Tag Archives: world Archery

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.

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Dirty Little Secrets (Archery Injuries)

QandA logoI got a follow-up question to the one that prompted me to write the post “Competing While Injured—Just Say No.” Here it is:

Dear Coach Ruis,
As mentioned before, I injured my shoulder and have been unable to practice for 3+ weeks now. This is probably the result of me over practicing for the several days leading up to the Turkey Trot tournament. For future practices, how can I know when to stop practicing? I had no indication that this would happen. My shoulder was a little sore, but I thought that was a good thing because I wanted to build up extra muscle.

* * *

This is a serious question. My student who submitted this question is going to see a doctor and I will be working with him after we have a diagnosis. Without specifics I can only comment about injuries in general.

Archery injuries are fairly common amongst serious (that is practicing) archers. I have been through the “grand circle” more than once in that I have injured my bow wrist, bow elbow, bow shoulder, draw/string shoulder, draw/string elbow, and draw/string wrist and some of those more than once. At one point I stopped shooting for over a year because of elbow tendonitis. And the older I get, the slower I heal. I suspect that if you query any other serious archer you will get similar comments.

There has been very little study made of archery-related injuries. The only serious attempt of which I am aware is the book commissioned by FITA (now world Archery) entitled ‘Sports medicine and Science in Archery” (should still be available in WA’s website). That book has some survey information (surveying young fit international competitors) and a few analyses and was a start on the topic but so far there has been no follow-up. The literature for sports injuries in general, and other sports in particular, is much more voluminous.

Since there is so little known about archery-related injuries I can only share what I suspect. Most archery-related injuries are repetitive-stress injuries in that the injuries from arrows and bows blowing up are quite rare. These kinds of injuries are promoted by the use of poor form and inappropriate equipment. For example and obviously, archers who are overbowed (too much draw weight) will end up inventing some new technique to get the string back. The literature of archery going back 500 years has descriptions of some of the bizarre gyrations archers will use to draw a bow beyond their capabilities, so this is nothing new. You can still see it today at any archery range.

The seed bed of injuries is poor technique. Not getting your bones lined up to bear the stress of a drawn bow means that your muscles will be invoked to “hold everything in place.” These muscles (e.g. the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder) are often small and undersized for those tasks and are easy to overstress and injure.

There are just a few signs to help us with this:
Pain If you feel pain while shooting … stop! Rest and try again another day and if you still experience pain see a medical professional.

Recovery Times If you feel sore “the next day” from an archery session, that is not unusual. If you feel sore they day after that … you over did it. This doesn’t so much prevent injuries but at least it provides a guide to “how much is too much practice.” The hope is we can learn this without serious injury incurred while getting the lesson.

Practice/Tournament Times Modern learning theory indicates that we learn best in short intense sessions. So, a one-hour shooting session in the morning and another in the afternoon is superior to a two-hour or possibly even three-hour continuous session. But, most of us have busy lives and we have few bubbles of spare time … and we love archery, so when we get a morning or afternoon free we go to the range and over do it. Please realize that the Olympic-level athletes are training six days a week: morning, noon, and night but have trained intensely to build up the capacity to train those hours. It did not happen to them over night. And just because they can, has no bearing whatsoever whether you or your students can. Most of my injuries have come about by having little to no regular practice and then being enticed to go and compete which involves what? It involves shooting higher volumes of arrows with a scoring focus which tends to blur if not block the signals that you are doing damage to your body. This is a recipe for injuries. I hope to learn this lesson before I die.

If there are any exercise science experts out there willing to chime in, I would love a guest post following up on this topic.

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