Dancing Wind - May I have this dance?
Now that you have an idea of the wind on the line and how to read the wind from a distance we can put it to use for those moments when the wind is blowing in different directions from you to the target. In order to adjust for varying winds across the field you have to account for the wind in each direction.
The wind is blowing on you from the left and is hard enough to push you gently to the right. You notice that the flags on the targets are blowing in the same direction as on the line. All you have to do is focus on you and being stable. If the wind is strong enough to drift the arrow to the right, then simply aim off center to compensate.
Now you notice the wind has stopped on the line but the flags are now blowing to the left, not the right. You are stable because there is no wind pushing you but how do you aim? Look at objects to the right off the field to see if the wind is blowing midway down the range or not. If it is then most likely that wind could drift the arrow off center. Here again just aim off center. If the wind midway is not blowing and only blowing on the target then you can aim close to center because the arrow will already have enough energy to keep its original path. It is unlikely that the wind will gust 20mph at just the target. It could happen, but not likely.
This is where it gets tough. Already you noticed a change in winds and the direction has changed direction. This is the time to know that the dancing winds are likely and the swirling begins. Most winds like this happen if there is a storm coming in and your field is on the edge of the front. It can also happen in spring as the temperature changes cause wind changes.
Now the wind is blowing from the right on the line and you notice the flags are blowing from the left. Run!!! You are in a tornado! Just kidding. Or am I? This is exactly the kind of winds I had to deal with while in Houston that time. The winds came from different directions at different times. I was being pushed to the right while aiming off center high right. How does that work you ask? The wind was pushing me to the right on the line and the winds at the target were gusting faster to the left (coming from the right), but in the process the rain was coming down hard. I had to aim high due to the heavy rain and the gust from the left at the target was much higher than what was happening on the shooting line. I was letting the wind push me right to ease my aim since I had to aim off center due to the winds blowing left. The wind would push the arrow way left, so I aimed off for the wind. The rain pushed the arrow down enough to cause me to have to aim higher. The combination pulled the arrow right back into the center. When the wind would change while raining I would change my aiming point. I could gauge the wind gusts at the target and on the line before they actually hit my target lane. I knew where to aim and for how long before I ever pulled the arrow back.
Strong gusts will push you regardless of what you do, but you can time the shot between gusts and when it is steady enough you can properly aim off knowing how much and work it into your shot process. It takes lots of practice and patience, but you can master the wind. Nothing feels better than knowing you can shoot in the wind and still keep a great score up. In times like these with lots of high scores posted, this is one area that you can beat your competition.
Simply put, shooting in the wind is not ideal for any archer but a fact of shooting outside. A true master will use obstacles as an advantage. Try it the next time the wind blows. Get excited to go shoot and train to be the Wind Master.
Tips and Tricks
The heavier an object the less likely it is to move in the wind. A simple solution is to add weight to your bow. You can add weight to the stabilizers or riser. If you are worried about changing how the bow reacts on the shot once you have set up your perfect stabilizer weight setup, then don’t worry because this is simple. Whatever weight you add to the long rod, match that weight to the sides. This will keep your balance the same but allow more total weight to be added.
The best thing to do is to practice with more weight and find that right amount for you. Everyone is different when it comes to stabilizers and bow weight. Personally I just add weight until it feels right. You don’t want so much weight on the stabilizer that it has an adverse reaction with your shot.
Generally a good rule of thumb when it comes to the diameter size of a stabilizer is that thinner is better. The smaller the object the less surface it has for the wind to move it. Physics says this is true, but what if I told you that the difference between 15mm to 22mm isn’t enough to truly cause much more of a push. If you took a piece of 1” conduit and ¾”conduit 30” long and held it outward in the wind, you will notice a minute difference. Where the difference comes in to play is more how you feel. Some might like a bit more push, and some might not. If you are unsure, go as small as possible. Just be careful and make sure the thinner rods can take the added weights you might add.
Another way to help with your equipment in the wind is to know how arrows react. Smaller shaft size, just like the stabilizer size, will help in the wind, but your biggest ally here again is weight. A heavier weighted arrow will bull its way down range much better than a lighter arrow. I have always shot A/C/E’s and used the heaviest point weight I could find. I tuned the bow this way since my shooting was mostly in the wind anyway. If you are curious as to how this works, then take two objects that are the same shape and add more weight to one of them. On a windy day throw those objects up in the air and watch how they react. The lighter one will move more than the heavier one. Simple.
The unfortunate side to tuning this way on purpose and using a heavy point on the arrow is that you have to keep the tune that way for any condition. This will add extra costs if you have to change arrow spine to increase that much point weight. The advantages are huge in the wind if you do make the change, but it could get more expensive with new arrows to achieve this outcome. I have always recommended to new archers to set up their bow using a heavier point than normal so that they get used to that mind set from the beginning. With so many ways to correct arrow spine I have never found this to be any issue and a proper tune can be done.
So to sum up your new wind knowledge.
- Check the wind where you stand on the line. Know the speed and direction
- Modify your stance on the line to make a more solid base
- Check the wind flags on the targets... The ones down the target line, not your target flag
- Watch for wind moving moving trees, bushes, grass, etc. away from the target field
- Know the wind speed and direction
- Aim off to compensate for wind drift
- Add weight to the arrow
- Add weight to the bow
- Practice Practice Practice
For any archer the wind is not as much fun to shoot in, but with practice and using the tools given, you too can be a Wind Master.
By Tony Brasher