It’s You Not the Bow!

It’s you not the Bow! Well, we’ve all heard that one.

Last year I bought a new bow specifically for USA Archery and NFAA target shooting.  The old bow was fine.  The old bow is a catchall advertised to be useful for hunting, 3D and target shooting.  It is exactly as advertised.

I was at a point where my groups were tight; I’d won a number of tournaments with the one-bow-does-it-all and felt it was time to invest in equipment that might yield a few more points.  Specifically, a bow marketed exclusively for target shooting.

70 yard group with the old bow

This would mean a longer axil-to-axil for certain and perhaps a few other target specific alternations.  I bought a highly recommended target bow, which according to the salesman, “All the top pros are shooting this bow.”  I bought it.

With the new  bow I practiced and practiced.  At each tournament, new bow in hand, I lost and lost.

Notice the shotgun pattern formed with the newer bow. Now look at the three arrows that missed the target! I paused, took a bio-break, returned and the arrows all shot right. This is when I put the new target specific bow down and picked up the old bow, again.

The groups would be rather tight then there’d be a flyer.  The groups would widen and my scores would drop.  I just could not figure out the problem.  One day things would seem okay, the next arrows flying all over the place.

In the middle of 2018, after losing in a major event where I was up 6 points going into the final six arrows I put the bow down.  I loaded up the catchall bow, went to the next tournament and set a new State record. I figured it was a fluke. I grabbed the fancy target specific bow and started working with it, again. And again, I lost and lost.

I took the new bow to my local archery shop and they checked it out, made some adjustment and returned it.  It shot well for a while – then arrows began landing in shotgun patterns. I emailed the manufacturer and explained what was happened.  There was no response.

Most notably, when shooting at increasing distance, the windage needed to be adjusted. Those adjustments were not slight.  Arrows would land wider and wider as the distance increased. Oh, there was no wind and it was the same target.  I’d shoot at 30 yards and work my way out to 70 yards adjusting the windage every ten yards.  It felt like it wasn’t me and I began asking more questions. I even hired a coach to see if I’d gotten out of tune.

When it came to the problem of shooting the new bow there were all manner of answers and voodoo remedy: “You have to bend your bow arm with this bow,” “You need to keep your bow arm straighter,” “ You bend your bow arm and keep it straight at the same time,” “Keep your bow arm and back really extra tight, “ “If you’re too tight you’ll shoot your arrows right with this bow,” “This bow likes to be closer to the thumb of your bow hand,” “You need a new string,” “The string has stretched, “ “It is a little out of tune,” ”Your peep rotates,” “You’re too short for this bow,” and finally, “Maybe you just shoot the other bow better.” No doubt about the last comment. But, the question is, why? The other older bow isn’t a true target bow.  The flawed new bow is a true target bow.

Working with bow techs every manner of adjustment was tried and tested.  More weight, less weight, different release, different arrows, new angle on the front stabilizer, shorter rear stabilizer, etc. The course of less tight groups marched onward.

The ‘flawed’ term is what I’ve determined.  Over and over the new bow fails to shoot consistently.  You’d automatically want to blame the archer. The archer gave the bow a solid year of practice and over that time scores diminished with the new bow, while scores increased with the old entry level catchall bow.

Today, I shot 5% better with the catchall bow compared to the super target bow.  The comparison was over two days. I went back to the data on the two bows. Looking back over two years I averaged 10 points higher at 50-meters with the one bow does it all. In a final test, I took the catchall bow to an indoor range and shot a 5-spot.

Using the target bow I’d lost, taking second place, at the State NFAA 5-spot indoor championship missing the 5 three times.  I’d wanted to go to Cincinnati and compete at the NFAA Nationals.  In order to make the trip I set a minimum requirement for the State Championship.  That goal was 600 points over two days and 96 Xs.  I failed to reach that mark.  However, when testing the catchall bow, using skinny outdoor arrows, I shot a one-day total of 300 points and 52 Xs.  That was the final straw.

Yes, I know I need to get get my elbow around. This lands the arrow wide right. Even so, wide right is still in the white if not a 3 o’clock X.

I believe good equipment is paramount at a certain level of competition with any sport.  I also believe, in archery, shoot the bow you shoot best.  Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed in the bow purchased with the intent to improve my scores a little.  That new bow didn’t pan out. No, in this case, it is the bow. But, the question why remains unanswered.

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