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.

photo 3

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.

 

Advertisements

Make a grip

I’ve been on a quest of sorts, to improve my recurve bow grip. I’ve spent time checking out commercial grips, I’ve searched the web and studied pictures of grips, and read what I could find on the subject.

Total Archery - Inside the archer by Kisik Lee,

Total Archery – Inside the archer by Kisik Lee & Tyler Benner

Some of the better information I found was in the book “Total Archery” by Kisik Lee and Tyler Benner. The chapter titled “Grip Positioning” walks you through the theory of gripping the bow and is nicely illustrated with photographs to clarify and support their points. Within that chapter there is a page dedicated to making your own grip, where you can get some straight dope on what to do.

I also found great theoretical info in the World Archery (FITA) Coach’s Manual -Recurve Bow Shooting Form Module. I believe  coach Kim Hyung Tak, wrote this module (see pg 8 of the module).

Grip

In crafting a new grip, there were a few things I wanted to achieve. One I wanted the left edge of the grip to be closer in line with the lifeline on my hand (I’m right handed), providing a wider base so I could feel the bow well supported and not as if my hand wanted to roll around the left side of the grip.

Grip 2

Two, I also wanted a grip that easily let me repeat the same hand placement time after time by providing some hard edges to use as reference. Three, I didn’t know I wanted until I read about it, which was to angle the grip from left to right so it is higher on the lifeline side, placing the pressure point on the right hand side of the grip or put differently, the lateral center of the bow. (see pic below).

Grip 3

Slight angle left to right

This has been and continues to be an evolution, I started with a high grip but found it more difficult to use well so I sanded it down to a medium grip which I prefer. I had a pronounced left to right angle but after using it, I’ve brought it down to a more subtle angle. The face is currently dead flat, time and shooting will decide if this too will evolve.

Fortunately making changes isn’t hard. I’ve been using 3M’s Marine Premium Filler.

3M Marine Premium Filler, easy to sand and shape, dries quickly

3M Marine Premium Filler, easy to sand and shape, dries quickly

What I like about using this filler is it kicks off fast, I can be sanding within a half hour of application. It sands easily, so some 80 grit sandpaper in hand or on a hard block will get you all the shapes you want.

This is a two part product, you mix the filler with a toothpaste like hardener. I mixed it on top of a cardboard square and, then used a couple putty knives to apply it. I applied more than I needed and then sanded down to the shape I wanted. This is stinky stuff, if you use it or a product like it make sure to read all the instructions and warning labels.

At the crux of all this shaping, marine filler, reading, changing and adapting is the marriage between hand and grip. It is creating a shape that meets your hand and solidly directs the force of effort, centrally from hand  to the bow minimizing left, right or other movement of the bow at release. It is really a small technical improvement that helps the greater effort of becoming a better archer.

If you’ve adapted your grip, let me know what you did or what product you used. I’d love to hear it.

C.

 

I’m back

Some weeks ago I shot in the Maine State indoor Championship and did terrible. Shot one of my lowest scores in competition ever. I had all sorts of things go wrong. I couldn’t pull through the clicker consistently, I ran out of time with an arrow to shoot, I shot through the clicker, I dropped an arrow on the floor ahead of me and forgot to re-shoot it, you name it I did it.

Pro-shooter, Dave Cousins who was shooting a couple lanes from me was probably wondering “who let this guy in..”

Dave Cousins

Dave Cousins who shot a clean 300 – 60 x’s

I mean it really all went wrong, and it sounds bad but actually it was perfect. I was beaming and proud of having entered and shot the championship.

Archers on the line at Lakeside Archery

Archers on the line at Lakeside Archery

You see, I hadn’t shot a bow for nearly 6 months, because I’d hurt my shoulder, specifically my rotator cuff, I didn’t tear it but as the physical therapist put it I “impinged it”.

A few weeks prior I had picked my bow back up along with a new pair of ultra-light 14 pound limbs (16 lbs at my draw) and half a dozen skinny 2000 spine arrows (Carbon Express Medallion-XR’s).

The state championship was conveniently 3 weeks away so it gave me an ideal goal. I didn’t pre-register, I just made a deal with myself that If I felt I was up for it I’d shoot it as a walk-in, If I didn’t think I could handle it I’d go as a spectator.

I spent two weeks re-learning correct and safe form at a bale to prevent re-injuring myself. I also spent time with a physical therapist, a Formaster and a new daily routine strengthening my shoulder and back with stretch bands and 5 pound weights.

Scoring

One week before the tournament I switched to practicing on target. My bow was out of tune, as I really needed to crank it up an extra pound to get my arrows flying right but I didn’t dare go up in weight, so with my setup untuned I practiced on. Practiced every chance I got, by the end of the week I was feeling confident that I might have a chance against some of the eight year olds so with that bit of confidence I entered.

As already mentioned my score was poor but my heart and pride are full. Stepping up to the line had far more to do with creating a new beginning for myself than it did my performance, because, this is just a start, I now have an opportunity for a lot more archery and a strong and secure feeling that I’m back.

C.

 

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!

2013 in review

Wishing all a great 2014!  – Charles Lopez

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 59,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 22 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.