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.
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!
If you are first starting out, you have probably wondered what your first archery tournament experience will be like. “Will I do well? Will the hotel serve breakfast? Have I practiced enough?” Sure, these are fine questions to ask one’s self when wanting to attend an event. However, the real task to start thinking about is, “what do I pack?!” I will let you in on 10 key items to have packed for any tournament. Now we all know you will pack your bow and arrows. This list will give you the most neglected items that archers forget to bring with them to tournaments.
1/ Serving material: Many top archers will always have serving material on hand just in case a scenario happens that a D-loop breaks or nockpoint breaks. You don’t want to have to rely on someone else to have material for you. Especially if you’re walking around a 3D range, or a field course.
2/ Arrow Lube: This is your new best friend when you have a hard time pulling arrows out of any bale. Whether it is a 3D animal, Whitetail foam, or straw. This product will help in saving energy and time at the target.
3/ Binoculars/spotting scope: Never leave home without your trusty pair of arrow spotting glass. There is nothing worse than half way through your drive, or flight, that you instantly remember your pair is sitting on the coffee table back at home.
4/ Bow stand/bow pod: If you thought carrying your bow from target to target was tough, try walking around a field course that doesn’t have a bow stand available. Don’t make the event less fun for forgetting this important item.
5/ Extra spinwings/vanes: It happens all too often when yours and competitor’s arrows clash in the target. Ripping and cutting apart your fletching job. This could also be a problem when too many of your arrows need to be fixed and you don’t have anything for it. So always make sure to pack these and the fletching jig (or double sided tape) to apply them.
6/ Allen wrenches: The life blood of all bows are held together with parts to be tightened by a set of allen wrenches. Listen to your bow. If something starts rattling, get out your wrenches!
7/ Back-up release aid/finger tab: whether you are a compound or recurve archer, the way you shoot your bow comes down to these two products. If you happen to lose your primary or misplace it at the tournament and don’t have a back-up, you could be in some serious trouble.
8/ Weather gear: This ranges from rain and sun, cold and warm weather, and everything in between. Sunscreen and bug spray are your best friend for outdoors. As well as sunglasses and that favorite hat you always shoot in. If it decides to rain, make sure you have a jacket that you can shoot in. Your equipment wants to stay dry too, so make sure to either borrow a towel from the hotel or bring one with you that can wipe the rain off of your grip and other essential parts before you go to shoot that first arrow. Baby powder is also a secret weapon. Just a little sprinkle of the stuff on your palms can keep all that sweat and nervousness to a minimum on the most humid of days.
9/ Extra stabilizer weights: For some that don’t know the benefit of having just one to three extra stabilizer weights, here’s the scoop. Some people will tell you that they were holding really well the few days leading up to the tournament, and now that they are competing, they can’t seem to make it hold the same. If you get this same feeling the first day of the competition, you can either add (or remove) from your main stabilizer depending on if you bob up or down. Add to the main rod if your sight dot is drifting up, or remove one from the main rod if you are dipping down. Remember though, it won’t take much but those few extra weights could mean the difference on aiming if you need them.
10/ Snacks: Never forget to bring that favorite bar you like, or trail mix you can’t get enough of. Sometimes while walking courses or during target events, they don’t offer food on site. So you can quickly run low on blood sugar without realizing it. Don’t let it happen to you.
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