10 common mistakes that ruin accuracy, and how to fix them.

We all experience it at some point. The frustration and disappointment of not being able to hit the center of the target. Perhaps you were shooting terrific and then all of a sudden it’s seems to completely fall apart. Or maybe you are just starting your archery journey and are having difficulty getting better. Don’t worry, chances are you are making at least one of these 10 very common mistakes.  Read on to find out what they are and how to fix them.

Arrgh…I can’t seem to hit anything…what’s going on???

Mistake #1 – Over Bowed

This is an important one! Over bowed means the draw weight of the bow is too heavy. Being over bowed does not mean you can’t pull your bow back! Instead, it refers to the inability to draw the bow properly using effective form because the draw weight is too high. It doesn’t have to be much, just a couple pounds too heavy and it becomes extremely difficult if not impossible to shoot with proper form, especially when you are first starting. Being over bowed will also lead to shaky shots, and fatigue. You will also have a much higher probability of shooting too quickly. Competition archery is a sport of precision and endurance NOT power. If your goal is to repeatedly hit bulls-eyes you need to be in full command of your bow and it’s draw weight. For a quick draw weight diagnosis, try this simple 7 second test.  With proper form and muscle engagement, draw you bow back to anchor and hold it there for at least 7 seconds.

  • If you feel any shaking, fatigue or muscle failure, you are over bowed.  Try a bow that is 5lbs lighter until you find a draw weight you can hold steady for at least 7 seconds. This is a more appropriate draw weight for you at this time.
  • If you do not feel any shaking or fatigue, you may be at a manageable draw weight for the form you are currently using. Keep in mind, this only supports the idea that you are using a manageable draw weight for that one particular form. It does not support the idea that the current draw weight is appropriate for other forms or techniques!

If you are a bowhunter this test may be problematic.  In hunting, power is important. You may need a heavier draw weight for hunting than you would for target shooting. Try reducing the time from 7 seconds to 3-5 seconds. If you are unable to hold steady for at least 3 seconds with proper form and muscle engagement using the lowest draw weight necessary to hunt, I strongly urge you to reconsider bow hunting at this time. You may not be able to make the shot with enough confidence, stability, and accuracy to ethically hunt. You do not have to give it up, just work on strength training until you are ready. The US National team uses specific physical training (SPT) drills to increase strength, stamina, and power. Click here to learn how to use the SPTs for your training.

For those of you just starting in archery, I highly recommend reading my article “How draw weight kills potential”. I also have more information about selecting an appropriate draw weight in my article “The controversial draw weight agenda”.

Mistake #2 – Neglecting Eye Dominance

Your eye dominance is the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye over the other. To avoid major aiming difficulties it is important to determine your eye dominance so you can make appropriate corrections if they are necessary. Click here for a short video on how to determine your eye dominance and if you should be shooting right or left handed.

When shooting, the arrow is placed on the side of your face. It is imperative for only the eye directly above the arrow to aim. For a right handed archer, it is your right eye.  If you shoot right handed but you are left eye dominant, you are cross dominant. There are two corrections for cross dominance.

  1. Close, cover, or obstruct your dominant eye, so that the eye above the arrow can aim
  2. Learn to shoot with the opposite hand so your dominant eye is above the arrow

If you do not have a clearly dominant eye, shoot the direction you are most comfortable and take appropriate measures make sure only the eye above the arrow is aiming.

Mistake #3 – Unreliable Aiming Technique

Ironically, I believe you will have better results if you operate from the mind set that a good shot is 99% form (body positioning) and only 1% aim. If you do not have a decent amount of consistency in your form, the effectiveness of any aiming technique will be drastically reduced. I talk more about this in my article “The form pyramid”. However without a reliable aiming technique, exceptional results can never be achieved.

To illustrate this point, take a look at the following visual representation of common results arising from different combinations of form and aim.


Having good form will allow you to be more precise. The better your form is, the easier it will be to group your arrows together. While good form is imperative, aim should not be overlooked. Having good aim will allow you to be more accurate. The better your aim is, the easier it will be to hit the center of the target. Notice in the diagram above, even without having good form, the results are better if you have good aim.

Learning and using a reliable aiming technique will only help you. As your form gets better, so will your results.

There are multiple aiming apparatuses and techniques. If you are not using a sight and/or just starting out, I recommend you start with a technique called Gap shooting. Gap shooting uses reference points to help you hit the bullseye. For an in-depth tutorial on how to gap shoot, I recommend downloading my free “Gap Shooting Guide

Mistake #4 – Incorrect Arrow Spine

The spine of the arrow is how flexible the shaft of the arrow is. An arrow must flex just the right amount to shoot straight. If it does not flex enough it is too “stiff” or over spined, conversely if it flexes too much it is too “weak” or under spined. The most common problem especially for recurve archers with carbon arrows is over spine.

For a right handed archer, an over spined arrow will impact to the left even when you aim at the center. To fix this problem you need an arrow with a weaker spine. The spine of the arrow is labeled on the shaft of the arrow. Generally, the larger the number the weaker the spine. In the example below the spine of the arrow is labeled “600”


This is actually a 0.600″ (six hundred thousandths of an inch) deflection. Be aware, the number labeled is not necessarily the spine deflection. Check the manufactures spine chart to determine the actual spine of the arrow. For example an aluminum arrow commonly labeled as “2013”, is close to a 600 spine.

There are numerous factors that effect how much the spine will actually bend when the arrow is shot. To get the arrow to flex just right, I recommend starting by finding a reasonable spine and tuning from there. To find a reasonable starting spine you can use spine charts. To appropriately use the chart, you will need to know the length of your arrow and your actual draw weight.  To find the arrow length, measure from the valley of the nock to the end of the shaft (excluding the point).


To find your actual draw weight you can use a bow scale or calculate your actual draw weight using the equation from my article “How your draw length affects your draw weight“. With these two measurements you can use spine charts like Easton Archery’s spine chart or shaft selector to find an appropriate spine for you.

Click Here for Easton Archery’s spine chart.

Click Here for Easton Archery’s spine selector. Note: When entering “Bow Weight” this is your actual draw weight (see above).

Below is a very quick reference you can use to see if your arrows are close to an appropriate spine rating: (quick reference is based on a 29” arrow with 100gr point)

  • 15 lbs…..1400 spine
  • 20 lbs…..1000 spine
  • 30 lbs…..700 spine
  • 40 lbs…..600 spine
  • 50 lbs…..500 spine
  • 60 lbs…..400 spine
  • 70 lbs…..300 spine
  • 80 lbs…..200 spine

Be careful, It is possible to have an arrow so weak you may be at risk of injury from your arrow breaking under the the force of the bows draw weight.  If you are concerned that your arrows are too weak, please feel free to contact me or take your equipment to your local archery pro shop.

Mistake #5 – Inappropriate Nock Locator Height


The nock locator or nock set is a tiny brass clamp or an additional bit of string tied in knots on the center serving of the string to locate the placement of the arrow nock onto the string. There can be one or two nock locators.

The height of the nock locator is very important. I recommend archers shooting 3 under should start with the lowest part of the nock locator attached to the string at 1/2″ above the height of the arrow rest. Archers shooting split finger should start with the lowest part of the nock locator attached to the string 3/8″ above the height of the arrow rest. If you are shooting a compound bow with a “d loop”, the d loop should be roughly at the same height as the arrow rest bolt hole.

Use a bow square to make sure your placement is exact. Clip the bow square on the string then slide it down until the arm gently touches the arrow rest.  Using the measurements on the bow square, attach your nock locator at the correct height.

Mistake #6 – Using Vanes Instead Of Feathers

I see this quite often.  If you are using a traditional bow, shooting off of the shelf of the bow or using an inexpensive plastic stick on arrow rest, chances are you should be using real feathers on your arrows and not plastic vanes. It takes a very specific type of arrow rest and bow set up to successfully use arrows with vanes.


The plastic vanes are rigid and if they make contact with the bow, arrow rest, or shelf when the arrow is shot it can cause the arrow to “kick” resulting in very poor arrow flight and inconsistent results on the target. Feathers have the ability to compress and will fold out of the way if needed.

Mistake #7 – Shooting Too Fast

I know how fun it is to channel your inner Katniss Everdeen or Legolas and shoot as fast as possible. But the fact is, a slow, steady, and thoughtful shot will make you more accurate. Slowing down will allow you more time to analyze the shot and make corrections which will help you to get better in a shorter period of time. A good shot can take up to 15 seconds to complete an entire shot sequence. Slow down, try to relax, think about your process. For more information on the shooting process I teach all my students, check out my article “Learn to shoot with the form pyramid“.

Mistake #8 – Variable Anchor Position

Why is the anchor so important? The direction of the path of your arrow is entirely determined by the alignment of the nock and point end of the arrow. Each can be adjusted independently.  Moving the bow will adjust the position of the point end. Moving the string will adjust the position of the nock end. If both bow position and string position are changing from shot to shot, so will the arrow alignment. This makes it next to impossible to have consistent results on the target.  Because of this, you must eliminate as best as you can any variability in the positioning of the string. This is what an anchor does. Your anchor is a specific spot on your face where your hand comes to rest at full draw.  Your anchor needs to be extremely consistent and repeatable. There are different anchors for different styles of shooting but they all have reference points for precision.

Again if you are new to archery and you do not already have a specific anchor for a recurve, I recommend starting with a barebow anchor. Rest your hand on your cheek so your cheek bone sits directly on top of your index finger, touch the back corner of your mouth with the tip of your index finger, and hook your thumb around the back of your jaw bone.


Make sure your anchor hand is pressing firmly into your face. Notice how the string is on the side of my nose.  This can be intimidating for many beginning archers. However, I assure you the string will not tear your face off.

If you do not have a consistent anchor on your face or your hand floats in the air, “floating anchor” you will have less than ideal results on the target.

There are different anchor positions for other styles of archery. For example, Olympic recurve shooters use an under the chin style of anchor with the string touching the tip of the nose. For compound archers, the anchor is at the back of the jaw and can also depend on the type of release you use.

Mistake #9 – Pinching The Arrow

I does not matter if you shoot “3 under” or “split finger”, if you pinch or apply pressure to the arrow while it is on the string you will likely have poor results.  In extreme cases you can actually push or pull the arrow off the rest while you are shooting. Which can be extremely dangerous!

Not touching the arrow is counter intuitive, many beginning archers believe they need to hold the arrow on the string. This is not true. Modern arrow nocks are designed to have a friction fit on the string so they do not fall off.

If you shoot 3 under and hook directly below the arrow, make sure that you do not also apply upward pressure into the arrow.

If you shoot split finger, separate your fingers so they are not pinching the arrow. Olympic style archers use a tab with a finger spacer.


The spacer forces your fingers apart so you do not accidentally pinch the arrow between your index and middle finger.

Mistake #10 – “Gripping” the bow


This one is tricky. The worst grip you can have on your bow is a tight and tense fist grip, with your fingers wrapping around like you are holding the handle of a hammer.

When there are multiple points of contact from you hand touching the bow especially when they are wrapped around and tensed, they can all apply opposing and inconsistent directions of force to the bow resulting in erratic and uncontrollable aiming and arrow flight. Ironically the best grip on a bow is no grip at all

There are two parts to a good grip. Position and tension.

With a good grip there should be no tension in your fingers. The fingers should be relaxed and curled and remain relaxed through the entire shot. There should be no gripping or squeezing at any time.

A common question I get asked is “If I am not squeezing and grabbing the bow won’t it fall out of my hand when I shoot?” The answer to this questions is “yes”. Which is exactly what it should do with a good grip. That is why archers use a finger or wrist sling. The sling is an additional piece of string that wraps around the front of your bow and attaches to your fingers or your wrist.  When you shoot, the bow is caught by the sling so it does not fall to the ground.  If you do not use a sling it is still possible to train yourself to grip the bow properly without squeezing, but it often takes a lot of training to maintain that loose grip once the arrow is shot.


The position of a good grip has two components. The first component is engaging the pressure point. The pressure point is a specific point of focus on your hand which you use to press the bow away from you. The recommended pressure point is in the center of the muscular mound at the base of your thumb (thenar eminence). This point, and this point alone, should be the only focus point pressing into the back of the grip. To engage the pressure point, flex your wrist backwards like you are telling someone to “stop” and press the pressure point into the center of the back of the grip.

Source: World Archery

 The second component of good grip position, is the angle of your knuckles.  Your knuckles should be rotated out so they form an approximate 45 degree angle to the arrow shelf. When you achieve this angle in your knuckles it often feels like your plam is facing the ground. Notice in the photo, to achieve the 45 degree angle, the archer’s last three fingers are off to the side of the bow not contacting the grip at all. The index finger is on the front of the grip pointing down towards the ground.

These are the top 10 mistakes I often see archers making.  What are some common mistakes you have seen, and what do you think is the best solution? Please feel free to comment below. If you have any questions you can always contact me.

The process of progression

The idea of progress is subjective and ultimately depends on your goals. Not everyone shares the same goals especially in archery.

In contrast to other forms of archery, target archery is contested by score. As a result, a logical goal among target archers is improving score. Along with this goal is attached a common belief that the archer is only progressing if their scores are improving. But this belief of score based progression is not entirely accurate in archery!

As unfortunate as it is, the process of learning effective form in target archery is nonlinear. During the learning process, It is common and often necessary to take steps backwards in order to eventually advance beyond where you were previously. For example, beginning archers are often taught a barebow style of archery with an anchor on the side of the cheek. As the archer gets better they may decide to learn the olympic recurve style of archery instead and new skills such as an under the chin anchor and the use of a bow sight are introduced. Because the archer was previously accustomed to the barebow techniques, using the new skills will at first result in lower scores. However as the archer becomes proficient and consistent with the new skills and techniques they will soon begin to see their scores increase and eventually exceed their previous scores. 

The archer’s ability to achieve a higher score is dependent on many aspects but arguably the most influential is form. With every form there is a potential. The more effective the form the greater it’s scoring potential. An archer that has honed the skills of a less effective form or technique will inevitably suffer losses in score while learning and honing the skills of a new more effective form or technique. The initial drop in score is often perceived inaccurately as a digression instead of a progression, however I assure you the perceived loss in performance is only temporary and is just a step on the path to progress. There are great rewards for those dedicated enough to accept and work through the inherent challenges they will face. 

In my experience there are three phases an archer must go through in order to learn and reap the most benefit from newly introduced techniques. The first phase is acquiring proficiency. The second phase is gaining consistency. And the third phase is forming a tendency. 

To acquire proficiency, first the archer must be taught how to effectively adapt the new technique. Then they need to be able to emulate it accurately in their own shooting. To be proficient an archer only needs to demonstrate they understand the technique and can perform the technique correctly without assistance. The amount of time it takes to be proficient depends on the archers ability and the difficulty of the skill. It is something that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes or it can take weeks.

Phase two is gaining consistency. Once the archer is proficient in performing the technique the next step is accurately repeating the technique numerous times without flaw. To be consistent the archer must be able to relentlessly perform the technique numerous times successively without error. Gaining consistency can be accomplished fairly quickly. However it is important to not concern yourself with how quickly you can get better, instead just practice with intent and focus on what you are trying to learn and the results will come.

Phase three is forming a tendency. Your tendency is your habit. It is something you no longer have to consciously think about in order to perform correctly. To form a tendency, the archer must apply an acute focus to continuously sustain consistency. If consistency is maintained with regularity for a prolonged period of time, it eventually becomes a tendency. The mind will form specific neural pathways and the technique will become an automated motor program. Developing a tendency can take weeks, months, or even longer. This is why it is important for archers to be dedicated and patient. There is no “quick” way to form a tendency. It is only accomplished with a great amount of focused practice and determination.

While maintaining consistency will start to produce much better results, it is really only after the tendency is formed that the technique’s full potential will be realized. As long as the new technique is truly more effective, once the tendency is formed, the archer should assuredly expect to see increases in their performance and score. 

Unfortunately there is no way around it, improving in the sport of target archery really is a nonlinear procedure that takes time, dedication, patience, and understanding. As we continue to push forward we will undoubtedly experience brief losses along the way. I assure you, this is typical and an integral part of the process of progression.

How draw weight kills potential 

I apologize for the lengthy content of this article, however what I am about to tell you is extremely important and must be explained throughly.

Before you read this article I feel it is important to give you some information about myself and my coaching credentials so that you can formulate your own opinion on the validity of my assertions. I am a USA Archery Level 4 NTS Coach and Instructor Trainer. I was trained and studied under Olympic Coach Dick Tone and Olympic Coach Kisik Lee. I have 20+ years of combined competition experience in target and field archey. I have over 8 years of professional high performance archery coaching experience, and I am a former JOAD coach and pro shop technical expert for Lancaster Archery Supply. I have worked with and helped some of the top youth and adult archers in the United States including athletes on the 2022 United States Archery Team.

Now that you know a little bit about my credentials, I’m going to make two important statements…

First, I proclaim at least 90% of accuracy and precision in archery comes from your form. If your form is compromised your chances of success are essentially extinguished.

Secondly, the leading cause of compromised form for an aspiring target archer learning to shoot is using a bow with too much draw weight. For an archer learning to shoot, the draw weight of the bow is the most impactful element and must be scrutinized with great care. Using a bow with even just slightly too much draw weight will cause the archer to involuntarily target the wrong muscle groups and movements. If the draw weight issue is not corrected promptly, the archer will establish a shot process that employs incorrect muscle engagement, improper body positioning and greatly increase their chances of developing target panic. If allowed to continue uncorrected, the archer will further develop adverse automated motor programs ultimately jeopardizing their potential and mental fortitude. Often, archers that are lead down this path will find it necessary to essentially start over, using a bow with an appropriate draw weight to re-learn proper form and construct new desirable motor programs. This is an unfortunate yet common occurrence in the industry as there is an over abundance of poor advise. Especially when it comes to recommending draw weight.

To avoid these problems, I cannot stress enough the importance of beginning with and continuing to use a bow with very little draw weight. I suggest starting with the very least possible amount of draw weight that can get the arrow to the target at the distance you are shooting. In the beginning, the bow should feel like a toy in the range of the archers ability and strength. This will assure the archer has the best chance of learning good form and set them up for success in the future.

Before moving on, I think it is important to reinforce the concept that too much draw weight is the problem not too little. When it comes to learning proper form, there is no such thing as too little draw weight. In other words using a bow with essentially no draw weight is not a problem for form. It is only when too much draw weight is introduced that problems occur. Learning a high-level archery technique is a multi dimensional multi faceted process that can take months, even years to learn. There are numerous intricate, detailed and specific movements the student must learn to control precisely and consistently before even the slightest increase in draw weight should be attempted. To further illustrate this concept let’s look at a Korean method of teaching archery. Historically Korea has produced more world and Olympic archery champions than any other country. Coach Kisik Lee explained to me that young beginning Korean archers are not even allowed to touch a bow for at least three months. Instead they are given a very low resistance stretch band and required to shoot only the stretch band daily for at least three months so that they learn to execute a shot with proper technique. By removing the draw weight of the bow it ensures they will be able to perform the correct movements and techniques without compromising their form.

With all this being said, it is also important to mention that in target archery, where score is important, there is an advantage to more draw weight. Increasing draw weight increases arrow speed. As an arrow travels faster it flattens the arrows trajectory and increase its resistance to environmental influences. This lessens the margin of error and increases the chances of a higher scoring arrow. As a result, an archer able to shoot with proper form and a heavier draw weight has an advantage. So it is in the archer’s interest to work towards increasing draw weight but only if it does not compromise form. The losses observed from a slower arrow speed pale in comparison to the losses observed from compromised form. This is extremely important to understand so I will reiterate it… The losses observed from a slower arrow speed are infinitesimally inconsequential in comparison to the losses observed from compromised form!

So when is an appropriate time to increase draw weight? The answer to this is quite relative. It really depends on the technique the student is trying to learn. There should be no attempt to increase draw weight until the archer is proficient in executing all the crucial elements that the technique is comprised of. If an increase in draw weight is attempted too early it will stifle the development of any further components necessary to learn the completed technique. Once the archer is able to correctly and consistently execute all the components of the technique, an increase in draw weight should absolutely be attempted. If any form change is observed as a result of the increase, the alteration in form must be address and eliminated. If the archer is able to correct the form while using the increased draw weight, the new draw weight is manageable and should be maintained. If however, the only way for the archer to correct the alteration is to revert back to a lower draw weight, the archer is not ready for an increase in draw weight at this time. 

Once again to reiterate, Learning archery is a process. It will take time and dedication. There are many levels to learning good form and it is important to maintain an appropriate draw weight for the duration of that process.

Lastly, to those whom this information may benefit, archers shooting recurve bows will need to purchase more than one set of limbs as they grow and progress. I recommend planning and budgeting for this. I would suggest buying inexpensive limbs to start and continue to do so for some time after. 

One final remark, I wrote this article not in the spirit of pointing out peoples flaws but to sincerely help new aspiring archers get the most out of their training and equipment so they can progress faster and have more success. It is my goal to use the knowledge and experience I have gained to inform and help other people. I hope this information helps you and I wish you the best of luck on your archery journey.

Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent!

Automated motor programs, more commonly known as “muscle memory” are created by repeating an action the same way enough times that it becomes an automatic or sub-conscience action. To reprogram or change a previously constructed automated motor program, you must cognitively, intentionally, and with great care and focus, correctly execute numerous repetitions of the new desirable action while utterly abstaining from the old undesirable action. By creating a new neural pathway and forcing your brain to choose that path enough times consecutively, you will form new automated motor programs which can then be executed without having to consciously think about it at all. 

This is what is meant by “practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent”. Whatever action you practice, will become your habit. No amount of practice will substitute favorable for unfavorable actions without a conscious and deliberate effort to minimize one and maximize the other. 

To create a desirable automated motor program in archery, break the shot down into small pieces. Each piece must be accomplished with great care and thoughtful focus. Attempt to achieve perfection in each piece by going as slow as you need to make it as close to perfect as you can each and every time. After numerous slow and thoughtful repetitions of the same movement are performed it will become an automated motor program and we no longer have to apply 100% of our conscious focus to execute it correctly.

Take for example building a stack of Lego blocks. Each block is its own small piece, but when multiple blocks are put together they form a single harmonious unit. To build a successful stack for the first time, you must take thoughtful care to place each new block on the previous block. You have to line it up, position it correctly, fit it together, and make sure it is snug and secure before moving on to the next block. After repeating this enough, you are able to do it correctly without having to think about it so much.

This is a good analogy for building a new successful archery shot. The shot should be broken down into small pieces (like Lego blocks) that can be put together to form a single harmonious shot. Imagine each block as a step in your shot cycle. Before a new step can be taken, the previous step must be set in place slowly with great care and thoughtful focus otherwise the shot in its entirety could become unstable, inconsistent, or completely fall apart. 

Once we have successfully built the shot enough times with slow, thoughtful consideration, making sure to execute the technique at each step correctly, the whole cycle becomes habit and we can execute it very well without it taking up our entire conscious thought allowance. If at any time we encounter a problem with the shot, we can revert back to breaking the shot up into little pieces and focus on executing each piece slowly and correctly again and again until the shot repairs itself. 

Having a que can help. For example you can say to yourself inside your head “set” then execute only the set portion of your shot. Once set is complete and correct, you can move on to say to yourself “set up”. Then move on to executing set up. Once set up is complete and correct, you can continue to move on to the next step and so on, building the shot as you go.

Virtual lessons and how to analyze the shot using video

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more students are beginning to opt for virtual lessons online. 

As a coach, this is a very understandable approach to me. Of course there are challenges to holding a virtual lesson as opposed to an “in person” lesson, but I believe this is a good option as opposed to not continuing with coaching at all. 

One of the challenges with virtual coaching is being able to use video and playback to identify the areas of the archers technique that need improvement. As a coach, the use of video and playback can be extremely helpful if you know how to use the video to your advantage. 

In this article I will be highlighting some of the advantages and methods of using video to analyze the students shot. I will not necessarily be teaching you how to correct form issues. Instead, I hope this article serves more as a guide on how to visually and objectively provide tangible references to make corrections from. 

Before going any further, it is important to mention, in order to capture appropriate video, for analysis, it is important to keep the camera very still. The best way I have found to do this is with a tripod. I use my phone’s video camera to capture the shot and I assume most students/coaches will be doing the same. There are plenty of aftermarket cellphone tripod mount adapters available for purchase.

There are four camera angles I find to be the most beneficial. 

First is what I call the “target view”. This is from the perspective of a coach standing behind the archer’s draw elbow and facing the target. 

Second is the “top view” this is the birds eye or above view. This is difficult to get as tripods are not very tall. However you can get this elevated view by putting the tripod on top of a table or chair. Or even putting the tripod on top of a chair that is on top of a table! 

Third is the “back view” this is from the perspective of the Coach facing the archers back. 

Fourth is the “front view” this is from the perspective of the Coach standing next to the archer on the shooting line. This would be the position you would be if you were having a face to face discussion. 

In each of the four view points there are specific movements, angles, posture, and alignments you can analyze. With the help of video analysis software such as “coaches eye” or “hudl technique” you have the ability to draw reference lines superimposed over the video footage. 

One of the benefits of working as a coach for Lancaster Archery Supply was being able to use their “video” room. In the video room they had multiple cameras capturing the four camera angles all at the same time. The footage was recorded and also displayed on screens that were visible to the archer as they shot. It was a great feedback tool. Unfortunately this tool is not available to most archers, and as a result each angle will most likely have to be captured separately for different shots. But this is not really a problem, it just involves more time and patience. 

Below is a still shot from one of my video recording sessions in the camera room at Lancaster Archery Supply.  I have drawn some reference lines in each of the camera angles that will be the basis for analyzing the shot. 

For each of the four camera angles, I will go over what each line is illustrating and how to use it to analyze the recorded shot. 

Camera room video still

Target View

1. The path of the elbow – the path of the elbow during follow through should follow the angle the upper arm forms after the archer has completed anchoring. This angle is shown by the arrow vector line. If you draw a line like the one I have, you can observe the path the elbow actually follows during follow through as compared to the vector line. The elbow should stay on the line like a train on its tracks to the end of the follow through.

2. Spine curvature – in archery the industry accepted low back shape should be a “flat back” With this camera angle you can see the position of the archers rib cage and shape of the lower back during the shot. The rib cage should be lowered the lower back should be straight/flat instead of sharply curved.

Top View

3. Shoulder and bow arm alignment – In NTS, Coach Lee calls this the “barrel of the gun“. Here you can see how the shoulders and bow arm are lining up. In NTS the shoulders and bow arm should form a straight line, without rolling the bow shoulder forward/out.

4. Elbow alignment – With this line you can see where the archers elbow is in relation to the arrow line. In NTS the ideal elbow position should be directly behind or even past the arrow line, but not in front of it.

Back View

5. Bow Shoulder – With this camera angle, you can observe the archers bow shoulder position and bow side scapula. This is a good angle to see if the archer is shooting with a high or low bow shoulder. With the recommend “low” shoulder you should be able to see the acromial v-notch. The bow side scapula should be forward away from the spine.

6. Draw Shoulder/Scapula – This is the perfect angle to watch what the archer does with their draw shoulder and draw Scapula. You can see if the archer is using back tension and where they are placing the emphasis. The scapula should be pulled in towards the spine for use of back tension. In NTS the draw scapula should also be protruding and lower and than the bow side scapula.

Front View

7. Anchor – There are a few things to look for here. We can see the string position and pressure as well as the hook placement and finger pressure. If possible, the tip of the nose should be lightly touching the string, and at the same time the string should fall somewhere between the middle and corner of the mouth. The hook should be pressed up into the jaw so there is no visible gap. all three fingers should be curled around the string with the recommended pressure on each finger.

8. Draw force line – The alignment of the grip pressure point and the middle finger of the hook create the draw force line. The elbow position in relation to this line is important. Too low and the archer will be fighting the natural forces of the bow to anchor. If the elbow is aligned well with the draw force line, it is easier to achieve good back tension.

9. Wrist angle – If the archer is not gripping/torquing the bow and using the sling properly the wrist will follow the bow hand “sit” motion during follow through. At expansion the wrist is bent backwards with he pressure point pushing into the grip. At release the bow jumps forward and the wrist should flatten out. Then the wrist should bend forward and down as the bow swings around.

10. Posture – It is easy to lose sight of good posture when you are thinking about so many other things. This is a good angle to double check the posture is straight with the hips over the feet and the shoulders over the hips.

There are of course many other aspects of the the shot you can observe and correct with the use of video. I find video footage to be an invaluable tool for coaching feedback. I use video analysis often and I highly recommend using it for lessons and practice.

If you weren’t using or familiar with video feedback, I hope this article helps you to elevate your coaching and provide corrections with the addition of video. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me Good luck and enjoy!

Slugs and how to build the best hunting arrow

Working as a bow technician and technical expert at Lancaster Archery Supply’s pro shop and showroom, I found that the majority of the customers were bow hunters. Every day I was being asked for advise on bowhunting related subjects. Most questions were pretty mundane and easy to answer but there was one reoccurring question that peaked my interest… “how do I build the best hunting arrow”? As a competitive Olympic recurve and compound target archer, this question at first was foreign to me. As I am the type of person who is unsatisfied until I have a mastery of the subject, I was determined to find information that would allow me to provide an appropriate and compelling answer. During my research I found a lot of material supporting FOC and Kinetic Energy. But it wasn’t until I found an article on momentum authored by a bowhunter named Tony Martins that I really felt like I found what I was looking for. 

When writing a blog article, I try to sift through and extract specific bits of knowledge I have gained over the years through my my own experiences and from various sources. I select only pertinent and important info that I then coalesce and condense into an article that I feel is helpful and informative. It is not often I come across a piece of material that is thorough yet concise and summarizes, without irrelevant banter, a complete collection of information presented into a piece that lacks little to nothing. Stumbling upon Tony Martins’ article I was extremely impressed and happy to find an article that was expertly written and provided a complete summary of all the information I was looking for. So with only a bit of editing and reworking on my part, I would like to present Tony’s article to you. It is truly the best and most comprehensive presentation of information I have come across in relation to what is actually important when deciding on how to build the best hunting arrow. 

KILLER ARROWS – Kinetic Energy & Momentum

Written by: Tony Martins

Edited by: Ian Garner

Original article: https://blog.gritroutdoors.com/killer-arrows-kinetic-energy-momentum/

If you’re a hunter, chances are good that you know something about kinetic energy. It’s generally understood that the greater the kinetic energy, the greater the killing power of the bullet or arrow. Momentum is another important factor in the lethality equation, particularly if you’re a bowhunter. 

Unfortunately, momentum (a.k.a. “persistence force”) is often overlooked, and unless you’re also a physicist, more difficult for most hunters to relate to lethality. Understanding how kinetic energy and momentum affect downrange performance will help to make your bow and the arrows it launches more deadly on the game that you hunt.

Let’s start with a basic review of kinetic energy and momentum as they relate to archery equipment. 

Kinetic energy is a function of the speed and mass of a moving object. An arrow at rest in a quiver has no energy. Work must be performed to give it energy, this work is performed by the archer. When the bowstring is pulled and the bow limbs flex, energy is created by the archer’s work. At full draw, this “potential” energy is stored in the bow. When the string is released most of this stored energy is transferred to the arrow, some is converted into noise, vibration, and friction in the moving components of the bow. The greater the efficiency of the bow, the greater the percentage of energy transferred to the arrow propelling it forward with kinetic energy (KE). 

The basic formula for calculating KE is 1/2 the mass of the moving object multiplied by the square of its velocity [KE = 1/2 (mass) x (velocity x velocity)]. 

The expression of KE as related to archery, multiplies the weight of the arrow in grains by the square of the arrow speed in feet-per-second, and then divides the product by the constant 450,800. The result is expressed in foot-pounds of energy (the energy required to exert 1 pound of force for a distance of 1 foot):

With KE, an increase in velocity will have a much greater effect on the outcome than an similar increase in mass. 

While KE is a measurement of the energy of a moving object, momentum is a measurement of the persistence of the moving object. 

Persistence “P”, is the force that drives the arrow into an animal. Another way to understand this concept is to imagine the amount of resistance (from things like hide, tissue, body fluids, and bone) required to stop the arrow as it tries to pass through the animal. 

The basic formula for calculating momentum is  the objects mass multiplied by the objects velocity [P = (mass) x (velocity)].

The expression of momentum as related to archery, is calculated by multiplying the weight of the arrow in grains by the arrow speed in feet-per-second, and then dividing by the constant 225,400. The result is expressed in slug feet-per-second of persistence force:

With P, an increase in mass (weight) will have a much greater effect on the outcome than it would with KE.

So what is a “slug?” A slug is defined as the mass that is accelerated by 1 ft/s2 when a net force of one pound (lbf) is exerted on it. One slug is a mass equal to 32.1740 lb (14.59390 kg) based on standard gravity. Basically, momentum is a measurement of the concentrated force of an object that is moving in a specific direction at a specific point in time. For bowhunters: It’s the force that enables the arrow to push through the animal’s hide, tissue, bone, etc.

Although technical experts in the archery and firearms industries typically revere the virtues of KE, P is just as, if not more important than KE in lethality assessments for comparatively slow moving hunting projectiles like arrows.

The idea of “Speed kills” is an overused and often misused cliché, particularly when it comes to bowhunting. Although light-weight/high-speed arrows offer some definite advantages over heavier/slower arrows, additional killing power is not among them. A light-weight arrow will be slowed by air resistance at a greater rate than a heavier arrow with the same aerodynamic profile, thus, the heavier arrow, while slower, will in ratio retain a greater percentage of its original KE and its momentum downrange, and arrive with greater killing power as well. Not convinced? Prove it to yourself with this simple experiment: Throw a light weight Wiffle Ball as hard as you can against the door of a brand new car…It will hardly leave a mark. Next, repeat this exercise with a regulation baseball. While you may not be able to throw the base ball with the same amount of speed right out of your hand, you can easily imagine the substantially greater amount of damage that will result from the impact of the heavier/slower baseball!

Central to this line of reasoning are the differences in how bullets and arrows kill. Bullets fired at high velocity from “high-powered” rifles kill by transferring their stored kinetic energy causing direct tissue damage (destruction of the tissue), and indirect tissue damage from the “shock” of that energy transfer. Blood loss and/or shock trauma cause fatality. (Note: You can see the shock that results from firing bullets into ballistic gelatin vividly demonstrated in a host of YouTube videos) 

In comparison, arrows tipped with broadheads launched at comparatively low velocities from bows lack the high speed KE required to kill from shock or direct tissue damage, and must rely solely on their ability to kill by cutting a wound channel deep enough to allow for fatal blood loss.

So, based on the above, we can conclude that heavier/slower arrows are better for hunting than lighter/faster arrows, right? Not necessarily. What you hunt and how you hunt are also major considerations for determining what arrow is best. If you hunt turkeys behind decoys from a groundblind or whitetails exclusively from a treestand, and limit your shots to 20 yards, almost any arrow/broadhead combo that you can shoot accurately will get the job done. If you take longer shots, hunt on foot where awkward shooting positions may be required, and/or hunt flighty game that’s likely to move before the arrow arrives however, you probably prefer faster and thus, lighter arrows.

Fast arrows would seem to provide bowhunters with a couple of practical advantages over slower arrows. The faster an arrow flies, the quicker it arrives on target, leaving less time for the effects of air resistance and gravity. From the time an arrow leaves the string air resistance (friction) acts to slow it down, and gravity pulls it toward the ground. Thus, a fast arrow will have a flatter trajectory than a slower arrow. This not only facilitates accuracy, but it’s also more forgiving when distance is misjudged. Bowhunters also speak in terms of “… one pin out to 40 yards.” The practical meaning is that a really fast arrow will likely hit the kill zone of a deer-sized animal up to 40 yards away, even if the distance is poorly judged. This can prove to be an advantage in many bowhunting situations. Conversely with a 700 grain, 220 fps arrow, placing the 35 yard pin on the heart of a deer 40 yards away would likely result in a clean miss under the animal! This does not mean that heavy arrows are not accurate – it simply means that there is more wiggle room for error with a lighter arrow, due to its flatter trajectory.

However, when a bow launches an arrow, some of the potential energy that was stored in the bow is converted to sound. This sound travels 3-5 times faster than the arrow. The lighter the arrow the greater the sound, and the greater the sound the more likely the target animal will hear the bow and have a chance to move before the arrow arrives. In the typical reaction, the animal will crouch down as its muscles tense for subsequent explosion into movement. Also called “jumping the string,” this gives the appearance that the animal has “ducked” under the arrow. So while light and fast have their advantages, additional noise/vibration caused by light/fast arrows is not good when hunting wary, skittish animals.


It takes some time and effort (and expense!) to find the perfect hunting arrow for your bow setup. Some bowhunters are convinced that “speed is king” and “kinetic energy kills” so they choose the lightest/fastest arrow that their bow will shoot safely. The International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) has established a 5 grains-per-pound of draw weight safety standard. Thus, a 60-pound bow should shoot arrows that are no lighter than 300-grains (5 grains-per-pound x 60 lbs.). The IBO minimum arrow mass standard is enforced at 3D shoots, as archers typically want the fastest, flattest shooting arrows for target competition, where excess noise and penetration are non-issues. However, bowhunters are better served by a quiet shooting rig that sacrifices a little KE as a trade-off for greater momentum (and penetration).

A number of KE standards and recommendations are available for bowhunters but unfortunately, no such standards have been established for momentum. The most often cited KE reference for killing game with arrows comes from Easton Archery:

15-25 ft-lbsSmall Game (rabbbit, groundhog, etc.)
25-41 ft-lbsMedium Game (deer, antelope, etc.)
42-65 ft-lbsLarge Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.)
65-80 ft-lbsToughest Game (cape buffalo, grizzly, moose, etc.)

Now, let’s assume draw weights of 40-, 50-, 65- and 80-pounds for the four Easton categories (top to bottom). Using the IBO minimum of 5-grains-per-pound, we can assign minimum arrow weights to the Easton categories (draw weight x 5gpp): 200-grains, 250-grains, 325-grains and 400-grains respectively. Using these arrow weights and the KE ranges from the Easton table, we can use the following formula to calculate the resultant arrow velocities:

([grains X fps ^2] / [450,800] = KE ft-lbs)

40-pounds200-grains minimum15 ft-lbs = 184 fps25 ft-lbs = 237 fps
50-pounds250-grains minimum25 ft-lbs = 212 fps41 ft-lbs = 275 fps
65-pounds325-grains minimum42 ft-lbs = 242 fps65 ft-lbs = 300 fps
80-pounds400-grains minimum65 ft-lbs = 271 fps80 ft-lbs = 300 fps

And, with arrow weights and velocities established, we can now use the following momentum formula to calculate the momentum force range that corresponds to each section in the Easton Archery table:

([grains X fps] / [225,400] = P slug fps) 

0.163-0.210 slug fps15-25 ft-lbsSmall Game
0.207-0.305 slug fps25-41 ft-lbsMedium Game
0.349-0.433 slug fps42-65 ft-lbsLarge Game
0.481-0.532 slug fps65-80 ft-lbsToughest Game

And there you have it! With some well established parameters and simple mathematics we have developed a table that relates minimum arrow momentum to game size. (Credit: Tony Martins)

So, how can this information be used to create the perfect hunting arrow? Let’s say we are going to hunt elk with a bow drawing 65 pounds, and have been using 325-grain arrows flying at 300 feet-per-second. From the equations above above, we see that this setup generates around 65 ft-lbs of KE and momentum of 0.433 slugs. Experimenting with inserts to increase arrow weight and using a chronograph to measure resulting arrow speeds, yields the following results:

325-grains300 feet-per-second64.9 ft-lbs0.433 slug fps
425-grains271 feet-per-second69.2 ft-lbs+6.6%0.511 slug fps+18%
475-grains257 feet-per-second69.6 ft-lbs+0.6%0.542 slug fps+6%
525-grains244 feet-per-second69.3 ft-lbs0.4%0.568 slug fps+4.8%

Increasing arrow weight from 325-grains to 425-grains decreases velocity by about 10% BUT increases both KE by 6.6% and momentum by 18%! 

Another increase in arrow weight to a total of 475 grains, again decreases velocity by 5% but still increases KE by .6% and momentum by an additional 6%. 

With another increase in weight to a 525 grain arrow, again we see a 5% decrease in overall velocity, BUT for the first time we now see a loss in KE due to the velocity loss! Since momentum is improved by a little less than 5%, this arrow yields a total loss in both KE and the slug percentage gain from the previous arrow weight! At this point, the additional arrow weight adds little in the way of additional killing power (slugs), and since we experience a loss in KE foot pounds, with and additional arrow drop in flight from significant velocity reduction (making accurate arrow placement more difficult), the 525-grain arrow now falls outside the practical limit for an ideal set up. I would call this the point of diminishing returns

With this information we can clearly conclude the best result was actually in the previous step with the arrow that weighed 475 grains!

Basically to sum it all up, as long as you are now convinced that more momentum (P in slugs) is better when hunting with a bow and arrow, and you don’t mind slightly compromising arrow trajectory, all you have to do to achieve the most lethal hunting arrow for your bow is… Begin with an arrow weighing the minimum recommend IBO weight (5gpp) and add as much weight to your arrow as you can until you experience a loss in KE, then take it one step back.

It’s really that simple. With understanding and applying the dynamics of both kinetic energy and momentum you can be a more lethal bowhunter! Also important, as Tony reminded me this information is all relative, having a more powerful bow will increase the overall potential of the bows ability to take larger / tougher game. While you can now find the most efficient and powerful hunting arrow for your set up, it does not necessarily mean your set up is strong enough for any game you want to hunt. You will want to make sure your set up is powerful enough to take down what you are hunting.

Best of luck. 

NTS… in a nutshell

The National Training System “NTS” in its entirety is not a simple system. With all its intricacies, it can be easy to misunderstand. Learning NTS from Coach Kisik Lee was eye opening. It was important for me to hear it from the source as so much of what I thought I knew previously about NTS was actually inaccurate.

The following is, in a nut shell, my understanding of NTS as it was taught to me by Coach Lee and how I described it back to him during my practical exam for my coaching certification.

For those of you who are interested in learning NTS, I hope this helps to dispel any myths or questions you may have had about the system.

Part of what I love about being a coach is helping people find answers. If the information below does not have the answers you are looking for, or if you have further questions, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to respond.

And now, on to NTS…

NTS uses sport science combining a biomechanically stable and efficient shooting technique with an 11 step shooting sequence. You can think of these two aspects as software and hardware, where the software are the steps of the shot and the hardware is the technique you use to execute the steps. 

Having software is crucial. The software allows you to increase consistency especially in regards to you rhythm and timing and your form. The software allows you to command and control your shot, and maintain mental toughness under pressure (the ability to aggressively return to your process when needed). Without software, it is easier to fall victim to target panic. 

The following illustrates the proper chronological sequence and appropriate execution of technique for NTS in its entirety…


NTS uses an open stance for stability and to prevent a “hollow back”. To set the open stance…

1.     Straddle the shooting line with feet shoulder width apart.

2.     Ball of back foot on the target line, back foot rotated 15 degrees open to the target.

3.     Front foot big toe 2” behind target line and rotated 30 degrees open to the target.

4.     60% of weight on balls of feet, 40% of weight on heals, gripping the ground with you feet.


Nock the arrow the same way each time making sure it is on the rest and under the clicker.


Set hook before grip and visually check your hook.

To make the hook…

1.     Curl the fingers so they point back towards you.

2.     Back of hand flat (press your knuckles in).

3.     Wrist slightly out with a natural curve.

4.     Thumb and pinky back to form a “c” shape.

Place hook on string, hooking upward and gently squeezing the spacer between your fingers.

The string should be placed…

1.     Just in front of first joint of index.

2.     Just behind first joint of middle.

3.     On pad of ring.

The finger pressure at set should feel approximately 50/30/20 top down. This will change during the shot to 40/50/10 to keep the string vertical.

To set your grip, set your pivot point (webbing between thumb and index) into the valley of the grip then press your pressure point (which is in the center of your thumb mound, at the base of the thumb, inside the lifeline) behind the center of the bow grip.

Knuckles should be 45 degrees to the riser’s arrow shelf with your fingers curled in to your palm, index finger on front of riser pointing down.

Thumb straight, thumb print pointing forward, gently squeezing the bow between your thumb and index finger to help engage the bow arm muscles (the lats and triceps on the bow arm side).



1.     Knees locked.

2.     Hips open to the target and stay there for the rest of the shot (no hip rotation).

3.     Hips tucked under and chest down to prevent hollow back.

4.     Shoulders down and level.

5.     Head to target.

Bow arm straight with bow arm muscles engaged, elbow rotated almost vertical.

Draw elbow inside arrow line, string hand away from the body.

Slight coil (rotation of upper body around the spine) to tighten the core and begin to brace the bow moving the draw unit parallel to the shooting line building about 40% back tension.

Before moving on take a zen breath (4 seconds in / 4 seconds out), think about what you want to do, and mentally commit to the shot.


In set up we establish the barrel of the gun and most of your draw scapula movement.

Barrel of the gun is when your back shoulder, front shoulder, front elbow and front wrist are all in a straight line together.

To set up, keep bow arm muscles engaged and raise the bow, draw arm should follow bow arm. 

Open the bow by coiling your upper body to establish the barrel of the gun. Draw scapula makes a major movement towards spine building 60% of back tension.

Draw elbow should stay inline or behind the arrow line and level with draw wrist.

Draw hand should end up approx 2” below the chin, just behind the front shoulder, and slightly away from the body.

At set up, the stabilizer and arrow point to the left of the target (for a right handed archer).

No aiming at this point.


Drawing is done angularly using LAN2. 

LAN2 is a focal point centered between your draw elbow and shoulder on the back of the upper arm. Focusing on moving LAN2 moves the draw unit and scapula in a manner that targets specific muscles and scapula movement for proper back tension.

When drawing, move LAN2 in an angular motion (movement around the central pivot point aka the spine). The draw elbow moves around and slightly up along the draw force line from the pressure point. 

Back tension should increase to about 80% with minor scapula movement.

The draw hand will move in a straight diagonal line into the chest and finish about 1” below the jaw. The pinky and thumb touch the base of the neck and the string lightly touches the face.

Bow pivots in the hand and the stabilizer rotates toward the target.

Bow hand should be above the center of the target.

No aiming, and no change in the length of the barrel of the gun.


To anchor, again move LAN2 angularly, this will increase your back tension to approx 90% and escalate your draw elbow and hook into your anchor position.

The 2nd and 3rd joint of the index finger of the hook should be pressed into the jaw, back of thumb and tip of pinky should be firmly pressed into the neck. The string will be on the corner of the chin and lightly touching the nose. 

Again, no aiming at this time.


To transfer use your anchor as a fulcrum for leverage and move LAN2 Parallel to the shooting line. This will increase your back tension to 95+% and begin holding.

Holding the most important step in NTS. Holding is both mental and physical.

In mental holding you are calming your mind. Once your mind in calm, you make the conscious choice to move to expansion where your subconscious takes over.

You can test for mental holding using a heat rate monitor.  If you are holding correctly your heart rate will go down.

In physical holding you are using your bone structure and alignment to resist the forces of the bow. The strength of the hold position is what allows you to reduce intensity and calm your mind. This is the most biomechanically stable and efficient way to shoot. 

The feeling of holding can be described as being braced inside the bow. Some say it almost feels effortless. 

You can feel “holding” with the “squeeze drill”. Additionally, you can test for holding using a shot trainer.

At hold the clicker should be about 2mm away from being activated.

Holding can be described using an analogy of a water bottle with water in it, where the bottle represents your physical movements and the water inside represents your mental state. Holding the bottle sideways is the start of your shot. As you move through your sequence the bottle rotates towards vertical. When the bottle gets vertical you are at your hold position. But at the moment you reach hold (vertical bottle) the water inside is still moving.  We need to stop and wait till the water is calm them we can choose to move on and finish the shot.


Expansion is an invisible internal movement that should take 3 seconds or less.

Focus on the feeling of finishing the shot while the sub conscious takes over.

During expansion you should be holding your breath.  This will increase your blood pressure and expand your chest.

Keep your back tension and bow arm muscles engaged.

As a result, the barrel of the gun and the bow will shift forward toward the target ever so slightly activating the clicker.

Aiming begins after expansion starts. To aim keep eye focus on the target and line up the string blur on the right side of the sight aperture (for a right handed archer).

The timing of expansion is important. The sub conscious and the rise in blood pressure can only be sustained for about 3 seconds. Any longer and we lose the ability to expand properly.

There should be no movement of the anchor during expansion.


To release, the fingers sub-consciously relax allowing the sting to push the fingers out of the way. 

The draw elbow and bow arm move around and down following the path of the archer’s disc (a tilted plane encircling the archer). 

The string hand should finish just behind the neck in the original hook shape.

The bow hand “sit” motion and the string hand follow through need to be synchronized to maintain the balance of the shot with no change to the length of the barrel of the gun.

Tension (back and bow arm tension) and direction (Following the path of the archers disc) must be maintained to the end of the follow through. This means your back tension is at it’s greatest at the end of the follow through!


Before loading the next arrow take a couple zen breaths, calm yourself, evaluate the previous shot, stay positive, and prepare for the next shot.


To make the shot sequence more streamline you can shorten the software into 8 essential steps to focus on while shooting:

1.     Set – Stance, hook, grip, posture

2.     Set Up – Barrel of the gun, major scapula movement

3.     Load – LAN2 angular movement

4.     Anchor – Angular escalation

5.     Transfer – LAN2 parallel movement

6.     And (the “and” represents hold) – Calm mind and body

7.     Expand – 3 seconds, LAN2 continues parallel

8.     Follow Through – Maintain tension and direction

Photo screenshot credits: “LAS Classic 2022”, Archer: Savannah Vanderwier


The Key points to the breath cycle are…

Our lungs are never completely full or completely empty, they hover between 50-70%.

Breathe diaphragmatically.

Hold breath during expansion so blood pressure can increase expanding the chest.

At set take a breath in as you raise the bow, then breathe out and finish set up. Then breathe in when drawing and breathe out to get to holding. Then hold your breath until the shot is complete.

And there it is! Again if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am always happy to help.

Archery is as simple as 1,2,3.

In my experience, I believe excelling in archery boils down to three things. Simply put, they are:

  1. Learn an efficient shooting technique
  2. Eliminate the variability in that technique
  3. Practice

Sounds easy enough right?

Maybe, but let’s have a closer look at each of these.

Learn an efficient shooting technique

Efficiency refers to achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. Using biomechanically stronger body positioning and specific muscle targeting allows an archer to be more efficient.  With more efficiency you will be more stable and able to handle more draw weight. Archery is a sport of accuracy and precision.  The more stable you are the better your accuracy and precision will be.  Additionally, being able to handle more draw weight is an advantage.  With more draw weight, the arrow will have a flatter trajectory to the target.  The flatter the trajectory, the smaller the margin of error.

Eliminate the variability in that technique

With the exception of equipment, if you remove environmental forces acting on the arrow, ultimately it is the variability in the archer’s form that results in arrow variability on the target.  Remove all environmental, equipment, and form variability and every arrow you shoot will “Robin Hood” the previous arrow. As humans, completely removing all variability is, as far as I know, impossible.  Instead, the goal for each shot, is to eliminate as much variability as humanly possible.


The more you practice, the more you will continue to reduce your form variability. There are also surprises, random situational issues, and unfamiliar variables you will encounter as you shoot. The more you practice and experience these issues the better you will be at negotiating, and overcoming them.

Now that you know what the goals are, the question is how to achieve them. 

There are many “tried and true” efficient shooting techniques.  One popular technique in the U.S. is the National Training System (NTS). A high-level certified archery coach will be trained in teaching these techniques.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to find and work with a knowledgeable coach. Train with them as much as possible to learn and master a reliable efficient shooting technique.

To reduce variability, archers can use video, drills, and training tools. I believe it is extremely important to practice with direction and purpose.  Without direction, just shooting high volumes of arrows only builds strength and endurance, which are also important, however it is important to remember practice DOES NOT make perfect, practice makes PERMANENT! You must practice with a focus on the specific elements in your form that you want to imprint, otherwise you will form “bad habits” that you will have to un-train.

Doing all this is NOT EASY. You must practice as much as you can and be prepared because it takes time… lots of time.  It also takes patience, dedication, focus, and discipline. My advice is to accept these truths and expect the road to be a long one. Learn to enjoy the journey as you experience it otherwise you may find yourself trapped in disappointment and frustration.

During one of my training sessions my coach noticed I was having an exceptionally difficult and frustrating time.  He stopped me and said to me “Listen, for this next shot I don’t want you to think about anything. Don’t think about your form, don’t think about the target, don’t think about score… Just shoot this arrow and enjoy the act of shooting a bow and an arrow!”  So that is what I did and I tell you, I can’t explain just how helpful it was to stop and actually enjoy the act of shooting a bow and an arrow. This brought some joy back and helped center me.  I was again having fun.  After all why would you do archery if it wasn’t any fun!?!?. 

There will be hardships and times you want to quit, just remember why you began archery in the first place… and keep going!

Here are a few words of inspiration to help push you forward…

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong

Avoiding failure avoids success

Do not quit when you fail, instead fail until you succeed.

Arrow tuning 102, a “next level” Olympic and barebow arrow tuning method

Over the last 20 years of my archery career, there as been one area that has held particular interest for me…tuning.

The physics of how to get an arrow to shoot “straight” are fascinating. There are numerous actions and reactions that all happen in a very short period of time once you release the string.  If all the variables do not work together appropriately we get less than ideal arrow flight, and consequently inconsistent results.

I have used many methods of tuning in the past with good results but until recently, my understanding of the physics was…incomplete.

Recently, I had the privilege of working with Tom Stevenson, and Wes Wilhelm, two of the most knowledgeable arrow tuning experts I have ever met.  With their help I was finally able to get scientific answers to all the questions no one before was able to answer!

My moment of clarity came to me when I realized tuning equates to “timing”. When an arrow is shot, the front, middle, and back end of the arrow go through a cycle of movements. If everything is timed correctly the arrow will have good clearance, good direction, and good flight. If the timing of any part of the arrow is off, the arrow will have poor clearance, poor direction, and poor flight.

Using your fingers to release the bow string results in the string following a path that oscillates left and right as it moves forward and returns to the brace height position.


Photo credit: meta-synthesis.com

These oscillations cause the arrow to flex horizontally in a cycle as it is shot. Many people erroneously call this the “Archers paradox”.


Photo credit: Bahamas Archery

At the front and the back of the arrow there are nodes. A node is a point on the arrow that stays stationary while the rest of the arrow bends and oscillates in flight.

nodesDuring the first phase of the arrow’s initial “bending” cycle, the front of the arrow is pressed into the plunger. After a couple inches of travel the arrow disconnects and loses contact with the plunger.  If, at the moment of disconnect, the front node is too far behind the plunger, the front of the arrow will “jump” away from the riser. Conversely if the front node is too far in front of the plunger at the moment of disconnect, it can cause the front of the arrow to “jump” in towards the riser. Arrow length and plunger tension are two major considerations that have a large impact on the position of the node at the time the shaft disconnects from the plunger.

During the last phase of the arrows initial cycle, the nock will disconnect from the string.  If the timing of the disconnect is off because it cycled too fast by oscillating too quickly (high frequency), or because it cycled too slow by oscillating too gradually (low frequency), it will again cause the nock to jump in towards or away from the riser. Brace height and arrow weight are two major considerations that have a large impact on the timing of the disconnect of the nock.

Before any successful tuning can be done, you need to be able to execute a proper release with an appropriate grip! Additionally your equipment needs to be set up properly and have sufficient arrow clearance so that there are no “contact” issues. If you are unable to execute a proper release, you have a poor grip, or your equipment is not set up correctly, you may not be able to achieve successful or accurate results.

Please note, this tuning method includes adjustments for a bow that has a cut past center riser and uses a cushion plunger. If you do not have these options, you can still achieve very good results by skipping over the steps that specifically address the plunger or center shot adjustments. To begin, make sure your bow is set up properly by following these steps:

Pre Tune Bow Set up:

1. Brace height.
Set brace height to the middle of the manufacturers recommended brace height range.

2. Tiller.
Set the tiller to accommodate your style of hook and finger pressure. If you are not sure, I recommend 1/4” positive tiller (1/4” greater on the top than the bottom) for split finger shooters, even tiller for three under shooters, and 1/4” negative tiller for string walkers.

3. Limb alignment.
Click here for my custom method of limb alignment.

4. Plunger tension.
Set the plunger tension to the middle setting i.e. medium spring set to medium tension.

5. Arrow alignment “center shot”.
In this step adjust the rest arm and plunger depth so the center of the arrow shaft runs directly down the center plane of the bow and visually aligned with the center of the string. YES,  you read that correctly… for this method you will NOT be setting the arrow “to the left” of the string (for right handed shooters) like you may have been told to do previously. Then set the rest arm height so the plunger contacts the center of the side of the arrow shaft.

6. Sight alignment.
Finally, if you use a sight, set the center of your sight aperture directly above the center line of your arrow shaft. This is also the final horizontal position of your sight aperture. After this point, making a major horizontal move to the sight is not recommended as it most likely means you are compensating for a poor head position/angle or poor string blur alignment. With a good tune, you should only have to make micro horizontal adjustments to account for lighting and environmental conditions as they change

Pre Tune Arrow Set up:

1. Arrow length.
To allow ample room for adjustment, you will need at least 3” of shaft length in front of the cushion plunger at full draw. For an appropriate starting arrow shaft length you can just add 3” to your actual draw length or 1.25” to your AMO draw length (Generally 1.25” in front of the riser). If you are unsure what your actual or AMO draw length is you can check out my article on finding your draw length.

2. Arrow spine.
To find an appropriate starting spine, use the total length of the arrow you just calculated and the draw weight on your fingers to look up the manufacturer’s recommended spine in their spine chart. It is usually more convenient (especially for your budget) to fix an arrow that acts “weak” than an arrow that acts “stiff” so I suggest starting with an arrow that is one group weaker than the chart recommends. I have found most of the charts tend to recommend an arrow spine that is too stiff anyway.

3. Arrow weight.
In regards to arrow weight, you will have to come back and check this after further tuning is completed. It is uncommon for the arrow to weigh too little but I would recommend you do a quick check of the completed arrow (after it has been cut down and components installed) post tuning. An arrow that is too light can cause the arrow to move too fast, not allowing it to complete its initial oscillation cycle, which can result in erratic/inconsistent flight due to the back end of the arrow contacting the riser, plunger, or rest. The arrow weight measurement we use is “grains per pound” (gpp). To find your gpp, measure the overall mass weight of your arrow (including all components) then divide that by the draw weight on your fingers at full draw. If your arrow weighs less than 8 gpp, I suggest using a heavier arrow. This will help to insure the arrow is traveling at a speed that will allow it to complete its initial oscillation cycle and have adequate clearance.

At this point you are ready to begin tuning  

Step 1 – Optimize Dynamic Spine

The first step in tuning is to optimize the dynamic spine. There is only a split second of time from the moment you release the string until the arrow clears the bow.  It is only during this split second of time that the arrow will be influenced by the plunger settings and the dynamic spine reaction. The first part of tuning is to make sure the dynamic spine (the amount the shaft flexes when shot) is optimized.

To check the dynamic spine you will need to shoot a bareshaft through paper at about 3 meters away. Shooting at a close distance allows us to capture the true flight of the arrow just as it leaves the bow. Shooting at greater distances can allow air friction and other environmental factors to influence the alignment of the bareshaft increasing the potential for false readings.

To build an appropriate bareshaft, use a grain scale to find the total arrow weight by measuring a bareshaft along with the fletching and all the arrow components. Now remove the fletching (if they were attached to the shaft) and wrap an amount of tape equal to the weight of the fletching around the bareshaft where the fletching would go. Basically, wrap tape around the shaft until the weight of the arrow equals the total arrow weight measured previously with the fletching. The weight of the fletching changes the dynamic spine, so you want to mimic the weight of the fletching with the tape on the bareshaft.

Next, set up to shoot your bareshaft through paper at 3 meters away. I do not recommend using anything other than a paper tuner to capture the nock position as the alignment of the arrow may unintentionally be altered by using a foam or bag target, giving you a false reading. Remember, interpreting the shaft angle from arrows shot at long distances can also cause false readings!

A note in regards to barebow and string walking…If you are shooting barebow you will have to decide on one particular string walking distance to tune from aka “crawl”. All other string walking positions will change the tune of the bow. If you are barebow tuning for field archery, I recommend tuning to your median crawl distance. If you are barebow tuning for outdoor target archery, I recommend tuning to your 50m crawl distance. If you are barebow tuning for indoor target archery, I recommend tuning to your 18m crawl distance.

At shoulder height, shoot your bareshaft through the paper with an effective and proper release then inspect the paper tear and/or the nock position of the arrow.

If a vertical discrepancy is discovered, fix that first.

If the nock of the arrow is higher than the point of the arrow you have “nock high” flight. To fix this issue, lower your nocking point on the string. If the nock of the arrow is lower than the point of the arrow you have “nock low” flight. To fix this issue, raise your nocking point on the string. Adjust your nocking point until you have level nock flight.

Now determine if there is a horizontal discrepancy.

If the nock is to the left of the point (for a right handed archer) your arrow is acting too “weak”.

If the nock is to the right of the point (for a right handed archer), your arrow is acting too “stiff”.

If the arrow is acting weak, you can shorten the arrow length, or decrease the point weight, decrease draw weight, or use an arrow with a stiffer spine to correct the issue.

If the arrow is acting stiff, you can increase the point weight, increase the draw weight, use a longer arrow or use an arrow with a weaker spine.

Once you are able to achieve decent flight with very little horizontal and vertical displacement at 3 meters (ideally there would be no displacement, meaning the arrow is exiting the bow perfectly straight and level) you have optimized your dynamic spine!

If you are having trouble deciphering which end of the tear was made by the point and which end of the tear was made by the nock end, you can simply add some colored pigment to the tip of the point of the arrow. You can use lipstick, a drop of blue or red loctite, or something else that would leave a mark on the paper.

If you are getting inconsistent results with a good release, or the adjustments you are making do not seem to change the results, you may be experiencing an arrow contact issue. It is always a good idea to conduct an insufficient clearance test to determine if the arrow is hitting the bow or plunger as it is shot. If during this test you revel there is a contact issue you will need to address that first! Two common ways to resolve contact issues are by further adjustment to the dynamic spine or increasing overall arrow weight.

Step 2 – Optimize Plunger Tension

This is the most fascinating part to me. Changing plunger tension is actually a timing adjustment! Adjusting the plunger tension changes where the front node is in relation to the plunger when arrow disconnects from the plunger.

Increasing the plunger tension lessens the amount of time the arrow is in contact with the plunger “advancing” the timing of the disconnect. Decreasing the plunger tension increases the amount of time the arrow is in contact with the plunger “retarding” the timing of the disconnect.

As I mentioned before the position of the front node in relation to the plunger determines if the front of the arrow will want to jump left or right. Ideally we want to find the optimal position where the arrow doesn’t want to jump in either direction.

To find the optimum setting, you will need to do a version of a “walk back tune”. Basically you want to shoot at the same spot on a target without changing your sight at multiple distances.  This will create a pattern of impact holes on the target. When all the holes line up in a perfectly vertical and plumb sequence without leaning at an angle, you have optimized the plunger tension setting. If the holes line up leaning at an angle you will need to adjust your plunger tension setting.

I suggest using the back of a vertical 3 spot FITA target face. Draw a vertical line down the center of the paper and draw a dot to aim at on the line somewhere close to the middle (it doesn’t have to be positioned perfectly in the middle).


Set the target face on a target 2 yards away. Set your sight for 18 meters and leave it at 18 meters the entire time. If shooting barebow, use only the one crawl position you are tuning for and aim at the dot at every distance. Using only a bareshaft, aim for the dot and take a shot. I recommend taking three good shots and averaging the impact zone. Disregard poor shots or shots executed with a poor release. Next move the target to 5 yards and repeat. Then do the same at 10 yards.

To analyze the results, draw a line connecting the average impact zones from all distances starting at the 2 yard group pattern and finishing at the 10 yard group pattern.

If the average impact line angles off to the left (right handed shooter) your plunger tension is too stiff, and the shaft is not in contact with the plunger for a long enough period of time before it disconnects. Reduce the tension and repeat the process starting again at 2 yards.

If the average impact line angles off to the right (right handed shooter) your plunger tension is too weak, and the shaft is in contact with the plunger for a period of time that is too long before it disconnects. Increase the tension and repeat the process.


Once the impact holes line up plumb, straight, and vertical, you have achieved an optimal plunger setting. If the holes are plumb, straight, and vertical but they are all off to the side of the line you drew, you need to adjust your string blur position, not your sight (if you have one). If the holes are to the left of the line, move your string blur to a position further left. If the holes are to the right of the line, move your string blur to a position further right. If you move your sight instead of your string blur to fix the problem, you are most likely compensating for a less than ideal head position.

Step 3 – Optimize Brace Height

Your brace height controls the timing of the nock departure from the string. I think brace height tuning is one of the most underrated and overlooked variables. The timing of the nock departure from the string can be just as important as the timing of the front node position! If the nock departure is too early or late the back end of the arrow can again “jump” in a way that makes consistent and repeatable arrow flight very difficult.

To optimize the brace height, first check your brace height and make sure it is in the middle of the manufacturers recommend brace height range. Write the current brace height on a fresh target face.


Pin the target face on a target at 18 meters (or 20 yards) away. Switch to using fletched arrows, shoot a group of 12 arrows at the target.

If you make a huge mistake while shooting an arrow, disregard that arrow and shoot another one in it’s place. Make sure to mark the hole from the bad arrow so it can be disregarded.

An arrow shot from a recurve bow will oscillate horizontally. Because of this, brace height tuning will only help the horizontal discrepancy of your group. Any vertical arrow discrepancies are from causes other than issues with the brace height.

To decider the results, find the two holes that are furthest away from each other “left to right”. Measure horizontally from outside to outside edge of the two holes and write that measurement down. This is your 12 arrow horizontal group size. To keep track of which holes I used for the measurement, I put a small number 12 next to each hole. Now discard the single worst hole (the hole furthest away from the center horizontally) and measure the distance between the remaining furthest two holes (you will always be using one of the holes from the previous measurement). Because you disregarded the worst hole from before, you now have an 11 arrow horizontal group size. Write that measurement down and then write the number 11 next to each of these holes to keep track. Again disregard the worst single hole from the 11 arrow group and find your 10 arrow horizontal group size and write that measurement down with the number 10 next to each of these holes as well. You should now have a horizontal measurement for a 12, 11, and 10 arrow group size for that one particular brace height.


Add all three measurements together and divide by three to get your average horizontal group size.

Now decrease the brace height by a 1/4”. With a fresh target face write the new shortened brace height down on the target and repeat the steps from above getting the average from a 12, 11, and 10 arrow horizontal group size using the 1/4” shorter brace height.

Finally increase the brace height by 1/4” from the original brace height and repeat the process again. This means you have to return the brace to the starting height and then increase it by an additional 1/4”

If you started with an 8 1/2” brace height, in the end you would end up with average group size measurements for 8 1/2”, 8 1/4”, and 8 3/4”  brace heights.


You can record the results in a matrix chart like I did here:


Of the three brace heights you just tested, the brace height with the smallest average group size is the best choice. If the middle brace height also happens to be the best choice you have found your optimal brace height. If however, your best choice of the three was one of the smaller or larger brace heights then you are only headed in the right direction but more testing is required. Continue to make 1/4” brace height changes and chart the results in the direction that produced a tighter average group size. Continue to do this until you find a brace height that produces a worse average group size. The optimal brace height will be the one just before it got worse. If you max out and reach one end of the manufacturer’s recommended brace height range, you can stop there, or continue at your own risk. Once you find the optimum brace height, make sure to check that your brace height is at its optimal measurement each and every time you string your bow.

At this point you have successfully optimized your spine, plunger tension, and brace height. You can be confident knowing your equipment is now working with you instead of against you.

An optimized tune will help you to achieve very good results. Personally, I am satisfied with an optimized tune, but depending on how serious you are about your equipment, you can continue to refine the results with a fine tune.

To fine tune your equipment repeat the entire process starting at step 1 with the following changes…

1. Adjust point weight, and/or arrow shaft, and/or nock point until your bareshaft is flying perfectly straight and can create a perfect “bullet hole” through paper at 4-6 meters.

2. Lengthen your “walk back” tune distances to 5, 10, and 20 yards and adjust your plunger tension accordingly

3. Instead of 1/4” changes, adjust brace height in 1/8” increments to find the perfect brace height.

I hope this information helps you to take your equipment tuning to the next level and achieve exceptional results.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Happy shooting!

Recurve Limb Alignment, A Better Method?

Aligning a recurve bow has been an area of concern for me for many years.  I have not yet found a conventional or standard method that does not have inherent problems.  I would argue the best conventional method is using a stabilizer to help align the string.  You can read about this in my article “How to set up and tune your recurve bow, all the secrets they don’t tell you“. Theoretically as long as ALL the stabilizer hardware (including the bow stabilizer bushing) is absolutely straight and centered in the riser, you will not have any problems. However we live in an imperfect world and I can only assume somewhere down the line some portion of the stabilizer or hardware will be flawed, offset, or otherwise unreliable, which can cause inaccurate alignment issues. This is what led me to search for a better and more reliable method.

Thinking about the physics of the riser, bow planes, and issues with human error, I believe I have finally come up with a method of alignment that seems to solve the difficult issues I have previously encountered. Enjoy…

For this method you will need the following equipment:
-Hamskea easy third axis level
-Beiter Limb Line Gauge “Beiter Blocks”
-Plumb bob, I use an arrow with a heavy point and loose nock fit. The loose nock fit is absolutely necessary. If the nock fit is tight on the string, and the string twists, it will change the position/angle of the arrow shaft, completely nullifying the effectiveness of the arrow as a “plumb bob”

Set Up
Begin by stringing your bow. It will be easier if you do not have any equipment installed on your bow i.e. arrow rest, plunger, sight, stabilizers.  It will just be the riser, limbs, and string. Set the brace height and tiller.  If you are not sure how to set the brace height or tiller, you can refer to my article “How to set up and tune your recurve bow, all the secrets they don’t tell you“.

Next install the Hamskea level between the sight plate mounting screw holes.  Use the flat edge of the level on the outside of the riser and the level tightening screw on the inside of the sight window. It is imperative that you use this spot on the bow because the riser should have been designed to have the sight mounted on a part of the bow that is parallel with the forward vertical plane of the bow. As far as I know, no other part of the riser is inline and parallel with the forward vertical plane of the riser.

Next install your Beiter blocks at the base of each limb no more than 1″ away from the riser.

Now balance your bow so it is face down.  I suspend the bow between the backs of two identical chairs. Position the bow so the Hamskea level reads PERFECTLY LEVEL according to the bubble.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. Making sure the bubble in the Hamskea level is centered between the lines ensures that you are aligning the limbs correctly with center vertical plane of the riser. Be sure to constantly check and recheck that the bow remains level during the alignment process. Keep in mind the “level” is monitoring that the bow is pointing straight down and not at an angle, you do not have to have the limb tips level with each other i.e. one limb can be higher than the other while balancing between the two chairs.

Snap the “plumb bob” arrow on to the string and move the arrow along the string until it is also in line with the riser plunger/rest hole.

Position yourself so you are looking down the length of the bow from one end. Cover one eye and move your body/head so you can visually align the string down the center of the plumb bob arrow.

Keeping the string visually aligned with the plumb bob, quickly peek down at the beiter block.  DO NOT MOVE YOUR BODY OR HEAD, just move you eye to look down at the beiter block. Peaking quickly back and forth between the beiter block and plumb bob can help to make sure the string stays aligned with the plumb bob during this step. If the string does not simultaneously line up down the exact center of the plumb bow arrow shaft AND the center of the beiter block you will have to adjust the horizontal alignment of the limb.
Move the limb tip the same direction you want to move the string. For example, if the string is off to the right on the beiter block, correct by moving the limb tip to the left to move the string left. Consult your riser owner’s manual for instructions on how to adjust the limb alignment hardware on the riser. Move the limb and recheck until the string simultaneously lines up down the center of the plumb bob arrow and the center of the beiter block. Remember to double check that the Hamskea level remains level. It is easy to accidentally move the bow during limb adjustment, so just make sure it is in fact leveled before inspecting your changes.
Now do the same to the limb on the opposite side of the riser.  Please note, adjusting the second limb can change the alignment of the first limb so be sure to double check everything before calling it good.


That’s it! Your limbs and string should now be aligned correctly. Remember to re-tighten any locking hardware if necessary. When string alignment is done correctly, the string will be aligned down the center of the limbs (at the base of the limb), down the center of the tiller bolt holes, and down the center of riser while in line with the center forward vertical plane of the bow.  Finally, before moving on to finish the set up, I also recommend checking to see if there is any limb twist. As long as the limbs are within an acceptable range you can move on. If there is too much twist, I recommend getting a new pair of limbs. If you are unsure how to check for limb twist, you can find the method I use in my article How to set up and tune your recurve bow, all the secrets they don’t tell you..

Demystifying Stabilizers

Stabilizers were a mystery to me for a long time. I knew they were supposed to “stabilize” the bow and keep it “steady” but I didn’t know exactly how or why.

The basic theory is, an increase in the bow’s mass weight resists movement and more importantly, an increase in the bow’s mass weight at a distance resists rotational movement and raises the bow’s moment of inertia (MOI). Moment Of Inertia (MOI) is the measure of an object’s resistance to rotation. A high MOI is very resistant to rotational torque.

Stabilizers are multi functional. They allow you to add mass weight to the bow, balance the bow, and most importantly add weight at a distance raising the bow’s moment of inertia. The lighter, longer, and stiffer the stabilizer is the more effective it will be at raising the bow’s MOI.

The rigidity of the rod is very important. A limber rod decreases MOI by allowing the bow to move through the flexible range of the rod before the mass of your stabilizer weights can have their greatest effect on rotation.

Another common issue is separating the weights from the rod with a rubber vibration dampener. If the rubber is too soft it can allow movement of the system before the arrow leaves the bow, this reduces the effectiveness of the weights. If you are going to have a rubber vibration dampener, my suggestion is to move it to the end of the weights instead of positioning it between the weights and the rod.

While the shorter “back bars” or “v bars” also increase the bow’s MOI, they are primarily used to counter balance the weight of the front bar, sight, and natural forces of your grip. Changing the angle of v bars allows the archer to customize where the weight is positioned to better balance the bow.

The length, position, and weight of the stabilizers control the position of the bow’s center of gravity point. You can change how the bow reacts and performs by adjusting the position of the center of gravity. Below are two diagrams showing how to find a bow’s center of gravity. I recommend adjusting the rods and weights to position the center of gravity within 4” below the grip pivot point, and within 4” of the front of the riser.



Diagram Credit:

The amount of weight and the length of the rods is a personal preference. Generally the longer the rod and the more weight the better, UNLESS the increase in weight forces you to change form or posture in any way to compensate.

In regards to balance, mathematically speaking, twice the weight at half the distance will be evenly balanced. For example a 30” front rod with 4oz of weight will be evenly balanced by 15” back bars with 8oz of weight. Keep in mind however a recurve bow usually reacts better with the center of balance in front of the riser, so you may want have a slightly forward heavy setup. I use the same weight ratio but with shorter v bars to achieve this.

If you are using stabilizers for the first time, I recommend starting with 2oz of weight on the front bar and a total of 4 oz on the v bars (2 oz on each v bar). Only add weight if you can do so without compromising your form or posture. As your strength builds, you will be able to add more weight.

Try out a specific setup for long enough to get comfortable and proficient with it before you make changes. Since you are not used to it, it will feel “weird” at first. That is okay. Give it time and get used to it. Making changes too soon will not give you enough time to get the feedback you need to make appropriate changes.

I hope this information has been helpful and informative. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Additional reference and credit: