Tag Archives: Equipment

Last Chance?

Lancaster Archery is clearing out “Simple Maintenance for Archery” (see https://lancasterarchery.com/products/ruth-rowe-2nd-edition-simple-maintenance-for-archery) for US $4.95 which is a steal. (Thanks to Ron Kumetz for the “heads up” on this sale.)

We contacted Ruth to see if she wanted us to republish this very, very valuable book and she was not interested. We are considering creating something to replace it, but that may or may not happen.

Get’em before they are gone.

This is the cover of the First Edition. The sale is of the Second Edition.

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Follow-up to “We Can Learn from Teenagers”

I was discussing my last post’s topic with the colleague/friend who brought it to my attention (Tom Dorigatti) and in that discussion Tom pointed out that:

You may recall that she (Liko Arreola) won the Women’s Championship at Vegas last year and a 15 year old young lad won the Men’s Championship at Vegas in 2022, too.

In bouncing these things back and forth in my mind, I followed on with “I think this is a combination of a couple of things: good coaching and a willingness to be coached on the part of the young athletes. Combine those with the benefits of youth (no mental scars, steady nerves, etc.) and great things can happen.

We didn’t get the coaching, at least until we were much older. So, we had pounds of bullstuff circulating in our heads and with no guidance in the mental game, equipment, etc. we created all kinds of blocks to good performance.”

I was thinking of professional golfers who fondly remember being able to putt brilliantly when they were in youth golf, but can’t “find the magic” again now that they were competing at the professional level. Those pros had accumulated a vast number of failed putt images in memory, so when they are to block out any expectation of the success of a putt, there is still this wall of memory holding back a flood of negative thoughts to contend with. (Think of the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike.)

As we age we accumulate many, many positives to build upon, but also things we consider as failures. It might be best if we didn’t label our shots as “successes” or “failures” but that seems an almost automatic process—maybe we can train ourselves to not do that. Not having those stores of memories tagged as successes or failures may make it easier to clear our minds and execute our damned shots.

As the young lady stated (“In practice at home, I don’t keep scores because, for me, it will lead to expectations and pressure in tournaments. My practices focus mainly on trying to perfect quality shot executions.”) self-knowledge is always the key. Some philosopher long, long ago gave the advice “Know thyself.” Still seems to be good advice, especially for archers.

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The Importance of Distinguishing Between What is Done and What Just Happens in an Archery Shot

I have written about this before, but it is worth emphasizing.

As just one example, consider the finger release. When a shot is loosed, the string fingers open from their curled positions (around the string) and the string, freed, pushes the arrow toward the target. So, does the archer need to do something, like “open” the finger curl to allow the string to leave or is this something that just happens? I hope you know by now that the fingers play almost no active role in the release of the bowstring. They are flicked out of the way by the string itself. That happens because the muscles controlling the finger curl around the string, in the upper forearm, are relaxed and the fingers no longer restrain the string. The string rushes back to brace, flicking the fingers out of the way in its path.

This is not the only thing that “just happens” in an archery shot (most of the followthrough, the left-right and front-back weight distributions in the stance, the pressure distribution of the string/release aid on the separate fingers, the bowhand being shaped by the riser’s grip section, etc.). But to catalog all of those is not the goal of this post, rather I want to emphasize why it is important that you distinguish between these things.

The problem is if you mistake something that just happens for something to do, you are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Working on opening one’s fingers in a finger release is a fool’s errand. It is not what we want to happen and frustration is about the only thing that results (well and still fingers, sloppy looses, etc.).

The 60:40 front-to-rear weight distribution in an archer’s stance happens automatically. Trying to refine that would involve a lot of work and hardly will be worth the effort.

There is a concept in economics that applies here and that is “opportunity cost.” Basically, if you are doing A, you can’t be doing B simultaneously. So, if A is an unproductive effort and B is productive, then doing A instead of B costs you. You expend effort, money, time and you do not get better.

So, I urge you to take the time to identify what things in an archery shot, in your styles of expertise, are things that just happen. You need to avoid having your archers “work” on those. What they need to do is work upon the things that control those things “just happening.”

For example, if the pressures of the string are out of whack in a finger release, do you work with the archer to try to get them to change those? No, you do not. You look at the things that control those pressures: relaxed vs. tense fingers, angle of draw arm with string, etc.

Many people think that the fingers in a string grip need to be tense. To the contrary, they need to be relaxed. The muscles holding them in a curl attitude are in the forearm, attached to ligaments attached to those fingers. The finger muscles themselves need to be relaxed. Relaxed fingers are easy to flip out of the way and thus distort the path of the bowstring the least.

Among the things affecting the pressures of the string on the string is draw arm angle. A “high” draw elbow means the angle of the string hand to the string lightens to strength of the index finger and increases the strength of the middle and ring fingers. A low elbow does the reverse, so a low elbow leads to high fliers, etc. Ideally, the draw forearm is in a line, called the “Primary Force Line” with the center of pressure of the bowhand on the bow’s grip. Large deviations from that alignment create problems.

The Primary Force Line (in red) should reach the draw elbow which it does here. Higher or lower elbow positions lead to problems (lower being worse than higher. The line crossing the PFL at a slight angle is the arrow line which is often erroneously referred to in such discussions. It is relatively unhelpful.

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We Get Letters! (Part 5) Peeps!

David Beeton had a follow-up question regarding a question about setting up compound bow sights. Here it is:

What is the best way to locate a peep, into the string, such that it can be “fine tuned” to get the best position? I had thought about using a couple of clamp-on nock points, gently squeezed to grip the string, and then replace those with tie-ins when the position is set.”

Word of Warning! (Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!) I have written so many articles, books, and blog posts, I can’t remember what I said recently, or even at all, so I may end up repeating something I said quite recently. I warned you!

* * *

The advantages of using a peep sight are many, but of course, there are disadvantages, the primary one is the time they take to use properly is at full draw when we do not want to get distracted, nor do we want to spend any more time than is absolutely necessary in that position.

The first thing to note is that the position of a peep sight is a variable. Since it must always be placed right in front of the aiming eye, as the bow’s elevation is changed for near and far shots, the entire bow rotates around an axis through the peep sight. The release aid, therefore, is in a different position vis-à-vis the face for very close and very far shots. (Anchor positions may vary!)

The prudent approach, then, is to put the peep so that one’s anchor position is most findable/comfortable/etc. on the more difficult far shots. (If competing at a single distance event: indoors or outdoors), then you want that most comfortable anchor to correspond to the position of the bow making that particular shot.

To get an approximate starting point, take a small sliver of masking tape, have your archer draw on a target of that particular distance, then close their eyes and settle into that most comfortable anchor position. Use the sliver of tape to mark the bowstring right in from of their aiming eye.

It is easiest to use a bow press to take the tension off of the bowstring, so the strands can be teased apart and the peep inserted. If you have neither a standing nor portable press, you can make a tool out of a popsicle stick (use sandpaper to turn one tip into a wedge (with no sharp edges!). Then wheedle that tool into the bowstring, turn it sideways, and insert the peep. (These are sold commercially as “string separators”—see photo just below).

The peep needs to be anchored in place or it is likely to pop out of the string on the first shot. My preferred way of doing that is to tie on a tight nocking point locator both above and below where the peep is positioned. Then when the peep is properly positioned, slide the two locators as close to the peep as you can go. Friction tends to keep them in place, keeping the peep sight in place. Secure and adjustable!

Adjusting the Peep’s Position When you set about fine tuning the position of the peep site, you will quickly find out that if you push the peep up or down at all, you end up rotating it around the string. This is because the bowstring has twists in it and the peep rides those twists as it moves up or down. So, the usual case is that you finally get the peep into the proper vertical position, but it is pointed off to the left or right. Here is the procedure for rotating I back where you want it:

  • If you take a strand from the right side and take it around the front of the peep it will point the peep more to the left.
  • If you take a strand from the right side and take it around the back of the peep it will point the peep more to the right.
    If you already have too many strands on the left and not enough on the right:
  • If you take a strand from the left side and take it around the front of the peep it will point the peep more to the right.
  • If you take a strand from the left side and take it around the back of the peep it will point the peep more to the left.
    When you are done slide the locators back up against the peep.
    Note The reason there are two processes given to make a move to both left or right is so you can keep the number of strands on each side of the peep the same. So, if you want to point the peep more to the left: take a strand from the right side and take it around the front of the peep and take a strand from the left side and take it around the back of the peep. This will keep the number of strands on the two sides the same.

And . . . Sometimes during competition, a string stretches and the peep no longer lines up. To fix the problem, simply slide the nock locators away from the peep. Figure out how the peep has to rotate to get it to work and then take a strand from one side of the peep and swing it over to the other side accordingly. Obviously the string stretching has other ramifications but unless you have a backup bow, there isn’t an easy way to deal with all of them.

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We Get Letters (Part 3)

Coach Ron Kumetz sent in the following topic. “One thing that has puzzled me is that Coach Lee continues to say that aiming does not happen but it clearly does. I understand the basic premise that if you start aiming from early in the shot cycle it can become somewhat paralyzing in that the focus becomes on keeping the aperture on the target rather than the process. Having said that. He still offers no explanation further than that so without hiring my own shaman to shake a rattle and give me some further mumbo jumbo I am particularly interested in how you tell a 10 year old how they will hit the target if they do not aim at it.”

Ron is currently immersed in the Level 4 USAA Coach Training so his question probably comes from that experience.

* * *

I came up as a compound archer and as an adult, so I missed all of the classes that kids can take. When I discovered that there were way more Recurve students interested in lessons than compound students I had to educate myself, which involved a lot of reading, trainings, and getting coached myself.

One of the things that became obvious is that there were bits of dogma floating around the coaching ranks, one of which is “don’t aim early” or “don’t aim too soon.” When Kisik Lee presented his technique when he came to the U.S. in 2006 (?) this was prominent in his talks and on his website. I presume this came about from the practice of young archers, whom we all have seen, who in an untutored attempt to aim in an early lesson, sighted down the shaft of their arrows, and then distort their form so that the arrow stayed in the position they deem correct, through the draw and loose, etc. These archers drew with a bent wrist, because it is necessary to keep the arrow “aimed” and it is possible with a light drawing bow. Their elbows tended to be too low, and they had myriad other distortions of basic form to preserve their “aim” while drawing their bows.

I presume coaches tried to deflect this practice by telling them “don’t aim that early” or some such instruction.

To the contrary, I think that most, if not all, of the parts of an archery shot process are part and parcel of aiming. Taking a stance is part of the aiming process. We have all seen young archers with “happy feet” which is they draw on target and since they don’t seem to be pointing their arrow in a good direction, move their feet until they are. If our stance didn’t affect our aim, there would be no reason to try to make it regular and any number of Olympic Recurve archers tweaked their stances to achieve good grouping at the longer distances being shot.

So, every step of the way an archer’s body is being positioned to support a good aim. Part of a good aim is having a steady line of sight and KSL teaches that archers are to hold their line of sight through their followthrough, so aiming is involved all of the way through the shot. When the bow is raised, I teach my archers to position their aperture in their field of view, such that when they draw and anchor that the aperture ends up right next to their chosen point of aim, this minimizes the corrections needed at full time (and time at full draw is precious). Every step of the way actions are taken that build into a steady posture and solid aim for the loose.

I think that what is intended here is to avoid being so focused upon aiming (until just before the loose) that you lose focus on the shot process, as you suggest.

To avoid the problems that 10-year old archers can fall into, you might want to do a few drills (but only if they are serious students). One of these is the natural stance drill (or “Happy Feet “ drill, if you want). This involves addressing a target, lining up the bows aperture or arrow point with their point of aim, then closing their eyes and drawing to anchor and then opening their eyes. We then ask them about their right-left drift (not up-down). If their aperture drifted off to the left or right, their stance was such that their body was fighting their aim. To correct for this, they are to move their stance (both feet, keeping their relative foot positions the same) so the aperture is back on target. You repeat this several times, watching out the archer doesn’t get fatigued and recognizing nobody is perfect in this.

Once they have found their natural stance, the one in which their body is not fighting their aim, then they have to “memorize” that stance. This has two benefits. It points out that everything they do affects their aim and that they have to be careful setting their feet and taking their stance, otherwise things are affected negatively downstream. So, the idea is created that each step of one’s shot cycle must be attended to and focused upon, avoiding thinking about things that come later.

If they are somewhat more advanced than a beginning serious archer, say they have started competitive archery, a similar drill involves finding their point of “pre-aim.” In this drill they address the target, then visually align their sight aperture with their point of aim, usually target center). Then they close their eyes, draw and anchor and then open them again. The muscle activities of drawing and anchoring have probably caused the aperture to drift off of its former position. Have your archer describe that final position, e.g. 6 o’clock in the blue. If they do this several times and the result is similar, ask them “Where should you aim that when your are finished your draw and anchor your aperture is on target center (or the POA)? In the above example it would be 12 o’clock in the blue as a starting point, then the drop will be from “too high” to “just right” instead of from “just right” to “too low” as it was before. If their form is steady enough that their process is repeatable in this drill, they can see that even where they raise their bow to affects their aim.

(Note—There are reasons why they might want to draw to a higher spot on the target, for example, allowing them to set their rear shoulder before the draw is finished, which lets them “draw to alignment” which can be very effective. There are lots of ways to draw and loose bows. Note—Sky drawing is not to be encouraged.)

Next: Ron had a second question/topic.

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We Get Letters! (Part 2)

See the previous response to a question submitted by Joe Seagle (We Get Letters, Part 1). This continues that post, and addresses how to train in one’s release and how to select a release aid.

David Beesom (David wrote a bit for AF) also asked “Selection of compound release aids and how to determine an optimum anchor point (as a topic), if that is possible. Read the books, but need more info from a more senior coach!” And since the two are related, I will fold his answer into this post.

Training in any Aspect of One’s Technique
Something that can’t be said often enough is: be sure you have it right before you train it in! So, David’s question about finding one’s best anchor point is a good one. If you haven’t found it, then don’t practice it in.

All such trainings consist of phases. Volume shooting, that is shooting a large number of shots, should be considered a memorization technique and should always be saved for last. Prior to that one must explore and “discover” what technique works best for them, that is what technique is optimal for you. Otherwise you may be memorizing a technique that is suboptimal.

Finding Your Optimal Anchor Point
This is a variable folks, if you shoot a compound bow and even with a recurve bow. For example, if you are shooting Barebow Recurve, indoors, you do not want to use a “low” or “under chin” (aka Olympic-style) anchor point. If you do all of your points of aim will be on the floor! Most Barebow Recurve archers use some form of high anchor (commonly index or middle finger in the corner of the mouth) which tends to give one much higher points of aim. Ideally we would like to have a POA on the target face (which has the advantage of looking the same no matter where you are shooting).

For you compound sight shooters, your optimal anchor point depends upon the distance being shot to some extent. When shooting Compound-Release aka Compound Unlimited aka Compound Freestyle, you have the advantage of using a peep sight. But there’s a complication. The peep sight is in a fixed position in front of your aiming eye. For very short shots, the bow is held lower and since the peep has to be in front of your eye, your anchor has to be nudged up slightly. For long shots, it is the reverse. The bow is held higher, so with the peep fixed in space, the anchor is nudged lower. So, you have to choose which distance should have the most comfortable anchor point. Most field shooters choose a longer distance and the process goes like this—pick a target face at that longer distance and then draw your bow on that distance with your scope/pin on the target, but with your eyes closed. Then after you draw, anchor so that your hand fits comfortably against your jaw bone (this varies depending on the style of release you use). Ideally we would like the jawbone to be involved and maybe knuckle bones on your hand. (The idea is that the flesh may swell depending on exertion and temperature but the bones won’t, so bones covered with a thin layer of skin are preferred.) Once you have found that anchor, open your eyes and see where your peep is. If it is too low, move it up. If it is too high move it down. Keep doing this drill until when you open your eyes, the peep sight is centered on your aperture which is centered on your target face at the selected distance. Always make sure your peep is anchored down when you have finished moving it.

This, btw, is why having a dedicated “indoor bow” is an advantage as the peep and all of that can be set up for your most comfortable anchor position and you don’t have to move around things from your outdoor setup.

Training It In
Whenever I start work with a new release archer I give them a length of paracord from which we make a “rope bow.” This I ask them to keep in their quivers because later they will see all kinds of neat release aides being used by fellow archers and want to try them. They should never, ever shoot their bow with an untried release aid! They should always try any new or different release aid with their rope bow first.

A Great Release Aid Starter Kit! An old “Stan” with a rope bow.

To use this rope bow for training. The length of the loop of cord needs to be adjusted so that when the archer loops the rope bow around their bow hand and with the release aid attached assumes “the position” with a slight pull on the loop (representing the holding weight of the bow) they are in perfect form for the point of release. Coaches need to help adjust the loop because the archers can’t see when their draw forearm is directly away from where the loop crosses their bow hand. If the loop is too small they will have a flying elbow. If the loop is too long, their elbow will be wrapped around toward the back of their head.

Once the loop is the correct length it can be used for training. On their first tries, they need to pull slightly against their straight bow arm and operate the release aid. When the release trips, the loop should fly out of their open (but relaxed) bow hand and land on the floor a few feet in front of the archer. It should land on the same line they were drawing on. If their pull is too feeble, the release may just droop from their bow hand instead of fly off of it. If their pull is too hard, the loop may fly five or six feet away or more.

Doing this drill with their eyes closed, they can concentrate on feeling the position of their draw/release hand against their face, the feel of the release aid in their hand (if handheld), the feel of the trigger as it engaged, etc.

If your student is a newbie release shooter, or is struggling with using the thing, when you switch to a bow, you can use a Genesis or other zero let-off bow after the loop. You can even get them to “assume the position” with such a bow with the eyes closed and trip the release yourself. (Be sure to tell them what you are doing, this is not something to fool around with.) After they are comfortable with the zero let-off bow, you can switch them to their bow, always start in close to a butt then moving back as they acquire control over the actions.

Selecting a Release Aid to Shoot
I recommend that my release archers do ask to try other’s release aids because what release you shoot is a personal decision based substantially on how it feels. (I also tell them that others can say “no” without prejudice as can they.) If you have never tried a index finger release, how could you know whether one of those is preferable to, say, a handheld release?

So, what constituters a “try?” Obviously if you are trying a buddies release after a tournament, a few shots with your “rope bow” will have to do. If you are able to borrow a release aid for a few weeks, then the rope bow, followed by a low draw weight bow, followed by your bow routine should be enough to tell you whether you like a release aid.

Actually, most releases are judged right from the get-go. We evaluate how they fit our hand (handheld) or how they fit our wrist (if wriststrap involved) etc. which shows the crux of the problem. You can’t move things around on a borrowed release unless given the permission to do that. (Most release archers have a drawer containing many “old” releases and they may loan you one to set up properly.) If you can’t adjust the release so that it fits you, you can’t give it a good try. So, initial “tries” are often just a feeling out.

My Approach to Training Release Archers
If I have an archer who wants to shoot Compound-Release but hasn’t a clue how to go about that I start them on a hinge release with a lockout. (Tru-Ball makes many nice ones that are affordable, but I lend them such a release to get started.) I start them on a rope bow, teaching them about the lockout. The lockout is critical for their mental protection. All of the old time release shooters have stories about archers who knocked themselves silly when a release tripped mid-draw.

These release aids are wonderful because after the technique is mastered, they can be shot without the lockout making them very simple. (Many pro archers have gone to hinge releases of late, so you know they work.) And, because they are triggerless, there is no trigger technique to learn. Of course, these have to be set up carefully so that the release trips at the correct point in their draw cycle, but all releases need to be set up carefully.

Because I was a release shooter for many a year I had a pouch of different releases in my coaching backpack for my students to try, if they wanted to. Be aware, however, that fiddling setting up a release aid can consume most of an hour long lesson very easily.

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We Get Letters! (Part 1)

Responding to my request for topics you would like to know more about, Joe Seagle sent in “I would like to know what your thoughts are concerning release, if it’s done thoughtfully or subconsciously. If it’s the latter, what training process is used. Thanks!”

Note—If you don’t want your name used, let me know. I am obsessive about giving credit where it is due.

So, Joe, you didn’t specify whether you want me to address finger releases or release aids, so I guess I will have to do both.

The Finger Release
When I work with new Recurve students I ask them what part of their shot needs to most work and the most common answer is “My release.” And I have to tell them that that belongs on the bottom of their To-Do list, not the top.

The finger release is the action of, well, what? Basically all you are doing is stopping holding the bowstring. When you stop holding the bowstring, the string pushes your fingers out of the way on its way back to its original position (at brace). Because of Newton’s Third Law, the string exerting a force on your fingers means that your fingers are exerting a force on the string, so the string takes a somewhat circuitous path back to brace. The harder you make it for the string to push your fingers out of the way, the greater this effect, so practice involves relaxing the “hook” fingers as rapidly as possible. (There are drills, and one can shoot blank bale with a focus on having a “clean” release (which is a release with your fastest relaxation).

The finger release is not something you do. It is something that happens when you “stop” exerting yourself to hold the bowstring back. Thinking about this happening, as we are wont to do when we are “working on our release” often encourages us to “do something” so this is rarely recommended. So, a refined finger release appears to the archer to be subconscious.

The Release Aid Release
Most release aids today are mechanical (the first releases had no mechanisms, the bowstring simply slid off of a hook or ledge or a strap). There are two general kinds now: triggered releases and triggerless releases. Both need to be set up in the same way, in my humble opinion. The release aid and the technique of the user have to be set up so that the release trips when the archer is pulling straight back from the bow. If the archer is pulling sideways in any way, the bowstring will travel in some sort of S shape, like in the finger release, and that will be a source of variation (how far off line one is pulling will cause different impact points for the arrows shot).

Triggerless Releases There is more than one kind of these, the most common is the “Stanislawski” model, which is a “hinge style” release aid. When set up properly, the release trips when the draw elbow is aligned to pulling straight away from the bow. I have seen at least ten (a hundred?) set up incorrectly for each set up correctly. And the incorrect ones tend to get manipulated by the archer’s fingers to rotate far enough to trip.

I will say this over and over—if set up to trip when your form is correct, it gives you feedback on whether your form is correct. If you have to twiddle with the release aid with your fingers, you are getting no such feedback.

Another form of triggerless release aid is the “straight pull” releases, none of which has garnered much popularity, because they can be a bit “twitchy” to say the least. (Tom Dorigatti wrote a muli-part article for AF on why a particular release got grades of A and F and little in between.) These are set up to trip when the pull force reaches a certain amount. They have a cut out so they don’t trip on the draw, but when you reach the valley, the cutout is turned off, and a pull of 2-3 lbs. over your holding weight causes it to trip. This type of release gives no feedback as to your form.

Thumb and Finger Triggered Releases The majority of target archers tend to use a triggered release, one in which a trigger gets “pulled” to cause the release to trip. I think the popularity of these is they imply that you have some control over when the release goes off. Actually, most archers do not want that control. I set up my thumb releases so that the trigger presses on the stem of my thumb (not the pad, thumb and finger pads are never involved) and when I rotate my arm into position this pushes my thumb against the trigger and, poof, it trips. (I have, like most release archers, used variations on this technique.)

If you use a release with a index finger trigger, it is usually a wriststrap release aid. A strap is firmly attached to your draw wrist and the release aid is attached to that strap. (You do not hold onto the barrel of the release as an aid to drawing the bow.) Basic technique is, if there is much “throw” or “travel” of the trigger (usually a sign of an inexpensive aid) you squeeze off part of that as you draw, so that the finally tiny bit can be generated by the movement of the draw arm into “straight away” position. Or, if you want to take the advice of the teenage behind the counter at the archery shop, you just swat the trigger with your finger when you are ready.

Trigger Swatting/Punching There are more than a few names for manually operating a release trigger when you feel like it. Recently some pros have been advocating for “command style” release operation, which is just that. If you decide to go pro, that is something you may want to explore, but I suggest that most amateurs will benefit more from a style as I describe above, featuring the so-called “Surprise Release.” The pros have an almost complete command of their shooting form and execution and so may not need the feedback a properly executed surprise release provides.

And, the “Swat the Trigger” technique is not bankrupt. If you are a bowhunter and you take 1-2 shots per day (not counting warm-ups) that technique is not all that bad, although it does prime its user to experience target panic more than the other techniques above.

Release Archers and Target Panic If you think target panic only came about because of release aids, think again. I have read book references to target panic, before the invention of the compound bow, and certainly before the invention of the mechanical release aid.

While it is hard to say anything definitively about target panic, it seems to be linked to techniques that require decisions to loose shots. Olympic Recurve archers invariably use clickers now. Why? Because it relieves the process of when to shoot. I can remember when I first started in archery. I shot a compound bow “fingers” with no clicker. I was unsteady and my aperture pin would slide through the target center up and down and left and right. I would wait for it to stop moving, which of course I know now that it does not, and I could hear my self thinking “Now . . . no . . . now . . . uh uhn . . . now, yes!” Clickers and setting up release aids to trip when your form is right eliminates these decisions and, thus, protects one from the ravages of target panic (at least that is what I think now).

I’ll answer the training part in the next post.

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Mea Culpa

When we stopped producing bimonthly issues of Archery Focus magazine a year ago, I said offhandedly that I would have more time to post things on this blog. Clearly that has not happened. I believe I underestimated how much stimulation was involved interacting with authors and the topics they chose to write upon.

So, if there is a topic you would like me to address, please comment below and tell me what topics you would like to see more on and I will do my best to meet those requests.



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Teaching Beginners: Dealing With Eye Dominance

I was having an email conversation with my friend and colleague, Ron Kumetz, when he shared this approach to starting beginners with eye dominance included. “I solved the problem of having kids get hung up on ‘handedness’ by marking the bows ‘LE’ (for “Left-Eyed”) and ‘RE’ (for ‘Right-Eyed’) instead of ‘LH’ and ‘RH.’ If you never mention anything about which hand is dominant they never ask questions.”

Ron’s argument is that “a beginner has no particular coordination of their limbs for archery so why not start them off with as few obstacles as possible? If they don’t read any catalogs to see that bows come in right-handed and left-handed versions they won’t know it has anything to do with that.”

He shared that he was “an example of what happens if you try the ‘go with handedness first and see how it goes’ approach.” Ron has very limited vision in his right eye, and he was started shooting right-handed because of his hand dominance.

In our programs (back when we had programs teaching “rank beginners”) we began with the “go with handedness first and see how it goes” approach out of expediency (not having to test for eye dominance or even explain what it is, etc.). And we trained our coaches to detect behaviors showing that a wrong decision was made: tilting of the head to aim with the off eye, archers shooting arrows way left, trying to anchor under the off eye, etc. We also trained them how to get that archer into the right bow, not blaming them or anything really, or accepting “blame” for giving them the wrong bow, etc. These “corrections” were to be made within the first session, the earlier the better.

So, how do you deal with rank beginners? Do you have a special approach that will help others? If so, please share it in the comments!


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Archery in the News!

An article in The Guardian newspaper pointed to archeological discoveries which could substantially push back the date archery was used for hunting in Europe. According to that article:

“Early archers would have been able to kill their prey at a considerable distance while at the same time giving their diets a protein boost without endangering themselves, say researchers. It has also become clear that bow-and-arrow technology is ancient, with some of the oldest arrowheads traced to caves in South Africa and dated to around 64,000 years ago.

“Outside Africa, the earliest evidence of archery was some 48,000-year-old arrowheads found in a Sri Lankan cave two years ago. However, that date is now expected to be pushed back to around 54,000 years . . .”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that researchers or reporters have any idea what primitive archery was like. The article went on:

“An animal 100 metres away will think you are too distant to be dangerous and won’t move away,” Slimak told the Observer. ‘With a bow and arrow, you could pick it off easily. Equally importantly, you’ll be too far away for it to attack you if it is wounded and gets angry. So you can hunt safely and provide more protein for your group.’”

A one hundred meter (109 yard) shot? With primitive bows and primitive arrows? Pick it off easily? Egad! And not just “primitive” bows and arrows, but some of the first ever made in Europe!


Filed under For All Coaches