New Target

122 cm targets aren’t cheap.  Used ones, those used in a tournament and not too badly holed, sell for $5.00 each.  New 122 cm vinyl targets run $10.00 to $12.00.  The fancy 122 cm targets with a pocketed ring to fit it snuggly on a target butt run around $20.00.  All of them wear out fast.

It is nice to replace them.  By the time a new target is up the old one is literally shot to pieces.

Here goes another $20.00.

Setting Yardage

Sighting for distances is boring to me.  I almost feel like I am wasting time. Still, it has to be done.

New limbs with new poundage mean changing elevation graduation on the sight to match distance.  When I do this I start at 20 yards and work back to 80 yards.  I do this in five-yard increments. It takes a long time.

A little low, still too low, finally pretty good

At each distance I shot 10 arrows knowing many of the ‘off’ shots are caused by me and not the bow. Once he sight graduations have been recorded I do it again.

First try at 60 yards

If only one distance is involved, like 18 meters or 70 meters, it is less time consuming.  This year I’d like to try a few 3D tournaments with my Olympic recurve.  So, the yardage marks need to be more numerous.

Shooting to my left.

It is slow work.

 

Messed Up Fun at the USA Indoor Nationals

After 18 months of recurve archery I felt ready for a major tournament.  My average scores during training at 18 meters were on track.  The poundage increase was at a holding point.  Then it fell apart.

The first indicator was the placement of my arrows.  The groupings were less consistent.  At times I’d catch sight of an arrow in flight with a cockeyed path.  When I pulled arrows they’d often have a variety of angles as they poked into the target.

It wasn’t awful.  I blamed it on hand placement. I was mistaken.

The mistake was bent limbs.  These weren’t expensive limbs.  They were 42# limbs retailing for $149.00.  I’d moved up in poundage from 32#, 36#, 40# then 42# over 18 months.  The latest upgrade, to 42# was new.  I was at 8000 or so arrows when my scores began to decrease.  An expert bow tech pointed out, as I was leaving the range after practice, the limbs seemed warped.

He doubled checked the limbs.  His associate verified is claim.  It isn’t like they were working towards a sale of limbs.  That particular shop doesn’t offer ILF limbs.

To triple check I drove to another town with a bow shop where they do have IFL limbs, World Champion archers train there, and their bow tech are some of the best in the work. The bow tech there when I arrived is well known around the world.  One look and he confirmed the 42# limbs were bend.  At this point it is two weeks away from the USA Indoor Nationals where I’d registered to compete.

Of course, it was the weekend, late Saturday afternoon and closing time for most archery shops.  On Monday I called Lancaster Archer to let them the under warranty limbs had been confirmed warped.  When I told them who verified the malfunction they didn’t even question me.  They gave me a return authorization.  As soon as they received the limbs I’d have a full credit toward an exchange.  The limbs left for Pennsylvania on Tuesday.  They would arrive at LAS on Thursday February 10th. (9 days before the Nationals)

In the meantime I only had 40# set $149.00 limbs to use for practice.  Going down 2# felt light.  Sadly, my scores didn’t improve.  In fact, they got worse. We, the local bow techs and I, noticed the 40# limbs warped worse than the 42# limbs.

While the warped limb potential remedy was under discussion an ex-pro golfer (top 10 PGA earning golfer, Tim Simpson) and bare bow archer had dropped in and was listening.  He noticed the $149.00 limbs and said, “I was pretty good at golf, but I couldn’t have won shit with clubs from Wal-Mart.”

Yeah, I get it.  I knew my gear was entry level.  I’m entry level. There’s no point in buying expensive gear until you are ready for expensive gear.

The remedy turned out to be a Galaxy Solstice IFL riser and the same 40# WNS limbs. The thinking here is that the PSE riser was the root cause of the limb problem.

This set up didn’t do much.  The bow felt very light.  The serious problem was the arrow rest.  On Thursday February 17th, two days before the Nationals I noticed the plastic Hoyt rest was cracking.  No one anywhere near had another arrow rest available.

An archery coach at the shop told me if the little plastic arm breaks off the arrow would still sit in the rest. “Just make sure you don’t let it fall off before you shoot,” he added.  Well, Easton X7 (the arrows I shot for indoor) arrows have a larger diameter than X10 and that whole ‘don’t let the arrow fall off the rest’ wasn’t confidence booster. It was easily foreseeable the plastic Hoyt rest would fail soon.

That afternoon, February 17th, the PSE riser returned to action.  It has a nice arrow rest. Before it was tested I’d tweaked the bow in every imaginable way possible.  This led to the bowstring at least lining up into the string grooves.  Looking at the bow during full draw it was plan to see the letter ‘S’ produced.

Friday February 18th I left for Newberry, Florida and the Easton Sport Complex. I’d paid; I’d rented an Airbnb, and was going compete for the experience. That’s when things really feel apart.

The Airbnb I rented was advertised an old quiet Southern home located in the charming city of High Springs.  The house was old.  Down stairs was a store.  Next-door there was a construction site on one side and a pizza joint on the other.  Directly across was a nightclub all on a busy intersection.  I knew this wasn’t realistic relating to quiet.

I pointed out the noise and the ‘Host’ offered to go buy me some earplugs.  She claimed success sleeping using earplugs.  I thanked her and told her I had earplugs with me. I needed them – they didn’t do much good.

I searched for anywhere else to stay. My wife searched online from home. We came up short.  My wife suggested I simply come home. I was stuck. A nightly live band outside across the street that can shake a building or house is beyond the 32 dB earplug comfort zone.

To make matters worse the upstairs of the old Southern house had no heat. The bed only had a sheet and spread.  By early Sunday morning there was no electricity. The temperature at night was in the 30s.  I used everything I could find: towels and clothes to pile on top of me at night for warmth while I lay awake listening to a band and being shaken by their drums and bass.  I could literally hear the words being belted out. Under different conditions I’d have enjoyed it. The band was good. They were not conducive for sleeping.

The first day of the tournament I honesty tried. By the second day I truly could have cared less where my arrows landed.  I used the event for practice.

When I got home my wife’s brothers came over for dinner.  One of them asked me, “So what ‘life lesson’ did you learn?” He was referring to the Nationals.  For a few minutes I simply stared at him.

Nothing that wasn’t foreseeable occurred.  I took a chance on an Airbnb, which I’d expected might not be great.  It wasn’t, it was as awful as everything I’d imagined.  My archery equipment did as well as possible considering the warped limbs.  I shot consistently on the low side of my scoring bell curve.  I shot the same as I’d been doing since the limb problem started.

I found the question both arrogant and condescending. He is, however, my wife’s brother so I kept my initial response to myself and said, “Never stay at an Airbnb that is a room in a stranger’s home and the best pizza ever is at The Steak Out in High Springs, FL.”

“THESE ARROWS COST $47.00 A PIECE!”

I’ve bought a lot of gear from Lancaster Archery. When we lived in Easton, Maryland, where I started shooting a compound bow in November 2013, someone mentioned to me Lancaster Archery.  Until that moment I had no idea they existed.

There isn’t any reason I might have heard of Lancaster Archery Supply.  I’d never been involved with archery so why would I have heard of LAS?

Naturally, I looked LAS up on the Internet.  Those where the days when I lived in a fancy town with actual Internet service.  The year was 2014; I’d been trying to shoot a compound bow, a Mathews Conquest Apex 7 for several months.

Easton is only 110 miles away from LAS.  I’d decided to make a pilgrimage to LAS so my wife and I headed to Lancaster, PA. She wanted to see if there might be some Amish goods to acquire in the area.

What I wanted from LAS was a target sight and scope along with those long stabilizers the other archers all had on their bows.  Up until that point I had a hunting sight and a Trophy Ridge hunting stabilizers on the Apex 7.  I ‘knew’ the fancy gear would improve my shooting and was willing to pay for it. Or at a minimum I’d look the part of an archer taking aim at targets.

With a couple of months experience in archery I entered LAS pretty much not having a clue.  LAS felt like archery Mecca. Within a few minutes my glassy eyed expression signaled for help.

The salesman was extremely patient. He sold me a pile of gear.  I still use the sight and scope on my compound bow.  Well, they are still on my compound bow but I’ve not picked it up since I switched to recurve in 2020. I did change the front stabilizer on the bow after a few years of using it.

While I was in LAS there were other archers milling about. One fellow in particular I’m unlikely to forget.  He wasn’t milling about admiring treasures. They fellow strutted around as if his genital was engorged hoping, perhaps, he’d be admired.

Accompanying him was his recurve bow, quiver lashed to his waist loaded with the skinniest arrows I’d ever sent.  Admittedly, I was curious about the arrows. I wanted to know about the arrows but was afraid to risk speaking to the man for fear he’d erupt on himself he was so puffed up.

When a salesman spoke to him it took a little puff out of the archery gear decorated peacock so I took courage and asked him about the arrows.

At my question the little fellow froze. He was shorter than me and I’m under 5 feet 8 inches tall.  Once, I was taller. Gravity is winning. There was a pause in his existence.  He literally was frozen where he’d stood.  He eyed me with either a look of suspicion or viewed me as prey.  Either way it was awkward. His suspended stance appeared to be a sign that anyone within a five-foot radius of the human figurine should consider moving further away.

Backing away without turning my back on the motionless archer it could be seen that the fellow was beginning to vibrate. The arrows in his quiver starting to rattle like maracas as his face became a dark crimson.

Then, he blurted out, “THESE ARROWS COST $47.00 A PIECE!”

Well, okay I thought to myself as we both walked away from one another. That was a close as I got to the $47.00 arrows.

I have no idea who the little fellow was and still don’t.  Nor do I care.  What amazes me and something I won’t forget was his puffery.

One day I expect I’ll shoot expensive arrows.  Right now I’m flinging arrows THAT COST $4.90 A PIECE.  Those cheap arrows have won six out of seven tournaments in the men’s senior or masters’ divisions.  I don’t know if that says something about me or those archers flinging the high-end arrows. What I can say is that the archers with the expensive arrows always look the part.

Nice Arrows

When I switched to Olympic Recurve I did so on a budget.  There seemed no point in buying the top level gear having never shot an Olympic recurve bow. Using that philosophy I started with very inexpensive arrows.

Over the year of shooting Olympic recurve I’ve had to purchase an expensive riser.  The initial $149.00 riser snapped in half after 26,011 arrows.  In addition, I moved up to a high-end sight.  The original sight was fine to start, but it’s screws kept falling out.

The bow’s limbs increased from $99.00 products to $149.00 products as my poundage increased.  One group of items that remain basement bargains is my arrows.

My current arrows cost $4.90 each.  I’d moved up to a $6.00 arrow but the spine was wrong despite what the manufacturer had published on their website.  I returned to the $4.90 arrows and those are much better.

I understand there are much more expensive arrows.  Next year I may make a move toward the high-end arrow.  Those range from $32.35 to $52.00 each.

I’ve held one of the $52.00 arrows.  I’ve never shot one.  One sales person told me that a dozen, $625.00 before tax, would buy me 10 points over the course of an outdoor tournament.  Another sales person told me more likely the expensive arrows would only provide a few extra points.

The 10 points advantage works out to $62.50 per point.

No doubt in 2022 I’ll buy more expensive arrows.  I doubt they’ll end up being the most expensive.  I’ll likely get the $32.35 each arrow.

26,011 Is All It Had

When I switched to an Olympic Recurve I did it at a remarkably low price.  Everything from stabilizers, tab, stand, limbs, sight – everything for $460.00.  The riser and limbs set me back $249.98.  A riser purchased for $149.99 bucks and limbs for $99.99.  I was pleased.

There seemed to be no point in playing top dollar to try something of which I had very little exposure.  Heck, my arrows cost $4.42 each.

Sadly, my low-end riser reached its limit – 26,011 arrows.  It was at that point the little red Galaxy Tourch gave up.

The inexpensive bow did a good job for 200 days of shooting.  Then, it broke in two on arrow number 26,011.  It had given all it had. Even the last arrow, launched from an exploding riser,  hit the target.

I really enjoyed that little bow and am sad to see if go.

I figured I call Lancaster Archery and let them know hoping the bow was under warranty.  This happened late in the day so; again, I figured I call the next day.

When I got to this computer the next morning I had a message waiting from Lancaster Archery’s Supply’s (LAS) Southern sales representative.  He wanted me to call him when I got a chance. Okay.

When the riser broke I was shooting with George Ryals, IV.  He’s the USA Archery Head Coach for the Paralympics Archery Team.  He took a picture of the broken riser.  Apparently, some of the folks at Lancaster Archery follow Coach Ryals on social media and they saw the picture online.

Before I called the LAS sales representative, it was too early in the morning,  I checked my email.  There was an email from LAS informing me that a new riser had been shipped to me.  It was less than 18 hours since the ole riser had failed.

Once the morning had worn on a bit I called the LAS sales representative, Tony.  I know Tony from archery here in Georgia. He wanted me to know that the riser, which had busted was out of stock and that LAS had shipped me an upgrade.  They also included a t-shirt, pouch and hat in the shipment.

Admittedly, I was surprised.  That really is unparalleled customer service.

Four out of five

This past week I won an archery tournament shooting an Olympic style recurve bow.  I’ve won four out of five times shooting a recurve bow. This time it was particularly difficult.

The tournament was an outdoor event, an International Round target competition. In this event the target faces are black with the white center ring.  The aperture on my sight has a black dot.

As the day progressed the shadows casting on the targets increased the difficulty.

I’d wanted to change the aperture before the contest but what I needed was and remains on back order.  It is one of those expensive apertures with the light gathering monofilament.

Alas, I was forced to compete with the black on black.  Certainly, I’d practiced shooting the black-faced targets.  It isn’t impossible but it is uncomfortable.

I didn’t shot poorly even though I have shot similar distances against a white-faced target and scored higher.  But, you can only shoot with what you have in your hand.

Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight

When I started shooting an Olympic recurve bow 266 days ago I did so with minimal investment. The entire rig was under $460.00.  That included everything from sight to bow stand.   The arrows I am using, an upgrade from the initial arrows, are priced at $4.42 each.

Two of the items were replaced within weeks:  the bowstring and finger tab. The first string price was $19.99 and it didn’t last long. The tab was worn through just as soon.

I replaced the string with a 60X that I replaced after 24, 431 shots to another similar 60X string.  The finger tab was upgraded to a Fairweather – worth every penny.

The most recent up grade was the sight.  I’d already gone through two Cartel inexpensive sights. They bow did the job for the level I shoot.

Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight

A coach suggested early on getting a good sight.  I sold two older but well maintained kayaks then used the cash to buy an Axcel Achieve RX recurve sight with a 9 inch extension.  It wasn’t cheap, $358.44 tax included.

On the very first shot the difference was apparent.  The very first shoot was stunning – the bow was amazingly quiet. No loud rattling from a lesser quality sight. The new sight was worn every penny.

The elevation and windage dials are so much more precise than the lower priced sight’s dials.  Being able to dial in the dot in the aperture is a new experience. Before sight was “close enough.”

The thought the sight put into my head was to wonder how a really nice riser, limbs and stabilizers might perform?  To answer than I suppose I’ll need to sell something else.

The 5-Spot Dilemma

The Georgia State Championship and NFAA Sectional (5-Spot) are in a week. I am still shooting my low-end beginner Olympic Recurve – riser $149.00, limbs $99.00.

The arrows, a recent change, are Black Eagle Intrepids.  These arrows are $4.42 each. By competitive standards not typical high-end gear. Nevertheless, I am shooting well with this entry-level equipment.

The initial plan for the upcoming competition was to shot a single spot.  The problem is that when I shoot 5 arrows at the same spot I break one every 10 to 15 arrows.  Often it is just the nock.  The problem with that is the nock won’t release from the shaft for a quick replacement.  The inner diameter of the Intrepid arrows is simply too tight for a fast repair.  In fact, I’ve yet to have a successful repair.  I end up cracking the arrow trying to free the remained of the nock.

Of the broken arrows, that is while shooting 5 arrows at a single target, over twenty ends it us usual to have a Robin Hood.  I have, from practice wear, 15 arrows remaining.

At the pace the arrows break after the first day of shooting the upcoming tournament, using a single spot, I have just 9 arrows remaining. That means on the second day at 2/3 of the way through the tournament’s second day I have 5 arrows remaining.  If the stats remain true on the last end I’d be an arrow short.

The solutions: 1) buy more arrows before I depart for the tournament, 2) shoot a 5-spot.

I’ve been practicing exclusively using a 5-spot.  This is specially to save arrows. Occasionally, 1 out of a hundred times, I miss the four line by a hair.  A single spot would be a never miss.  My 5-spot practice scores aren’t for a beginner recurve archer: mean is 283 with a range of 278 to 292.  Out of 100 arrows 66 of them will land in the white for a 5 and out of 60 arrows (tournament quantity) 18 will be Xs. (average)  My concern is the 1 in 100 where I miss the blue.

The dilemma is whether or not to shoot the 5-spot versus buying more $4.42 arrows and shoot the single spot.

Arrows, Arrows, Arrows….

It didn’t seem like a wise use of money to fork out big bucks for high-end equipment when switching to an Olympic recurve from compound bows.  (145 days ago) Why do that when the compound bows were in the $800.00 range purchased new. It wasn’t as if prior archery gear had been high-end.

When it came to high-end gear the nicest pieces of equipment associated with the compound bows had been the sight and release.  Those were high quality Axcel/TruBall products.

The arrows shot using the compound bows had been purchased and prepared by folks that, at the time, seemed to know better.  Two out of three times their suggestions were correct.  For the remaining third the arrows are too stiff.

Some ‘expert’ on YouTube presented a video suggesting that spine calibration is a myth so long as the arrows shot are fletched.  The video he posted was an experiment where he fired off sets of arrows of various spine strength using fletched and bare shaft arrows.  He was shooting a recurve bow. I repeated his experiment.  My results yielded an opposing result.

I’d hoped for similar results.  I’ve got some nice arrows, those among the good 2/3 of my moderately priced arrows and wanted to upgrade the Easton 1000 arrows I’ve been shooting with the Olympic recurve.  What I found is that the stiffer more expensive arrows didn’t bend properly and the tail end of those arrows hit my riser.  The flex between nodes simply wasn’t flexing properly. I was hoping to save some money by avoiding the purchase of new arrows.

The Easton 1000s are excellent beginner’s arrows.  I’ve won two State Championships using a $249.00 Olympic recurve in the Men’s Senior Division shooting those $5.00 arrows.  However, I know the $5.00 arrows are holding me back when it comes to a few extra points. (For now there is nothing wrong with the inexpensive bow)

The tip of the Easton 1000s comes included along with fletching for the five bucks.  The tip is 65 grain, which is okay.  The fletching is a bit tall again okay for indoor tournaments.  Okay is not great in competition.  The set up does mean being just a hair off on form and the shot will be completely uncompensated.  In words too often associated with archery gear – these arrows are not very forgiving.

Part of the lack of forgiveness is that the spine of an Easton 1000 peaks at around 29 pounds.  As I’ve improved I’m pulling 34 pounds. On a 3-spot with the gear at hand I’m averaging 9 points per arrows without a clicker (I don’t have one yet). I believe with a stiffer spine and more weight on the tip I’d get my average per arrow up a little.  The current fletching is dragging on my rest and that too can be improved by shooting a smaller profile vane.

If I cut the 1000s a bit that would stiffen the spine. But, adding a heavier pile weakens the spine.  Changing the fletching isn’t an issue aside from I know it needs to be done and simply haven’t done it.

The best bet is to purchase new arrows with the correct spine, cut them to the correct length, add the correct pile weight to compensate for the cut and have low profile vanes.

Victory Archery, a maker of arrows, does have a moderately priced arrow that, per their spine calculators, meets the spec for my current shooting. Lancaster Archery does have them on clearance (the 2019 version).  Even so, spine, nocks, vanes will still run around $250.00.

My estimate of points per arrows gain for the $250.00 investment is 0.18 points per arrow against a vertical 3-spot.* It seems like just a little but it really is a lot of gain.  I just hate spending the money right now. (It also might help to adjust the tiller to positive versus neutral)

* calculation based on distance from center, 60 shots, measured in the yellow only. (45 our of 60 arrows. 15 red arrows attributed to form errors and dropped) Distance mean variance on average times spine weakness estimated percentage.  (1.6 X 0.11 = 0.176 rounded up) 3-spot, outdoor, no wind – when it is windy all bets are off.