Focus, Focus, Focus…

This past weekend’s shoot was at Central Maine Archery. I like shooting at their range as it is large, well set up and the owners Tom and Jess Hartford run a good shop.

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This shoot was a little different for me because my inlaws, Laurel my wife and my kids were coming to watch. I wondered if this would affect my shooting knowing I had an audience as I usually go on my own, I was very appreciative of them taking time out of their lives to come out and support me so I figured it’d be what it would be.

My in laws George and Greta showed up first and between ends I explained what was going on, practice ends, and next would be the first scoring end.

The  first scoring end started and it was on like Donkey Kong (always wanted to say that).  I scored fine on the first end then I heard the door open and someone else coming in, some whispered voices and I could hear a camera clicking away and I figured it had to be Laurel and the kids, and this my dear friends is the whole point of this little tale, I let my focus wander.

I’ve been learning (the hard way) that when your focus is not all about the X twenty yards away that it just doesn’t go as well. This little event providing ample proof. My five arrows for that end were X, 4, 2,2,2 for a 15 out of a possible 25 per end.

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I’m the recurve guy.

I rallied in the right direction with a 20 on my next end then shot another 15 – 4,4,3,2,2, as my son would say “OMG!”

After this I settled myself focused on shot  sequence, shut the world out and sure enough my scores went up with all my ends in the 20 + range, on the 8th end I shot a  23 with 3 X’s – X, X, X, 4, 4. Perhaps this made me feel confident as I lost my focus on the following end with a dissapointing 17.

Scoring

Scoring

Overall this wasn’t my best shooting but it did provide a valuable lesson. Focus is  just as important as any of the other components of your shot. I spend a fair amount of time practicing these components but other than to put myself in competitive situations I have spent little time practicing focus, can’t say I even know how to practice it but it is on my list.

Let me know if you have found ways to improve your focus on the range.

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A tale of winter archery

When it comes to archery, I can relate to the post office motto:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

 The version I go by is a little different:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, stays this archer from the completion of his practice rounds”

So, I practice at night, day, early morning, winter, summer, inside, outside and while the inches pile up.

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The comical part of this to me is that I’m currently practicing for “indoor archery competition” outdoors…

Winter archery both fills my need to be outside and satiates my, dare I say, addiction to this sport.

There are pluses to being out with ol’ man winter:

It’s beautiful out. It is great to be out in the world hearing the sounds and seeing the sights, whether they be animal, bird life or the snowflakes accumulating on the tip of your stabilizer.

How many times in our lives will we get to experience this while letting go of arrows?

I get that this has the potential to be a cold and uncomfortable experience, but by stacking the cards in your favor and dressing for the event, one can be comfortable and happy outside, so, dig out that long underwear and pile on the layers, use a neck buff or scarf, insulated boots and good socks and turn a potentially miserable experience into an enjoyable one.

Snowy arrows

Snowy arrows

One of the minuses of shooting outside in winter for an archer is dealing with your hands.

Whatever you have in contact with the string whether it is a tab or an archery glove will have an effect on arrow flight, so wearing nice, warm, insulated bulky gloves is not really an option if you are trying to pile them into the bullseye.

I compromise by using thinner gloves and realize that I will be out there until my hands can’t take it and I need to go inside. They are the weak link in this winter endeavor.

I use fleece gloves which aren’t as good as their insulated companions but good enough to get practice time in. For my string hand, I took an old beat up glove and cut off the middle three fingers. Then I wear a 3 finger leather Damascus archery glove beneath. This does the trick for me.

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My winter solution to archery gloves

I’m on a hiatus from using a tab so I haven’t tried using one over gloves, if you have, please leave me a comment with how you fared.

If I am shooting a compound bow and a release I use good fitted fleece gloves (LL Bean fleece glove a size small) which work fine with the release I use.

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One last benefit for those of you that live in the cold climes. When it is cold, dreary and miserable out, it’s easy to make the choice of staying indoors. I don’t know about you but this sometimes leads me to cabin fever. It leaves me restless and makes me lethargic. Getting out and pounding arrows into a target or stump or whatever you’re into is invigorating and will put some pep in your step!

It breaks up that winter monotony and gets your blood pumping, it also makes the coming indoors that much sweeter.

Why not give it a try this winter?  Bundle up, get out of the house and watch your arrows arc through the snowflakes, quietly making their way through the snowy stillness.

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Hoyt Horizon Review

I’ve owned my Hoyt Horizon 25 inch riser going on six months now, I’ve shot thousands of arrows through it in that time. Enough, to feel comfortable with writing a review of it.

The Horizon riser is a good quality entry level riser. You will absolutely get more bells and whistles out of more expensive risers however the Hoyt Horizon is straightforward, simple, handsome and has been trouble free. I’ve found it easy to adjust and care for which appeals to my minimalist nature.

The stock grip is comfortable and interchangeable with any of Hoyt’s grips, to include wood if you so desire. The bow feels natural and good in hand.

The Horizon is ILF (International Limb Fitting) compatible so you can use any ILF limbs on it. I’m shooting long W & W Sebastian Flute Premium Wood Limbs for a 70 inch bow and am pleased with this combination.

The limb fittings are simple and straightforward. No magic here, just click your limbs in. The range of weight adjustability that can  be had by loosening and tightening the limb bolts is 10 %.

I have had some experience with other Olympic genre bows but not much, in  Tony Camera’s review of this riser, he opines that the majority of Olympic / FITA type bows benefit from a stabilizer.

I found this to be true. The bow balances better in hand with some weight. I shoot the barebow classes and have a simple 8 oz counter weight but it could stand more. Keep in mind that this riser has a single stabilizer fitting.

I opted for Hoyt’s blackout finish, which is a textured finish and I’ve been  very happy with it. I read somewhere that the textured finish would be a problem with a stick on rest. I’ve found that not be the case, my stick on rest has been on for six months and shows no signs of coming off. (Make sure to prep the surface with something like denatured alcohol before sticking on your rest)

Plunger, plus accessory hole, two fastener holes for a sight are also provided.

The riser comes with a clicker plate and two fastener positions for mounting a clicker.

The riser comes with a clicker plate and two fastener holes to choose from when mounting a clicker.

Hoyt also includes a Hoyt super rest, tools, spare fasteners, tuning instructions and a nice protective sleeve/pouch to store your riser.

One small bone to pick with Hoyt is that when I first got the riser and I screwed in my plunger, I found I could not screw it in far enough as the threads ran out just before reaching the other side of the riser. This was an easy fix as I have taps on hand and I just tapped the hole further and voila, however this could have been an issue for someone who isn’t tooled up or has never used a tap before. I’m making the assumption that this was just an isolated incident and not the norm for these risers.

This riser is not the cheapest for an entry level riser, however Hoyt provides a lifetime warranty to the original owner and in the age of purchasing archery equipment that you may not have seen and used first, there is some assurance that you’re dealing with a long standing company like Hoyt. I have not closely checked the resale value of these but I did spy one for sale recently on the JOAD/FITA classifieds in Archery talk and it was gone lickety split.

This is my first ILF bow and I have been very pleased with the Horizon riser. It is comfortable and good in hand, the simplicity and design of the riser fit my goals and growth. The blackout finish is tough and no nonsense and to my eye, handsome.

I’ve used this bow for a varied range of archery disciplines to include stumpin’ in the woods, field archery, 3D archery, and as of late indoor target archery. It has served me well and I have no reservations in recommending it.

My first 25!

I shot my first 25 in practice today! Which means 5 arrows all in the white, each worth 5 points at 20 yards. This is with a recurve bow at 20 yards and no sights. Woo hoo!

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…

20 yards

I shot my first indoor competitive event this past Sunday.

Days prior I was fletching new arrows for the indoor season. I was switching from fast light arrows to long heavy slow arrows. My goal with heavier arrows was to get my point of aim higher, particularly since I am comfortable with and somewhat attached to a low anchor. (A high anchor raises your point of aim, which is why it is often favored by traditional shooters not using aiming devices, as it places the arrow beneath your eye and for many that is a plus)

I got a chance to practice with my new setup on Friday before work and Saturday amidst family events, friends, hunting and the like,  enough to feel comfortable entering the “Shooter of the year” indoor session at Lakeside Archery on Sunday. This is a weekly event with a rotating location (range/pro shop). It runs through February and is sponsored by the Maine Archery Association under NFAA rules (National Field Archery Association).

Archers on the line. 4 minutes, 5 arrows, 20 yards.

I’ve done very little competition and so when we got called up to the line I found myself a bit jittery and had a bad release almost right off where I put an arrow outside of the target, I definitely felt discouraged for a moment, fortunately for me the first two ends were practice ends and I managed to settle down and get to the business of focusing on the target. Looking back on it I am amazed at how things change from one minute to the next, I was there early practicing shooting the same distance, same place, same bow, same arrows and the minute it became the “Official” competition it threw me a mental curve. On the plus side I had been strict about not doing any scoring during practice as I didn’t want  to go in  with any expectations, this worked as I did not feel the pressure of trying to reach or surpass a certain score.

I was also schooled by fellow archers in the art of scoring, with a caller and and double scoring for each person. I was one of the scorers, I did however see how it can so easily get confusing as a fellow scorer had some uncertainty with two cards at one point and had to make some corrections between archers, the potential for mistakes definitely exists.

Scoring targets at the Lakeside Archery range

In the end I shot 212 with 6 X’s in the recurve barebow division (no sights).  I am satisfied with that score. I will continue to hone, practice get used to the new arrows, work on my release, get used to competition and hopefully that will turn into improved scores although I dare not count on it as I would like to keep the expectations out of the picture as much as possible.

Lastly I wanted to mention that the folks involved in this weekly pursuit that I’ve met so far, all answered my questions, were friendly, and supportive. It seems an interesting group with families, moms, kids, teenagers, seniors, truly a varied bunch brought together by the love of this discipline, also thanks to Trey Tankersley for taking pictures to post to this blog.

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!