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.



Clickers – My progress with the Olympic bow

I recently decided to try out Olympic style archery, having come from the barebow world.

I had been using a heavy barebow riser so I purchased an appropriate riser and the gear involved.

One of the items I purchased is a clicker. For those that don’t know, it is a metal strip that rides against the outside edge of your arrow as it is drawn, when the arrow is pulled beyond the clicker, the clicker springs to the riser, striking it and making a sound, which indicates to the archer that they’ve reached their pre-determined draw and can release the arrow.

Clicker - front view

Sounds simple but for it to work well means that your draw and form have to be consistent.

What I’ve found is that this little strip of metal is quite the taskmaster and if you’re paying attention it will point out your form errors.

Getting your errors pointed out to you is often two sided. When I’m struggling to pull through the clicker and I’m feeling frustrated it can very much be a pain in the patookie.

When I take the time to analyze why I’m struggling, allow it to sink through, figure out what the issues are and then see arrows striking gold, I feel uplifted and happy about the challenge.  What have the issues been, you ask?

The easy one to catch for me was not locking my bow shoulder down and letting it ride up which makes going through the clicker near impossible.

Clicker - side view

I also caught inconsistent finger grip on the string. This one has absolutely forced me to pay close attention at how I hook the string and what happens to this hook once under tension at full draw.

More insidious though are things like stance and I am now suspecting head position.

I realize now that all these little problems have existed all along but I was mostly unaware of them. I’ve had my suspicions but nothing like the clicker to make you stop and figure it out.

One of the things that I’ve come to appreciate about this little strip of metal is that aside from it’s intended function it is a good training aid, a bit of the yellow canary of archery, it gives a warning that something is not as it should.

I’m excited about learning the ways of Olympic archery and although frustrating at times the knowledge that I’m improving pushes me along. More to come..

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.

Shooting the Stickbow by Anthony Camera – A review

A couple of weeks ago I ordered “Shooting the Stickbow” written by Anthony Camera or for frequenters of Archery Talk and other online archery forums he may also be known to you by his handle “Viper”.

I for one have been the recipient of his sage online advice and thanks to it have saved myself going down many a wrong path, so I am thankful and was pleased to get more of Mr. Camera’s thoughts on archery via his book.

“Shooting the Stickbow” can be purchased from many sources to include the author’s website which also has information on tuning, arrow selection, free downloads, pictures and a classic bow reference amongst other good info.

Amazon, Lancaster Archery, Three Rivers Archery and others also stock his book.

Everyone who is interested in classical archery should consider owning this book. The cost is very reasonable at $19.95, and in exchange you get encyclopedic knowledge delivered thoroughly in a well thought out and straightforward tome.

In the first part, the author walks us through the basics of archery – equipment, setup, shooting form, tuning, and common errors.  This first section is what most beginners will need to get going with proper form and well tuned, appropriate gear.

He then gets more detailed in the 2nd part of the book by focusing on equipment, to include “how to” areas on building bows, bowstrings, arrows, fletchings and more.

The 3rd part of the book is an in depth explanation of the different components involved in making the shot to include aiming, back tension, physical fitness and the mental side of archery. I am simplifying the amount of content in my short review but I want to make sure that you understand that every detail is covered whether it be grip, breathing, shooting in wind, training tools, drills, bone structure, mind, coaching, etc.

The 4th part of this manuscript is titled “Memories and Musings” and explores the history of Earl Hoyt and Hoyt bows,  as well as the author’s reflections and excellent information on buying, repairing/refinishing vintage bows, purchasing gear from Ebay, and a picture section of classic bows and their components.

The author ends the book with a very complete technical Appendix section as well as resources for the archer, archery books to read, a glossary and a Frequently Asked Questions Appendix.

Although I’ve read many of the chapters straight through, I am getting great use of the book as a reference book. The book lends itself to it and is a fine addition to any archery library or to any archer who in the middle of their shoot wonders why they are plucking the string or are puzzled by how to use a clicker correctly, the answers are all there.

I’d love if a future edition of this book had an index which would help in finding all those golden nuggets that Mr. Camera has put in this book, otherwise this book is a well thought and thorough treatise on shooting stickbows. I highly recommend it!

Archery inspiration

I liked this promotional archery video, so I thought I’d post it, many of the world’s top archers in it, find it below:

A new ILF bow

My new bow arrived on Tuesday, it is an ILF bow. ILF stands for International Limb Fixture although on the web I also saw it as International Limb Fitting. Maybe someone who has the definite skinny on this can clarify with a comment. I found the Questions and Answer section of Sky Archery to be helpful in this regard.

Sky archery was owned by Earl and Ann Hoyt. It is the business he founded after selling Hoyt Archery to Easton. Interestingly my father used to shoot with Ann Hoyt, I believe then Ann Weber Corby and frequented the archery shop she worked at in New Jersey, Robin Hood Archery. Earl Hoyt Jr is the person who introduced the ILF system. (There is a very good and interesting interview of Ann, her life  with archery, Earl and the businesses they ran. Click on the picture of Ann below to read it.)

Earl and Ann Hoyt

ILF bows have interchangeable limbs and risers, which means you can use different brand limbs with different brand risers. You can also have different size and weight combinations depending on what you want in a bow or your physical requirements, draw length, etc.

ILF bows are primarily used by target archers although there is a contingent of archers who hunt with them. If you watch the Olympics in London this summer, the Olympic archers will be shooting ILF bows.

I wanted an ILF bow as a field bow and as a way to introduce myself to target archery. I wanted the increased accuracy that comes from modern materials and design, I wanted to be able to use a modern low stretch string and I wanted to increase the consistency of my setup. My draw length was long enough to allow me to use long limbs which meant a 70 inch bow, it also meant a smooth draw which I was attracted to.

For my first ILF bow I purchased a 25 inch Hoyt Horizon riser with 26 pound Win and Win Sebastian Flute Wood Recurve Limbs, I put on it the scale and at my draw length it weighed in at 31 pounds. I can adjust the draw weight 10 %.

Hoyt Horizon Riser with 8 oz counterbalance weight (dates on all these photos are totally incorrect)

Being new to this type of bow one of the things I noticed was the increased physical weight compared to my dad’s old Hoyt (1960’s) which I shoot religiously and love. My dad’s one piece 35 pound Hoyt weighs in at just over a pound (17.55 oz ) , my new bow with limbs, and accessories to include an 8 oz front counterbalance, weighs in at 4.2 lbs which is lighter than my compound bow but having gotten used to my light Hoyt it is a bit tiresome after many ends, however the increased weight does add steadiness in hand. I”m sure I will get used to it.

I opted for the blackout in color. The blackout is matte and has a slightly textured finish, mind you it is all very even and well done. See pics:

Finish of the Blackout Hoyt Horizon – Date on photos is incorrect.

As far as performance I can’t comment in comparison to other ILF bows what I can say though is that I was more  consistent and grouped my arrows better right out of the box. In fairness this is also a bit lighter bow than what I’m usually shooting which could also be the reason or part of the reason for these results.

Full Draw

Either way I am enjoying getting to know this bow, there’s a lot that is brand new and I’m still figuring out, like tuning, plungers, adjusting center shot which at times is frustrating but have always found generous help and great knowledge in the online archery forums which makes it all easier.

My father’s bows – part II

The wait has been difficult but my new traditional flemish bowstrings finally came in!  They are made of dacron which is common among old school bows of this vintage. More modern bows that have been made to withstand today’s new string materials can use the many low to no stretch string options out there now.

Flemish bowstring

Because these strings stretch more you have to keep an eye on the brace height, which is the  distance from the bowstring to the deepest part of the bowgrip and adjust your bowstring accordingly, this is done by adding or removing more twists to the bowstring to make it longer or shorter. This practice in old Saxon days was referred to as fistmele which is the measurement of a clenched hand with the thumb extended or 6 to 7 inches.There is an interesting description of this in Saxton Pope’s book, Hunting with the Bow and Arrow, in Chapter 8 ” How to Shoot”.


Having the brace height right will keep your bow quiet and shooting at it’s peak.

My cousin John who originally had stored and sent me the bows also sent me an archery cabinet that had been my father’s. Aside from having great fatherly history, the cabinet has been great, providing a place to keep a lot of my archery tackle (which I am accumulating at a steady pace). It’s also been nice to look at, something to come home to.

I recently borrowed a hanging scale from work to find out what the poundage of these bows are. The Hoyt came in at it’s marked weight of 35 pounds, I tested this at 28 inches of draw length. The other bow is a Drake and was unmarked, came in at 45 pounds.

Steve Dunsmore at Lakeside Archery suggested stringing these bows and pulling them a little each day, then a little more, and a bit more until I was pulling the full draw weight over the period of a couple of weeks. He suggested this because these bows haven’t been used in a long time. This seemed like a good breaking in routine to me and I’ve anxiously and un-patiently followed this regime. I say that because it’s a bit of a tease, you get to handle the bow, pull the string back but no beautiful arcing arrow flight, “sigh”. That though my friends changes today! Hah!