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!

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“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.