The Avalon Classic Finger Tab

In July 2020 I decided to give Olympic Recurve archery a try.  I had no idea how much I’d enjoy switching from compound bow to recurve.  So, I didn’t pay heavily for the gear I purchased.  That purchase arrived on July 22, 2020.

Today is August 11, 2020.  I’ve shot that inexpensive Olympic recurve a fair amount.  I’ve tried not to over do it hoping to avoid an over use injury.  Thus far that has been a success.  My only complaint is my fingertips on my hand used to draw the string. They are numb and hurt from the tissue damage caused from drawing the bow.

The poundage is only 34 pounds.  I started slowly hoping to build strength in my fingertips.  At the beginning I shot only 100 arrows a day, 50 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon.  I’ve also built in recovery days, two per week now down to one day off per week.  My max current daily arrow count is 160.  Some days I’ve shot less when I am working through a “Tournament Test” game. Once a week I play a game where I shoot a home range tournament and the arrow count is lower than my training days.

It has been 62 days since I received the bow.  Already I’ve learned a few things about inexpensive gear.

One, cheap sights suck, two, inexpensive arrows aren’t bad for beginning, and three a low cost finger tab isn’t going to last neither will it give much support to fingers.

The Avalon Classic Finger Tab

The Avalon Classic is a budget finger tab.  I paid $14.99 for mine.  For the price you get an entry-level tab that, for me, hasn’t held up. With just under 5000 arrows shot using the tab it has begun to break down significantly.

While walking to pull arrows I noticed a little screw on the ground.  I had no idea where it came from and could not find a missing screw anywhere on my bow.  The same thing happened a second time.  I discovered the screws had fallen out of the Avalon Classic. It is amazing that I found the at all considering my range is a clearing in the woods behind my house.

The leather is wearing away. Note: I removed the hook for my little finger.

When it rains I continue to shoot.  The two layers of leather on the Classic will slip as they are forced together while drawing.  But worst of all the leather is what you get for $14.99 and wears thin fast. Believe me, go a few days shooting 160 arrows per day and the Avalon Classic will let you know you’ve been practicing.

These two screws fell out. Amazing that I found them on my range

If you are only shooting about 25 to 30 arrows a day this tab might last you 7 months. It is a tab that is inexpensive and an honest place to start.  But, if you work your way up to over 700 arrows per week you’ll be getting a new tab soon.

I’ve ordered a Fairweather tab to replace the Avalon Classic.  I’ll see how that one does while I continue to work my daily arrow count higher.

The Fairweather tab. It costs $74.95. Certainly not inexpensive.


Distance Variance

Leaning to shoot a recurve despite having shot a compound bow for 6 years, 7 months and 15 days, before the switch isn’t an automatic transition. There is some transfer of the talent learned compound shooting to recurve.  For example, using the new recurve I am reaching equivalent scores at 18 meters that took 6 months to achieve with a compound bow.  What took months to reach having no experience with archery using a compound bow I matched in hours using a recurve.  Certainly, the recurve precision is not in the ballpark of where I was hitting with a compound bow when I switched.

Now that I am pretty confident the arrows leaving my recurve bow are going to land near the center of a target at 18-meters I’ve begun changing distances.  The maximum distance is just 50 yards.  There are some low hanging limbs, not a problem with a compound bow that will upset the path of arrows that has taken flight from the recurve.  The limb remedy has been arranged and hopefully I’ll soon be able to shoot from 70 meters without plant life interference.

The variance is a good addition to training distances.  Shoot a couple of hundred arrows from 50 yards and move up to 20 yards and that target feels a whole lot closer even if the yellow part is a whole lot smaller.

Beginner’s Luck

Forty-seven days ago my sub $400.00 all in price Olympic recurve rig arrived in the mail.  A few days later I had some arrows that would nock on the string so I could give the bow a try.  Nearly 100% of my switch from compound bow to recurve and focused on a distance of 18-meters.  I’ve just begun to increase yardage.

I’ve got all manner of target to keep practice fun

I’ve had the Olympic recurve for 46 days.  Twelve of those days have been recovery days.  No point in over doing it right from the start. So, I’ve actually practiced with the bow 34 times.

Even at 18-meters I’m not that good. Just 48.35 of my arrows land in the 9 or 10 ring at the moment.  I’m still learning. But, 18-meters can become awfully routine so I’ve been moving around.

60-meters is a decently long shot for a beginner

On this practice I began at 60 meters.  The Olympic recurve, since I am a beginner, had low poundage limbs, 34-pounds.  Arrows shot from 60 meters fly a while before smacking into a target.

Beginner’s luck!

I thought shooting from a longer distance from my target might improve my percentage of nine and ten strikes.  Nope, still hanging in around 50%. It, however, was fun to make some long shots.

Break Time

When I switched to recurve a designed a training schedule based on a week’s practice.  When a week was complete there would be minor changes like increasing the number of arrows per day.  The weeks are connected to specific process goals.  Each week has planned recover days.

The recover days are important.  Changing from compound to recurve means there isn’t a let-off of the poundage a full draw.  Keeping days open for recover is important to avoid an overuse injury.

There are two days of recovery per week, Wednesday and Sunday.  Eventually, there will be only one day.  For now two seems wise.

Deleting one rest day is a gradual process.  For example, I practice archery twice per day.  At the moment, I am shooting 80 arrows in the morning and 80 arrows in the afternoon (800 arrows per week).  This week I began to abbreviate the recovery.  Rather than entirely skip Wednesday I shot 80 arrows in the morning and none in the afternoon.  This will increase my weekly load to 880 arrows.

The goal for routine practice is 1200 arrows per week.  Right now, I am holding at 880 arrows per week for the month of September.  Sunday remains a complete recovery day and Wednesday is a ½ day break.

I’ll Take the Heat

It has been hot.  When I finish practice I am soaked with sweat.  When I finish running I am soaked with sweat. When I finish cycling I am sweated with sweat. But, I’ll take the heat over the cold. While the temperature is warm I can practice on my property and avoid expensive range fees.

There are several more months of nice weather before it gets so cold it becomes uncomfortable to practice outdoors.  I put up with the cold as long as possible.  Using an indoor range costs me $60.00 per month here.  It was $30.00 unlimited use per month in North Carolina.

At one shop in Maryland, where I was a frequent customer, I paid nothing to us their indoor range. I didn’t even spend a lot of money there.  I was there frequently and had become friendly with the owner and staff.

When the cold weather arrives the cost to practice increases if you are going to use an indoor range.  I suppose it is the price we pay to play. Until that time, I’ll enjoy the heat and save some cash.

Who Says This Stuff?

I’d been off a bike for several years.  In fact, I didn’t even own one.  I ridden most of my life but graduate school, law school and work created a time-induced pause on cycling.  But, I knew I would ride again if for nothing else fun.

When I finished law school (the last of my ‘big’ degrees, but not the least) I bought a second hand bike.  It was strictly for fun and fitness.  That lasted about 8 weeks before moving up to a better used bike.  That bike became one of three bikes, once I bought the third and I’d found a group to ride with.

The group was filled with State Champions, National Champions, and World Champions.  It was a mix of about 50:50 pure cyclist and triathlete.  A few were professional athletes.  Occasionally Olympians would train with us.  It was an amazing group of athletes.

On my first ride with the group a fellow said to me, “We’re not even on our outer chains rings, it is going to get hard now.”  It wasn’t shared to be friendly.  He was taunting me.  It pissed me off. I might have responded if I’d had enough breath at the time.

Years later, when I was representing the USA as a Team member at the ITU World Championships in the Long Course Duathlon I thought about that jerk.

In early 2014, I’d been shooting a bow for less than a year; I was struggling during a 3D event.  This fellow said to me, “You’re never going to beat us.”  I had plenty of breath but I held my tongue. No point debating a fellow with a weapon in his hand.

I think about that comment nearly as often as I think about the cyclist rudeness.  Neither is any sort of motivator for me to work harder.  Both comments are mysteries of rudeness that simply would never be uttered by me.  I wonder what kind of a person thinks of such to say.

The cyclist that made the comment remained with our training group, as did I.  After a few months I began to reclaim old form and the rude rider never made another nasty comment.  Or at least not one I ever heard.

That group of archers that ‘I’d never beat’ well I haven’t seen them in years. Most of them are really decent archers.  Could I beat them now if our paths crossed in some tournament?  No doubt in my mind.  In fact, the last time I saw them they were shooting in a 3D IBO World Qualifier were I was getting my ticket.  I didn’t shoot against any of them.  As I recall, their max distance was 35 yards and mine was 50 yards.

We were all shooting the hunter class the distance typically is max at 35 yards for the amateur divisions.  I was shooting 50 yards because I was qualifying for the Pro Hunter division.  I won the qualifier and had the highest score for the day overall.

No one from the group, especially the fellow who’d mocked me months earlier said anything rude toward me.  What I’ve never understood is why make a stupid comment to begin with?

I don’t expect to see any of these fellows again.  We shoot in different circles these days. If our paths were to cross – well, I’d be pleased to see any of them.

Yellow Game Another Rainy Day

It wasn’t all that rainy, but it did drizzle.  Not nearly as intense of a rain as during practice a few days ago.  The rain didn’t stop the yellow game.

As I’ve mentioned the yellow games is scoring the percentage of time an archer’s arrows land in the yellow.  I find it a fun way to move though a practice session.

Having changed to a recurve bow 35 days ago the yellow game is a fun challenge. The goal is to keep all the arrows in the yellow.

My recurve is not equipped with a clicker.  I think a clicker may help improve my yellow game percentages.  Still, repeating each shot as exactly as possible without a clicker is probably a fair way to train for now.

Today’s wet percentage was 52.5%.  That was after 10 ends of 8 arrows shooting a vertical 3-spot at 18 meters. The non-yellow strikes were primarily 8s with a couple of 7s and a couple of 6s.

I am already looking forward this afternoon when I repeat the game.

Moving Back

I’ve not shot the new Olympic recurve beyond 20 yards until today.  Today, I added yardage in five-yard increments out to 45 yards.  It wasn’t horrible.

The target was a 40-centimeter single spot.  Nearly all the arrows landed in the yellow, red or blue.  A couple of first shots, as I adjusted the sight, landed in the 4 or 3 ring.  A few clicks up or down remedied that error.

Moving back

To be sure, at this point Brady Ellison need not miss sleep.  By now, since I’ve been shooting a recurve rather than my compound, Reo Wilde has been sleeping easily.

Even though I wasn’t really feeling it, I stopped after 80 arrows.  I’ll pick up where I left off during the next 80-arrow practice.

I didn’t want to stop; it felt good to move back.

The Yellow Game

No, this isn’t a game about cowardice or micturition.  It is a fun practice challenge to land all arrows into the yellow of a target.

For some you work to land all arrows in the X circle of the yellow.  I’ve played that game with my compound bow.  I’ve never won. I have come close, but there was always an eight or two (red ring) to ruin it.

Thirty-four days ago I switched to an Olympic recurve.  Hitting the target seemed like a good place to start.

As my groups got tight, all in the target, I moved from the barn wall to a single spot 40 cm paper target. Next, I moved to a 3-spot to reduce the stress on my arrows.

The arrows are inexpensive.  They are truly beginner arrows, Easton Vector 1000, which you can purchase from your local archery shop for $70.00 per dozen or from Amazon for $66.00 per dozen.  Still, breaking these arrows is fairly easy.  Pop a nock and you’ll likely find a cracked shaft.

My Easton Vector 1000 arrows are a tad weak for my poundage.  I didn’t know that at the time I bought them.  I trusted without verifying.  I’ve done it before; I’ll do it again.  They’re pretty close and for a beginner learning I am not too disappointed.  If shoot three to four of these inexpensive arrows at the same target I don’t cry when one breaks.

That target right is the yellow of the vertical 3-spot.  Right now I am limiting the number of arrows per day to 70 in the morning and 70 in the afternoon.  I’d started at 50 in the morning and 50 in the afternoon and have been working my way up at weekly or so increase depending on how things feel.  It is easy to over do it and end up with an injury.

The yellow game is hard at present.  On August 20th, 28 days after receiving the Olympic recurve, I switched to a 3-spot.  It really isn’t any harder to hit than the larger single spot.  It is just as hard keeping all the arrows in the yellow rings.

It isn’t a game unless I’ve shot the quota of arrows scheduled for the practice session. In other words, if I shot 9 out of 10 on the first end and quit, that 90% doesn’t count.  I did once get chased inside because a rainstorm became too fierce after 40 arrows and those arrows didn’t apply.  No the full count of planned arrows must be achieved.  There’s no stopping early to prevent fatigue from lowering percentages.

Since the beginning of the game, now in its 14th day my average is only 48.2%.  So, out of 1104 arrows fired during the game 530 have hit yellow.  Not even half.

If you’re a numbers person you might think 1104 is not many arrows over that amount of time.  Those are only the Yellow Game arrows.  Over the month, thus far, the arrow count is 3355.  I play other games; the Yellow Game isn’t the only one. There’s the tournament game.  That game is for another for a future story.

Even so, simply looking at 3355 arrows for the 34 days I’ve owned a recurve you might think, “David’s not shooting a lot.”  Maybe you’re right.  But, over those 34 days 9 recovery days, a ½ day lost to routine dentistry and one full day lost so that I could get 15 sutures put into a slice on my right shoulder.  Fortunately, those stitches didn’t seem to bother me.  Well, at least my scores don’t seem to have been hampered.  At this point it is hard to tell.

On my worst day I shot only 31% of the arrows into the yellow at 20 yards, my best day was 71% or 50 out of 70 arrows.  I’ve not shot 10 arrows in a row into the yellow; the best has been 9 out of 10.

I try not to rush the practice but don’t want too much time spent walking back and forth to the target to pull arrows.  So, each end is 10 arrows. I’ve got plenty of targets to save arrows. It is a game, after all.

It is Still Raining

It has been raining off and on for days. Rain is good for the crops I’ve planted.  Crops may be a bit of an embellishment.  I have 18 vegetables beds, 18 fruit trees, grapes vines, and a row of blackberry bushes planted.  This is somewhat of an in-between time for produce. Most of the spring and summer plants are harvested and the fall plants are just beginning to sprout, in small containers or still seed.  Rain isn’t the best for an archer.

I’ve shot in tournaments during rain.  Occasionally, the rain has been so bad the event was halted.  Once, at an IBO World Championship it poured.  My group was first on the range.  The officials held all subsequent archers.  No one missed my group.  No horn was activated to let those archers, one group, on the course to know to stop.  Without the horn we kept shooting.

When is say it rained it poured.  Not one of our group remained upright as we tried to descend the steep slopes at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania.  It rained so hard we missed a turn (the signs with the directional arrows having been blown away) and had to search for the lanes.

During the search we began to hope the tournament had been halted.  None of us wanted to walk onto an active lane, under poor visibility with other archers trying to hit a target.  Eventually, we found a road and stood under a large oak tree until conditions improved.  By the time we began shooting again we were so far ahead we never saw another group of competitors.

Today, it is raining.  It was also a rainy night in Georgia.  There was a slight easing of the rain so I grabbed my bow and headed out to my range for morning practice.

The easing of the rain didn’t last.  I was there wet and figure practice in the rain, because I know I’ll get rained on again during a tournament.

The harder the rain became the less optimistic I felt that I might not need to sound my own horn and head for shelter.  What sent me in was my finger tab.

My finger tab is an inexpensive product.  I paid $14.99 for it ordered from Lancaster Archery Supply.  It is an Avalon Classic.  The leather that is connected to the pad consists of two layers. The double leather pads called me in from the rain when they began to slide back and forth as I drew my arrows.

I practiced through this for a while with arrows landing mostly in the red rings of a 3-spot at 18-meters.  I was hitting about 70% of the time in the red and 30% yellow.  Yesterday, afternoon the opposite had occurred (71% yellow and 29% red).

It wasn’t all that frustrating and just a little bit fun to play in the rain.  Fortunately, it wasn’t cold.  But, the soaked tab was a nuisance.

It was good to learn how this particular tab responds to being soaking wet.  I have no idea how a more expensive tab would respond the becoming as wet as my inexpensive tab; I’ve only ever shot my recurve using this Avalon Classic.

I’ll investigate the pricier tabs and see what I can learn.  At the least I’ll order a second Avalon to have on hand for rainy days.  If that happens I’d try to keep the both as dry as possible and perhaps rotate them in the manner footballs are rotated during rainy games.

Practicing archery in the rain might not be tops on your list of ideal training conditions.  It is, however, a great way to learn how you and you equipment will respond to being soaked.