Charlie Weinstein – Junior World Champ

I walked into Lakeside Archery in Yarmouth, Maine on Saturday to find Charlie Weinstein just back from competing at the World Archery Indoor Championship in Nimes, France. The range was decorated with a big banner welcoming him back, there were large pictures of him around the range and a party to celebrate his achievement.

Left to right - Charlie Weinstein,

Charlie Weinstein on the left with teammates, Dillon McGeorge and Bridger Deaton

Charlie and his teammates, Bridger Deaton (Pella, Iowa) and Dillon McGeorge (Loganville, Georgia) formed the compound junior men’s team representing the US. Their dead solid win in the finals against Italy (233 -221) earned them the gold.

I hear those arrows were made from Hershey Kisses!

I hear those arrows were made from Hershey Kisses!

I’ve been coming to Lakeside Archery for some time now and Charlie is always there, he has tremendous commitment to the sport and is fortunate to also have tremendous commitment from his parents, his extended family, the archery community and Lakeside Archery.

Me and Charlie Weinstein, Charlie is holding his gold medal.

Me and Charlie Weinstein, Charlie is holding his gold medal.

While there I spoke with his father David, also an archer, who was waiting for a stop in the action to get a picture of both of them at full draw, obviously proud of his son. I also spoke with his mother Marianne who told me just how good this had been for Charlie’s confidence.

Charlie and his mom

Charlie and his mom, Marianne

I gave this some thought and really what could be better for a young person than to see their dedication, years of practice and constant honing pay off. The experience as a whole seems to provide a positive foundation to achieve future goals and meet life’s challenges. Valuable indeed.

I’ve included the video of Charlie and his teammates competing for the gold in the final round against Italy, find it below:

Congratulations on your achievements Charlie!

“Nock on” – The Podcast

I have a longish commute and so I’m always on the search for audio books, podcasts and the such. I recently caught John Dudley’s new “Nock on” Podcast.

I have listened to the first two podcasts thus far and found that the “Dud”  is passing on some great archery information. I really liked what he had to say about stabilizers and I could relate to what his guest, Christian Berg (editor of Peterson’s Bowhunting), is going through with a strained shoulder, and what is helping him. I think John Dudley is on a good path sharing his knowledge, kudos to him, I say.

You can find a link to his ITunes Podcast below:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nock-on/id827919428?mt=2

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.

Hunting – Year 2

The novice goes into the woods, year two.

The novice being me of course, year one had a lofty learning curve and the steep curve continues this second year.

In the beginning it often seems that the more you know the less you know. The important thing is to grasp enough of the blocky fundamentals to be effective… or lucky!

I had a lucky turkey last year, I wasn’t hunting and a turkey came to me, I still had to do my part but luck it was.

I also shot a doe, not lucky. That really was hunting, the result of scouting, a setup, and persistence.

Deer track

Prior to getting into hunting I envisioned hunting as stalking, while stalking is a method of hunting, I think that the majority of bowhunters in the northeast and possibly elsewhere rely on some sort of ambush, and a successful ambush takes knowledge of your quarry, scouting, setup and patience.

The patience part means waiting, and waiting is directly proportional to how good your information is. If you know deer pass a break in a fence every day at 5:30, then you can setup for that spot and that time, increasing your chances (think game cameras). If you don’t know that you may have to wait all day for a deer to appear and they may not, they may not show up all week and or all month. Having good info is key.

Scouting your quarry, turkeys scat and found feather.

Scouting your quarry, turkeys scat and found feather.

I hunt with a compound bow, although the rest of the year I shoot a recurve. Why  the compound?

Bowtech SWAT on my elevated practice platform, not the latest and greatest, but plenty of bow for the job.

Bowtech SWAT on my elevated practice platform, not the latest and greatest, but plenty of bow for the job.

I just feel that the size, added control of a bow with let off, speed and my comfort level makes the compound a good choice. I’m also a new hunter with plenty to learn, the greater challenge of using a recurve can wait till I’m a better hunter.

Which brings up practice. I shoot a recurve the rest of the year which means that when hunting season approaches, it is important that I get back on my compound horse and practice up. I don’t have any animal targets but I do have plenty of bag targets.

My 20 and 40 yard targets.

My 20 and 40 yard targets.

This year I started my practice at 20 yards to get all the mechanics back then quickly moved out to 40 yards. My thinking being that if I can hone 40 then 20 and 30 should come easier. Once I’m feeling confident I climb up on my roof and practice at 20, 30 and 40 to simulate shooting from a treestand.

Bag targets at 20, 40 and 30 yards, left to right.

Practicing from my roof to simulate treestand conditions, bag targets are set, left to right at 20, 40 and 30 yards.

Practice paying off, 40 yards from elevated position.

Practice paying off, 40 yards from elevated position.

I also tried running to the target and back to get my heart rate up and then shooting to simulate the increased heart rate and adrenalin boost you get when the game you’re hunting shows up.

That is indeed a special moment, when you practice even in challenging situations you are more aware of your form, your bowarm is firm, bowshoulder down, your grip is relaxed and you’re releasing with backtension. When “your” deer shows up, it may fill you with enough buck fever that you pay little to no attention to the shot sequence, form or anything else. The idea is to hone it through enough practice that muscle memory takes over and you make a good shot.

If I have the good fortune this year to draw on a deer I plan to try and focus on form and shot sequence as a way to stay calm. Of course, these things are easy to say, the action of the moment is a completely different thing, so it will remain to be seen.

This is where I’m at on my 2nd year. I’m learning new things, I don’t know what is useful yet, but, we’ll see what proves out over time.

Good luck to all who choose to hunt with a bow. May all your efforts pay off.

Nock Out

Nock Out is a competitive reality TV show, 12 compound shooters compete against each other to come out with a single best shooter.

This is sort of old news as the show has been on for a while and just had their season finale yesterday, however for those (like me) who hadn’t seen it you may enjoy watching their first episode.

The show has been aired on NBC sports. I hope the show’s producers will choose to put the whole season on the web at some point (please).

The show is sponsored by Lancaster Archery and Rinehart targets. Way to step up.

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.

P1000788

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

P1000816

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.

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.

Indoor target scoring in archery

I sometimes post scores and different target system info assuming that everyone knows what I’m talking about, of course that is not the case.

Below find the definitions to two words you should know (end and round) and an explanation of NFAA indoor round scoring as well as the NFAA version of the Vegas Round. These are both indoor rounds which is what I’m buried to the hilt in now.

Keep in mind that there are many, many, many different types of rounds with different scoring, this only touches upon some of the more popular indoor rounds.

End – A set number of arrows that are shot before going to the target to score and retrieve your arrows. (usually 3 or 5 for indoor competition).

e.g.    We shot six ends before taking a break then shot six more, scoring after each end

e. g.    Let’s get there a bit early and shoot 4 or 5 ends to warm up before the round begins.

Round – The shooting of a definite number of arrows at specified target faces from set
distances.

e.g.    We shot a Vegas round this morning, next weekend we will shoot a NFAA indoor 300 round.

e.g.    An indoor NFAA 300 round consists of twelve 5 arrow ends at 20 yards, for a total of 60 arrows.

NFAA Indoor target

Ok, here it is, I’ve numbered the target with red numbers to clarify it. Anything in the white circle is awarded a 5 to include the inner X ring. X’s are used as tiebreakers, so if you shoot a score of 250 with 10 x’s and the guy next to you shoots 250 with 11 x’s they win.

An NFAA 300 round consists of 12 ends shot at 20 yards distance. That means you’re up at bat 12 times. Each end consists of 5 arrows, so you will step up to the line shoot 5 arrows, score them, retrieve them and then do it again, 12 times.

Here is the math part, each arrow has the potential of 5 points, so in each end you have the potential of scoring 25 points. 5 arrows shot x 5 points = 25 points.

There are 12 ends so if you shoot a perfect 25 in each end you will score 300 points.  12 x 25 = 300

Archers have 4 minutes to shoot 5 arrows. Capiche?

NFAA Indoor 5 spot

The first thing to know about this target is who it is meant for and why.

This target is for very accurate shooters but is mostly shot by very good compound bow shooters. Archers using this target are confident of not shooting anything lower than a 4, the reason the target is partitioned into 5 small targets or spots is so an archer can have the option to shoot one arrow per target. The reason they want to do that is so they don’t Robin Hood (shooting an arrow into the back of another)  arrows which gets expensive and annoying after a while, you also destroy the paper less since you’re shooting five different locations instead of a single paper location, making it easier to define scores.

For very good compound shooters this is really an X game. A perfect 300 score is a given so the person with the most X’s wins. There are compound shooters who score 300 points and 60 x’s which is perfection indeed.

The rest is scored the same as the single face target. 12 ends, 5 arrows per end. 5 possible points per arrow. 60 arrows. 300 points.

The indoor 5 spot can be shot in any order and the archer can shoot any number of arrows into any spot as the shooter wants not to exceed their 5 arrows of course.

As in the single face competitors have 4 minutes to shoot 5 arrows.

Now to Vegas… as in what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, as least 3 times per end that is.

Vegas target – numbers are just for illustration.

In a Vegas round there are 10 ends. You shoot 3 arrows per end for a possible 10 points per arrow, or 30 possible points per end. 10 ends x 30 possible points = 300 possible points. The smallest inner X circle is 10 points as well as the next greater yellow circle. Your X count will go towards deciding tiebreakers. Competitors have 2 1/2 minutes to shoot 3 arrows.

There are variations of the Vegas round  like a 450 and 600 round instead of the above 300. A 450 round will have15 ends and a 600 round will have 20 ends, 3 arrows per end 10 possible points per arrow.

There are also variations with the X ring, which will be found with different archery organizations and locally, in this example I am addressing NFAA rules.

Lastly, there is the Vegas 3 spot.

Vegas 3 spot

The 3 spot like the NFAA blue face 5 spot is meant for more accurate shooters, who know they won’t shoot less than a 6. NFAA rules state that you can shoot the Vegas 3 spot target in any order but you must shoot just one arrow per spot.

One last important thing to know of all NFAA rounds and targets. If your arrow is touching the line of a higher scoring zone you are given the higher score. For example if you are shooting a blue face and your arrow is in the 4 ring but you are touching the 5 white ring, you are awarded the higher 5 point value.

This picture shows a typical shoot with a mixture of the NFAA indoor single face and the 5 spot depending on the competitor’s choice. This was taken at Central Maine Archery in Auburn, Maine.

The above covers the basics there are more rules and specifics about these rounds, If you’d like to know more click on the following link for the NFAA’s rulebook.

2012 – 2013 NFAA Constituiton and Bylaws

First Deer

I took Tuesday off from work to go hunting, I went out in the morning on my property with no success, around the middle of the day I went into public land near my home and in the afternoon I went to a friend’s property where I have a blind setup on a field.

I had setup the blind almost a month prior, enough time for the deer to get used to a new object in their environment and brushed it in to help it blend and so it wouldn’t stick out.

I got into the blind around two o’clock, the interior of the blind is black so I wore black so as to camouflage with the inside. I had gotten reports from the property owner of deer crossing the field, I had seen deer standing next to the blind when I’d intended to go hunting but gotten there late. I also had trailcam pictures of these deer, so I was feeling confident about my chances at seeing them that day. I had drawn a doe tag in the anydeer lottery which was good as I’d only spotted does out there and on the trail camera.

I had talked to other hunters about this field situation and what they would recommend for setting up there. An experienced hunter advised to not hunt the area in the morning because it is adjacent to bedding areas and often the deer will bed on the field itself, sounded like good advice so I had reserved this spot for the afternoon.

I sat on an upside down five gallon bucket and felt tired. It had been an early morning and I found myself with the bow on my lap and my head on top of the bow, not quite sleeping but in a trancelike state. That restored my energy enough that I was able to sit up with my senses on high alert, listening for footfalls. I also took the time to take a few pictures from the inside of the blind using the panorama feature on my son’s camera. See below:

View from the blind.

At around 3:30 I heard them. Pretty loud on the field grass, more than one and coming fast. The adrenalin kicked in and my heart started pounding like it was going to come out of my chest.

They came into sight quickly from the right, paused a second dead ahead at 20 yards, I didn’t have my bow up and I didn’t dare raise it as I was sure they were looking at me. They moved further left and I had the obstruction of one of the diagonal supports on the blind. I took the opportunity to raise the bow, draw and aim, except that the arrow exits the bow lower than the line of sight and I was afraid I’d hit the  window crossbar, they moved further left 30 plus yards, then everything happened as if I had been switched into auto-instinctive mode, I had a correction to make because the single pin sight was set at 25 yards and now they were further, the mind never entered into it, I just automatically raised the bow to the correct height and loosed the arrow at the largest doe. A hit! The three deer took off across the field into a strip of woods with a small ravine and I lost sight of them.

When using archery gear an animal very rarely just falls over after a shot, what typically happens is they take off and you patiently wait then track them to recover your quarry, so I waited, then walked across the field where they had  disappeared. I saw plenty of sign that the doe had gone through there, I climbed up the shallow ravine and exited into another field. It was twilight then but as I looked left I thought I could see a shape, I walked closer and sure enough it was the doe. She had gone a total of about 100 yards.

I felt elated and thankful. I called my wife Laurel to tell her, then set up a towing harness to drag the deer off the field. I had never field dressed a deer before and although I’d watched the YouTube videos I thought some guidance would help. I called my neighbor, Aaron, who is a longtime hunter and we agreed that I’d go tag the deer then meet at my house after he’d had a chance to vote.

This proved to be a good decision as  nothing really compares to someone showing you the ins and outs first hand. Thank you Aaron!

Once we were done, Laurel took the tenderloins and fried them with onions and we all had a beer to celebrate.

The day was over, I was grateful and thrilled at my first deer.

Fall Turkey

I came home yesterday in the late afternoon after having had a bit of a trying day, grabbed my compound bow and rangefinder and made my way out to the backyard target.

I had taken the rangefinder because I wanted to practice at 30 and 40 yards and I had not marked the distance. I warmed up at 20 yards then stepped back to 30 yards. I shot a few ends at 30 yards then heard heavy flapping on the other side of my house next to my driveway, I managed to look quickly enough to catch a turkey flying up to it’s roost. I walked further around the corner and switched from a target field tip arrow to a broadheaded  arrow, fortunately my quiver was attached to the bow.

I then spotted a 2nd turkey walking towards the same patch of woods where the first had roosted. I had my rangefinder so I quickly ranged a tree just ahead of him, 30 yards, the single pin sight was already set at that distance, so I drew, waited for the turkey to clear a clump of brush and loosed the arrow.

I hit my mark cleanly in the vitals and with it had my first ever successful hunt. Laurel and the kids arrived shortly thereafter and there was much excitement and the kids and I went down to the country store to tag him. I’d never tagged anything before so it was all novel. I later cleaned it, which was new too, YouTube showing me the way.

It is so interesting the changes we undergo as people, I would not have thought in prior years that I’d be a hunter, fascinating the paths we’ll take and the growth we can experience when we permit it.

C.