It is not the bow, at least on an indoor range. It isn’t the arrow; it isn’t the sight, the stabilizer, the string, the quiver or the size of the target. Regardless of what I shoot or where I shoot, the results are pretty much the same, when I shoot indoors.
Using two bows I collected the results for 26 sessions of 30 arrows targeting a FITA 5 spot. I used a modified scoring system, if I hit the white that was 10 points, if I hit the blue that equaled nine point (30 arrows versus 60 arrows per session). The distance to the target was measured using a tape measure on two indoor ranges, 20 yards. Each range was used equally. All 26 sessions used Beman Hunter 500 carbon arrows with 100-grain tips. One bow was the Mathews Conquest Apex 7 with Bee Stinger stabilizers, an Axcel Achieve sight with a 6-inch bar and Axcel X-31 scope with 4X magnification. The other bow was a Mathews ZXT with an Axcel Armortech 7-pin hunting sight and Trophy Ridge 8 inch static stabilizer. Both bows were matched for draw length and weight. A single release was used, the Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage.
The data was collected over a four-week period. The median score using the Apex 7 was 296, (range 293 – 300) while the median for the ZXT was 295 (range 291-298) and the interaction of scores was statistically non-significant (p<0.37). Anecdotally, shooting a Bear Authority and BowTech Insanity CPX yielded scores of 294 and 293, respectively (these bows used only once and scores not included in the analysis).
This analysis was conducted to first determine if there was a measureable difference between the two bows, there is not on an indoor range at 20 yards. Second, the data establishes a baseline from which to work toward shooting improvement. For example, a variance in scores, that is a value outside the range (essentially a lower score) suggests something about the shooter has changed. A value consistently above median means improvement. In either case, it is important to understand why the values have shifted.
Recently, trying a modification of my grip dropped scores to the 292 level (post study). While practicing and attempting to adjust my grip another archer, pointed out a simple method to make the correction. After several attempts, using his recommendation (thanks, Norman) the scores returned to their median levels. While adjusting my anchor point, a slight change, my scores were slightly above the median. Understanding baseline levels and using a little math can aid in refining form. It can also help, by tracking scores, to identify training loads and assign recovery days.
Although I keep track of 3D scores, the differences in ranges, target size, distances, weather, and other uncontrolled variables require a lot more data to provide a meaningful analysis. Overall, indoor shooting is more controlled having fewer offsetting conditions to interact with the data used to establish baseline values thus allowing for a good measure to use as a reference.
What this study provided was evidence that both bows used preform essentially the same indoors at 20 yards. The failure to reach a perfect score is therefore not the equipment’s fault. (Not to suggest that equipment doesn’t fail, it does happen on rare occasion) The data further sets a baseline to be used as a control to judge progress and monitor form variance. However, a point is a point, so during tournaments, I’ll shoot the Apex 7, even if one point is not statistically significant.