Various methods of aiming the traditional bow

This very interesting article was posted by Str8 Shooter on the Archery Talk Forum. I thought it was very informative and asked him for permission to repost it here.

You can click on the photos to get a bigger view of the explanations.

Various methods of Aiming the Traditional bow

With all the recent discussions about the different methods of aiming a trad bow I took the time to take a few pics and add visual references to help explain how each method is done. Hopefully they will make understanding the various methods a little bit simpler.

The instinctive shooter focuses on the target and nothing else. Visually, all that is seen is the desired target. Logically we know that the peripheral vision picks up external cues, however, the mind for all intents and purposes does not see them. Without getting into a variety of definitions the conscious mind relegates these things to the subconscious and adjusting for windage and elevation are done without any direction from the conscious mind. That is essentially the main difference between instinctive shooting and any reference aiming method. A reference shooter will be able to tell you, at some level, where the aiming reference they use was held. An instinctive shooter will not.

Getting into the reference methods…

All these methods are based upon learning the point on distance of the bow setup. The point on distance is the point where the shooters line of sight and the trajectory of the arrow meet. This will vary from shooter to shooter. Things like arrow speed, arrow length, anchor point, hold on the string (split finger or three under) will all affect the point on distance. This isn’t an all inclusive list of factors. Many reference shooters will tailor the point on distance to the style of shooting done. Many short distance shooters like hunters, 3D and indoor archers will setup for a closer point on. Shooters who enjoy shooting long distance generally set up with a longer point on distance to minimize hold over on far targets.

Split Vision:

This method is a step up from instinctive shooting in terms of consciously referencing an aiming point. For many shooters this it is based more on an acquired sight picture. There may not be any hard and fast gaps or references but they are aware of the arrow, riser, etc. These things are generally seen in the peripheral vision and things are lined up until the picture looks correct.

Various Gap methods…

Gap at target:

This method involves the shooter knowing the amount of trajectory the arrow has at various points until the point on distance. They will generally pick a spot above or below the target that coincides with the amount of trajectory the have to compensate for and place the arrow on that spot. For example, say a shooter needs to hold 12″ below the target at 20 yards. They visualize that spot and place the arrow at what they perceive to be 12″ below the target. The focus remains on the intended target but they are maintaining that gap in their peripheral vision. This method is very similar to pick a point.

Pick a Point:

The setup the shot is virtually the same as gapping at the target. The main difference is where the focus lies. If a gap shooter maintains 90% focus on the target and 10% on the gap the opposite would be said of a pick a point shooter. 90% of the focus would be on holding on the pre-determined spot with 10% the actual target. In essence, the shooter is using the point to try hitting a certain spot but the trajectory carries it to the spot above or below.

Short Gap (or Gap at Bow):

This method is a little different from the gap at target method. It involves the shooter visualizing the target as being a spot that is directly in front of the arrow. Almost like a painting and the arrow is the brush. The point on distance is known. Above or below that the shooter would see the arrow (as a brush for my analogy) moving in very small amounts to compenate for trajectory. The archer moves the arrow in fractions of an inch at the bow. A picture is easier to explain but it involves seeing the target as a two-dimensional object. This can be difficult for some people because the brain sees in 3D and you have to see it as a picture and see the actual amount the arrow moves directly at the bow. This can be hard because while the arrow may only move a fraction of an inch at the bow the tip in relation to the target may move several inches or feet.

Gapping with the Shaft:

This one’s fairly self explanatory. The shooter utilizes the shaft as a measuring device for how much to hold over/under. Through practice a shooter will know how many shaft diameters above or below they need to hold. The advantage to this method is it breaks down the adjustments into easy to see units and do not require as much visualization. The downside is as distances grow the shaft becomes larger in relation to the target and makes fine adjustment a little harder. At 20 yards the tip may only cover a portion of the target. At 60 yards the tip may cover the entire bail and one shaft diameter may move the visual reference several feet.

Gap at Riser:

This method utilizes various points on the riser as a rudimentary sighting reference. These references may be a side plate, a plunger, the arm of a rest, a lamination on the belly of the riser, the shelf of the bow or any point the shooter wants to use. A shooter estimates the yardage and at full draw will line up one of these references with the target. If the target is the correct distance and the correct reference is used the arrow will impact in the center of the intended target. This method may not be quite as precise as gapping at the target, short gapping or picking a point but it gives the shooter a concrete visual reference. You don’t have to visualize arcs or trajectory, you simply line up the reference point and execute the shot.

Now, many of these methods may be used in conjunction with another. Perhaps you have a long point on distance. You may gap off the riser at shorter distances because the gaps at target are huge and you can’t visualize a short gap. As the targets get further out you may transition to a short gap because you can see the difference between 1/4″ and 1/2″ or you gap at target. At point on you simply utilize the point directly on the bullseye. And once past point on you may transition to pick a point. You know how far the arrow drops past point on so you visualize a spot above the target the appropriate amount and aim at that, trusting the arrow will drop into the target.

These methods blur together. While one method will work for one shooter another may not be able to visualize the correct hold. This picture illustrates the actual hold remains the same but a shooter may utilize any of the above references to break down the aiming method into one the mind can use simply and effectively. That, in essence, is all these methods are. They are a means of compensating for the trajectory arrow and allowing the shooter to control the process. Some shooters will excel with the instinctive method because they aren’t good at concentrating on a reference and the target. People like this are better off allowing the subconscious mind to take care of the aiming and allowing the conscious to run the shot. Yet, for all the people that are good at instinctive there are just as many people who feel out of control without some type of referencing system. Without something to focus on they never develop confidence and never acquire the accuracy they desire. Shooters like this will do well to experiment with various aiming methods until they find one which suits there style.

Bow,quiver and a camera in my pocket.

Work has been busy, busy, busy, walking in the woods with my dad’s late 1960’s Hoyt recurve, a full quiver and my taped up camera in my pocket is what I needed:


Drying fletchings the Sequillon way

Jordan Sequillon an Olympic archery hopeful and an obviously dedicated person to the archery discipline posted on her blog a how to on drying feathers for arrows. I had left a comment on her blog telling her how timely her post was and that I had half a dozen arrows with flat, squished feathers. She in turn requested that I share my experience with everyone, which I am doing by writing this post.

For the non archers out there the problem is when feathers on arrows get wet they get flat and squished and worse they dry that way.

Squished feather dried out of shape after being soaked from shooting in the rain.

My method up to now had been to take my wet feathers and spin the shafts with my two hands fast, hoping centrifugal force would help get them into better shape for drying, but alas my fletchings were a mess. With the deluge we had in Maine this past weekend my fletchings were in truly poor shape. Fortunately for me Jordan posted her article just in time.

Jordan’s method, by the way, is far, far superior to my little spin jig.  Her process is below copied straight from her blog:

How to dry your feathers

You will need: your arrows, a pot, water, and an oven/stove

  • Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil
  • Hold each arrow’s fletching over the steam
  • Patiently wait for the fletching to start to open up. Remember the fletchings will open the rest of the way as they dry.
  • Place the arrow in a clean dry spot with the points facing down until dry.
  • Repeat for all your arrows and turn off the stove.

I followed her instructions to a the word, I even made sure to turn off the stove.

See some pics of the process below:

Steaming the feathers, I could actually watch them open up, happened faster than I expected.

My half dozen, looking good again after a hot steam bath!

Jordan Sequillon’s posts really great information useful to all archers. Her blog address is as follows, just click to get there:

Thanks, C.

Moose or not a moose?

I work in a boatyard and this time of year in Maine is when all the stops come off in order to launch boats, nearly 300 at the yard I work at. Because of our short boating season launching time is always a bottleneck as customers clamor for their boats. It also leaves little time for much else.

Archery had been great as a diversion and a way to unwind, for a short bit after work, usually before/after dinner. I live on the edge of a large wooded area and what I’ve found most relaxing is to go into the woods and go roving. Roving is to walk trough the woods shooting decaying stumps at different distances. It is great practice, fun and you get to walk through nature. It’s also really fun to challenge yourself out there, my usual thing is to wonder if I can shoot through a small gap between trees or miss a branch that’s  in my way or hit a distant stump, etc.

I am also constantly amazed at how a short time amidst the trees can recharge my batteries. Nature is indeed a powerful healer.

A couple of weeks ago I was out there near dusk trampling about when I heard a loud bellowing. My ears pricked up and I stopped right in my tracks.. heard nothing so kept walking then heard that loud bellowing again. I knew it wasn’t a deer, for a split second I wondered if it was a bard owl who had lost his “who cooks for you” cadence but the more I heard him, the more I wondered if I wasn’t hearing a moose. Now moose are seen less in more populated southern Maine vs northern and Downeast Maine but they must get a bug about heading south now and then because one will appear somewhere down here and make the news and be the buzz around town. I heard him a few more times and then went inside to get something to record his bellow, where I found Laurel and kids watching an episode of Survivorman, which was a little surreal since I was just outside with a moose, I hurried back out but when I got to the woods, he was, of course, gone.

Next day at work I spoke with a couple of people starting with John who just moved from Downeast Maine. I did my best bellowing imitation and he indeed thought it was a moose, he in turn thought I should listen to his crow call. He cupped his hands around his mouth, arced his body and let loose a great caw, best I ever heard.  I must say I was very impressed and confirmed in my belief that Maine boatyards house all sorts of interesting folks.

After hearing the caw and talking moose I was pretty excited so when I ran into Mike who grew up in Aroostook county, drinks Moxie and adds maple syrup to his mojitos, I knew I’d found my second confirmation source. I did my bellow and Mike indeed thought it must have been a moose.

I don’t know why it is that hearing a sound in the woods could become such an event in my life but I am sure glad of having experienced it and the interesting people around me.

In my last post I did a short video on stumpin’ below is the 2nd in that series, with more editing and a little suprise funny mishap at the end…