Vacation – Stretch band!

I’m just back from a couple weeks of vacation with my family. Prior to leaving ,the thought of bringing my bow, briefly crossed my mind, but it really wasn’t practical, and bringing it, would have very likely detracted from the memorable family adventure we ended up having.

I did have some concern about losing ground on the work I’d been putting towards my form though, so I packed a stretch band.

Stretch band in hand 2 (1)

This turned out to be a great solution, It took minimal space, was light and it allowed me time in front of a mirror in the early mornings to practice. I discovered that the mirror/stretch band combo gave me good feedback, and helped me identify posture issues and inconsistencies in my draw.

photo 3

Me, while on holiday, looking a bit serious for the camera.

On the travel end, we didn’t check any bags, and I carried it onboard in my backpack with no issues from the airport security folks, although halfway through the flight I did consider tying up one of my kids with it…

Kiddos aside, the stretch band worked well for me, I found it helpful and an easy peasy solution to a bit of archery in your bag, travelling or otherwise.

C.

 

Removing glued in points from carbon arrows

I recently had to swap out glued in points from a set of carbon arrows. I was going from lighter points to heavier points to weaken the arrow spine. The arrows points were set in with hot melt glue, so I knew I would have to apply a heat source to the points in order to soften the glue enough to remove them. I checked the internet for options.

I found many suggestions on the web, torch, lighters, and others, but the two methods that caught my eye were offered by Dennis Lieu, archery coach at UC Berkeley, in this article. He suggests using hot water and or a hair dryer as the heat source. This appealed to me as these heat sources seemed more benign than a fire source and I didn’t want to over do it on my first time and risk ruining perfectly good arrows.

I don’t have a hair dryer so the water method came first while I put the word out to borrow a hair dryer. Dennis Lieu’s water method is to place a cup of water in the microwave, bring it to a boil, then dip the arrows in and pull the points, re-heating the water as necessary as it cooled down.

Water boils at 212 degrees and I wondered if I could do it with less temperature. I boiled water in a kettle, and in a sturdy glass put in 1/4 of room temperature water to 3/4 boiling water, then placed my wife’s candy thermometer to see what I had.

thermometer

About 154, 155 degrees

The thermometer was reading in the mid 150’s, I placed two arrows in the water, gave them what I felt was enough time (20 – 30 seconds) and tried pulling the points with a pair of linesman pliers.

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Linesman pliers w

I used an old pair of linesman pliers with adhesive cloth tape wrapped around jaws, so as to not mar arrow points.

The points pulled out fine, I flexed the arrows afterwards and visually inspected them, all seemed well.

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Meanwhile, a hair dryer had come through via a friend in town. The hair dryer was 1875 watts, which translates to plenty of heat. After getting the water temperature I was curious what temperature the hair dryer generated. I used the same thermometer and had it consistently top out at 165 to 170 degrees.

I set up out on deck for good light, and heated both the point and the first few inches of the arrow. I rotated the arrow while doing it and kept the dryer in motion to keep the heat even. I had the dryer about an inch from the shaft moving it quickly around the shaft.

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I had no issues pulling the points, as with the water method I flexed and inspected the shafts afterwards and could not detect any problems. Since then I’ve also shot these arrows and I can’t find any damage to the arrows using these methods.

The hot melt glue used in these shafts is Flitemate hot melt glue which is a low temp glue designed for carbon arrows, you may (or may not) need higher temps if you are using a regular temperature hot melt glue.

Dennis Lieu’s methods worked really well for me, it allowed me a lot of control and a mild approach to removing glued in points. In the same article he also describes his method for gluing points in with hot melt, worth a read. Find it here.

 

Tuning cheat sheet

Do you have a hard time remembering tuning rules?

I do.

To help myself out I made a reference card that hangs on my quiver. It is helpful when I can’t remember if tightening the spring on my plunger moves the arrow left or right, or if bareshafts left of the fletched group indicate stiff spine or weak spine, etc.

tuning cheat sheet

I am right handed so the stuff on this sheet is of course for right handed shooters. There are plenty of rules missing, I just jot the rules I can’t easily remember.

Not all the rules are on this sheet just the stuff I sometimes have to scratch my head a bit to remember.  It saves me having to stop what I’m doing, go inside and look it up. It is also helpful at the range where I don’t want to carry a reference book around or to help somebody out who is tuning their rig.

I find having one useful. If you decide to make one up, customize it with the info you need.

C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archery and numb fingers

I first experienced numbness and tingling in my fingers while shooting barebow with a thin Damascus glove. The numbness didn’t go away, so after dealing with non-feeling fingers for a while I tried a bit of medical tape around the affected fingers in addition to the glove.

Med tape on fingers

The tape worked but was a chore because I had to apply it every time I picked up a bow. I also had to be precise with how much tape I put on, as varying amounts affected my shots differently. Suffice it to say that it didn’t take me long to make my way back to the land of tabs, and leave the Damascus glove behind.

Cavalier tab

A tab with two layers of leather was certainly better than my thin glove had been but after breaking it in, I found myself experiencing numb fingers again. This time, I did some research on the web and in the varying archery forums. I found that this wasn’t uncommon. I also learned that it wasn’t something to mess with as it could be a sign of amongst other things, tissue damage and or nerve damage. Yikes!

Should this be happening to you, stop. Take a break and give your fingers time to heal, you may also consider checking in with your doc. Nothing to mess with.

While searching the web for answers, the recommendations that made sense, and seemed to be voiced over and over were as follows:

  • Vittorio Frangilli, author of The Heretic Archer, coach, and father of champion archer, Michelle Frangilli, suggests 1mm of leather on your tab for every 10 pounds of weight being pulled.
  •  1 tab layer for every 10 pounds of weight.
  • Deep hook – Using proper deep finger hooking technique will help keep your fingers safe and numb free.
3 layer tab

Top to bottom layers – Cordovan leather, super leather and suede at the bottom.

I was already using a deep hook so I focused on rebuilding the leather layers of my tabs. I knew I wanted strong and smooth cordovan for the face or first layer. I wanted a good solid second layer but I wanted it to be less money than cordovan. Economical but tough Super leather fit that bill, as for the bottom layer or the area which rests against your fingers. I went with the comfortable, and traditionally used, suede.

Finger tab

One of the challenges of adding extra thickness is that the fasteners, for my AAE Elite finger tab, now had less reach. On my first tab which had a used cordovan face, the fasteners fit fine. I had to push while turning to get them to bite, but it worked.

screwdriver countersinking tab fastener holes

Using a number 2 Phillips screwdriver as a rough countersink so the fasteners will seat into the leather.

On my second tab which had newer layers and a whisper more thickness, I couldn’t get all the screws to catch. I happened to have a number 2 Phillips head screwdriver nearby, with it I worked the holes of the suede layer, rotating the screwdriver to and fro with a bit of pressure. This acted as a coarse countersink and allowed the remaining flat head machine screws to seat into the leather and thread into the aluminum face. I used blue Loctite on the threads, as I’ve had the screws work themselves loose in the past, and be lost forever.

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The next step in the process was to shoot the new tabs in. The additional layer, did in fact do it’s job, and eliminated the tingling and numbness in my fingers. I had also read an interesting comment by John Magera, (archer, olympian, coach and online mentor to many) that the additional thickness of the tab would help to smooth the release. I found this to be true. His exact comment in Archery talk’s FITA/JOAD forum is below:

“Another benefit of adding enough layers to your tab is that it promotes a more relaxed string hand and can lead to a smoother release. When both hands are comfortable and relaxed, you can focus on the tension in your back much easier.”

I had gone up one additional tab layer and replaced a bunch of my old leather with new leather. Now that it was all assembled I was curious as to what the thickness of the tab layers was so I used a simple caliper and measured 5 mm of thickness on my older tab and 5.5 mm of thickness on my newer tab which had all new leather.

My older tab, more broken in tab measured in at 5 mm.

My older tab,  2 new layers and 1  broken in layer, measured in at 5 mm.

My newer tab with newer layers measured in at 5.5 mm's.

My newer tab with all new layers measured in at 5.5 mm’s.

By Frangilli’s guideline (1mm for every 10 lbs) I should be able to pull up to 50 pounds with the 5 mm of leather in place, I achieved 5mm of thickness with 3 tab layers. The other guideline noted was, one tab layer for every 10 pounds, so the same 50 pounds would be 5 tab layers. A difference of two tab layers for the same theoretical weight.

Is somebody wrong? I think not. The thing to remember is that these are guidelines, places to start, both could be correct depending on the quality and thickness of materials used. Think cordovan vs a softer material, like suede.

I would say that every archer has to make the decision of what to use for a schedule of materials based on what they’re pulling for weight, feel, trial and error, money, and whatever else makes it right for them.

As for myself, the numbness is gone and my shot is improved. Life is good!

 

Make a grip

I’ve been on a quest of sorts, to improve my recurve bow grip. I’ve spent time checking out commercial grips, I’ve searched the web and studied pictures of grips, and read what I could find on the subject.

Total Archery - Inside the archer by Kisik Lee,

Total Archery – Inside the archer by Kisik Lee & Tyler Benner

Some of the better information I found was in the book “Total Archery” by Kisik Lee and Tyler Benner. The chapter titled “Grip Positioning” walks you through the theory of gripping the bow and is nicely illustrated with photographs to clarify and support their points. Within that chapter there is a page dedicated to making your own grip, where you can get some straight dope on what to do.

I also found great theoretical info in the World Archery (FITA) Coach’s Manual -Recurve Bow Shooting Form Module. I believe  coach Kim Hyung Tak, wrote this module (see pg 8 of the module).

Grip

In crafting a new grip, there were a few things I wanted to achieve. One I wanted the left edge of the grip to be closer in line with the lifeline on my hand (I’m right handed), providing a wider base so I could feel the bow well supported and not as if my hand wanted to roll around the left side of the grip.

Grip 2

Two, I also wanted a grip that easily let me repeat the same hand placement time after time by providing some hard edges to use as reference. Three, I didn’t know I wanted until I read about it, which was to angle the grip from left to right so it is higher on the lifeline side, placing the pressure point on the right hand side of the grip or put differently, the lateral center of the bow. (see pic below).

Grip 3

Slight angle left to right

This has been and continues to be an evolution, I started with a high grip but found it more difficult to use well so I sanded it down to a medium grip which I prefer. I had a pronounced left to right angle but after using it, I’ve brought it down to a more subtle angle. The face is currently dead flat, time and shooting will decide if this too will evolve.

Fortunately making changes isn’t hard. I’ve been using 3M’s Marine Premium Filler.

3M Marine Premium Filler, easy to sand and shape, dries quickly

3M Marine Premium Filler, easy to sand and shape, dries quickly

What I like about using this filler is it kicks off fast, I can be sanding within a half hour of application. It sands easily, so some 80 grit sandpaper in hand or on a hard block will get you all the shapes you want.

This is a two part product, you mix the filler with a toothpaste like hardener. I mixed it on top of a cardboard square and, then used a couple putty knives to apply it. I applied more than I needed and then sanded down to the shape I wanted. This is stinky stuff, if you use it or a product like it make sure to read all the instructions and warning labels.

At the crux of all this shaping, marine filler, reading, changing and adapting is the marriage between hand and grip. It is creating a shape that meets your hand and solidly directs the force of effort, centrally from hand  to the bow minimizing left, right or other movement of the bow at release. It is really a small technical improvement that helps the greater effort of becoming a better archer.

If you’ve adapted your grip, let me know what you did or what product you used. I’d love to hear it.

C.

 

Instructional Archery Videos – Archery GB

I found mention of the following videos, in Archery Talk, an online archery forum.These videos are on the Archery GB website, which is the official website for archery in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The videos are meant for coaches working with intermediate archers, but are really good for any motivated archer looking to improve, I found them to be clear, to the point and well illustrated. Find the link below:

http://www.archerygb.org/support/operations/coaches/coaching_videos.php

Screw on field tips keep coming loose?

Field tips

For a long time, my routine, after shooting at a target butt would be to pull my arrows, then check and tighten the tips so I’d be ready for the next end, it had become an intrinsic part of my process… and it was a pain.

Even though I’d check I would get loose tips. I could hear them rattling all the way to the target. Looking for a solution I thought I’d apply a little blue Loctite to the threads but a fellow archer offered a simpler solution and most of you already have what you need to solve this little problem forever.

His advice was to use string wax, the stuff that’s in your quiver pocket.

String Wax

Apply the string wax to the threads of your field tip.

waxing threads on field tips

Screw the tip back on to the arrow insert.

Waxed field tip series

You’re ready to go.

Field tip

One caveat:

I live in Maine where we don’t have 100 degree days so I have not tested this method in extraordinary heat. If you use this method and you’ve tried it on some scorcher days, please leave me a comment with your results.

Thanks, C.

Archery storage for small spaces

I have a 3 bedroom house, two sons and a mess of archery tackle.

Up to now my sons have shared a bedroom, leaving a bedroom to be used as combo archeryhaven, office and guestroom.

With the lads springing into teenagehood, they wanted to get out of their shared room and into their own. I’d want the same so I’m cool with that. It just meant that the archery empire would have to move.

I don’t have a basement or garage and so I looked around at the options. My dad’s archery cabinet and his bows could go out into the family room area and just be a part of the rest of the house. I thought of my bedroom but my wife gave me the evil eye when I mentioned it so I quickly dropped that plan, which didn’t leave me too many options. Really the only space left was our shed outside or a closet.

The shed just had a skunk move in, which may end up involving archery gear, but trudging out there really wasn’t practical, which made the decision easy (by the way if you know how to get rid of a skunk without them invoking “the potion”, let me know).

The closet is already home to tools, glue, nails and general hardware, fixit stuff but it was jammed packed, so I spent a couple of weekends judiciously utilizing the adage, “When in doubt, throw it out”, (or recycle) until I could see some promise in there.

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Tool, hardware and now also archery closet.

I already had a lot of archery hardware in organizer cases and I figured I could store bows vertically on a pegboard. Arrows in tubes, my compound bow hung, my fletching stuff in a box and it all came together. Frankly, I’ve been very pleased with everything having a home. I’m sure there will be changes but I think I’m off to a good start.

Bows hung vertically

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Archery storage shelf

Organizer box

Hanging hook

Hook is made from clothes hanger wire, some tape and some small hose to protect the bow.

For a workspace, a place to fletch arrows, tune, and do archery stuff I moved a small desk into a corner of the house.

In the end I’ve been downsized but that’s small potatoes and a very small sacrifice in comparison to seeing the excitement in my sons eyes at setting up their bedrooms and having them be their own.

How to fletch arrows

Fletching arrows like many things is a matter of following steps and paying attention.

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Not every step is crucial but if you want your feathers/vanes to hang on when you accidentally shoot through a bale or clicker and or when you’re shooting tight groups it pays to have paid attention to the details.

Big hint number one for success is to work clean. Start by washing your hands to keep your natural skin oils away from the surfaces you’ll be applying glue to, keep your work area clean, and if you just ate mama’s fried chicken, scrub up well!

Next on the cleaning list are your shafts, when I first started fletching my own arrows my local shop sold me  a shaft cleaner made by AAE, but any powder cleaner like Ajax or Comet will do the job.

Put it on and scrub it in with a clean abrasive pad. See pic below.

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Once you’ve cleaned your shafts well, rinse them with warm water, I like to use hot water so they air dry faster.

shafts being rinsed

This next step is crucial, whether you’re fletching carbon or aluminum arrows is to abrade/scuff the surface you’re going to glue to, so the glue has something to hold on to, specially with aluminum arrows which are slick indeed.

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I use 3M’s 7447 Scotch Brite Pad, some folks use steel wool or very, very fine (600 grit) sandpaper.

When I abrade the surface I do it in a left to right motion or at right angles to the shaft. Depending on the arrow, this usually means that I’m going across the grain, increasing my chances for good adhesion.

If you’re fletching carbon shafts there will be some carbon dust residue on your shafts, I usually wipe them with a clean rag.

Now that you’ve prepped your shafts you’re ready to glue your fletchings on. The majority of fletchings are glued on by using a fletching jig to guide the placement of your feathers or vanes onto the arrow and hold them there while the glue sets.

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Fletching clamp

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Fletching jig

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Here is the clamp holding the feather against the shaft while the glue sets, the clamp is held to the jig by a magnet.

Once I have the feather or vane in the clamp I apply a consistent bead of glue. I always have a rag nearby to deal with excess glue from the tube, which often continues to ooze wanting to make a mess.

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If I am gluing vanes I leave the vanes in the jig just a short time, 30 seconds to a minute. If I am gluing feathers and this depends on what you’re using for glue. I leave them in a lot longer. Feathers have some natural curvature to them, when you put them in a clamp you are changing that shape. The feather wants to spring back to it’s natural shape. If you pull the clamp early, before the glue has dried enough you risk the feather springing off the glue line.

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Once I’ve glued the vanes or feathers on, I will dab spots of glue on the leading and trailing edge of the fletching. This is cheap insurance and makes a difference in longevity.

Lastly I let them dry, preferably overnight. Depending on the glue you may be able to shoot them much quicker than that, I figure if I have the time it doesn’t hurt to let the glue fully cure.

There are clamps for  jigs that will angle your vanes or feathers differently on the arrow, how they are set on the arrow affects arrow flight. Find info on these clamps below.

Straight: There is no angle on the feather or vane, often commercially purchased arrows which come pre-fletched are straight fletched. With certain types of arrow rests it is preferred as the arrow can’t catch, think whisker biscuit arrow rests.

Offset: The fletching is angled on the shaft 1 or more degrees, this induces rotation  which has a gyroscopic effect on the arrow for a more stable flight.

Helical: Is angled on the shaft and also has corkscrew like bend (helix) to the fletching. Helical can provide the maximum amount of rotation, which means more stability in flight. It also means more drag than straight or offset making for a bit slower arrow than straight or offset.

Left or Right: Choose to have your feathers/vanes angle right or left, it doesn’t matter which.  When purchasing a fletching jig you will have to decide whether you want left or right clamps, also when buying feathers you have to indicate whether you want left or right feathers. Vanes are straight and can be used in either direction.

Personally I like an offset or helical, getting the arrow to spin and be a bit more forgiving.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the distance from the end of the arrow to the fletching, this

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changes depending on whether you are shooting with fingers or a release. The above arrow has 1 1/2 inches of clearance because it will be used with a finger release. When using a mechanical release you can have them further aft. The further back the better.

I have really enjoyed fletching my own, it gives me more control of the whole process, gets me involved in the craftsmanship of archery and opens a window into how things in archery work and why. You may want to give it a go yourself.

Spigarelli Explorer II clicker extension

Leslie left a comment on a previous post asking about the Spigarelli Explorer II clicker extension, specifically she wanted to see pictures of it mounted on the riser. See her comment below.

Hello Charles,

If it’s not too much of a hassle, can you post some pictures of the riser with the clicker extension installed? I would like to see how the extension is actually installed on the riser.

Thank you for your time and attention!

Leslie, find pics below:

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The extension is adjustable so you can extend it further out if need be. As you can see it is fastened on the non arrow side of the bow. Hope these pictures help to clarify.

C.