Tag Archives: Books on Archery

It’s Out!

Okay, my latest book Coach Yourself! is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. Enjoy!

FYI this book is not recommending that you coach yourself, I do not consider this to be the best … nor the worst option, but for many it is your only option. I wrote this for archers in this situation, with the secondary goal that if you do actually hook up with a good coach, the recommendations in this book will be helpful in creating a positive, constructive, and fruitful relationship with them.



And Now for Something Completely Different ...
At the printer right now (metaphorically anyway) is yet another of my books of essays on coaching archery. This is #5 with #6 in first draft so that one will also be available within a month or two. These essays are on various aspects of coaching archery having the intention of being thought provoking. I would expect that someone might read one of these essays per day or per week (there are 40 some odd essays in this volume) so that you’d have time to think about what was discussed. These are short essays, because I know you are all busy people and have other things to do. YMOCA should be available in about two weeks (we have ordered a proof copy which has to be inspected and once final, Claudia has to make the Kindle edition). Unlike previous editions, none of these essays have been published before, although some have their roots in posts I wrote for this blog and then expanded upon.


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New Books We Have Published

We have been busy publishing books recently and I can’t remember whether I have mentioned these to you or not, so rather than scour through my posts I will just list these.

The Young at Archery by Hugh D.H. Soar
This delightful book is by an honest to goodness archery historian and it explores how young people have been taught archery over the years. If you compare then and now (Hugh does.) you will find things very, very different. (Yes, we are doing a better job!)

Bob Ryder on Coaching Collegiate Archery by Bob Ryder
We are proud of this book because this is the only book ever written on coaching collegiate archers (there have been some on teaching collegiate students). Bob Ryder is a very, very, very successful collegiate coach and he shares his wisdom freely, even dating back to when he was a champion collegiate archer himself. And what he has written will help all archery coaches, not just college team coaches. This will be a coaching classic in short order.

Mastering Archery, 2nd Ed. by James Park, Ph.D.
We convinced Dr. Park to allow us to republish this book which had gone OOP (out of print) like so many other archery books. We often say that archery is not rocket science, but in this case we all benefit from Dr. Park’s engineer’s approach to archery (His Ph.D. thesis was on arrow flight characteristics.) If you are curious about the whys of archery, we can recommend this book as being easy to read and easy to understand.

Coach Yourself! by Steve Ruis
This is not quite “out” yet as Claudia is still working in the Kindle edition, but it will be available shortly. I wrote this book because I had so many inquiries from people interested in archery but with no coach or archery club nearby. Coaching yourself is not the best option for an archer, but it is also not the worst. I tried to write it in the spirit that if a coach were to be acquired that what readers will have learned will help them work with their coach.

Yet More on Coaching Archery (Steve Ruis on Coaching Archery #5) will be out in a month or so.

Whew …

Oh, all of these are available (or will be) on Amazon.com.










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Be Your Alter Ego?

I have been working on another book of my coaching writings. I have several in print now and there are more to come. These books originally started as a compilation of the writings I had done for Archery Focus magazine. (I started writing for AF from sheer need. When we were still a “print” magazine, we could not have a three page “hole” in an issue. Blank pages were the equivalent of dead air in TV and radio production, so I (as the editor) wrote pieces because promised pieces had not yet come in.

Now, I have always wanted to write and do layouts of writing, so it wasn’t something I had rather not been doing, it was just the circumstances, that is writing because . . . terror.

Since then I have continued to write pieces that could end up articles in AF or chapters in books and I knew that the folder I kept these things in was quite stuffed, so I did a rough count and saw that I had about two books worth of previously unpublished material, so when a slight opening in our book production process happened I started on this task.

One of the chapters in this new book is a short discussion of the aphorisms “Be yourself!” and “Shoot your shot!” Both of which can be helpful . . . in the right circumstances. I feel the “Be yourself!” admonition to be mostly less than helpful as it is based upon a mistake (that there is a “real you” deep down inside). I thought, and wrote, that a better exercise for a serious archer is to explore what their “archery persona” was. This is based upon the fact that we all have different roles in our communities: in our families it might “son,” or “brother” or “father” or “husband” or “grandfather.” We also have roles as employees, citizens, colleagues, customers, church members, whatever. When we are involved in archery, we are in our “archer” guise. And I thought it a worthwhile exercise to have serious athletes explore how it is they wished to be viewed in that role and compare that with how they are actually behaving. If they want to be viewed as a “champion archer” and they practice at most once a week, well then there is something to look at . . . and a way of looking at it (have your student research how often champion archers practice).

So, of course, one of my golf coaching blogs has a post this morning entitled “How to Use the Alter Ego Effect to Unlock the Best Player Within You.” The poster, David MacKenzie, reports that “Todd Herman tells us that the Alter Ego Effect is about identifying the role that we want to play and creating an embodiment of it i.e. your “Alter Ego,” which we can use it as a vehicle to bring out those qualities that we need to perform at our best.”

David continues with sections with the headings “What Player Do You Want to Show Up?” and “‘Acting As If’ Can Make You Feel Like You Are” and “Detaching You as a Player from You as a Person” and “Activating Your Alter Ego” and more.

If you are interested, you can find this interesting post here.


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Sometimes a Cover is Enough

Caveat Emptor!


As you may know I regularly have Amazon.com scour their offerings for archery books. Recently there have been quite a few new books targeting beginning archers. Sometimes a cover is enough information to invoke the old as time warning “Let the buyer beware! aka Caveat Emptor!

The title starts off a little awkwardly with “Archery Book for Beginners” but no harm, no foul. The target for the book is clearly stated and we usually don’t ask much more from a title. The subtitle, though is where we go off the rails: “Learn How to Archery in 90 Minutes . . .” So, archery is now a verb? WTF? The sub goes on “. . . and Pickup an New Hobby.” Okay I can be a grouchy grammarian but really? How about “. . . and Pick Up a New Hobby?”

After the zinger it goes on (Please, don’t!) “(including archery fundamentals).” What happened to the capitals? What kind of book for beginners would not include the fundamentals? Sheesh.

All of this is only US$21.95! That’s almost a dollar per page (of which there are an astounding 24). I sincerely hope this was published by a precocious child and not a scamming adult. We have enough real problems to not having such “things” turning people away from our sport.


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Well, This is Sad

Sorry this has been a slow posting time. I have been sick for almost a month now (and quite tired of being so). Steve

♠  ♣  ♥  ♦

I bit on a book offered on Amazon.com entitled: Mastery of Re-curve Bow Shooting: Full Guide to Learn as Well as Master Re-curve Bow Shooting; Shoot Just Like a Pro with Precision Plus Accuracy by Kenny B.A. Hardwood

Since it was only $3.99 in the Kindle version, I though I would take a look. If it was any good, I might be able to recommend it to you and my students.

The book is very, very short and seems to have been written by someone whose mother tongue is not English. I found quite a bit of it to be undecipherable. Here are some excerpts:

“This is a fascinating guide and a perfect introduction to the way to shoot a re-curve bow. There are more details concerned with the shooting methods or techniques, or better still stuff you will do to make your aim perfect one. The goal of this guide is to provide you a basic step by step guide so you don’t find yourself scratching your head once get your initial re-curve bow and conceive to shoot it.”

and . . .

“Also, ever-suffering sinistrals (left-handers? SR) can probably be experienced at swapping right for left. Besides, the steering is aimed toward curve target archers.

The shortcuts:
*Your stance or the stance is poor
*The string hits your arm
*You grip the bow too firmly or tightly
*You do not perpetually anchor within the same place
*You do not check the string image
*You do not meditate enough.”

and . . .

“Normal recommendation for born bow arms is to line up early, and to stay up aim throughout the shot – the sight need to air the target and stable, but not managed stiffly once you unhitch, and you need to be looking the arrows in the centre.”

If I am missing something here and you have read and understood this book, I will be quite glad to hear from you.


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Lesson Learned?

I regularly search eBay for new and used archery books. In the past year or so, those searches have come to be dominated by blank books. Yes, blank, but actually notebooks. These and “Archery Planners” calendar books and “Archery Score Sheet” books dominate the other books on offer. Usually, my daily search comes up with a double handful of new listings. Today there were 59.

One such “series” of “books” has the titles: “12 Years Old And Awesome At Archery,” “14 Years Old And Awesome At Archery,” “10 Years Old And Awesome At Archery.” These are selling at prices around $10 and being mostly blank or the same planner with different covers are quite easy to “write.” I do not know how they are selling.

Being published as books through Amazon’s self-publishing program means each of these gets an ISBN which has to be clogging the system of keeping track of books being published. I suspect that young entrepreneurs are involved.

I have been hammering away for a couple of decades now that archers need to keep a notebook, including what to put in them, as have many of you. Has that lesson been learned? What do you think?


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An Olympic Recurve Bargain

I can’t remember whether I have posted this before. (They told me “the knees go first!”) So, I will post it again.

For years I have recommended The Simple Art of Winning by Rick McKinney as the “bible” of Olympic Recurve archery, and I do still recommend it as one of the best books for those archers. But recently I have been recommending The Competitive Archer by Simon Needham a great deal, too. The reason is that it is chock-a-block full of practical advice, things like how to trim a tab and read the amount of wear on it, etc.

I was recommending this book more because Simon’s other book (The Art of Repetition), a masterwork was very, very expensive, being available only as a hardbound book. But Simon has made both of these books available in Kindle format, bringing their costs down below US $10, a considerable savings even over the paperbound The Art of Repetition.

If you are an OR archer or coach, I can’t recommend these three books enough.


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The Drill Book is Out!

Human Kinetics got it done early!


Anyone interested in writing a review of the book for Archery Focus magazine? We pay our authors.


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“So-Called Mental Skills Coaches”

I was reading an article about the 2019 U.S. women’s national soccer team and encountered this: “The US have often employed sports psychologists and so-called mental skills coaches over the years, although there is not currently a full-time staff member working in either of those roles.”

“So-called” mental skills coaches . . . hmm.

Why not “The US have often employed sports psychologists and mental skills coaches over the years, . . .”? Why “so-called”?

Sports coaching seems to be an established field, but I suspect that is because there are coaches who make a great deal of money doing that as a job, rather than there being standard (or non-standard) criteria that qualifies you to do it, such as doctors and lawyers and beauticians have.

What is it that qualifies one as a “mental skills coach”? When I look at my favorite mental skills coach, Lanny Bassham, he not only invented himself and his business as a mental skills coach, he invented his curriculum, too! There are now education programs just coming into existence that are certification programs, so “certified mental skills coach” is a phrase now coming into being. (Lanny’s company, Mental Mangement Systems is offering some of these.)

Note As an aside, it took me a long time to realize that a certification program was one that had a certificate at the end. What the certificate establishes is that you completed the program in good order, nothing more, nothing less. Basically it is just a “certificate of completion” for a course of study. The value of the certificate is derived only from the value of the program, or it should, although some programs seem to limp along, harvesting their former reputations along the way.

So, what is it that qualifies one as an “archery coach,” then?

In the infancy of archery coaching in this country, which was not that long ago, what qualified you as an archery coach was the fact that you coached archers. There were few of them and no, count them—zero, zilch, nada—archery coach training programs.

What qualifies one to coach archery is still evolving, although evolving chaotically in my opinion. There are a number of things that are needed to make “archery coach” a more recognizable position, far from being a “so-called archery coach,” and they do not involve getting a high paying job with a professional team or major university. One of the things I found missing when I first got a coaching certificate (a Level 2 certificate from the then National Archery Association, now USA Archery) and that is any kind of professional literature for archery coaches. I searched and searched and searched and found exactly two books on coaching archery, both of which were on how to teach a college archery classes (and one of them was published in 1935).

I can’t remember exactly when it was I took on the task, the mid-2000’s I think, but I decided to make the attempt to create a professional literature for archery coaches. (No shrinking violet I.) I went about and used my position as editor of Archery Focus magazine to ask every coach I knew to write books about coaching . . . and got turned down every . . . single . . . time. So, I wrote one book myself (Coaching Archery, WAF 2009) to get the ball rolling. The project got turned down by traditional publishers, so we formed our own publishing company, Watching Arrows Fly, which now has about a dozen titles on coaching (and many more on other archery topics, all available on Amazon.com) and a half dozen more coaching books are on the drawing boards. (I am editing, designing, and laying out one such currently—Bob Ryder on Coaching Collegiate Archery).

It is a start.

We made an abortive attempt to create a community for archery coaches. We called it The Archery Coaches’ Guild. The effort is on hiatus because we just didn’t have the resources to pull it off. We spent many hundreds of hours and a fair amount of money on it only to end up back on the proverbial “square one.” It is doable as we designed it as a virtual community (around a web site) but we just couldn’t get it done.

At some point or other, when I am brave enough, I will take a shot at writing an outline of archery coaching knowledge. Part of that “tree” will be a branch, a stout branch, labeled “Mental Skills” or the “Mental Game of Archery.” (So-called metal skills coaches, my ass!) Other branches will include archery equipment knowledge, the role of technique and how to teach it, how to develop archery skills, how to compete successfully, how to operate a recreational program, the science of archery, etc. My thought is if I create such an outline and share it widely, it will stimulate people to write about these topics. If we can accumulate the coaching wisdom of current coaches then future coaches will not have to “start from scratch,” as it were, developing their coaching kit. And, if they add their acquired wisdom on top of ours, well, maybe we will have something of great value to coaches going forward and, through them, to all archers.



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Getting Serious: Helping Them to Understand Archery Tech

Archery is a technical sport, there is a lot of technique involved. One of the areas bewildering to both new archers (and their parent’s if they are young) is the technology of bows and arrows, the equipment. One of your roles is to help them with the tasks of selecting equipment to acquire, setting up that equipment to be both safe and effective, and tuning it so it is matched to the archer’s skill. This is not a small undertaking, so let’s talk about this.

Talking Archery Tech

In the companion AER piece for archers, I took a shot at explaining arrow spine. Most beginning archers do not have a clue, and if my experience is at all common, many experienced archers also do not have a clue. So, this is important: if you find yourself in the position of making recommendations regarding purchases, setup and tuning, etc. and you are not comfortable with that task, you need to find a “tech support angel” or tackle that steep learning curve yourself.

Tech support angels come in the form of archery pro shop owners who take you and your students under their wing, offering you the services you need or can be a member of your archery club who volunteers to keep your program equipment in shape. In our first archery program experience (a 4-H program) a club member took all of the program arrows home with him after our weekly lessons and repaired them and brought them back for the next session. Later, we learned to do this task ourselves. We have heard of archery shops offering the same service for reduced or even no fees. (They are in the business of making money doing these things, so if they offer you a steep discount, or free services, be very, very grateful.)

Basically, we are saying you need to know of what you are teaching. Once you do, you will find yourself walking your students through procedures … over and over and over. Often the same student needs to be shown things multiple times. As with all physical skills, having them do it themselves after being shown is a critical step in learning.

Getting an Education

Coach training programs don’t do much in this area, so you are going to need to find other sources of technical support. One of those is books. We can recommend:

  • Simple Maintenance for Archery, 2nd Ed. by Ruth Rowe and Alan Anderson This is a must have book for coaches of serious archers! Step-by-step procedures with photos are provided for almost every task you will need to master.
  • Modern Recurve Tuning, 2nd Ed. by Richard Cockrell An excellent resource for what the title claims.
  • Tuning Your Compound Bow, 5th Ed. by Larry Wise The tuning bible for compound bows by a master coach.

Another source is the Internet, which we are sad to say is a mixed bag. Some of the information available is spot on and other, well, not so much. When using the Internet, always consider the source. We can safely say that the Lancaster Archery Academy Blog is a safer bet than a random video found in a Google search.

Teaching Videos There is an old saw used by teachers which is “tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember.” There are a great many videos available on sources such as YouTube that are excellent at showing things. Here are a few examples:

We give out links to videos on how to tie a finger sling from a shoelace, how to safely brace a bow, etc. but we strongly recommend that you very carefully watch any video you would like to recommend as some of them start out doing a great job and then fly off into the land of error later. Take notes about any points in the videos you find iffy. These can be points of discussion for your students if you recommend the video to them.

Recommending videos and “further readings” is also a good way to get your student-archers involved in archery outside of their lessons or classes. They also are a marker to distinguish serious competitive archers from recreational archers. In general we have found that the recreational archers won’t do “homework” but the serious archers eat it up. We often use the test of asking students to text or email us to remind us to send them the information they say they want. Almost universally, the recreational archers will not bother to remember to do that or if they remember, they just don’t do it.

This is not a knock on recreational archers! They are not in the sport for what you are asking them to do and they are just being polite or telling you what they think you want to hear. This is to keep you from making the mistake of trying to teach your students the wrong way. Homework and drills don’t work for recreational archers, making things fun does. Just focusing on fun will offend a serious archer after a while and could lose you that student. This is all about “knowing your audience,” a prime rule of teaching.



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