Summer Arrows

summer arrows

Hurricane Arthur is passing offshore of us and it is pouring, pouring, pouring. I am reminiscing of how sweet last weekend was, when I was nestled amongst the gardens, feeling the sun, in my world, letting go of arrow after arrow.

On days like those, archery feels like meditation. I think it is the intense, and single focus on target and or shot sequence, that allows the mind to push everything else aside. I feel centered, and with every arrow, I’m letting go.

There aren’t that many things that I do that allow me that “in the zone” sort of experience. Does archery ever make you feel that way? Let me know, leave me a comment if it does.

 

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Father’s Day

Happy Father’s day archers, and Happy Father’s day Dad!

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My old man with Buck and Marmot

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Bowfishing for Carp

 

 

Starter Bows for kids

One of my co-workers asked me for a recommendation for a Christmas bow for her son, so while on this line of thought, I thought I’d share my research and thoughts on the subject.

I would start by saying that the very, very  best thing you can do, is to go to a good archery shop and let them help  you.

You want a place where archery is their main gig. There are some shops where archery is a sideline, not the mainstay of their business, you may end up with a bow that is not appropriate for a child. Do a little research on the web or ask someone knowledgeable in your area for a referral to a good shop.

Shops that are used to working with kids will often have a JOAD program (Junior Olympic Archery Development)  and lessons, these are great places for kids and their growth as archers and people. Very often these shops will have bows that you can try out.

If you don’t have access to a shop and or want to know what to look for in a bow for a child, just keep on reading, I’ll highlight the important stuff.

The number one issue for not only children but any new archer is bow weight. I don’t mean the physical weight of the bow but how much weight or “pull” an archer has to hold at full draw.

Bows are usually rated for a certain poundage at a certain length of draw, this rating is usually written on the bow or limbs.

This issue is important for a couple of reasons:

  • A young archers body is developing, a heavy bow can injure a child’s young body.
  • Too heavy a bow will be difficult to hold at full draw, which will make it hard to focus on the things they need to learn because they are too busy just trying to control the bow, it can also lead to bad form issues and general unhappiness. Too heavy a bow is often the reason a child loses interest in archery, its no fun!

Bows are not like other things where you can buy them a little big for your child to grow into them. You want to get the right size and weight for their current age and development. You can always pass them down to a sibling or resell them later, some bows have enough adjustment latitude that they will last a pretty long time.

Length of bow – This part is more common sensical, you want to get a bow that fits your child’s stature. This is easier as lighter weight bows meant for children are often already shorter/longer to accommodate a young shooter’s size.

Compound or a classical style bow?

Compound bows are technological marvels, they use modern, mechanical components to leverage energy in their favor. They are faster and more accurate than their classical counterparts. They are also more expensive and complicated and depending on your setup have more components and accessories to buy than classical bows. You will very likely need professional help to set one up  or tune it.

There are compound bows on the market now that have a wide range of weight adjustment making it possible to purchase a bow that will last a young person a long time, making your upfront investment last.

Classic bows are the eternal teachers of this discipline. Particularly the recurve bow, which is the mainstay of modern archery education.

The plus of these bows is that they are fundamentally simple. They are easy to maintain and are relatively inexpensive and you don’t need a lot of accessories to use one. You can learn to tune one yourself or have a professional help you.

Let’s get into it and go over some of the more popular bows for kids on the market today:

Samick Polaris

The bow on the left is a Samick Polaris takedown recurve. Takedown means that the bow can be broken down into three pieces, the riser (wooden middle section) and the two limbs. This can be practical for transporting the bow.

There are other makers of bows that have near identical bows to the one on the  left and would all be appropriate for a great starter bow, the ones that come to mind are  the PSE Buckeye and the Mohegan Recurve by Greatree Archery, in fact my youngest son, Alistair, owns a 16 lb Mohegan recurve.

All these bows seem to range somewhere in the $90.00 to $120.00 range.

If you decide to go the classic bow road, you will also need a bow stringer, they run aprox.  $10.00. Most of these bows come with an arrow rest, which sticks on to the bow for your arrow to sit on, should it not have an arrow rest, simple rests can be had for a few dollars. You will of course need arrows, again talking to a good pro shop is the way to go.

Now, there are of course many other options for a kid’s starter bow from simple fiberglass bows to traditional longbows, and Olympic recurves,  some cheaper and some more money. I’m just pointing out a true and tried style of bow used widely in early archery education, that will serve a young person well.

A popular kids compound bow is the Mathews Genesis.

Mathews Genesis

They are easily found,  and are a great first bow if you decide to go the compound road. They also come in nine different colors to include pink and camo, to suit most any kid.

Compound bows usually have a feature called let off, this means that as you draw the string you get to a point where the bow weight shifts and you’re only holding a fraction of the weight, usually 20% to  30% of the original weight. Making it easier to hold at full draw for longer.

This bow doesn’t have that and for the weight range, doesn’t need it. Not having let off makes it more easily acceptable to a variety of draw lengths and also helps the bow grow with the child.

The weight on this bow can be adjusted from 10 to 20 lbs.

This bow runs about $165.00, you can also buy a kit which will come with arrows, quiver, arm guard and targets for aprox. $ 220.00.

There is also a mini version of the Genesis, with adjustable weight from 6 to 12 pounds and a Pro version with adjustable weight from 15 to 25 lbs. The pro will run you $185.00 for the stock model.

Very similar to the Genesis Pro in concept is PSE’s Discovery 2. It also comes in a variety of colors and has the same universal draw length as the Genesis. The weight range of the PSE Discovery 2 is 20 to 29 pounds, so it has a bit more ummph, should you want it. My 11 year old owns this bow.  Price for one of these is about $180.00.

PSE Discovery 2

For parents of kids that want a compound bow that will have all the features of an adult sized compound, to include the ability to “let off” or shift gears to a lower holding weight, and a greater range of weight adjustment, a few bows come to mind.

PSE Miniburner w/accesories

PSE Miniburner w/accessories

PSE’s Miniburner is a full fledged compound bow. The weight is adjustable from 15 to 40 pounds which means that this bow can really grow with the child. They retail in the $200.00 range.

Diamond’s Infinite Edge is also a full compound bow and is adjustable from 5 to 70 lbs, a huge range of weight. You could shoot this bow as a young person and retire with it if you’d like.  It comes as a package deal with sights, rest, peep, quiver, etc. The package price will run you $ 349.00.

Diamond's infinite edge with accesories

Diamond’s infinite edge with accessories

I’ve shown you all these compound bows as viable options for a beginner however my personal belief is to start simple.

Which in my mind means starting with a straightforward stick and string, like the recurve pictured at the beginning of this post.

There are practical reasons for this like cost. A simple recurve will be cheaper than a compound, also compounds come with more accessories, sights, complex arrow rests, and releases to name a few. All of which will add to the expense. Another plus of starting with a simple less expensive bow is if your child finds that archery isn’t their cup of tea, you’re not in very deep.

Although a compound bow can be shot with fingers on the string, the majority of compound archers use a release. A release is a device that either straps to your wrist or you hold in your hand that attaches to the string. The release has a trigger, when you are ready to let go of the string you activate the trigger and off your arrow goes.

I say let them do it the way Robin Hood did it, with fingers on the string. Let them feel and be a part of archery’s long history. Once they’ve gotten a grasp of it and have built a bit of a foundation to their shooting and understand the fundamentals of archery via a simple bow,  they will then be in a great position to decide if they would like to give a compound or any other type of bow a try.

Whatever you decide, archery is a great discipline to introduce  to your children, the learning of which can transcend the simple act of releasing arrows and help them in their growth.

Things to not let your wife catch you doing in the house…

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I thought I would do an update to this post, I knew that I wasn’t the only archer out there to shoot inside their home under safe controlled conditions so I ran a poll on the Archery Talk Traditional forum which is a popular archery online forum. The poll consisted of 3 options to vote on, they are as follows:

View Poll Results: Do you shoot arrows inside your home?

Voters
109.

    • I shoot arrows inside my home and I think it is safe If I take precautions.

      77 – 70.64%

    • I don’t shoot arrows in my home and I do not think it is safe.

      5 – 4.59%

  • I don’t shoot arrows in my house but I think it’s fine.

    27 – 24.77%

I didn’t think the percentage of archers shooting in their homes would be that high, over 75% of the 109 archers polled. There were also comments that went along with the poll, if you are interested click here to see results and comments.

Colorado and Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut

I’m just back from Colorado Springs where we visited family and attended my cousin’s wedding, although by this writing she and her hubby are somewhere in Mexico, sipping cold drinks and enjoying newlywed bliss.

While there we spent time exploring, hiking, catching up with family and getting some mundane tasks done that I never find time to do in my regular working life, like buy shoes, etc.

The family at Helen Hunt falls

Of course, I took my bow along. You can see a picture of my custom bow case below.

Custom bow case

I was glad to see everything in the “custom case” traveled fine and after reassembling the bow and getting my kit in order I looked around for an archery range. What comes up on the web right away is Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut, so I grabbed my bow and went.

Bill Pellegrino’s is on the east side of Colorado Springs, just east of Powers and Platte. I walked in and was impressed right off, the shop is clean, well stocked with bows and archery accessories as well as having a knowledgeable staff and a service pro shop where they were busy tuning bows for customers. I paid for range time which is a good deal at $ 7.00 for all day shooting. Your 7.00 bucks includes a paper target, your choice of style. I picked an NFAA indoor blue face target and walked out to the range.

The range is large with 29 lanes, quality Block brand target butts, floor quivers and plenty of bow racks, 10 yard, 18 meter and 20 yard lines are clearly marked. I could also see 3-D animal targets on the side of the range, so I imagine they have indoor 3-D shoots in the off seasons.

Well appointed 29 lane range

There is a separate section on the opposite side of the range where there are 4 close-range target butts. The staff is constantly using this area to paper tune bows, measure draw weights and help clients.  I also spied a chronometer set up in that area.

I was allowed to use this space (during a break in the action) to  blind bale practice, as I’ve been working on smoothing out my release and follow through.

A customer paper tunes his bow.

They also have a JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) program on Saturday mornings 8-10:00 for $10.00 per session. Which by the way is a good deal for JOAD.

A young lad gets set up with a new bow, dad is in the background looking on.

Staff helps a client fine-tune his sight.

The shop appears to primarily be a compound bow shop. They absolutely have recurves and other types of bows and accessories for them but their bread and butter seems to be the modern compound bow, which makes sense given the popularity of compounds for target and hunting, which is huge in this area.

Overall my impressions were very good, this is a clean, well organized shop, with a great facility, reasonable prices and knowledgeable staff. They are definitely worth checking out if you either live or find yourself in the Colorado Springs area looking for a good shop.

Fires, bows and Mother’s day

In our house, Laurel, my wife is the proverbial glue that holds it all together. We have two boys, nine and eleven and to manage them, our house, kids sports, the third “boy”, and her job, is a lot.

A few days ago this became top of mind when I stepped into the already running shower to find a soccer ball ahead of me for company, While I was in there absentmindedly kicking the ball a bit and thinking about life I thought I should make sure that it was a good Mother’s Day.

She had already told me that she didn’t want to do any dishes and she wanted me to burn the two year old brush pile we have out back and be home in her gardens.

She’d also mentioned months ago that she wanted to give archery a more sustained go and wanted a bow to begin with. I had secretly already picked up a bow for her, originally planned for her birthday and tucked away out of sight in the closet but why not on the day of the momma.

The bow is a 20 pound left hand takedown recurve and so I put it together last night put a big red ribbon on it and tucked it away for the next morning. Started doing dishes that night to get a jump on it, had coffee ready in the morning and waited for the kids to get up so we could all give her the bow.

Only a supermom could draw her bow amidst piles of laundry and hug a nine year old at the same time!

The kids had homemade cards, a nice present for mom, all was going well. I went off to our local fire station to get a fire permit to burn the brush pile, got home and lit it up, Laurel grabbed the bow, I grabbed the video camera and here is what I have.

The morning slowly turned to a beautiful sunny day, I tended the fire, Laurel went to talk to our neighbors and came back with rhubarb, worked in the gardens, kiddos played, Dakota and I tossed the ball around, I did more dishes, swept the house, later cooked dinner, made meals for the week and was truly an unrecognizable version of myself.

Rhubarb – if I’m lucky this will become pie even if the new me has to make it

Later,  Laurel and I shot some arrows together, I restrained, like every smart husband should from critiquing her form although I did notice that she seemed to be having a hard time closing one eye. She then mentioned it.

She is left handed, has shot left handed bows before but was having trouble with her eyes, hmmm…

In archery you usually pick a left or right handed bow depending on your eye dominance, if you are left eye dominant you should shoot a left hand bow even if you are right handed. I wondered if this might be the case. Laurel is somewhat ambidextrous so I administered a simple eye dominance test and sure enough she is right eye dominant she should really shoot a right hand bow. I went in the house and got my 20 lb right hand takedown recurve and she gave it a go.

From left to right

She reports the eye part is good, getting used to a right handed bow is a bit weird, we’ll see what she decides and whatever it is I’m good with it. If she wants to go righty my younger son can step up to her lefty bow, all will work fine.

I know I see dishes and run and often don’t do all the things a good husband should but I was really good today, got a bow for my wife and I can burn the heck out of a big pile of brush.

So with that I will leave you as I am off to watch the young and very handsome Sherlock Holmes on masterpiece theater with my wife.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Turkey talk..

Today was a good day.

There is an Ice Cube song called “It was a good day” and although the lyrics vary widely from this blogpost the feeling is the same. That everything went right.

I was up at 4:30 this morning, had coffee, caught up with my computer stuff and then went for a hunt.  I’ve never hunted for a thing until this week so it is all new. I have been practicing like a madman though.

It is turkey season and so on my commute to work and back I talk turkey. There are many turkey talking devices out there and like many I jumped right into a mouth call as it frees your hands. I’ve put hours and hours into this call and all I can say is you either have to be gifted or southern because these calls take a lot, a lot of time to get. I happily switched gears to a slate call and found myself yelping and driving in no time. It’s a good thing I commute early in the morning as I’m usually steering with one knee while clucking along to a turkey CD.

I did learn how to do clucks and purrs with this mouthcall, but had a hard time with yelping, getting the hang of these takes plenty of practice.

I’ve also put a lot of practice time with my compound bow, making 40 yards my standard practice distance, which makes shooting smaller distances somehow feel easier.

My commute to the hunting grounds was just a walk out of my door and into the darkness about 150 yards where I had a ground blind setup in the woods, one of the benefits of living in Maine. I had nothing fancy as I have not accumulated much gear; I had an old LL Bean canvas tote bag with calls, a bottle of water, gloves and not much else. I don’t have special clothes but I was careful to wear black as the inside of the blind is black and it makes one hard to see.

I set a hen decoy 8 yards from the blind and tucked myself in. It was a foggy Maine morning and as the sun came up the outlines of the woods softened by the fog. The next half hour or so were exceptional. I saw deer running through the fog, the crows were cawing, the world was waking up and I was really relishing being in nature. Just beautiful out, so special, I would guess that many hunters do this just to experience that.

I started calling using all my CD, YouTube knowledge. I began with just yelping (common turkey talk) every 20 minutes and after an hour I got a gobble back. I responded but didn’t call a lot which was my friend Steve’s advice and just let him find me. He stopped coming in at about 30 yards and I switched to cutting (excited hen language) with a small amount of yelping and although it was slow that brought him in.

Inside a blind, just my backyard not my top secret turkey spot.

I only had one large window in the blind open and had a small clearing dead ahead of me. This tom was coming in behind me and these guys are wicked stealthy when they want to be, I couldn’t see him but could hear his movements. I caught a glimpse of him as he came in to my window view through the wood underbrush towards the clearing, eventually coming in dead ahead of me at 18 yards ( I had measured the area) he was looking right at me, fluctuating between puffing up and looking skitterish. I didn’t realize it at the time but this was probably as good as it gets. My YouTube education would have had him in come closer yet and head for the decoy, but I should have caught on that he was a bit nervous and taken a chance and drawn the bow, so instead of staying he walked right out of my field of view. We then had a 4 hour conversation in turkey. At different distances and although I managed to bring him in again he was behind me where I didn’t have a shot. At 11:30 I gave it up, legal time ends at noon in Maine. I was exhausted not so much from talking turkey but from the adrenalin rush when he’d come in close and my heart was pounding and senses heightened, then back down and up and down again. I missed an opportunity but had a great hunt while gaining some experience and a great memory.

Fiddleheads

I came home still in time to make it to Dakota’s baseball game and then ice cream on the way home to celebrate the win, the sun was out after a drizzly week, making everyone happy to be outside in t-shirts for a change. Laurel found fiddleheads in some secret spot in the woods to sauté with dinner, a springtime treat, I sent some arrows into the target, read a book and later we watched Kung Fu Panda II with the kids, nothing dazzling just a good day.