Tag Archives: peep sights

Lessons from YouTube

youtube-logo-full_colorAs an archery educator I often decry the unavailability of quality information for archers and coaches. As time goes on, though, more and more information is being made available, especially in video format, which is probably a good thing. Video has many strengths in that one can show the viewer things that are hard to describe, etc. but there are also weaknesses. If someone creates a 20 minute instructional video, you have to view the whole twenty minutes to see what they have to offer; skimming is hard to do with a video. Also, if you want to go back and re-view a small section, finding it is not easy unless you wrote down a time mark for that section. Clearly, though, both print and video have strengths that guarantee their continued use.

What brought this topic up was the recommendation of a YouTube video by NuSensei, who has myriad instructional videos available, many of them suitable for beginners and developing archers. I do recommend Mr. Nu’s effort as his videos are mostly informative. But when I found his stuff a while back, I viewed several of his efforts and noticed that each of them seems to either leave something important out or include something strange, or both. For example he has a video with the title “Tab or Glove?” This video addresses the question of “Which is better?” which often comes to the minds of beginners looking to purchasing their first archery gear. I would prefer that that question (Which is better?) be never asked because it implies that there is an absolute answer when, really, each of the two (gloves and tabs) have strengths and weaknesses that make them better in certain circumstances and worse in others. In this video Mr. Nu emphasizes the protective nature of both in that the pressure from the bowstring on a heavier bow can cause nerve damage, even permanent damage, in the string fingers. The gloves and tabs are padding, so to speak, to distribute the force, lowering the pressure on the fingers. But in discussion the advantages of gloves and tabs in this function, he compares a well-made glove with thick padding with a thin tab and then concludes gloves are slightly better. He also notes that a glove need not be taken off to use one’s fingers to, say, pull arrows, but later demonstrates that a tab can be swung around to the back of your string hand to free up for fingers for such jobs, but gives the nod to gloves anyway.

What is left out are the important things. Gloves are preferred by traditional archers and hunters for the simple reason that once attached to your hand, you cannot drop them. Tabs can be dropped and lost as any tab user will tell you (from direct experience). A lost tab can ruin an entire day of hunting. (Compound bow hunters prefer wrist strap releases over ones held in the hand for the same reason. You cannot drop or lose one because it is strapped to your wrist, plus it is always “at hand” and you don’t have to reach into a pocket to find it.)

A big advantage of tabs over gloves and the primary reason tabs are preferred by target archers doesn’t get mentioned. When the bowstring is loosed, we want our fingers to come off all at the same time, together. (We want a chord, not an arpeggio, if you are a music student.) The glove doesn’t tie the string fingers together in any way, where as a tab encourages them to act in concert as it, to some degree, ties them together.

In another NuSensei video “Anchor Point,” Nu discusses the basics of anchor position, but again, amongst the basic solid information there is something strange and something missing. When discussing the “low” or “Olympic” anchor position and comparing it to the higher anchor positions he claims that the low anchor position is “stronger” in that it has more contact with the face. This is not even close to being true in the first place and certainly not the reason for the existence of the low anchor. The advantage of the low anchor over the high has nothing to do with contact area. The advantage of the low anchor and why all Olympic recurve archers use it (well, not all, but almost all) is because they shoot longer distances. The low anchor has a larger gap between nock and aiming eye, thus angling the arrow more upward, allowing a more level form when shooting longer distances. Conversely, the high anchor has an advantage over the low when shooting short distances, such as indoors, in that the bow doesn’t have to be held so low to compensate for the anchor being low. Some beginners comment that indoors they feel like they are aiming at the floor (they are) and the low anchor makes this worse.

Nu also misses the key point of all anchor positions, the alignment of the string with the aiming eye. By having the string plane tangent to the pupil of the aiming eye, we effectively are aiming the bow so that the arrow will strike the target along a 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock line through the point being aimed at. The anchor position is for consistency, yes, but also for accurately gauging the windage (left-right aiming) of the shot. If you are not looking right along the edge of the string, you are guessing more than controlling the windage. This is so important to compound archers that they use a peep sight that allows them to look right through the bow string, a more accurate position from which to control windage.

While most of Nu’s videos I have reviewed are helpful, each of them seems to either leave something out or include something strange (like the low anchor being “stronger”).

This is the problem with YouTube and other videos. They are almost always written, directed, shot, and posted all by one person. There is no critical review of the content of the video. So, crowd sourcing instructional content is not necessarily a good idea. We will be better off when these things are done by teams. Like YouTube, the team doesn’t have to be in the same place. Mr. Nu is in Australia, for example. A content reviewer could be anywhere there is an Internet connection. The complication is that the scripts for these pieces would have to be written out ahead of time to be reviewed and I suspect that many of the YouTube creators do not work from a script.

When reviewing any archery content, in any form whatsoever, I strongly urge you to think through what you’ve heard, otherwise you are going to be like those people who think “such and such has to be true, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to put it on the Internet,” that is clueless.


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.


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Kisser Buttons

QandA logoI had a coach I mentor ask me about kisser buttons and I did a Google search to find pictures I could refer him to. To my horror, a “kisser button” search came up with a large number of photos of compound archers using a kisser button with a peep sight. You do not want to use a kisser button with a peep sight! Let me explain.

A kisser button is either a tied-on plastic “button” or a large knot of thread (some even use a simple brass nockset) designed to be felt by the archer’s lips at full draw. Since the draw is determined in the back and the anchor position of the draw hand determined by the bones of the jaw or face, the kisser button helps to orient the archer’s head. If the archer’s head is not straight up and down (or at least consistently oriented), she will get left and right and even up and down errors, aka larger groups.Kisser Button

Kisser buttons are largely used by Olympic Recurve archers if at all.

Compound archers, using sights, are allowed a peep sight, which is a lozenge inserted into the string which has a hole in it that allows the archer to look right through the string (see photo below). Again, the draw is determined in the back (and also by the setting of the draw length in the bow) and the anchor position of the draw/release hand determined by the bones of the jaw or face. The head position is determined by the aiming eye being able to see through the little hole in the peep. Of course, the peep has to be set up correctly so this is possible.

Kisser Yes

Kisser Yes!

If the compound archer has both a peep and a kisser, he has two references as to having correct head position. That should be good, no? No. Consider the situation if either reference is set up incorrectly. Your archer will have one indicator saying “Here!” and the other saying “Here!” with the two positions different. Consequently he will most likely be switching back and forth between the two or finding some ill-defined middle position. Surely, you say, that can’t be a big error? Well, errors of rear alignment are larger than errors of front alignment (just because of the angle of the arrow) and compound archers generally shoot smaller groups, so in this context, even a small aiming error can cost your archer significant points.

Kisser and Peep? No!

Kisser and Peep? No!

What if both references are set up correctly? No problem there, right? Yes, problem there. On level ground there would be no problem (also not much benefit) but in field archery where uphill and downhill shots are common, there is a new problem. When shooting up- or downhill, you are to tilt at the waist to keep the upper body geometry the same as for level shots. Unfortunately, it is easy to say that but hard to do. Most archers tilt at the waist but also tilt at the shoulders a bit. This means that the bow is in a different position than in a level shot but the aiming eye must be able to see through the peep so if the bow is lower, for example, the anchor position must be slightly higher (and vice-versa). Everything rotates around the peep being exactly in front of the aiming eye. But, if the anchor position changes, so does the kisser button position and once again we have the peep and the kisser providing “mixed messages.”

Archery is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder by recommending both a peep and a kisser button to your compound archers. One or the other suffices (with the peep having far more secondary benefits).


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

Q&A Does Your Peep Sight Twist on You?

QandA logo

I got this question from Oleg on the blog: “I started my journey with archery using a compound bow and as you mentioned compounds have peep sights so it is easier. However, due to my technique or some fault of the bow sometimes the string twists a little and peep sight turns. This can be very annoying.

Compound bows are more mechanical than other bows, so if you are going to shoot a compound, you have to learn how to fiddle with them. No doubt about that. And this is one of those things that is quite frustrating to the archer, so it has to be dealt with. If you have a bow press, it can be relatively easy to remove the peep and reinstall it in the place you need. If you do not have a bow press I included a procedure below to make adjustments without one. Both of these segments are excerpts from my book “Archery Coaching How To’s.”

Peep Tied InPotential Pitfalls (Peep Sight)
1.  The Peep Rotates When the Bow is Drawn (Release Aid)
This is typically due to a rotating bowstring. When constructed, the bowstring, had twists built into it. But if the string stretches, the string also rotates, taking the peep out of line. Some strings are sold already stretched to avoid this problem. Another is to orient the peep so that when the rotation occurs, the peep ends up in the right place.

2  The Peep Rotates When the Bow is Drawn (Finger Release)
In addition to the problems described in #1 (above), finger shooters can also cause the string to rotate as their fingers curl or uncurl around the string as the bow is drawn. The solution is to orient the peep so that when the rotation occurs, the peep ends up in the right place.

Emergency Peep Fixes
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:
·  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.

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Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A