Well, it is the bow.

There seemed to be something off during my last competition. In fact, my arrow placement has been dropping. It was so bad during last week’s tournament I shot two eights at 18 meters.The last tournament was scored with the inner ten equaling 11 points. Despite a recent slump I was optimistic.  Before long it was apparent something was clearly amuck.

Things started pretty good but didn’t last. Before I’d shot nine arrows I knew the monkey was on my back. My arrows were flying all over the place. My first thought was that I’d hit rock bottom. My second thought was that something was wrong with my equipment.

The equipment should be fine. It had been checked out in the previous week. Still, when I got home I took my stabilizers and scope off my Elite Victory X and put them on my Elite Energy 35. Low and behold – the arrows were landing more or less where I wanted them to land.

The arrows are Easton 2018s. The Victory X is a 60lb bow set up for around 54 lbs. The Elite Energy is a 50 lbs. bow giving me 52 lbs. I’d shot 2014s with the bows in the past and moved over to a stiffer arrow few weeks ago. With the Victory things had been looking good. Then, things didn’t look so good.

At last year’s Georgia 50 meter State Championship, I was training with the Victory. Prior to the Championship I went back to the Energy and won the event setting a new State record. I did the same for the next outdoor tournament and again set a new record* using the Energy. When shooting the Victory the arrows just seem to shift. I’d have to adjust windage when there was no wind.

Following that I took the Victory to the local bow shop where I’d purchased the bow explaining that something seemed off with the bow. I also contacted Elite looking for help. Elite didn’t respond.

Indeed, the limbs had somehow loosened and one was no longer matching the other. Corrections were taken and the bow performed well. Well, for a short while.

This latest problem was soon chased back to the bow. The Victory, set at 54 lbs. was tested and found to have a draw weight of 46 lbs. Forty-six pounds from a bow that has a maximum draw weight of 60 is seriously out of whack. At the Indoor Nationals last year (the tournament for which I’d bought the bow) during bow check in I discovered the bow had dropped the poundage. I’d assumed it was a variance between measuring devices.

The Victory X is a nice bow. Mine is nine months and 5 days old. I shoot about 100 arrows a day on average. My Victory X seems to have some issue with staying tight.

The recent discovered change in draw weight isn’t the first time – it is now the third. The first, I blamed it on variance of measuring devices. The second time, well no fault was assigned. This third time, well it is the bow. The third time is also the charm.

Today, while practicing, I had to pause and tighten the locking screws that are on the sides of the limb pockets. At this point I have no idea why this bow gets loose. But, I do hope it can hold together long enough to compete this weekend.

*Unofficial record. No higher score can be found online and I have contacted the State officials to verify – they’ve not yet responded.

 

Wait Before You Buy

A few years ago I was shooing in a tournament next to Roger Willet, Jr. Willet is a seriously good archer and has been ranked number one in the world. (1) We talked a little, mostly about fishing.

I did overhear him giving a piece of advice. Someone had asked him a question, which I didn’t hear. His answer to the unheard question was, “One of the biggest mistakes I see amateur archers making is buy new equipment too often.” That seemed to me a solid bit of advice.

If you shot professionally you may get a new bow every year. Chances are the bow comes as part of your contract with a sponsoring bow manufacturer. As a professional archer many amateur archers watch you. You shoot well and that new bow in your hand becomes the envy of many.

Hundreds of amateurs that have witnessed that professional’s skill at hitting the mark and many of them will rush out to purchase that amazing new bow the pro is shooting. Here’s the thing, the amateur would be better off investing in more range time than a new bow.

Last week, a student archer, one that is pretty good, had performed poorly on a few shots. Her immediate reaction was to suggest she needed new equipment. Her equipment was fine.

I asked, “How long have you been shooting?” She answered she’d only been shooting competitively for a year but had been doing some recreational archery for the past few years.

Coaching tip

Remembering Willet’s advice I echoed it and offered that she not invest into more gear until her groups were tighter. See, it wasn’t her bow, it was her.

There are a lot of excellent bows on the market. Put any of them in the hands of an elite archer and that archer will shoot it like an elite archer. Elite performance, simply put, comes from practice.

If you are considering a new bow in an effort to improve, stop and question that decision. Are you practicing 900 to 1200 shots per week? Are you groups tight? Are you looking for marginal gains? Are you shooting an entry-level bow with a lower level sight and inexpensive stabilizers?

There is a point where equipment can provide marginal gains. But, for most archers, more practice will provide the greatest gain.

Reference:

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodger_Willett_Jr.

Morning 3D Practice

Mornings are typically used for target practice. The afternoons are set aside for 3D practice. The reason is I am more tired in the afternoon and my 3D bow, an Elite 35, is lighter than my target bow, an Elite Victory 37.

My Elite 35 set up for bow hunter shooting class

Usually, in the morning I practice for a few hours and shoot 100 to 150 arrows depending on the distance. I try to be on the range by 8:00 AM, after morning exercise. I’ll stop shooting between 10:30 and 11:00 AM. By then, I am ready for a break and lunch.

After a break and lunch (and a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes), I try to do whatever chores need to be done, ride a bike, and prepare for afternoon archery practice. Two days a week I head to the gym rather than do chores. Sometimes it is good to change things up a bit.

Deer, down this lane bordered by trees at 27 yards

Today, I planned a 3D simulation of a tournament, ASA style. My goal was to not miss a 10-ring and get 12’s when I could. Shooting a bow hunter rig, I planned to make the distances as realistic to what I’ve been seeing in local tournaments. My relocation to Georgia and kept me away from the major 3D tournaments for 2018. (Moving is a lot of work)

A mosquito is a tough shot at 20 yards, I count the center X as a 12 on this target

Locally, I’ve faced a lot of long shots. On my range I have a lot of smaller targets. On those, I didn’t go crazy and try to shoot a rabbit at 40 yards for this practice session. I shot it at 20, a realistic distance should a smaller target happen to be placed on a range at a local event. The exception was a javelina that I shot from 36 yards, a distance that isn’t unexpected for this smaller target.

Javelina at 36 yards

Out of curiosity, I wore a Garmin and recorded the distance I walked, it was 1.02 miles. That included walking while I warmed up. Warm-up was shooting six arrows at a bag from 20, 25, 30, and 35 yards. At 40 yards I shot 12 arrows for a total warm-up of 36 shots.

This “off-brand” less expensive bear shot from 38 yards

It took I hour and 45 minutes to finish the practice, less time than usual for the morning routine. But, it helped me see where I am weak.

I didn’t shoot par. I shot a three 8s and one 12 to finish with a 196 (twenty targets). The average distance for all targets was 29.5 yards. The eights were no surprise.

Another bear, this one at 35 yards

The first was a hen. She’s a tough target at 27 yards. The dark hole where she sits makes finding the small rings difficult. The second was a small pig at 32 yards and the third was the javelina at 36 yards. Both the small pig and javelina are positioned at angles to the stake. The up and down was fine, but in each case I shot a little wider than I should have. From this practice I know these targets need extra attention.

There’s a mountain lion at the end of this 40 yard long lane

It’s good to simulate a tournament to get an idea where you might need some extra work. Shooting ego-easy distances and targets won’t be much help when you’re faced with tough shots on an unknown range.

Time for new targets

It has just been four years, nine months and one day since I picked up a bow. Over that time I’ve shot a lot of targets. Of the sponsorship that would be nice a manufacturer that makes 3D animals would be good.

At 3D tournaments I typically get handed my lunch. Sure I win some of them. Mostly I don’t win. It isn’t because I don’t practice.

In 3D there is the practice associated with shooting and the practice associated with judging yardage. Where I get hosed is judging yardage. It is typically the ups and downs that score me an eight. When I’ve shot known yardage, well that’s another matter.

Three years ago it became clear that having a 3D range would be beneficial. So, I began putting together a foam menagerie. Most of my targets are on the small side. The big targets are bigger in price, hence the small targets.

Heck, even paper targets are pricey. Say a paper 3-spot is around a buck. Go through 40 of them in a month and you’ve shot away some cash. My recent package of twenty 3-spots from order off of Amazon cost $13.99, which was a pretty good deal. Either style, foam or paper, targets are’t cheap.

This poor coyote is just about to split in half. Time for repairs – again

My targets stay outside year around. There are covers you can purchase to protect 3D targets from the elements. My poor critters are naked to the elements.

Over time the poor 3D animals are taken a toll. A few of my faux-animals have been amateurishly repaired more than once. Many now need more corrective surgery.

I suppose I could order a new core. Maybe filling this hole with a commercial foam will buy me some more time.

Yes, a bow sponsor that lavished their latest and greatest on me would be nice. But, free 3D targets would be better.

Two Points

Two points is the difference between shooting my Black Eagle Challenger arrows and Carbon Express arrows. One point can be the difference between first place and second in a 3D tournament. At this weekend’s upcoming ASA Georgia State 3D Championship; I’ll not be able to fire off my Black Eagle arrows.

I’ve got plenty of the Black Eagle arrows. Some are only the shafts; others have busted nocks and ripped vanes. Two weeks ago I dropped off seven of these arrows or shafts to have them readied for the upcoming shoot and ordered a package of extra nocks. I kept five for practice while I traveled.

By the time I finished my travel those five Black Eagles that made the trip didn’t completely survive the practices. None of the shafts got busted but I lost three nocks and the vane off of one of the other arrows. That left me one intact arrow. No problem, I had seven more to pick up that should have been perfect. Those arrows along with a package of extra nocks would me sitting just right.

When I arrived at the shop to pick up my arrows is where I learned they weren’t ready. They were also not going to be ready before I left town for the 3D championship.

The Carbon Express arrows are old. I bought them three years ago in Pittsburgh. I’d had a dozen and have eight remaining. They’d have to work.

The Carbon Express is not fat (23) like the Black Eagle. Typically, I don’t get too many line cutters. The arrow is either on or off the mark. Still, I’ll end up getting a few extra points thanks to a wider diameter arrow.

Yesterday, in practice, there was one shot where a slightly wider arrow would have made a two-point difference. I guess I’ll need to be on this weekend.

Seems I Paid More Than I Might Have Needed

A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to purchase a target bow. I’d been shooting an Elite 35, a one size fits all bow when it comes to 3D, target, and hunting. What I felt like I needed was a longer axle-to-axle length for target competition.

There are a number of bows that fit the axle-to-axle requirements I thought I needed. There are three I was interested in trying and buying one of them. After my due diligence into the bows I labeled them A, B and C based on the order they’d finished in my review. The final decision would be based on price.

For me price is a major consideration. I am retired and live on a fixed income. I have a budget and that does allow for purchases like a new bow. Still, I am not going to spend money where I don’t need to spend money.

The ‘A’ bow was the second most expensive. The bow that was selected, a nice bow even if it is not the manufacturer’s top of the line, was chosen based on, among other things, price.

I am not a bow manufacturer’s “Pro” staff member. Being on someone’s “Pro” staff could mean a discounted or free bow. I’m a “Full Price” archer when it comes to bows. It turns out, I might not have had to have been a “Full Price” bow customer when it came to this recent acquisition. .

At a social event I ran into a friend that happens to be a bow manufacturer’s regional representative. He’s a very pleasant man that I’d met years before he was working for a bow company. During our conservation I mentioned I’d ended up selecting a new bow based on it meeting my specifications and price. It was not one of his company’s products (The ‘A’ bow). I added that the acquired bow has a twitch in that for me any slight bow arm error pulls my shots to the left. Not by much and certainly how insurmountable, it’s just an issue I’ve not had to the same degree with different bow.

To my surprise, he seemed surprised that I’d not mentioned I was considering his bow to the staff at the shop where I’d made my selection. He added he’d have gotten me the ‘A’ bow though the shop bow program. Indeed, I had mentioned the bow and shot a demo of the ‘A’ bow there at the shop where I made the eventual purchase. His bow was just to pricey.

Well, needless to say, I was disappointed. Whether or not the unattained bow might have brought me an extra point or two during the recent tournament I cannot say. What I looking for with equipment upgrades is a point or two.

What I can say is I remain a “Full Price” archer when it comes to bows.

 

Dealing with Light and the Lack of It.

Previously, I’ve written about light absorption, how our eyes gather light, and archery. Occasionally, I end up on an indoor range where I can’t see a thing. This is a reality and it is going to continue to happen.

I often wear shooting glasses. Mostly I wear them for outdoor shooting, well exclusively for outdoor shooting. But, some articles I’ve read suggest the correctly tinted lens might be helpful regarding light absorption.

I don’t wear shooting glasses on every shot, primarily when the sun is a problem. I’d like to wear them all the time, but the light on every shoot is not always the same.  Even though I have multiple shades of lens, I can’t worry with changing them to match every level of illumination. It’s too much to worry with in competition. So, I keep the dark shades installed.

Outdoors they have saved me more than once. Indoors is another matter.

Many of the indoor tournaments where I shot the lighting has been good. Some are better than others. Lately, all my practice has been outside. I went indoors this week and was shocked.

I know I need to practice on the range where I trained yesterday simply because of the poor lighting. The targets are arranged beyond the overhead lights and they have a bit of shadow cast upon them. I can’t see squat in there. It good training for the day I end up in competition and the lights are poorly situated. But, it is frustrating.

As we age we have a disadvantage in that our eyes don’t gather light as well as they did in our youth. I understand that some tinted lenses can help with light gathering. I think I’ll begin experimenting with the tinted lenses I own to see of it helps.

Running: That Was Gross

It was time to break down and purchase a new pair of running shoes. Generally, I keep a half dozen on hand and I rotate them. Plus, when they get really beaten down, they feel better to me. The rotating isn’t so much to prolong the life of the shoe as it is to prevent stink.  In addition, running in the morning my feet frequently get wet.  Wet shoes suck.

That’s probably not how you should treat shoes. That is, running the tread off. Shoe manufactures have all sorts of recommendations on the wear of the sole of a shoe and when to replace them. Those recommendations have not taken hold on me.

Once, back in the ‘80s I had a pair of Nike Pegasus that fell apart after about six weeks. I called Nike and complained. The product manager I spoke with asked how many miles I was running a week. When I told him he laughed and said be was surprised they lasted that long. The laughter was my only reward for the complaint. (I don’t run that much any longer)

Getting new running shoes is a treat. These new shoes are Newtons. I’ve been running in them as well as Nike, Asics and Zoots. To add to that list I have a pair of the Five-Finger running by Vibram. All of them are pretty much pounded to pulp. Hence, new shoes.

I selected the replacement pair, the Newtons, because I think they idea for archery. Whether they are or not is only a guess. But the toe box cushion on the shoe does, seemingly, help me feel my feet as I am preparing to shoot. Too much heel and I feel like I’m rocking backwards. But, as far as that goes, I’ve got work boots that seem to feel just as good.

At any rate, this rant isn’t so much about footwear and shooting. It’s about what happened while running this morning.

Running down the road, Coco (a Labrador retriever that joins the run nearly every morning) was headed out the door. Her owner was saying good morning to me and I was calling back the greeting. As such, I was not watching the road. While calling to Coco’s owner and waving I stepped on something. It felt unfamiliar.

Now, I run a good bit and do so nearly every day. As such, I’ve stepped into a lot of crap. (Crap in general, not necessarily specific, but that too is true) This foot contact was unusual and unknown.

When I looked back to see what it was I’d stepped on – it was a snake. My stepping on the snake had not immediately killed it; certainly it didn’t improve its health.

What are the odds? Thankfully, it was not poisonous and only about a foot long. But – damn.

Dot-less in NC

Among my problems, specific to shooting a bow, is a lack if vision. No, not the sports psychology commandment to visualize yourself as a 60X Champion. Nope, it’s a matter of not being able to line up the pin I use for aiming under low-light conditions.

Outside a single pin using ambient light absorption to illuminate a monofilament is fine. In 3D, should ambient light fail battery operated light is an excellent back up. But, for 18-meter indoor under, as I understand the USA Archery rules, supplemental light is barred from competition.

At times, for me too many times, indoor ranges where I’ve shot are poorly lighted. Many times, the targets are walled up distal to the overhead fluorescent bulbs humming above leaving them dimly luminous. The result for me is that my aiming pin is a mere shadow. For an experiment, I decided to go back to a dot and see how that worked.

All my dots are orange. I have no idea why I ordered orange. The black dots I once owned have been swallowed into the abyss of missing archery, cycling, running and swimming gear. There’s also a pile of nice sunglasses in that void. I wanted black dots.

During my last trip to Georgia, Steve, the bow technician at Social Circle’s Ace hardware had me shoot one of his bows. His scope was equipped with black dots. Those dots seemed very crisp. The range also had great lighting. Hence, I wanted to try block dots on my scope.

I ordered a package of Precision Archery Scope dots from Lancaster Archery Supply. These are the same brand I’d used in the past. In this package, however, I received dots that refused to adhere to the lens. So, it was back to the single pin and praying for a little luck with light.

(New Black Dots are in the mail!)

Releases

I shoot with three difference releases. Using those releases my anchor point has nearly limitless possibilities. Therein lays a multitude of problems.

Whether I’m shooting a hinge or thumb trigger makes no difference in my scoring. Where I anchor does make a difference. To complicate that variance the shifts in scoring advantage of specific anchor points is inconsistent. It isn’t so much the anchor point rather it seems to be the angle of my hand at that point.

Some archers shoot with their hand nearly vertical palm out against their anchor point. Others shoot at a somewhat 45° angle while some choose a nearly level hand position. I’ve played around with all of those angles and many in between.

With a thumb I am slightly more consistent when my hand is at a 45°. Shooting a hinge the more vertical aspect seems to produce more consistent shots. What I find most comfortable is a thumb release. Plainly it is easier to draw, hold, aim and release the arrow using the thumb release I own. The problem with the thumb release I own is the travel before it triggers. Both of my hinge releases are free of that issue.

In searching for a new more target archery specific thumb release I landed on a TruBall product that seems a more representative device to answer my needs. Then, there’s the price.

Tru-Ball Blade Pro

I continue to pull up the TruBall Blade for an online purchase. When I consider the price that is where I can’t pull the trigger.