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.

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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.

 

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Spigarelli Explorer II – a review

Last spring I purchased a Spigarelli Explorer II. Previously I had been shooting a Spigarelli Barebow which, by the way, is an excellent riser for those who delve into the mysteries of barebow archery, barebow risers tend to be heavy though and I wanted a
lighter riser where I could customize the balance of the bow by apportioning weight where I wanted on the riser body and still not end up with too heavy a bow.

Spig Explorer in snow

The Spigarelli Explorer II has been a good solution for me. It is thoughtfully designed and a versatile platform for shooting either FITA or barebow archery.

The 25 inch Spig Explorer II riser weighs in at 2 pounds 10 oz (1.194 kg) with the grip mounted. Making it a comfortable mid weight riser.

What makes this riser so flexible are the many options for distributing weight. There are 3 stabilizer bushings on the back of the riser (the side that faces the target), and two additional bushings to add counterweight on the belly of the riser.

Bottom and middle stabilizer bushings

Bottom and middle stabilizer bushings

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Top bushing

Spig mid counterweight

Mid counterweight

Lower belly bushing

Bottom counterweight

Lastly there are two slots for internal handle weights. These teardrop slots take 7.4 oz (210 grams) Spigarelli weights which can be inserted into either the top, bottom or both slots. Should you choose to add both weights you’re adding nearly a pound of additional weight to the bottom half of the riser body.

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Weight in top teardrop slot of handle

P1010372

Fastener holds the weight firmly, no vibrations/noise

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Weight in bottom teardrop slot.

One of the things that attracts me to this riser is the design, it is well thought out, functional and attractive. Take the teardrop slots for example, they reduce the weight of the overall riser, play a part in the appearance of the riser and double as receptacles for the internal weights.

Other interesting design niceties are the recessed sight window, which gives you a clean view eliminating or minimizing screw heads that protrude into the sight picture. Smart clicker design, which has a formed drop/indentation at the tip, allowing for a visual cue by the inward movement of the clicker as you draw the last couple millimeters of the arrow. There are also clicker reference marks machined into the riser. Spigarelli has gone a long way to account for the details enhancing an archer’s experience.

Recessed sight window

Recessed sight window also see clicker fold  which gives visual cue, when arrow is a couple of mm’s from end and machined clicker reference lines.

Included with the riser comes a clicker, an adjustable clicker plate, a stick on magnetic rest, tools and a handsome riser pouch (The arrow rest that is shown is not the provided rest it is a Spigarelli ZT rest, which I like because of it’s adjustability).

Clicker plate

Clicker plate

Adjustable clicker plate

Clicker plate can be adjusted out or in with a machine screw.

Limbs can be aligned by removing the two locking set screws on the outside of the riser and then adjusting the limb by tightening/loosening the inner set screws on either side of the riser.

LImb aligment screws

Adjusting the weight and tiller of the bow is also possible by tightening/loosening the limb bolts. The limb bolts can then be locked down by a machine screw on the belly of the riser.

Limb bolt

Limb bolt

Locking machine screws for limb bolts

Locking machine screws for limb bolts

The wooden grip that is provided with this riser, didn’t do it for me, so I purchased an aftermarket Jager grip. When I decided I wanted to try a higher wrist grip, I modified the wooden grip that came included. If you plan to purchase a Spigarelli riser be aware that you may want to modify the grip or purchase an aftermarket grip.

Modified Spig grip

Modified Spigarelli grip

The polished anodized finish on the riser is good. I did however find a couple of places (not obvious) where if I looked closely I saw  machining marks. See pic below:

Machine mark on Spig

This is not a big deal to me, as the rest of the riser outweighs the couple marks on it but it may be for you, as I mentioned they are not obvious.

The Spigarelli Explorer II is a nicely designed mid-weight riser, it has many options for stabilizers and weight that will work well with a FITA setup or barebow, it also has many design details which may enhance your archery experience, it is nicely finished, and comes with some extras like a clicker, clicker plate and magnetic rest. The grip isn’t great but there are options for after market grips and or you can modify the existing grip. I did find some machining marks on my riser, I don’t know if this is true of all Explorer II’s, the marks I found were not obvious and do not detract from the overall look and feel of this gear.  As of this writing a Spigarelli Explorer II can be had for $375.00 to $400.00 dollars.

For those that are looking for a solid mid-level riser, the Explorer II is a good choice and worthy of consideration. If barebow is your thing but you want a riser that can also be used for a FITA setup, the flexibility of this riser fits the bill perfectly.

Changes..

In my last post I reviewed my Spigarelli Barebow and then promptly sold it… Sounds bad doesn’t it?

Spigarelli Barebow riser.

Spigarelli Barebow riser, it just looks badass doesn’t it?

I sold it for a couple of reasons, the first is I’ve taken an interest in Olympic type archery and I wanted a more appropriate riser and two I’ve developed a nagging bit of tennis elbow which gets worse with a heavy setup (and a low grip).

I did want to get some information out on this riser though as there isn’t enough said about these nicely designed and well thought out  barebow risers, hence my review.

I knew that I wanted my next riser to be lighter for an Olympic setup but have many options for controlling where I could apportion weight. I also wanted enough flexibility in the riser that I could still shoot it barebow, a tall order!

I spent a fair amount of time going through specs and in the end chose another Spigarelli. I really do like the detailing and thought that the Italians bring to the table and the Spigs have captured my admiration. If all goes well my local shop “Lakeside Archery” will have a Grey Spigarelli Explorer 2 waiting for me when I show up after work on Friday.

My wife and kids will be out of town for the weekend so aside from some chores I am planning a bachelor weekend of tuning and setting this bow up.

So, please help me out and cross your fingers that the UPS driver doesn’t have a bad day and leave my package on the loading dock…

Best, C.

2013 NFAA Maine Indoor State Championship and 2012 – 2013 Maine Shooter of the year

I wanted to give a big shout out and a word of thanks to Tom and Jess Hartford for hosting the Maine State Indoor Championship this past weekend at their facility, Central Maine Archery. There was a lot of work to do and Tom and Jess stepped to the challenge. They in turn were helped by many volunteers from the archery community and of course by the driving force behind it all, the Maine Archery Association. Thanks to all for making it such a success!

Tom and Jess Hartford

Tom and Jess Hartford

I should also mention that Tom and Jess raffled of a new PSE compound bow and a year’s worth of free range time for a whole family. Nice.

There were shooting times Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the last shooters wrapping up on Sunday afternoon. There were some very exciting moments were I got to be a spectator and watch some outstanding archers compete head to head during tie break shoot outs for their class and some positively nail biting competition during the Triple Crown Finale.

I found myself really enjoying being a spectator during these events.

Jon Thompson and Levi Cyr battle for 1st place.

Jon Thompson and Levi Cyr battle for 1st place.

Callie Gallant and George Tarr during the shootout for the Triple Crown.

Callie Gallant and George Tarr during the shootout for the Triple Crown.

Callie Gallant and Joe Wilkin

Callie Gallant and Joe Wilkin shoot for 1st and 2nd place with Callie taking a nailbiting 1st.

Callie took first for the Triple Crown which was a money shoot earning herself some loot and bragging rights. I have to mention though that Joe Wilkin shot an outstanding round for the Triple Crown and also shot the State championship despite being on crutches and having to hobble around – that’s dedication!

1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners 2013 Maine Indoor State Championship

Winners for the 2013 Maine Indoor State Championship

2012-2013 Shooters of the Year

2012-2013 Shooters of the Year

As for me, I ended as Shooter of the Year in the barebow class which wasn’t terribly difficult seeing as I was the sole archer shooting the class and I came in first in the State Championship for barebow. I was far from my best though. Kudos to fellow barebow archer Dave Toner who took 2nd. Nice to have company.

They give you a bunch of neat stuff when you win, certificates, medals, patches, I even got a hat but the coolest by far is this belt buckle:

Shooter of the year buckleNext shoot is this Sunday at Lakeside Archery for the Traditional Classic, hope to see you there.

The Barebow

Often when the word barebow comes up we imagine a bow that is akin to the word. Meaning a bow that is bare. Many imagine a wooden bow with not a thing on it. Naked, you might say, or as the Italians say il arco nudo.

In competitive circles, particularly in Europe where shooting the barebow classes is more popular than here in the US,  a dedicated barebow is more often than not an aluminum riser complete with elevated rest and plunger that resembles a modern Olympic bow.

What makes them different? Well to answer that we must first regress and get into rules and organizations a bit. Just a bit.. As getting into this deeply can be an exercise of frustration.

There are many governing archery bodies like FITAIFAA, and NFAA, their rules for barebows differ but for the most part they revolve around some basic elements of this type of archery.

The most important, the one everyone agrees with and the distinguishing feature between this type of archery and others is that we don’t use sights. None, nada, zilch, no sights or anything that could be used as a reference to aim, no marks of any sort, or anything protruding into  the sight window to act as a reference to help you hit the target.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t aiming methods it just means that the bow is in it’s birthday suit and can’t help you in that regard.

Another element of this type of archery, which we do share with other classes,  is that this is a fingers deal. Releases of any sort are a no, no. It is fingers on the string, baby. Tabs, gloves or a chew strap if you are impaired are accepted.

That is the simple part, after that it can get confusing depending on class and organization. What the different classes tend to regulate beyond the above are the accessories we add to our bows, such as arrowrests, drawchecks, counterweights and stabilizers.

For the purposes of this blog entry what you need to know is that there are archery organizations which limit or don’t allow the use of stabilizers in the barebow classes and because of this barebow design differs from Olympic bow design.

An archer shooting a sighted Olympic bow in the appropriate class can add any number of stabilizers at various lengths, angles, directions and weight, because of this Olympic risers tend to be lighter, the expectation is that the archer will customize the bow getting to the weight and stabilizer arrangement that is optimum and usually most forgiving for them.

Olympic bows set up with stabilizers

Olympic bows set up with sights and various stabilizers

Barebow shooters (depending on class & organization) don’t have this option. they can’t take advantage of the benefits of stabilizers so rely on design and weight  to create a balanced and stable shooting platform that is more forgiving at release than a lighter Olympic bow shot bare would be.

Bernardini Nilo weight riser weights

Bernardini Nilo with integral riser weights added and a Spigarelli weight added to the lower stabilizer bushing. – Photo by Nathan W Lediard

Olympic bows shot without a stabilizer or counterbalance will typically have the upper limb tip back towards the archers head at release. Which is accepted by some but a bit annoying for most.  To compensate for this, barebow design shifts the riser weight and usually allows you to add weight to the lower part of the riser body.

Spigarelli Barebow weight mounted on the lower riser.

Spigarelli Barebow weight mounted on the lower riser, the Allen head fastener keeps it in place.

Weight module on a Spigarelli Barebow, the weight can be set flush or proud of the riser body.

Another view of the weight system of this Spigarelli Barebow.

Innovative riser design has also changed the way mass/weight is distributed in barebows as well as how those elements affect stiffness and vibration reduction, the Green Horn Sirius and the Stolid Bull Black Thunder are good examples of this.

Green Horn Sirius 25 inch riser

Green Horn Sirius riser

Stolid Bull - Black Thunder - Photo by Nathan W Leidard

Stolid Bull – Black Thunder – Photo by Nathan W Leidard

Italian archery companies have created some of the world’s best known barebows such as Bernardini, Best and Spigarelli. Below are images of some of their excellent work.

Best Moon with weights

Best Moon with integral riser weights, custom Jager grip, and a Spigarelli weight in the main stabilizer bushing.

Bernardini Nilo

Bernardini Nilo – Photo by Nathan W Lediard

Spigarelli Barebow

Spigarelli Barebow- Photo by author

As far as competitive barebows made on this side of the pond the bow that comes to mind is the recently introduced TR-7 riser made by Sky Archery. I had a brief conversation with Jim Belcher, owner of Sky Archery,  to get the skinny on it as the word on the street is that this very appealing riser could be configured as a barebow.

Sky TR-7 25 inch riser

Sky TR-7 25 inch riser

Jim confirmed that in fact it could. You  remove the Mathews harmonic damper at the bottom and insert a custom1/4 pound weight which balances the bow in hand.

If you’d like more weight he also has a 5/8ths pound weight that can be used. This coupled with Sky limbs should make for a heck of a competitive bow. Jim mentioned that many top shooters are lining up for one to include Michelle Frangilli, Italian Gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics.

I would finish by saying that if you want to shoot barebow competitively and what you already have at your disposal is an Olympic ILF riser and you’d like to balance it, you can experiment by adding weight to the stabilizer bushings or adding custom weights to the riser and be on your way. Many top barebow shooters prefer an Olympic bow and do just this.

Spigarelli weights which are popular with barebow shooters can be had from Arco Sport Spigarelli in Italy,  Lancaster Archery in the US, and Alternative Sporting Services in the UK or go to your local shop which can order them in for you if they don’t have them on the shelf.

 

C.

Spigarelli Barebow

My Christmas present this year was a Spigarelli Barebow riser. I ordered it through my local shop, Lakeside Archery and got lucky with a 3 week turnaround. (These risers have been back ordered and have been a bit difficult to get)

I will write a detailed review on the bow a little later once I’ve really gotten a chance to use it. I can however tell you that it is well balanced, steady in hand and a sweet shooter. It feels great.

See some pics below:

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My Vampiric practice schedule and shooting at Central Maine Archery

With shorter days this time of year and balancing time between work, family, activities, etc. I’ve found myself having to squeeze in time for archery practice wherever I can.

I don’t always have the time to drive to the range and while I can tolerate the temperatures, I’ll practice at night, usually in the mornings and evenings before and after work. This nocturnal schedule has had me feeling somewhat vampiric, but hey if that’s what it takes… I can’t imagine I’m the first archer to rig a spotlight on their target.

There is the added benefit that aside from practice, the stars are often out and it can be a moment of calm in the busy lives many of us seem to lead.

The practice has been paying off and I’ve watched my scores rise at the weekly “Shooter of the year” competition put on by the Maine Archery Association. This is an indoor competition at 20 yards using NFAA blue face targets, it is a 300 round. I scored 214 – 6 x’s the first time, 227 – 8 x’s on my second shoot and yesterday on my 3rd shoot I scored a 244 – 4 x’s under the barebow division.

Archers on the line at Central Maine Archery

Yesterday’s shoot was held at Central Maine Archery, I’d never been there and found that they have an excellent range and a clean, well thought out facility. The shoot was well organized and the little interaction I had with the staff was good. My quick perusal of their shop revealed a good stock of bows and components, and I can personally vouch for their hot dogs, which were good!

Scoring

Although I was happy with my score, I did have a handful of right arrows, that scored me 1’s and 2’s. I think that they are the result of nervousness and not being fully aligned, settled in and locked into my back muscles before releasing.

Calling out scores

I did  much better on the 2nd half of the shoot than the first half, again I think I’m just calmer and more settled, all I know to do about it is to do more of it and get comfortable with the process. It’s interesting that all my 1’s and 2’s are in the first five ends.

Something to practice and figure out, later tonight of course…