by a man named Fred Leder because of “flinching, freezing, and creeping.” The idea was that, when used properly, the clicker obviates the need to make the decision to loose.

Ch 09 Clicker (Andy M)For Barebow Recurve and a number of other disciplines involving finger looses, the clicker-less solution became shooting process and shooting rhythm. A consistent rhythm is created based upon a consistent shot process. My process (Barebow Compound) is when I get to full draw position, I align my point to my POA, check my breathing (I have asthma), and then check my string alignment, then I come back to my point and POA; if both are aligned, I loose the string. All the time I am partially focused on the feel of my rear elbow moving backward (so as to not lose back tension). A comfortable rhythm has been developed around this process.

In the absence of such a process, one’s conscious mind tends to invent new processes when one tires. As you tire, things feel “different” (harder, more difficult, etc.) which allows the conscious mind to go through a “things have changed, I had better adapt” sequence and the consequence is “Ooops, I didn’t mean to let that one go.” One’s conscious mind has to be kept out of the decision making process. That has to become a matter of habit, which is in the realm of the subconscious. One’s subconscious can multi-task, one’s conscious mind cannot, consequently when you start functioning consciously, your attention flits from this to that to that and … “Ooops, I didn’t mean to let that one go” happens. Do this often enough and you can create a syndrome known as target panic which is responsible for a great many archers quitting the sport because they “can’t shoot any more.”

So, decide on what your “shot completion” process is. The easiest way to do this is simply pay attention to what is happening when you are shooting well and normally. You must write this process down (Step 1, Step 2, …). You must read this list every time you shoot, then use that process at first deliberately, but then transitioning into using it “habitually” as you warm up. When you have a rhythm shooting in your process, you will find that you won’t be deciding when the string is to leave, it will “just happen” along the way.

Let me know how this is working for you.

 

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A