Tag Archives: Olympic Recurve

Are You Steady?

This is a BowJunky video that shows the apertures of top compound archers while shooting during competition. Whether you coach compound or recurve primarily, this is well worth watching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=166&v=8Ls7xv3_0Uc

Even top flight compound people show aperture movement while aiming. Do realize that compound bows are easier to hold steady than recurve bows due to their greater mass. [ More mass means more inertia, which equates to harder to move.” The simplest example is how much harder it is to move a boulder than a pebble. They are both made of rock and their size is not an issue … their mass is the issue.] Conclusion: recurve apertures move, too … probably more so than compound apertures.

You are steady when the movement is minimal, not when it stops. What “minimal” is must be learned … and improved upon if possible.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under For All Coaches

Trying a Sight Questions

QandA logoI was emailed a couple of questions today:
I am a 67 year old male who started shooting in the 50’s when I was about 8 years old.
I have reached the point where I would like to learn how to shoot using a sight. The reasons are 1) personal challenge and 2) improving my scores. I have no intensions of shooting beyond 20 yds. and plan on using a paid instructor to help me get things set up and to get me pointed in the right direction. I have two items I would like your opinion/guidance on before embarking on this endeavor:
“1. Is it possible to learn to use a sight with cross-dominance by keeping both eyes open or would you recommend using only one eye? (I would have no problem using an eye patch or black taping the lens on a pair of glasses. When I shoot trap, I close my left eye and average 21 out of 25 targets.)
“2. Since I don’t plan on shooting over 20 yds., can I keep my anchor at the corner of my mouth or would you recommend learning the under-the-chin anchor?”

* * *

Ah, I wish all questions were this easy! ;o)

Regarding Q1 Using a sight can make it easier to avoid cross-dominant issues! They can still crop up but think about it this way: when you shoot barebow, the view through each eye is very close together (especially if you shot with a cant). When you shoot with a sight, the views are substantially different. Your aiming eye sees the bowstring, while your off-eye does not. This is even more distinguishable when shooting with a compound bow as a peep sight is allowed to be used in conjunction with the bow sight. This results in your aiming eye seeing the target through a small hole in an opaque lozenge inserted into the string. It is hard to miss!

Having said all of that, I have had “cross-dominant” issues while shooting a compound bow! (I shoot right-handed and am left-eyed.) One occasion was I was shooting in a league after a long, somewhat arduous, work day and got distracted and Bam! I shot an arrow three feet to the left of the aiming dot I was hitting quite regularly.

So, one does have to pay attention … constantly … but the sight actually helps make sure you are using the correct eye to aim with by including “string alignment” as a task. String alignment is a step in aiming in which the fuzzy image of the bowstring in your aiming eye is aligned with some part of the bow or sight.

Many traditional barebow archers have not bothered with string alignment but you can see how adopting this practice could help make sure you were using your proper aiming eye in that your off eye cannot see the string!

And … you can try eye patches, tape on glasses lenses, closing the off eye, etc. If you find something that is comfortable and works for you, use it. I tried all of these things and shoot slightly closing my off eye. The other methods created too much fuss when trying to see a scorecard. But everyone is different, so do try anything you think might work … for you.

Regarding Q2 I do.

Many people disregard the “high anchor” as a “baby step” we all go through until we learn the “grown up techniques.” (For recurve archers, the “grown up technique” is the “low” or “under chin” anchor.) This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The square stance and “corner of the mouth” high anchor have many advantages and not just for beginners. The high anchor is advantageous for shooting short distances, the kinds beginning … and indoor … archers face. You will see Olympic Recurve archers using a low anchor indoors because why should they learn another anchor just for indoors? But if you only intend to shoot shorter distances, and you have already learned a high anchor, why would you learn another anchor, one that is more suitable for longer distances?

So, it is fine to keep using your high anchor, as long as it is “tight.” Some have anchors so loose as to be “floating.” A floating anchor position is one hovering around your face somewhere but not located firmly by being pressed onto your face. The goal is to be able to sight along the inner edge of the bowstring and see something between your aperture and the inner edge of the riser. If you cannot, one reason may be that your anchor is “loose” or “soft.” A “tight anchor” is one firmly positioned on your face so that that position can be repeated and allows for the string picture I just described.

Let me know if this helps.

PS If you want a procedure to follow to get from aiming off of the point to aiming using a sight, let me know. Having a coach to help you set up your sight should be helpful as there is some fiddling to do to make sure it is correctly set up.

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Archery Ignorance on Display! Argh!

I guess I should be grateful that Scientific American chose to write a piece about the inclusion of compound archery into the Olympic Games (Compound Archery Shoots for Olympic Inclusion), but it is difficult to do so when the execution was so poor.

Consider the following statements:
In order for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider adding a new event to its roster, the event must be distinct from other Olympic events. Competitive compound and recurve archery differ technically and also procedurally, with different point systems and rules used in each country. Compound archers generally shoot at a six-ring target with a diameter of 80 centimeters from a distance of 50 meters whereas recurve archers shoot at a 10-ring target with a diameter of 122 centimeters from a distance of 70 meters.

Hello? The international archery federation, World Archery (formerly FITA), sets all of these rules and they are all quite arbitrary. Why compound archery, the archery that is more precise, shoots at a distance that is only about 70% as far as the recurve people shoot is illogical at best. They compensate by using a target that is 66% as large, but a recent world record was set in the compound ranking round that was 1 point off of a perfect score. Soon we will be up to our hips in perfect scores. The compound people could be shooting at that same target at 70 m or farther and it would be a fair test, but apparently it is too important to salve the egos of the recurve community. (Those gaudy score the compounders are shooting? Well, they only shoot at 50 m and …)

Another factor the IOC considers when evaluating a new event is whether the athletes—not their equipment—are scoring the points and setting records, Dielen says. That is technologically where compound and recurve archery deviate most. Compound bows have a mechanical release aid that assumes some of a bow’s draw weight and also come with a magnified scope, which together make the sport less about physical power and more about shooting accuracy. Recurve bows are more about a complete performance, requiring more physical strength to pull back and hold the string until the arrow is shot.

Hello? The release aid takes none of the bow’s draw force, none! It passes all of it through to the archer. It is physically impossible for it to assume any of the draw weight because it is only in contact with the bowstring and archer. Where is the force it “assumes” supposed to go?

So drawing a 50# recurve bow requires more physical strength than a 60# compound bow? Holding up a 8-9 lb compound bow at arm’s length requires less strength than holding up a 6-7 lb recurve bow? Plus the 60# limitation is by rule. If that rule were to be lifted, you would find any number of archers at draw weights over 60#. Also, why are compound bows limited as to draw weight when recurve bows are not?

And so what if the compound archer has a magnifying lens in his sight’s aperture. That lets him see the target a bit clearer by does not help the archer hold the bow more steady. In fact it leads archers to try to reduce normal motion at full draw (a fool’s errand), thus requiring additional training to get them to accept that.

Recurve shooters must also take into account the archer’s paradox, or the phenomenon that arrows take a curved and undulating path through the air after leaving the bow. This requires skill on the part of the archers, as they need to shoot slightly off to one side in order to hit their target. “The compound bow is a much more efficient system,” says American recurve archer Zach Garrett, who will represent the U.S. at the upcoming Rio Games. “You don’t have to worry about how you make the string leave the arrow.”

This doesn’t require skill on the part of the archer as the correction for the archer’s paradox is set into the bow when the centershot of the bow is set (and matched with a appropriately spined arrow). The archer does nothing special. Consider the poor compound archer by comparison. The recurve archer’s arrow is off of the arrow rest (and therefore no longer touching it) after the arrow has traveled about a third of the way to the point where it comes off of the bow string. Because of the archer’s paradox, the oscillating/undulating arrow bends around the bow so that the fletches pass by the arrow rest when they are at a maximum extent of the oscillation thus making clearance problems with a well-setup bow moot. But the poor compound archer has his arrow sliding along the arrow rest virtually its full length and even if the arrow “lifts off” of the rest, it is still close enough for the fletches to hit the rest as they go by, thus deflecting a perfectly aimed arrow making it a less-than-perfectly aimed arrow.

Compound bows show smaller group sizes at any distance compared to recurve bows for really only three reasons. The compound bows, being heavier, have more inertia and hence are less likely to move or move less than lighter recurve bows during the critical phase when the bow is pushing the arrow out of the bow and the bow is being held in one hand only. The second reason is letoff. The compound bow has eccentric wheels built into them to cause the bow’s peak weight to be reduced to a small fraction of the bow’s peak weight at full draw. This gives the compound archer more time while being under less tension/stress to aim the bow and release the string. The third reason is the mechanical release aid. It provides a cleaner lose of the string, creating less variation in a set of shots. But release aids aren’t a cheat. They are only used by archers competing against others also using a release aid. And they are not easy to use, far from it. From the first time I used a release aid, it was three years before I felt I knew how to use it properly.

Finally
This article did correctly address many of the issues associated with the expansion of an included sport (archery). But they quoted a World Archery officials and an Olympic Recurve archer. Could not a compound archer have been consulted or a compound coach? And while the officials quoted are two of the more knowledgeable ones, this is the organization which banned “shoot through” cabling systems for compound bows for a time for fear that the archers could brace their bows by pressing their bow forearm into the cables. (For the compound uneducated, doing such a thing would create large quantities of unresolved forces that would make even hitting the target at all quite an accomplishment.)

So, thank you Scientific American for the exposure for compound archers. But I can’t thank them for all of the mistakes riddling their article.

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches

“Three Fingers Under” is for Beginners, Right?

There are tremendous advantages to a “three fingers under” string grip for beginners. Its only disadvantage is a loss of distance/cast. Consider the photo below.

Christine Bjerendal of Sweden (2016 Olympics)

This is Christine Bjerendal of Sweden. She competed in the 2012 Olympic Games (London) and she is currently competing in this year’s Olympics. Please note string grip.

Yes, there is a loss of distance/cast with this grip but there are also offsetting positives. Just because we start beginner’s with this string grip does not make it a “baby grip,” a grip adults would be embarrassed to use.

6 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches

Point Weight Woes

QandA logoI got an email from a friend regarding a problem you may have encountered in your coaching. Here it is.

Hi, Steve!
I wanted to bounce something off of you if you have a moment. I had some unexpected issues with arrows over this past weekend when I was shooting my first FITA. I was struggling much more than anyone else with the light wind we were having. Right before the competition, I had been trying to tune in my new arrows that were acting too weak and I ended up reducing the point weight to 90 grains, which had them finally performing well in practices. I put up some personal best practice scores with my adjusted arrows right before the FITA round and was feeling good about my performance. I suspect, though, that the light point weight was my downfall and part of what was giving me such problems. My longer distance scores were the worst I’ve ever done in my life, however my shortest distance score (30m) was right on the money with my normal practice scores, even though the wind was the same and I should have been the most fatigued and dropping points at the end.
            I bought my arrows slightly long and am thinking about cutting off a 1/2˝ and putting 110 grain points back in the shortened arrows. My theory is that that will have a similar effect as having the longer arrows with lower point weight, but will give me more ability to cut through the wind. However, I can’t find any literature online or in my many archery books about point weight vs. arrow length in trying to make adjustments to arrow spine. Which is a better adjustment to make, and is there any such equation such as “each 1/2˝ of length = 20 grains of point weight” or whatever? I’m not keen on cutting down my arrows if that might not give me the results I’m looking for.
           
Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give!

* * *

I doubt your point weight made all that much difference so it may or may not have been the source of your woes.

First I have to ask: when you were tuning in these arrows, did you have a reasonable centershot, plunger button resistance, nocking point height, and was your aperture centered above your arrow? If not, you were tuning to a less than optimal setup. It is always important to have a bow in a proper setup when trying to tune. If your aperture is off center, for example, you are then trying to tune your arrows to a dynamic spine that will compensate for a mis-set sight!

Most Olympic Recurve archers have a FOC balance point of 13-15%, so that is something you might want to check. (FOC guidelines are the equivalent of the “equation” you desire.) The vast majority of OR archers have 100 gr points (110 gr being in second place, I think), unless … you are shooting a very lightweight all-carbon arrow such as McKinney IIs, then 90 gr and even 80 gr come into play.

As far as wind stabilization goes, there are two strategies: use a heavier arrow (like Easton X10s) or a lighter arrow (like Carbon Tech McKinney IIs or Carbon Express Nano Pros or Medallions). The heavier arrows have more mass and therefore require more wind force to move them (inertial stabilization). The lighter shafts are faster and hence spend less time in the wind for the wind’s forces to act on them (speed stabilization). When an arrow is shot long distance, a higher FOC is generally desired to keep the arrow on track during those longer flight times. When I was shooting field archery a lot I was using 60, 70, and 82 gr points in very long arrows with little downside. But shooting FITA rounds, I was using 100 gr or even 120 gr points (again, in very long shafts).

So, research Front-of-Center (FOC) balance and how to measure it (it is easy) and check your current arrows. If you are close to 13-15%, then it was not your point weight that was a problem. If it is 6-9%, then maybe so.

If it was not your point weight, I suggest you go back to a basic setup and retune (nocking point height 1/2˝ above square, centershot has inside edge of arrow point visually lined up with outside edge of bowstring with string centered on the riser (visually), plunger pressure mediumish, aperture centered above arrow when bow is vertical (I just run the aperture down to the bottom of the sight bar and eye-ball it)). Also, you need to take off all vibration absorption devices (Doinkers, et. al.); they can only mask the feel of good shots.

You may find that the tune you had wasn’t all that good.

The reason the tune is so important is the tune establishes the launch angle of the arrows (at what ever angle the bow is being held), so if the centershot is way outboard, for example, the arrows are launched point left. Then the fletching has to correct for that, but if the wind is blowing more than a bit, that “sideways” launched shaft is going to be blown in unpredictable ways (the shaft itself is a bigger source of drag than the fletches) and you are going to have very large groups as a consequence.

I hope this helps!

Steve

Leave a comment

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Leaning In

I had a lesson yesterday with one of my favorite adult Olympic Recurve students (state championship level). When he stepped up to the line, I immediately saw something different. This faculty of coaches (to immediately “see” differences) reminds me of chess masters who can play multiple games of chess and win all of them. Most people seem to think they keep all of the boards in memory, but that is an entirely different skill (which some do possess, being able to play games blindfolded). These masters of their craft step up to each board and “read” it. They may or may not recall their last move or their opponents last move, they are irrelevant, they can see the board and all of the situations upon it knowing that the next move is theirs. Then they go to the next board and read it as if it were new, etc.

Studies of various levels of chess players indicate that these chess masters are no better in many ways than are lesser players; they consider about the same number of moves when trying to estimate counter moves, for example. What these masters have is the ability to “chunk” the information into scenarios and sub-scenarios at a glance. When chess masters and much less experienced players were asked to recreate a board after looking at it for just seconds, the masters were much better than the beginners. But when the boards were set up randomly, with no set relations between the pieces, both types of players were equally inept. These latter boards had no normal chunks to “see.”

I find coaching to be similar. We expect to see a kind of “normal” form and when something is “different” it really stands out. In this case, my student seemed to be leaning onto his toes more than he had in the past. not dramatically so, but certainly recognizably so. I commented on this and he said that possibly it was because he wasn’t yet warmed up, so he finished his warm up, and “it” was still there.

He asked if his shoes could be a source of the difference. He mentioned that he wasn’t all that comfortable shooting in the shoes he was wearing. We had had a change of season, so people were no longer wearing the boots of winter. He had switched to a pair of “trainers,” which is not a good idea.

cross-training-shoes

Cross-trainers … bad!

When I was young (long ago and in a galaxy far, far away), there were “tennis shoes” and “basketball shoes” available to sporty people. These tended to have flat soles. Then some genius figured out that fortunes were to be made selling specialized sport shoes. Now there are myriad choices, many of which are specialized. (One of my favorite pairs of shooting shoes were “bouldering shoes.” They had flattish soles and steel shanks making them very stiff.)

Trainers or “cross-trainers” have soles that are quite curved. This is not desirable when shooting. Archers need to have a flat(ish) soled shoes that are quite rigid. If you are a field archer, you probably need a lugged sole, too, for good traction on sloped surfaces. These shoes give consistent feedback to the wearer about their weight distribution. The “curvy-soled shoes” are curved to control changes in weight distribution while running (heel to toe), etc.

While we were on the subject I went on to explain my theory regarding weight distribution. The books recommend a 60% forward, 40% rear weight distribution (as well as 50:50 left-to-right). I think this came about because some enterprising science-minded archery bloke measured the fore-back weight distribution using force platform insoles and discovered the magic ratio (60:40, toes–heels). The mistake was made when archers tried to establish this ratio by doing something, which almost always resulted in too much weight forward. Coaches made the mistake by recommending or implying this was something “to do.”

I believe this “balance” situation happens automatically. Since the student’s bow was sitting on the floor between us (stabilizer sticking straight up), I reached out to pick up his bow via the stabilizer illustrating my point that one’s balance point shifts forward when we pick up our bows. What I hadn’t noticed before is that I could feel that shift when I picked up his bow (the bow being right next to me but hanging from the stabilizer.

Flat-soled shoes ... good!

Flat-soled shoes … good!

So, I asked my student to repeat this drill. I asked him to stand close to the bow and get as balanced as he could be (at least as balanced as the wrong shoes would allow). Then I asked him to pick up the bow the way I did while concentrating on what happened to his balance. He felt the shift forward also. (I haven’t proven this yet, but I am becoming more and more convince this is at last approximately correct. I have a science study indicating that a weight shift forward occurs whether the weight is place in front or in back of the bearer, but they used 20 kg weights which is far greater than the weight of a bow, so there may be differences due to that.)

One of the most common mistakes archers make (coaches, too) is in confusing things that “happen” with things needing to “be done.” Common examples are guiding the bow into a perfect roll over during the release instead of letting it do that on its own, trying to remove the string fingers off of the string rather than relaxing them and allowing the string to flick them out of the way, etc. This 60:40 rule is another of those. Those archers who were shooting well, were not shooting well because of a 60:40 weight distribution, but in spite of it. The weight of the bow held out in front of our body causes this shift, we need do nothing.

 

2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches

Ow, Ow, Ow, My Neck Hurts!

QandA logoI had an Olympic Recurve student complain about her neck being sore after even a short practice session and she asked me what she could do.

Here is my response.

Be aware that the Olympic Recurve style puts considerable stress on one’s neck. To make sure you are putting no more than the minimum required stress on those muscles, you need to include in your awareness as you shoot whether you are adding to additional stress to that minimum. (It is not unusual for us to subconsciously flex muscles receiving attention; this is a normal response.) If you detect you are subconsciously doing that, you need to “train” it out. Training your subconscious is a lot like training a dog. Your dog doesn’t understand the words “bad dog” but it does understand your tone of voice. If you say “bad dog” while smiling and laughing and petting your dog, its tail will wag like crazy. If you say “good dog” in a scolding tone while frowning it will behave submissively. Training your subconscious mind is similar.

If you find your subconscious overusing your neck muscles, you need to stop what you are doing, i.e. you must let down. Corrections must be made in real time, just as is required to train a dog, because if you do not, the dog and your subconscious will have moved on and the correction will not be connected with the act it is supposed to address. So, let down and correct. The correction is in the form of mild disapproval, with maybe a rubbing of the offending muscle to get it to relax. You are saying, gently, “no, not ‘tense,’ but ‘relaxed.’” The emotional state of mild disapproval is sufficient. You do not want to rant and rave and throw your bow, that would not be a proportional response. Basically, if you don’t think your dog would understand, neither would your subconscious mind.

I did check your ability to turn your head toward the target, you have plenty of flexibility, but in Olympic Recurve (not so much in compound styles) one’s head position is near the end of the range of motion for turning your head on your neck, so realize that this strain is there and must be managed. Stretching, turning your head both ways, massaging your neck muscles, all seem to work. (By the way, having a helper for neck stretching is a good idea. By sitting in a chair and having someone gently turn your head, you do not have to flex the neck muscles to do that. You can focus on relaxing the muscles involved.) Even so, many OR competitors report neck strain, probably exacerbated by competition stress (when your focus is elsewhere, e.g. on scoring, other aspects of your awareness dim and drift a little from the norm).

I hope this helps!

 

5 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A