Do I Need A Finger Or A Wrist Sling? A couple of archery experts will advise you to get one. Others will promise you will be fine without one. At the end of this read, you should be able to make an informed decision on whether or not to get an archery sling.
Recently, the weapon that predates recorded history has made inroads into 21st Century schools, where archery has become one of the most popular activities.
Today, the National Archery in Schools Program includes 12,000 schools in five countries — or about 1 million youths. Among them: Sarcoxie, Carl Junction and Joplin.
'I was hooked'
As an archer or bowhunter, you know how important it is to be accurate to be able to hit the bull’s eye. If you are not able to do it well, you will not be able to reach your target.
If a bow is out of tune, then there will be problems with its accuracy. There are two things to consider when tuning a bow: timing and center-shot alignment. Improving both of these factors will improve a bow's accuracy.
The bow sight is an intricate little device that requires fine tuning in order to be accurate. If you set the sight right then you can score a direct hit on target with a constant score. There are a number of different sights out there on the market but for modern target archers getting the right sight is important because it’s vital to your accuracy. A sight has to able to withstand the vibration and shockwaves that run the bow from the release of the arrow. It has to be able to remain consistent with your stance and draw length otherwise you’ll have to readjust it every time you draw again. If they have loose pin blocks that rattle when you fire then you are in serious trouble because it means you can’t get accurate enough. I started off with a small low cost sight that cost me about £20, which was good for a beginner but when I started to move up my game I needed something a bit more advanced in the price range of £60 - £90. Recently I just bought myself a new sight with a carbon shaft and can absorb most of the shockwaves and a rigid sight block with more locking nuts that can tighten it better to resist against shockwaves. It can also be adjusted in micro-increments to allow it to be accurate to within 0.1 centimetres.
Understanding how they work
Earlier this year I wrote a piece on the science of projectile motion called ‘Classical Mechanics of Archery’ and now with a bow sight I can demonstrate how to experiment with projectile motion. Let’s recap on that for this post. Projectiles like arrows don’t shoot in straight lines, they travel in a curved path from the archer to the target called a parabola. The force of the string on the arrow forces it to fly in an upward direction and then as gravity and air resistance slows it down the arrows takes a dive towards the target and hits the spot where it lands. The T-shape of the sight’s horizontal and vertical shafts are built for the parabolic projectile motion of arrows. There are two shafts that allow you to move the pin sight horizontally and vertically. Both of them can be adjusted for the shooting distance. The horizontal shaft is fixed to the riser and can be adjusted backwards and forwards.
The vertical shaft has a numerical scale on it which you use to mark your position corresponding to each distance. When I go out and practice at each distance I use a record of settings in a notebook as an aid to memory to remember what setting to put my bow sight on. There is also another adjustment for the pin sight in which it can be moved along the pin block. The pin block is the part that fixes the pin sight to the vertical shaft. This can adjust the bow sight left or right as well.
Getting the group right
One of the first things my archery instructor said to me was to get a grouping of arrows in the middle. To do this the trick is to get the sight to follow the arrow that you shot previously. To understand how this works imagine the target as a clock face and your arrows group towards the three o' clock position. To get the arrows group towards the bullseye you would need to move your sight to the left towards the three o' clock position. Try shooting again and you should see your arrows group within the bullseye or yellow area. If your grouping is in the one o' clock position then adjust the sight to the right and move it up slightly. Shoot again and it should hit the centre of the target.
Your bow’s draw weight also plays a part in the accuracy of your arrows. A heavy bow will exert a considerable amount of force on the arrow that it can over shoot on a setting for the bulls eye meant for a lower poundage bow. I changed my limbs last year going from 24 pounds to 30 pounds and the difference in the sight setting is obvious by the poundage.
|Poundage||24 lbs||30 lbs|
|Sight Setting/Distance||2.1/ 20 yards||1.5/ 20yards|
|3.4/ 30 yards|
|5.5/ 40 yards||4.6/ 40 yards|
|7.5/ 50 yards||7.3/ 50 yards|
|8.6/ 60 yards|
As this chart shows there is a slight variation in the poundage for each of the distances. This is from my notebook on my progress.
Take a look at your bows riser where the arrow rest and the sight pin are aligned in parallel to one another. The position of the sight pin and the arrow rest forms the longest length of an imaginary triangle. In physics the dimensions of a parabola are measured using trigonometry, which is the study of triangles. When I shoot with my bow and adjust the target I often wondered if there is a relationship between the shape of the triangle from the arrow rest and the pin sight and the parabolic shape of the arrow’s trajectory. Well judging by the sight settings for each distance there seems to be a connection there. The higher sight settings mean that you have to lift your bow up high to get it at the right angle of inclination to hit the target. However that arithmetic requires a bigger investigation that we won’t go into at this time. When it comes to adjusting your sight, what matters is the power of the bow and the distance towards the target.
Choosing the sight
The best sight to choose from has to be one that is rigid and shock absorbent because the shockwaves that run through the bow on release can loosen the bolts and the pin block. My last sight was easily prone to shockwaves and as a result the bolts loosened from the thread from time to time. It was really bad for maintaining accuracy. What was even more annoying was the constant rattling the pin block made when I released. This rattle sound is a bad sign for an archer because it means that you are losing your sight! I decided enough was enough and got myself a brand new one with a carbon shaft and more locking pins. The locking pins on the bow sight can be used to tighten the components so that the sight can resist the shockwaves better. So you don’t have to keep adjusting the sight and focus on shooting.
Another useful feature on a good bow sight is one that has micro-adjustment increments on the shaft. Moving the pin sight to the right mark is easy but when you are trying to make it with pin point accuracy it can be a bit cumbersome. But this can be perfected with a micro-adjustment knob which when turned will move the sight along the gauge to within a fraction of a centimetre. This can be an advantage if the bow sight makes the smallest of slippages. You just turn it back to the right setting with a few turns of the knob.
You may find that it takes time to get a direct hit on the bullseye but if you struggle to get there then don’t be so hard on yourself. I think of the time it takes to get it right as a way to learn how to succeed. It’s just the right idea of a mental exercise to test your perseverance and determination. Thomas Edison had a saying about learning how to succeed in inventing a good machine. ‘I have not failed, I have found 10’000 ways that won’t work’. So if you shoot 5 dozen arrows in a Portsmouth and only manage to get one in the 10, then that means that you have found 1 way to shoot accurately 59 ways to miss it. So keep working hard at it and learn to shoot well and stick to that 1 way to do it properly.
Bowstrings happen to be the last things most archers pay attention to. And this is some sad reality that comes with grave consequences. Bowstrings are not as peripheral as most consider them to be. They are as vital to your performance as that of the arrow or even the bow itself. But the question is, how do you select your bowstrings? And how do you know which ones to opt for? Having to answer these questions might become a bit of a challenge, but with some of these helpful guidelines it just might get easier for you.
Everyone you know may be posting about pumpkin spice lattes and colorful leaves, but for archers, October also signals the start of the indoor archery season. Whether you’re new to archery this year, or an indoor gold medalist, here are three tips everyone can use to improve their indoor game:
1. Get your gear on point
If you’re switching from an outdoor setup to an indoor setup, a small investment of time can have a major impact on your bow’s performance (and your sanity).
First, use a note-taking app to make a record of your bow setup as you’ve used it for outdoor season, including bow weight, arrow specs, arrow rest type and where it’s positioned, and your stabilizer/weight configuration. Be sure to take photos as well, so you have a clear record of exactly how your outdoor setup works before you change anything for indoors, so that you can change it back next spring.
If you’re a compound archer, you might find that one type of arrow rest shoots better indoors than out, and you’re likely to need adjustments even if you’re sticking with the same rest but changing arrows for indoor season. If you’re able, keep your outdoor rest intact and simply remove it from the bow, and pop a new arrow rest on for indoor season. For recurve archers, the same goes for the plunger; try to keep separate ones for indoor and outdoor season, because it can be difficult to duplicate plunger settings once they’ve been changed.
There are some archers who won’t change arrows from outdoor season to indoor season, and that’s okay, too. If you’re not making any changes, just be sure that you still keep a good record of your archery equipment so that if something breaks or is lost, you can make an exact replacement quickly.
2. Learn the Game
Indoor archery tournaments can be hosted by target, field and 3-D archery organizations. Depending on where you live, you might be able to choose from a variety of local, state and regional competitions, or your options may be limited by the type of archery that’s popular in your area.
Whatever archery game you decide to play, take the time to learn the rules, from how to shoot your target to scoring. The rules at some National Field Archery Association tournaments, for example, could differ from World Archery’s format. Here are some good questions to research:
By asking these simple questions, you can set yourself up for success, whether it’s your first indoor archery season or just the first time you’re trying a new round.
3. Set a Goal, and Get Started!
Now that your equipment is ready and you know what kinds of indoor archery rounds you want to shoot, it’s time to set some goals and work toward reaching them.
If this is your first indoor season, or if you’re shooting a new indoor game for the first time, your goal should really just be to learn: learn the round, the rules, how to compete, and develop confidence in an unfamiliar environment. If you’ve shot indoor archery before, your goals might be a bit more involved: perfecting your shot process indoors, setting a new personal best at a tournament, or earning a spot on the podium.
Remember that even though indoor tournaments tend to have fewer arrows required per day than outdoor tournaments, your shots and scores will still only be as good as your commitment to practicing. The target is where you’ll see your efforts pay off (or not). Even though the days are short and temps become cold, practice is still a necessity, even if indoors at very short distances. If you’re planning to shoot tournaments, be sure to learn the format and practice keeping score: this will help develop confidence.
Finally, as you progress through your indoor archery season, be sure to keep good notes. Things you should write down: how your tournaments went, what you liked most about the season, which things affected you positively or negatively during practice, and changes you’d like to try making to your bow. By keeping notes, you’ll be able to see your accomplishments, track your progress and be even more efficient in planning for future indoor archery seasons!
Approaching the Mind: Part 1
Archery is a sport like any other. It requires immense physical abilities to repeat a set of steps to complete a task. Not every athlete is built the same and nor are they able to complete the task at hand exactly the same from person to person. What an athlete lacks in physical qualities, they make up for with mental strength and ability. Just the pure fact that someone never gives up is already their greatest strength.
Archers train their body to repeat every step exactly the same shot by shot. That is the true secret to being a great archer, being able to duplicate everything you do on every single shot. It doesn’t matter if it is perfectly executed. All that matters is that you do the same exact thing every single time. It doesn’t matter how much weight you can shoot or how fast the arrow can fly. A slow bullseye is the same as a fast bullseye.
Perfect form with more arrow speed will certainly help in many circumstances like shooting in the wind, but less than perfect form and a slow arrow can still hit the target where you want it to. Physical abilities are different from archer to archer and like any athlete in a sport everyone is different in that area. Better form only helps lessen the chance of a poor shot, but even bad form can still work.
Why all the talk already about physical ability and form? You thought reading this article would help your mental game, not tell you about good vs. bad form?
Within a few short paragraphs you have already learned more about the mental game of sports and archery than you realize. If you shoot a low poundage bow and always wondered how your bow weight affects a bullseye or if you have less than perfect form due to an injury and there is nothing you can do about it, then I know for those of you in those categories that I raised your heart rate slightly already and got you excited about the idea that none of that matters and you can still shoot a perfect shot.
Now let me take your heart rate up more and turn up your blood pressure. Unless you shoot 50+ lbs and can shoot 8 hrs a day with perfect form because you have a great coach, you will never win an Olympic Gold Medal. Ever!
Stirred up and mad? Did your stomach drop and heart rate jump up reading that? If it did then you are not alone and the next few weeks you will learn the basics of how and why that happens to you. Most importantly you will learn a few ways to curb those feelings.
Some of you reading this laughed at the comment and rolled your eyes thinking to yourself, whatever. If you chuckled at the comment then you have confidence. Confidence because you simply know it isn’t true or confidence because you can prove it wrong right now.
Confidence is Knowledge
It is not a secret but the biggest factor in having a mental game is confidence. Confidence is a learned trait for most, but some people are just naturally confident in everything they do. Those rare individuals just know they can do something before they even attempt it. If you are not one of those people then don’t worry about it because the key to confidence is knowledge. Knowledge gives us the ability in any situation to conquer fear. Fear is the number one distraction. We are only afraid of what we don’t know.
When you stand on the shooting line in a tournament and shoot your very first shot in practice rounds, do you shake or feel faint? That feeling is caused from adrenaline which is triggered by a certain emotion, fear. It is a normal reaction for most of us. The reason is simple. The reason you have fear is because you are not confident enough in knowing your abilities.
“…Confident enough in knowing your abilities.”
The reason seasoned archers or athletes are confident is because they know what they are capable of doing. They have knowledge of themselves and have performed in every scenario possible. They know the good and the bad. When the wind blows, they know how to aim or what to change to make the shot. When equipment fails, they know what needs to be fixed and how to deal with it.
We will get into how to gain confidence later on. The important thing at this point is to understand where you are in your mental game and work on your mental weaknesses.
As a positive booster to get you going keep this in mind every single time you compete. Every athlete has a breaking point mentally no matter how good their mental game. You will also learn in these series how to turn the mental game around and us it to “psych-out” your competition.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how confidence is knowledge, let us dive right into your first true lesson in any mental game. Fear.
Fear is a normal human reaction and is an emotion. Fear has many different faces and for most it is the fear of the unknown. Confidence is the ability to overcome fear. Knowledge is the key to confidence. See a pattern starting?
When we begin to shake it is because adrenaline is pumping through our system and fear is usually the cause. Anxiety is also fear and is hard to control unless you know what it is that is making you anxious in the first place. In order to conquer your fears, you simply have to face them. Over the years I have found this to be different for everyone, so everyone has a different approach but the results of what is next works regardless of your mental type (and by mental type remember that it is referring to whether or not you feel anxious or afraid, or if you already feel nothing) or ability.
Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. This is true no matter what you do in life or sports. Athletes practice and practice and practice to prepare for competition. We practice so that we can do what we want as we want at any moment. Being natural at what we do. We want to practice so that we get better. Practicing in a garage or in the backyard will only get you so far. You can practice your form for 10,000 shots and put years behind your practice. Let’s say that your practice is perfect every time. You shoot a planned practice with 100 shots each time. Each practice your form gets better and better and you get stronger and stronger. You can average 290s in practice for indoor, but when you shoot in a tournament your averages drop to 275s. How is that possible when you practice perfectly every single session? Your form is solid and the arrow flies so perfectly down range. The reason is because when you get to a competition you become anxious and the little imperfections start to come out when shooting. The bad shots go to your head and the score starts to drop no matter how hard you try. Be careful not to try too hard, you know what you can do. The 10s become 9s and you lose your confidence. You become frustrated and afraid of the next shot. The moment you let fear enter your mind, the damage is done. Or is it?
The first lesson in this mental game is understanding yourself. After reading this article I want you to grab a piece of paper and pen or something you can’t erase. Draw a line down the middle to make 2 columns. On one column side write STRONG and on the other column write WEAK.
Under the STRONG side I want you to write what you feel are your archery strengths, ie strong bow arm, solid anchor, etc. and on the WEAK side I want you to write what you feel you are weakest in doing.
Bow Arm * Anchor
Once you are done look at the weak column first. These are the things in your form or shot process that need work. They are not perfect but they are fixable. These are things you need to focus on each week in practice. As each part of the WEAK column improves and you feel they are STRONG, cross them out and add it to the STRONG column. DO NOT ERASE the WEAK COLUMN! You will see why later.
Your first goal is to improve one WEAK column item in one week. I call it WEAK for WEEK.
If you are unable to accomplish moving a weak issue over in a week then it is ok. It is simply a goal that has long term affects but can be corrected.
Example: You fixed your anchor this week so you can add it to the STRONG side. Don't erase it from the WEAK side. Just cross it out so you can still see it.
Bow Arm * Anchor
Anchor * Release
Now you can’t read the next part until you make this column. So do yourself a favor and don’t cheat. Just do it! Right now!
..... Waiting on you to make your columns....
You are now probably asking why would I make a column to work on my weak parts in my form when I am trying to have a better mental game in archery? The reason is because there is not a way to become confident in yourself if you still feel you have a weakness to overcome. The fact you wrote it in the WEAK column proves to yourself that you feel unconfident in that part of your shooting. The only way to overcome that part of your mind is to work on it until you can write this column later from scratch and put everything in the STRONG column. Remember that STRONG does not mean perfect. Hence the point of the exercise. The point of this is so you can see where your mind is headed. If you put anything in the WEAK column then your mind is already fighting a battle with confidence. I will say it again, STRONG does not mean perfect. It just means your mind sees it as a part of the process it is comfortable with and is confident enough to work with.
The goal this week is to know how your mind feels about your shot process. There is not a right or wrong answer, just pieces to a puzzle that you will soon learn how to put together. Without the confidence in the shot process there is not a solid foundation to build a mental game in competition. The STRONG column is your confidence and everything else is why you get afraid and anxious. By eliminating the items in the WEAK column you begin to build confidence in the entire process.
The confidence you gain from “knowing” your shot process is stronger is the beginning of a champion’s mind.
I added an item to my STRONG column for archery equipment / archery gear because being confident in your gear is half the battle. I am confident that my gear makes it safely to and from archery training because I know my Archery Recurve Backpack Akiles2 will safely carry my precious gear without worry.
Check back very soon for Part 2 of this series: Imagery. You will learn how to mentally visualize the shot process and shoot the perfect shoot without ever picking up a bow. You will learn how to build confidence without having to shoot a single physical shot.
Mental Game for the Week: When you are having a bad day shooting, stop and ask yourself what kind of pizza you want for dinner. Think about what toppings you want while shooting and drool over the idea of melted cheese. Try it and see how much better your shooting gets and then enjoy that tasty pizza!