“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.

First Olympic Recurve Event: Georgia State Field Championship 2020

On Saturday October 17, 2020 it was 38°F in Acworth, Georgia at 0830.  The weather report had ‘suggested’ the temperature would be 48°F at 0830 with a rapidly increasing warmth to follow.  The weather forecast had been off. It was cold at the Kennesaw Archery Club for the Georgia State Field Archery Championship.

On Wednesday the 14th of October, a day before registration closed I entered the event. The reasoning was to put off entry until nearly the last moment in the event of a forecast to rain or me still flinging arrows like a clown with a water gun.  The forecast for the weather wasn’t the main deterrent for a rejection to enter.  In reality if was the drive through Atlanta being the major issue against attending.

The secondary consideration was whether or not I’d make a fool of myself shooting at $249.00 Olympic recurve in the Men’s Senior Division having only just started shooting a recurve.  In total I’d had 62 days of actual practice shooting an Olympic recurve.  Granted, I believed those days to have been fairly high quality practice days.

The Olympic recurve is a satisfying bow.  At $249.00 for limbs and riser a barging for entertainment.  As a serious competitive bow, well since I’ve not shot any other Olympic recurve is seems just right.  The arrows that are flung off the bow’s rest cost $5.50 each complete with fletching, pile and nock.

Those arrows are a tad under-spined, un-cut, and there is no clicker on the bow.  There is a sight, which is, as sights go, one level above the trash.  I admit openly, the sight is awful. The price for the sight was around $20.00 new.  In this case, you really do get what you pay for.

The sight moves on it own, the aperture rotates between shots, and the calibration assembly aligns “in the ballpark” at best. “In the ballpark” after 62 practice days is probably good enough.

At 0830 there I was, sitting in my Ford-150, at the Kennesaw Archery Club’s range for the tournament.  I was thinking, this is really stupid.  I am going to be so embarrassed. But, I’d made the first leg of the drive (getting there) paid my $35.00 registration fee, so I might as well enjoy, albeit cold, the learning experience.

I unloaded myself from the pick-up, grabbed my introductory level bow and somewhat miserably began the hike to the check-in table. There I confirmed my initial target assignment and walked over to the warm-up range.

Along the way I passed friends and opponents.  This is my first recurve tournament.  I’d won the event in 2019 in the Men’s Masters 60 year old age group using a compound bow.  The recurve contest wasn’t as a Master.  I’d decided to compete for a while in the Senior division.

A friend of mentioned he’s not going to Gator Cup because they don’t have a 70+ division.  Many tournaments bail out of the age group divisions at 50.  I figured I might as will shoot with the guys under 50 since I’m starting something new.  At least there will always be a division in that age group.

There were comments about the in my hand recurve, of course.  There were folks suggest their opinion that the discount equipment was “Good for you.”  Said in the vein of “That’s a piece of crap but maybe you’ll have some cheap fun and not lose too many of those toy arrows.”  There was even the curiosity regarding what happened to the blue rubber tips I’d removed from the arrows to insert the 65 grain pile. One polite fellow, when he mentally digested my bow and arrow set changed the subject to cycling.

Others had more invasive questions. As answered: No, the set did not arrive in the mail zip tied together on cardboard and sealed in vacuum packed plastic. No, this bow isn’t available at Wal-Mart.

Admittedly, the budget bow and arrow set assisted in a good time. The sight was a frustration since it wouldn’t stay locked. It was a minor problem that was dealt with after each arrow.

One thing I will add is the Kennesaw Archery Club has a very nice facility.  Another is Atlanta traffic sucks!

When I left I brought this with me. (No 5-finger discount, I actually won it) 1st Place Senior Mens Recurve Division

Fairweather Tab Has Arrived

It was a day to calibrate my sight.  My initial string was unraveling and my new 60X string was on the bow.  The yardages were a bit off.  Nothing to do other than recalibrate the sight.

Sighting is dull work.  I do have flags at 5-yard increments that were placed using a tape measure.  That does save time.  The distances are from 20 yards to 75 yards.  When I want to shoot at 70 meters there is a tree than exactly marks the spot.

During the morning I worked out to 40 yards.  In the afternoon I stopped at 55 yards.  At this point I’d shot 120 arrows.  My inexpensive Avalon Classic was about worn through and I could no longer feel in my fingertips of my drawing hand.  I seemed better to finish tomorrow.

While I was shooting the mail arrived.  In it was my Fairweather Tab.  Obviously, I was going to shoot more arrows.

The pressure on fingertips is minimized using this Fairweather Tab. The bow string slides away smoothly. The ring verse an elastic pull to tighten the tab is consistent and doesn’t pinch.

And the new tab is wonderful.  The only minor issue is that the Kangaroo leather is still a little stiff and was pinching my nocks.  Another 60 arrows at 18 meters and the Roo was loosening up.

After 120 arrows and switching to the Fairweather the difference is like night and day compared to the Avalon Classic.  Those last 60 arrows were painless.

The Avalon Classic is a fair starter tab. If you shoot a lot you will be upgrading

The Avalon Classic got me started shooting an Olympic recurve.  It wasn’t a bad tab for a beginner.  The Fairweather tab is a significant upgrade.

But, I suppose in a few days of breaking in this tab I’ll need to start over on the sight calibration.

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.