Tag Archives: layoffs

Got Another One!

A really good question came in as part of a comment: “Any thoughts for practices that have been virtual for a while?”

So, if we do get allowed out on our ranges and have been practicing solo or just working out, is there a good way to get up to speed again? What is we have been idle for quite some time?

My suggestions apply to anytime you have had a forced or voluntary layoff.

The danger is in trying to get too far, too fast. Your mind remembers how you shot before and won’t accept anything less . . . if you allow it full rein. Here’s just one scenario.

The danger is in trying to get too far, too fast.

Compound Archer—Compound archers often crank down their draw weights or switch to a lighter drawing bow for indoor competition and practice. So, two things are going on: a lower draw weight and fewer repetitions, both of which need to be cranked back up slowly.

It should take more than a few days to crank your bow back up. Maybe a half turn or a full turn on the limbs every other practice day is the max.

Similarly, too many shots in a session is also a no-no. When you get fatigued, your form and execution tend to decay, which is what you do not want to happen. Actually, this is a primary principle:

While recovering from a layoff, you must focus on retaining or regaining your good form.

This is the ultimate guiding factor in this process.

Recurve Archers—It is not unusual for recurve archers to swap out their limbs to a lighter pair during indoor season or a layoff. Cranking back up is not easy. If the draw weight difference is very small, say 2-3 pounds, one can safely switch back to the heavier limbs, or outdoor bow, and just ramp up the number of shots slowly. But if there is a large difference, 5# or more, then more care is needed. This may be able to be done by adjusting the weaker pair to the highest draw weight and when comfortable with that, switch to the heavier limbs, backed off as much as they can be adjusted (assumes an adjustable limb pocket bow) and then crank up those limbs slowly with practice.

You also have to look at your frequency of practicing. If you were practicing in your basement two days a week and then, excited by being able to shoot outdoors, you practice four or five days a week, you are asking for trouble.

Focus on short practices, fairly often, with the goal of maintaining or recovering your former form and execution.

I recommend that recurve archers retain at least one set of limbs when they move up in draw weight. Having a weaker pair to switch to when injured or after a layoff can be very helpful.

Listen to your body! I use a Rule of Thumb: if you are sore the day after a workout, that isn’t unusual. If you are still sore a day later, you probably over did it. If you are still sore one more day later, you definitely over did it. If you exceed this standard, wait until you feel better before working out again and take it a bit easier. And, if you feel pain while shooting—stop! See if you can identify the source of the pain (blister on string fingers, string slap on bow arm, etc.). If you cannot and try again, but feel the pain again, you are done for the day. If you resolve the issue (properly place your arm guard so as to not get hit by the string, adjust your tab or tape your fingers, etc.) and you can shoot without pain, you may continue.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Oh, it really helps if your coach is there to video you shooting, to compare with pre-pandemic form, etc. Or they may be able to do this from memory if they know you well.

Oh, oh, oh, oh—you can get started on these process before the ranges become available.

Postscript
When I originally wrote this is was thinking of a short layoff, but the pandemic may be responsible for year long layoffs. If this is the case, I suggest that you start very slowly . . . very. At first, no bow, no arrows, just a stretch band/tube. Use a mirror to check your form. If you have a number of stretch bands of different resistances, start with the lightest and work your way through, up to the stiffest over several sessions. Get to full draw position with the band/tube, and pause there. Flex the muscles you use to hold while there, then let down. This is a form of the Reversal Drill.

Give your body time to report back. So, light session after light session—paying attention as to whether you get sore and where. Always allow time between sessions to allow your muscle fibers to repair themselves.

Work your way out of the bands/tubes into a light drawing bow as above.

If you have a coach, now is a good time to consult them.

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Got Another One!

A really good question came in as part of a comment: “Any thoughts for practices that have been virtual for a while?”

So, if we do get allowed out on our ranges and have been practicing solo or just working out, is there a good way to get up to speed again?

My suggestions apply to anytime you have had a forced or voluntary layoff.

The danger is in trying to get too far, too fast. Your mind remembers how you shot before and won’t accept anything less . . . if you allow it full rein. (Don’t do it!) Here are just a couple of scenarios.

Compound Archer—Compound archers often crank down their draw weights or switch to a lighter drawing bow for indoor competition and practice. So, two things are going on: a lower draw weight and fewer repetitions, both of which need to be cranked back up slowly.

It should take more than a few days to crank your bow back up. Maybe a half turn or a full turn on the limbs each day is the max.

Similarly, too many shots in a session is also a no-no. When you get fatigued, your form and execution tend to decay, which is what you do not want to happen. Actually, this is a primary principle:

While recovering from a layoff, you must focus on retaining or regaining your good form.

This is the ultimate guiding factor in this process.

Recurve Archers—It is not unusual for recurve archers to swap out their limbs to a lighter pair during indoor season or a layoff. Cranking back up is not easy. If the draw weight difference is very small, say 2-3 pounds, one can safely switch back to the heavier limbs, or outdoor bow, and just ramp up the number of shots slowly. But if there is a large difference, 5# or more, then more care is needed. This may be able to be done by adjusting the weaker pair to the highest draw weight and when comfortable with that, switch to the heavier limbs, backed off as much as they can be adjusted (assumes an adjustable limb pocket bow) and then crank up those limbs slowly with practice.

You also have to look at your frequency of practicing. If you were practicing in your basement two days a week and then, excited by being able to shoot outdoors, you practice four or five days a week, you are asking for trouble.

Focus on short practices, fairly often, with the goal of maintaining or recovering your former form and execution.

I recommend that recurve archers retain at least one set of limbs when they move up in draw weight. Having a weaker pair to switch to when injured or after a layoff can be very helpful.

Listen to your body! I use a Rule of Thumb: if you are sore the day after a workout, that isn’t unusual. If you are still sore a day later, you over did it. If you exceed this standard, wait until you feel better before working out again and take it a bit easier. And, if you feel pain while shooting—stop! See if you can identify the source of the pain (blister on string fingers, string slap on bow arm, etc.). If you cannot and try again, but feel the pain again, you are done for the day. If you resolve the issue (properly place your arm guard so as to not get hit by the string, adjust your tab or tape your fingers, etc.) and you can shoot without pain, you may continue.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Oh, it really helps if your coach is there to video you shooting, to compare with pre-pandemic form, etc. Or they may be able to do this from memory if they know you well.

Oh, oh, oh, oh—you can get started on these process before the ranges become available.

One more thing–leave the target face off of the bale for a while. It is hard to ignore arrows that do not score well, even in practice. You can even make adjustments subconsciously and end up in weird places form-wise. Those arrow scores do not mean anything, but they will if you leave the target face up. wait until you feel fully recovered and then try a practice round. That score will show you how well you did.

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Q&A After a Longish Layoff

QandA logo

I got the following letter from one of my compound students:

“The lessons last year were great. I didn’t do any archery during the winter, seemed every other day I was doing snow. Also got a late start this year and have only been out five times. I have a strange problem that concerns me. Maybe you’ve seen it.

“I was using the back tension release last year from August until mid-October. Seemed to be getting the hang of it going out several times a week. Every once in a while I’d let the bow down about an inch, something you noticed I was doing and called it “vacillating.” (I think rather collapsing or creeping. SR) When I would do it with the back tension release, off went the arrow. I don’t think this is safe and never want an arrow going off without me doing it, not to mention losing several arrows. I stopped using it and went back to the Carter Insatiable thumb trigger release I’ve been using for years. Couple trips after going back to it, for some reason I let go of the release at full draw instead of pressing the button. It hit me in the bow hand knuckle and gave me a decent cut, luckily not too bad though. I made one more trip out before ending for the season with no problems.

“Earlier this week, only my fifth time out this season, I was shooting with the Carter Insatiable and just before pressing the trigger, I let go of the release. It hit the riser then went back over my right shoulder about 25 feet behind me. Couldn’t find the arrow even with the white wraps I put on. I was very lucky it didn’t hit my bow hand or come back and hit me. The rest of my outing all I could think about was making sure not to somehow let go of the release. I tried to figure how or why I did what I did but could only think it’s some muscle memory of the back tension release I was using last year. Maybe when I’m relaxing my bow hand I relax my release hand as well. Regardless, It’s not safe and I won’t keep using that release. I have a trigger release with the wrist strap I’ll use.

“Have you ever heard of this happening? Do you think I can wrap a wrist sling around the Carter Insatiable to make sure I don’t let it go?

“I don’t think this is a medical condition as I do other activities where I need to hold things and I don’t drop things. I’ve never had this problem except for these two times I’ve described.

Thanks

***

To which I responded:

Let go of your release aid? Heck, I’ve done that myself.

It is always prudent, especially when you were learning something new when you started the layoff, to be very deliberate when restarting, even to the point of talking yourself through your shot sequence for several shots. Always review what you were working on (you wrote it down in your notebook, no?) before starting up again. If you don’t do this you’ll get a mishmash of your old style with elements of the new mixed in … uh, randomly or at least unpredictably.

It is also a very good idea to crank the bow down, too, if you can. Your archery muscles haven’t been worked in quite a while, so give them a chance to get back up to speed.

That hole in the cocking level can be treaded with release or other rope to make a lanyard.

That hole in the cocking level can be treaded with release or other rope to make a lanyard.

Triggerless releases in particular require you to be very deliberate and move the release away from a position where it might go off before you begin the let down. If it has a safety, reset it before you begin the letdown. It is very easy to rotate your hand the wrong way when it is moving forward rather than backward, so you must be very deliberate. If you are doing a letdown, be sure to aim at the ground in front of you (outdoors) or the target (indoors) while executing the letdown as mis-launches happen, even to the best of us.

Having shot one of my own release aids over 25 yards (it went farther than the arrow!) I do have some experience here and I think it is a good idea is to use a wrist lanyard on the release (at least until you have retrained). There used to be holes in the release aids for these (if not, you can tie one on). They basically got looped around your wrist (like a wrist sling) so that the release hung just and inch or two outside of its normal position. Frank Pearson even taught that to train for a really relaxed release hand you should drop your release after the string goes (on a lanyard, of course).

Older models had holes for a lanyard and even came with them at purchase.

Older models had holes for a lanyard and even came with them at purchase.

Starting up after a long layoff can include all kinds of surprises which is why you want to double check your equipment, turn down the draw weight (or swap in a lighter pair of limbs if a recurve bow is being used or even use a lighter weight bow at first), and review what you were doing when you started your layoff. Such layoffs can be long (months) or just a few weeks. If you take them casually, you may be doing damage to your learned form and execution or even yourself as in this example.

 

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