Tag Archives: Equipment

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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Should I Upgrade to Premium Limbs?

I have an Olympic Recurve student who is also a coach and he has been considering moving up in draw weight. I gave my standard recommendation: start with inexpensive limbs until you settle on a draw weight that clicks, then move up to higher end limbs then. Jumping into a new set of high end limbs can be really expensive if they do not work out.

Here is the question I got back today:

These $81 36 lb. limbs are working fine for me. I think I could even go to 38 lbs. My question is what real ROI do I get by upgrading to Win&Win limbs for $400 or so? There’s got to be solid reasons why the Korean team uses them rather than my A+ limbs.”

And here is my answer:

* * *

With regard to the high end limbs, the elites use them because they are sponsored and don’t have to pay full price or at all (in part). With regard to quality and performance, yes, they are better but … most archers (IMHO) are not skilled enough to realize the benefit or all of the benefit. In the Frangilli’s book The Heretic Archer, Vittorio and Michele did an evaluation of a large selection of limbs, which most people have neither the time, money or skill to do. Their conclusion … at that time … was that the quality of the limbs was determined primarily from the quality of the components in the limbs. All of the designs were so similar as to be the same. The differences were small, mostly noticed in the form of the harshness of the shot, not in significant differences in arrow speeds or anything else. So the differences in limbs are small (and expensive).

As long as the inexpensive limbs work for you (you have a baseline of personal comparison with your old higher end limbs) I’d stick with them. If you wanted to try a heavier pair of limbs, I would go up 4#, not just 2#, because you can back them out 10% so 38# limbs can be backed out to 34.2# which overlaps substantially with the 36# pair. 40# limbs can be backed down to 36# (40# – 10%) which is your 36# limbs maxed out … ta da! These are the nominal draw weight values (@ 28ʺ), not at your draw length, but I think it gives you the idea. Once you settle on a pair of limbs and a draw weight adjustment, shoot those for a while. Then, if you can borrow a pair of high end limbs of the same specifications, you can make a direct comparison as to whether the $$$ limbs are better. For one, they should feel more “taut” and energetic. The arrows should hit higher on the target for your old sight settings, etc. If you don’t find enough to get excited about, stick with the less expensive limbs and use the savings to buy other gear!

I suspect that many archers look at their bows as being on a ladder. As they gain expertise, they expect to get more and more expensive equipment. We often start with used gear, then graduate to buying new. We buy less expensive gear while we are finding out what spine arrows work for us, etc. Then we move up. In many cases, this is justified. A $350 bow sight flat out functions far better than a $35 bow sight, but is it far superior to a $250 bow sight? And the sight isn’t responsible for performance. Things like bows, limbs, tabs, release aids are.

There is almost zero help in deciding whether an equipment upgrade will provide benefits to an archer at any skill level. The manufacturers want you to buy their gear. The responsible ones will tell you that you do not have enough skill to benefit from Fancy Bit XYZ but you have to consult with someone highly skilled in making those decisions and most shop staff don’t have that kind of expertise. (I have seen this happen and it is a joy to see.)

Most coaches are not trained well enough to help. I have yet to see any aspect of a coach training program address such things.

Let me know if there is anything else I can help with!

 

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Will Wonders Never Cease?

For decades, competitive rules did not allow finger tabs to be marked in any way to guide those of us who string walked while shooting Barebow. You were allowed to use stitching on a tab if manufactured in, but not allowed to add any marks.

Well … New Rules! Consider what World Archery has adopted:

22.3.8.1.

A separator between the fingers to prevent pinching the arrow may be used. An anchor plate or similar device attached to the finger protection (tab) for the purpose of anchoring is permitted. The stitching shall be uniform in size and colour. Marks or lines may be added directly to the tab or on a tape placed on the face of the tab. These marks shall be uniform in size, shape and colour. Additional memoranda is not permitted. On the bow hand an ordinary glove, mitten or similar item may be worn but shall not be attached to the grip of the bow.

Leave it to them that the marks on the tab must be “uniform in size and colour.” Why? Who cares? One archer can use blue marks and one can use green but an archer may not use blue and green at the same time? Does this offend the aesthetic senses of the WA Pecksniffs?

If you are going to allow archers with sights to put any sight marks they want on their sight (I color code the odd and even numbers of yards/meters in ten yd/m increments, to prevent mis-setting my sight (see photo).) why not let Barebow archers have the same ability? John Demmer’s tab as simple black marks on a white piece of table from 5 m to 50 m in regular increments. He knows which is which but why allow Recurve archers color coding support, even to the point of printed numbers on their sight tapes, but Barebow archers get little monochrome tick marks only?

I guess we should be thankful for small favors.

The lesson I take home and you probably should do, is to always check the rules before your archer competes. Things do change, occasionally for the better.

PS Memoranda is plural so the sentence “Additional memoranda is not permitted.” should be “Additional memoranda are not permitted.” Or “Consulting written memoranda is not allowed,” or … sniff.

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Pet Peeves: #1 Finger Atop the Arrow

I visit a number of stock photo sites looking for interesting archery photos. There are any number of themes I see that give me the willies. This post and the next are on two of these.

Stock photography is a practice in which photographers take photos and offer them for sale through stock photography agencies. This business used to be confined to well-heeled advertising agencies and the like, but with the advent of the Internet, it is now available to all: all customers and all photographers.

So professional and amateur photographers alike can take photos, upload them to a stock photography site and let the site sell them for them. The site allows customers to use search engines to find photographs they like. I search the terms “archery” and “bow and arrow” along with others.

But many purveyors of archery-related stock photos seem not to be deterred by their lack of knowledge about archery. Take this photo for example:

Does anyone shoot in business attire any more? It doesn’t matter as the expected sales of this photograph are about business folks “hitting their targets,” as in sales targets, or growth targets. However this guy has a death grip on the bow, has four fingers wrapped around the bowstring and is torquing the string so much that the arrow has lifted off of the rest.

There are a great many of such photos available.

One of my pet peeves is archers wrapping a finger over the arrow, ostensibly to keep it from falling off the rest. This is a time honored practice as indicated by this print, made in 1892.

So, if it has been around for so long, why is it not an acceptable practice now?

Good question.

The problem now is two fold: #1 over time the downward pressure on the arrow rest will cause the rest to distort and/or break. Odysseus in the etching had no such problem because the arrow rest was his top bow hand finger; #2 is that this behavior masks things we need to correct. If a student draws his bow sans arrow finger, and the arrow falls off of the rest, either there is something wrong with the rest or there is something wrong with the archer’s form. Not allowing the arrow to fall off and expose the problem allows the archer to continue to practice “doing it wrong.” (This is also why I do not recommend the “Whisker Biscuit” rest to young archers. The arrow cannot fall off of the rest, so all kinds of incorrect practices are tolerated.)

 

 

 

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The Danger in Copying Pros

In every sport, copying professionals is a common theme. The question is: should archers do it? My answer is no … unless you want to become that much of an expert and copy everything, including practice volumes, coaching, equipment … everything. Otherwise this is not a good idea.

This topic came up because of an article on a golf blog. (There he goes again talking about golf … well, I wouldn’t have to if you sent in more questions for me to write on! ;o) The blog post addressed whether you should play with a new ball each time or play with used balls. So, what do you think, is it better to play with a new ball at the beginning of a round of golf or one of the used balls in your bag?

If you used the behavior of golf pros, who you can watch perform on TV, as model behavior of how “experts” do things, you will probably answer “use a new ball,” there is less risk that way.

The author of the blog post took samples of used balls from a company that sells them. The company had three different grades of used balls, so he got some of each (all from the same manufacturer, same model). He put the three levels of used balls and new balls of the same kind through some launch monitor tests. The results? No real difference between their performance.

So, why do the pros take a ball out of play when it has a tiny blemish in it? Well, I think there are two factors. One, they get their balls for free. And two, they are exhibiting behaviors that benefit their ball sponsors. (To be fair, they may also be eliminating marks on their ball which may be distracting when they are looking at the ball.) They are certainly not criticized for using too many balls by their sponsor, I am sure. If the manufacturers can get amateurs to ape the pros (taking perfectly good balls out of play), they will sell a lot more balls, so it is in their economic interests to do just that.

In archery, we do much of the same thing. We accept recommendations from professional and other elite archers regarding our equipment and our technique. They tell us that XYZ really works for them and we almost automatically think “I want me some of that!” In all reality, they are so skilled that almost any move or any equipment will work better for them than we can do. I consider all such recommendations of sponsored archers to be hype.

I once had a sponsored pro archer tell me that his bow sponsor’s bow was more accurate than its competition. But bows don’t provide accuracy. They provide arrow launch speeds. They provide arrow launch angles and they provide consistency in both of those things (either good or bad). But they do not provide accuracy … at all. The archer provides that by properly aiming the bow and executing shots consistently. The professional archer making this claim was not trying to con anyone; he was just trying to help sell his sponsor’s product by saying something nice. He himself may have seen an increase in his scores with his new bow, but that comes from an increase in consistency (indicated by a decrease in group size) while he was making sure the arrows ended up in or near the 10-ring.

So, what is the harm in aping a pro? The harm comes from pursuing a goal one is not prepared or physically equipped to achieve, which equates to a waste of time and money, often lots and lots of money. For example, some high performing pro tells us that his new stabilizer system is why he won Tournament X. So, you run out a buy such a system. You put it on your bow and, well, it feels different. Most of us stop there thinking we have made our archery setup “better.” But has it? The only way you can tell is to compare round scores (or something else indicating scorability) before and after the change. Most of us never do that.

Do not get me wrong, you can buy better performance! The most obvious example is replacing a set of banged up, poorly tuned arrows with a set of new weight-matched, highly tuned arrows. You will see a big difference in performance before and after this change. But will you get such a change from one set of weight-matched, highly tuned arrows with another set from another manufacturer? My guess is that you will not see a difference. If you are an elite archer, you might see a small difference and elite archers are frequently checking out new equipment very, very carefully looking for those things that make very small differences in their ability to score. But ask yourself, if someone offered you money to shoot their equipment and it didn’t hurt your scores, would you take the money? Would you say nice things about your sponsor and their equipment?

Think about it. There is a big difference between pro and amateur athlete’s situations, with regard to both ability and budget.

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How (Not) to Sell Archery Gear on eBay

From time to time I help students or colleagues to find archery gear on eBay. As usual I find myself irritated at the mistakes made by sellers. Here are some tips about how to sell gear on eBay effectively.

Listing Titles
One of my pet peeves is sellers who provide useless information in their listing titles. They list their item in a category, say Compound Bows, and then proceed to list everything you do not need to know. People who start their Listing with “Compound Bow” in such a category are wasting time and space. I skip over listings that have stupid titles as I have little time to waste. Start your listing titles with useful information, such as “2005 Mathews Conquest 4.” You do not need to tell me what color it is as you have included a photo. You did include photos didn’t you?

What else do you think your buyer might want to know? How about draw weight (range)? How about draw length (range)? These are very crucial and should be in your header.

An ideal header for a bow might be “2005 Mathews Conquest 4, 60-70#, 29.5˝ DL.” From this I can tell the manufacturer, the model year, the model of bow, the draw weight range, and the draw length range. Take a look at any compound or recurve bow listings on eBay and note how many people leave out one or more of these crucial things.

Currently I am looking for a Mathews Conquest 4 bow with a 40#-50# DW range, so my search terms are “Mathews Conquest 40.” I don’t mind wading through a few Conquest 3s or even Conquest 2s for sale and their draw lengths can be changed with readily available module changes so I don’t search for the DL. And, I don’t really care about the year of manufacture.

Good article titles really help people find your gear to buy.

Photos
I can’t tell you how many unhelpful photos I have seen. I just share one with you to exemplify what not to do.

Is this any way to sell a bow?

This looks like one of those “can you find the …” photos. All this photo tells me is that the camo on this bow will let me blend in with the rugs in Las Vegas casinos. For your photos, use a contrasting, neutral background so the item you are trying to sell will stand out.

Show photos of the things people want to see, including areas of high or low wear. If there is a defect, take a photo and include it. If you are shooting a compound bow, don’t take photos of the backsides of the eccentrics, show the front sides! That is where the modules or adjustments are made in the draw length. Don’t take pictures of limb surfaces unless there is something to show. If there is a label showing the DL and DW characteristics, shoot that. If the label is tucked into a limb pocket, which is the trend in recurve bows nowadays, take the limb out and shoot the label.

Item Descriptions
Go overboard here. Include everything you know about the bow. At the end you can say “I don’t know anything more than I have listed here so don’t ask.” which will help you avoid incessant questions about your item for sale. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to query the seller for basic information they should have included; it is not just a few times.

Additionally
Selling surplus gear on eBay is a good way to get some money back from prior purchases to fund current purchases. Before you set a price, search eBay for the same article to see what other people are asking. Asking too little for your gear will make someone happy but can make you the poorer. Asking too much means your item sits idle and you have to relist it for a lower price.

If your local club or organization does not have a way to list your surplus gear, eBay is a viable route to sell it on. For Recurve folks I generally suggest they keep one set of limbs that is lower in DW for the occasions in which you have had a lay off or an injury requiring you to build back up to shoot your “normal” bow. It is always a good idea to drop your DW when learning a new form element. Having a backup bow can be valuable, too, so keep that in mind when you decide to sell some of your gear.

 

 

 

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How to Learn Archery

The standard approach to learning archery, or really any sport, is to establish a pattern of incremental improvement. Basically this is a “do good, then do better” approach. We teach archers good basic form, not elite archer form, and then we encourage them to make minor changes in their shot, checking to see if these are “improvements” or “just changes.”

These is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach and I do not see that there is anything inherently wrong with it, but it does seem to be wrong to assume this is the only way to learn. There are basic weaknesses in this usual approach. A good example in archery is tuning. Tuning involves making small changes in how your bow and arrows are setup and then testing to see if the new setup is “better.” The problem with this approach is that you may end up with what is called a “false tune.” The approach of “a little bit, a little bit more, a tiny little bit more, oops, too much … back up a little” will find a local “best tune.” But is that the best tune available? This approach is a little like hiking while always moving uphill. You will eventually find yourself at a hill top, but there may be many taller hills nearby. You just had the misfortune of starting on the slopes of a shorter hill. Since it is very hard to get a wide angle view of the tuning landscape we have to resort to starting from a good starting point. In tuning, this is a well set up bow (as the manufacturer recommends, not as your bow has come to be). Trust me, if you start with a bad setup, you will only find bad tunes.

You can also fall into the trap of thinking that you have to be shooting well to learn (“do good, then do better”). Sometimes when you are shooting quite poorly, it is a good time to break down barriers to better shooting.

A way to get off of the “just a little bit of progress at a time train” is to do something really, really difficult, something you thought you (or your student) could not do. One example comes to mind: the thousand arrow challenge. A colleague, Tyler Benner, actually took this challenge and described it in detail in the book he wrote with Kisik Lee, Total Archery: Inside the Archer. Basically the idea is to start shooting arrows (blank bale) at sunrise and before you get to sunset, have shot 1000 arrows. If you have read his account, it is quite brutal. Even if you were to do it with a very light drawing bow, that is a lot of arrows. Even with volunteer arrow pullers/fetchers and a gallery rooting for you, this is very, very difficult. But … if you pull it off, things change for you. Never again will you feel like there is something in archery you cannot do. This is the big payoff.

How many times have you asked a student to do something and their response was “Oh, I can’t (or couldn’t) do that.” It is our out thoughts that get in our way much too often. Whenever some really difficult task is accomplished, it is often the case that rapid progress occurs thereafter. The “really difficult” task can’t be impossible or something that doesn’t get attained, although there are some people who are energized by simply trying something so hard no one expects them to accomplish it.

Such tasks are “doable” yet very, very difficult. We are most definitely not talking about hitting a target at some really far distance one time in 100 shots. Shoot enough arrows and you will hit something just by chance. For many archers this task is shooting a perfect score on a “gettable” round (one that people have already shot perfect scores on) but could be a round that people have almost shot a perfect score in competition and setting the goal of shooting one in practice. Or it might be a scoring level breakthrough (a score of 1400 on the 1440 FITA Round). This may seem like a small achievement, but for the archer who has never reached that point, it is significant. The key, though, is in the preparation and execution. You don’t just keep shooting that round until you get a perfect score, the goal is to always (almost always) get a perfect score or shoot at that level. When you have accomplished something like that, then you feel as if you can accomplish more and, just like a springboard, the accomplishment can launch your archer to new heights.

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Very Cool New Recurve Riser

The MK Beta Riser which takes ILF and Formula limbs.

Some inventive bow designers have created a riser that takes both ILF and Hoyt Formula limbs (MK Beta Riser)! Check it out!

The International Limb fitting is a Hoyt design that was stolen by the rest of the industry (without paying royalties for the design—there are these “so sue me” actions from time to time in this industry) and, of course, the Formula limb sockets are a Hoyt design. Since the vast majority of recurve limbs have ILF fittings, this means a recurve archer would have available to them all of the current higher end limbs to use.

Whether MK is paying for the use of the Formula design I do not know, but it seems to be a simple and well thought out design. There are two posts for limb adjustment. If using Formula limbs, the middle post is removed (I expect it just screws out as it was screwed in). If ILF limbs, the middle post is used and the top post isn’t in the way.

This is not an endorsement, just admiration for an engineering problem solved.

 

An ordinary ILF Limb Pocket on a modern recurve riser.

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What Letoff is Best for Target Archery?

Often as not these posts are stimulated by questions sent in by my students. In this case part of one question included this:

Remember those 65% cam letoff modules? I didn’t notice any difference so I put the original 75% ones back on after a few months. Since using my trainer with two tensions, I see the higher tension seems to go off easier. In addition, I’ve read the higher tension lets you hold on target better. I have noticed even with my stabilizer with different weights I don’t get as steady as I’d like or should be.

Many coaches not raised in the world of compound bows are a little baffled by the concept of letoff. Simple stated, the letoff is the percent of the peak draw weight of a compound bow that you lose getting to the holding weight. So, if you have a 50# peak draw weight compound, if it is designed with 50% letoff, you are holding 25 of those 50 pounds at full draw. If you have a 60% letoff bow, then you are holding 40% or 20#. If you have a 75% letoff bow you are holding 25% or 12.5 lbs.

So, why not 100% letoff, it sure would be easier holding?

In the early days of compound bows (Hint: the 1970’s) compound bows had 35-40% letoff at best. The archers choosing these bows were shooting 40 and 45 pound recurves, holding 40 and 45 pounds at full draw, so knocking off a third or more of that was quite a deal. Shortly thereafter letoff reached 50%, then 65%. When I got started in archery the Compound-Fingers archers were often shooting 50% letoff bows and the release shooters were shooting mostly 65% letoff bows. The difference between the two groups is understandable if you grasp that the fingers do not leave the bow string in a finger loose, the bow string pushes them out of the way on its path toward the bow. If there is very little tension on a bowstring at full draw, where the loose occurs, then there is little force to move the fingers out of the way, which means the string will move much more than we want it to in response to the force exerted on the fingers by the string (action-reaction). This makes for inconsistent wobbly releases.

Bow manufacturers have raised letoffs up to 75%, even 80% but these are not used much for target applications. They are mostly used by bowhunters who may have to wait at full draw for a deer to present itself, for example.

Target archers still need a bit more string tension for the reasons implied in the question and more. As more and more compound archers switched to using release aids, which make our releases so much cleaner, we tended to give back some of that full draw bowstring tension (high letoff = lower full draw string tension), trading it for comfort. The holding weight at full draw which creates the string tension is a force we exert on the bow that (a) makes the bow easier to hold up (as the draw arm is pulling up, somewhat, as well as back), (b) makes the bow easier to hold steady, and (c) gives a reasonably clean release.

In my student’s case, his bow has replaceable modules that attach to the cams that change the letoff from 65% to 75%. (Letoff is an element of design that varies slightly with draw weight and draw length and since those are adjustable, these numbers are approximate.) He is saying that with the 65% letoff modules installed (giving a slightly greater holding weight/bowstring tension at full draw), that the release goes off more crisply and that he seems to be able to hold steadier. He is quite right.

Many cam modules are adjustable to create a wide range of draw lengths. Some adjust the letoff.

Basically there has to be a happy spot in the middle of the letoff range, somewhere where the amount of resistance at full draw is not taxing yet the tension on the string is enough to facilitate a stable hold and release. For target Compound-Release archers this happy middle ground is currently around 65% letoff. As with all things of this type, this is not a dictum, it is just an indicator that the farther you get away from that number the less easy things get. As the letoff goes down (toward, say 50%) the holding weight goes up and so fatigue becomes a factor on long shooting days. If you are in very good shooting shape, this may actually be desirable. As the letoff goes up, the ability to hold steady goes down a little, but if you are rock solid steady, that may be an acceptable tradeoff. So some archers favor higher and some lower letoffs than what most archers do.

If you hear compound archers arguing over “what amount of letoff is best” realize that the discussion is probably pointless as what is best for one person may be quite different for another. It also depends on the application: bowhunting, target, field, 3-D. But compound archers, shooting more complicated mechanisms (bows), have more of an equipment focus than do recurve and traditional archers. Arguing over “what <fill in the blank> is the best …” seems to be a way to talk about their sport and stay engaged. I never pay those discussions/arguments much attention.

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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:

Steve,
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

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