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

Over bowed means the draw weight of the bow is too heavy for you to be able to shoot with stability and consistency which are crucial to accuracy.  If you are over bowed you will feel shaky, unable to hold your aim steady, and fatigue easily. 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. To find a decent draw weight try this simple 10 second test.  Draw you bow back to anchor and hold it there for 10 seconds.

  • If you feel any shaking, fatigue or especially muscle failure, you may be over bowed.  Try a bow that is 5lbs lighter until you find a draw weight you can hold steady for 10 seconds. This is a more appropriate draw weight for you at this time.
  • If you do not feel any shaking or fatigue, you are at an appropriate draw weight or you can try increasing your draw weight. Try a bow up to 5lbs heavier in draw weight and repeat the 10 second test. When you find a draw weight you can not hold steady for 10 seconds, you went too far.

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 10 seconds to 3-5 seconds. If you are unable to hold steady for at least 3 seconds with 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.

I have a lot 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 or cover 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. 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 good form and bad form.

targets

Having good form will allow you to be more accurate. 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 precise. 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 techniques. 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 Over Spined

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 and if it flexes too much is 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”

carbonone

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).

arrow-length

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 official spine chart to find an appropriate spine for you.

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 30” 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, if your arrow is too weak for your draw weight you may be at risk of injury from your arrow breaking.  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

nocklocator

The nock locator or nocking point is a tiny brass clamp or an additional bit of string tied on the center serving to locate the placement of the 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.

squareplacementUse 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 and shooting off the shelf, chances are you should be using real feathers on your arrows not the plastic vanes. It takes a very specific type of arrow rest to successfully use arrows with vanes.

feathersvsvanes

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 there is slight contact.

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 your brain 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 easily take up to 15 seconds to complete an entire shot sequence. Slow down, try to relax, think about your process.

Mistake #8 Variable Anchor Position

Up to this point, the previous mistakes have all been related to issues other than form. If you are still experiencing difficulties, it may be an issue with your form. In my opinion, an important skill to check first is your anchor.

Why is the anchor so important? The direction of the path of your arrow is entirely determined by the alignment of the nock and the point. Each can be adjusted independently.  Moving the bow will adjust the position of the point. Moving the string will adjust the position of the nock. 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 consistent and repeatable. There are different anchors for different styles of shooting but they all have reference points for precision.

If you do not already have a specific anchor and you shoot a recurve, I recommended resting your hand on your cheek and touching the back corner of your mouth with the tip of your index finger for your anchor. To increase consistency, some experienced archers will even select a tooth to touch because your mouth is pliable but your skeleton is rigid.

anchor02

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 very poor results on the target.

For compound archers the anchor is different. Depending on the type of release you use, it involves a part of your hand contacting the back of your jaw or neck, and generally touching the string to the center of the tip of your nose.

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 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 do not apply upward pressure into the arrow.  Gently touch the arrow for consistency in positioning your hook, but do not apply any pressure to the arrow.

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

saker

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

Mistake #10 The Grip

hammergrip

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 all the muscles in your hand are tense they push and pull in opposing directions causing the bow to shake or torque in your hand. Ironically the best grip on a bow is no grip at all

There are three parts to a good grip. The first part of a good grip is completely relaxing your fingers and your hand. There should be no tension or squeezing.

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.

thenar-eminence

The second part of a good grip 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). To engage the pressure point, flex backwards like you are telling someone to “stop” with your hand and press the pressure point into the back of the grip.

Source: World Archery

The third part of a good grip is the angle of your knuckles and wrist.  Your knuckles should be rotated out so they form an approximate 45 degree angle to 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 and not even contacting the grip at all.

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.

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How to use a stretch band for archery

therabandandtubeA stretch band is an elastic ribbon or tube used for mostly for physical therapy.  The most common brand is “Thera-Band”. Both the band and the tube work great for the techniques I am going to show you, but the band is my personal preference.  When you use the band for the bow emulation technique, you do not feel it “snap” your hand like you can with the tube.

I will be going over three archery specific uses for a stretch band. The first is warm ups, the second is muscle strengthening, and the third is bow emulation to practice at home when you can’t get to a range.

The benefits of using a stretch band are tremendous! The warmups help you shoot at your top level while simultaneously helping to reduce the chance of injury. The strengthening exercises help to build muscle for stability in your shot. The bow emulation helps to drill your form for consistency.

Stretch bands come in a variety of resistances.  Each resistance is represented by a color. You should choose a resistance that is not too difficult for you to use easily.  I would recommend most archers use a “Red” or “Green” resistance color.  You can always increase and decrease the resistance of the band by holding your hands closer or further apart.

Thera-band-colour-progression-chart

Warm up exercises

There are six categories of warm up exercises. They are: Spin, Back, Bend, Circle, Twist, and Stretch.  In each category there are specific movements. For all the warm up exercises, I recommend doing 3-5 repetitions of each movement.

Spin
2CAFAD2F-1205-426C-B738-0E1A4D14622ATo start, bunch up the band and hold it in your right hand. Then swing your entire right arm in a large circle rotating forward. Next rotate backward. Finally as you swing your arm in forward circles criss-cross your arm alternating from your left side to your right side of your body.  Now switch the band to your left hand and repeat with your left arm.

Back
0D27B3FF-22FD-45EC-88B9-4DD50808E941With your arms reached in a straight forward position your hands a little wider than shoulder width, hold the band taught between your hands.  Keeping your hands at a wider than shoulder width, take the band up over your head, down behind your head then all the way down to your lower back. Then return back up over your head to the starting position.

Bend
70FEFD4A-B91C-4474-9FF1-C8D15BE2A29DWith your arms reached in a straight forward position your hands shoulder width apart, hold the band loosely between your hands. Slightly bend your knees and bend down to touch your toes.  You are stretching your back not your legs so keep bending your legs if you feel them stretching. Return to starting position, then hold the band over your head and arch your back backwards to stretch your back the opposite direction.

Circle
54C5E92D-DD2F-4555-BC75-79FD112DA254With your arms reached in a straight forward position your hands a little wider than shoulder width, hold the band taught between your hands. Keeping the same distance between your hands, start to rotate your arms so one hand goes around and behind your head and the other one follows.  Keep rotating in a full circle returning to the front of your body.  Now switch directions and do it again.

Twist
1A80B98C-2E82-49FB-BD01-67DC90F473A7With your arms reached in a straight forward position your hands a little wider than shoulder width, hold the band taught between your hands with your palms facing in towards each other.  Without moving your hips or your head, twist your shoulders to one side. Only go until you feel a medium amount of resistance.  Then twist back the opposite direction.  Go slow, this is not a fast movement.

Next with your arms reached in a straight forward position bring your hands to touch each other in front of you, again palms facing in towards each other. Again without moving your hips or your head, twist your shoulders to one side. Only go until you feel a medium amount of resistance.  Then twist back the opposite direction.

Stretch
5AB37EE2-89E8-493A-90DD-8D86C7422944With your arms reached in a straight forward position your hands shoulder width, hold the band taught between your hands. Open your arms straight out until they are all the way extended out to your sides, and return them together straight in front of you.

With your arms reached in a straight up over you head, your hands shoulder width, hold the band taught between your hands. Open your arms straight down until they are all the way extended out from your sides, and return them together straight up over your head.

With your hands at your sides, and your palms facing up, bend your elbows.  Punch one hand straight out in front of you until your arm is fully extended forward at shoulder height, palm rotated face down. With your palm face down, move the straight arm out to your side then return it to the front. Switch to the other arm and repeat.

With your arms reached in a straight up over you head, your hands shoulder width, hold the band taught between your hands. Open your arms straight down until they are all the way extended out from your sides. Bend one arm and bring it all the way in toward your body. Your thumb should come to your shoulder and your elbow should drop down. Now keeping the thumb at your shoulder position, lift the elbow up until you feel medium resistance. Lower the elbow, then extend the arm straight again. Switch to the other arm and repeat.

Muscle strengthening

One of the most common issues related to insufficient strength is bow arm instability.  This is where your bow is moving around while you are trying to hold it still and aim.  One common cause for this is a weak shoulder.  To strengthen the shoulder there is one particular exercise I recommend adding into your regular practice. Please be advised, I am not a doctor or a physical therapist.  I highly recommend working with a licensed physiologist to avoid injury.

D349540E-BDF8-4457-9295-29447332948FTo perform the exercise step on one end of the stretch band with one foot.  Holding your hands at your sides with palms facing in, hold the other end of the stretch band with the hand on the same side as the foot that is stepping on the band.  Keeping your arm straight, slowly raise your arm up from your side until your arm is stretched straight out sideways at shoulder height.  When you raise your arm pay close attention to your shoulder, do not raise your shoulder as you raise your arm. Keep your shoulder down in the shoulder socket. When your arm is raised to shoulder height try to hold your shoulder down in place using the muscles on your side called the latissimus dorsi aka lats and your triceps.  Hold your arm steady with you shoulder down resisting the pull of the band with your side muscles for 5-10 seconds, then relax the arm back down.  Repeat this exercise for at least ten reps to complete a set.  Take a break then do as many sets you can without hurting or overworking yourself.

Bow emulations

Bow emulation just means mimicking the use of a bow with the stretch band.  If you loop the band around and hold the two ends in one hand you can use the stretch band loop like a bow. There are numerous benefits from using a stretch band to emulate shooting a bow.  For starters you can “shoot” anywhere you go, especially the places you otherwise could not like inside your house or in a hotel. To get better at archery, the importance of regular practice can not be stressed enough.  Being able to shoot anywhere with a stretch band allows you to get more practice in.  Using a stretch band can also make it easier to identify form issues, it can allow you to isolate a particular body movement or muscle and train it to perform the way you want when you are shooting.

Obviously you can not see yourself as you shoot so the use of mirror can be very beneficial.  When using a stretch band and a mirror, there are two positions I recommend.

B390AF09-D999-416F-BA26-829D9A548EBFThe first position is aligning yourself as if the mirror was the target you are shooing at.  From this angle you can see yourself shooting from in front and identify issues like shoulder alignment, head angle, stance, posture and bow arm position.

The second position is aligning yourself with the mirror as if the mirror was someone who is shooting next to you. From this angle you can see yourself shooting from the side and identify issues like hip position, stance width, shoulder height, and elbow height. The only problem with this position is you have to turn your head to see into the mirror.  This is obviously not where you want your head when you are actually shooting but for the exercise it is okay.

I hope all of these exercise help you to gain strength, flexibility, build your skills faster, and stay injury free for years to come.  Enjoy.

Arrow tuning 101, Traditional bow edition

 

With a traditional bow the importance of tuning  your arrows becomes paramount. Without arrows tuned to your equipment, you can not achieve precise and consistent results no matter how good your form is! In this article I will be going over two successful methods of arrow tuning for a traditional bow.

At this point you should have your bow all set up and tuned.  If your bow is not set up, you can refer to my article “How to set up and tune your recurve bow, all the secrets they don’t tell you“. You can ignore any info specifically for the Olympic recurve and focus on the info that applies to a traditional bow

Start with an arrow shaft of a reasonable spine rating. If you are unsure about this, you can refer to my article “Bow and arrow sizing, how to find a good fit”

To get accurate results with any arrow tuning test, it is crucial you are able to execute a stable shot with a good release. If you are getting inconsistent results from the same arrow, you may not have enough consistency in your shot execution to get decent feedback.

Method 1 – Paper test

To conduct the paper test, shoot a bare shaft through a piece of paper suspended by a frame (paper tuner) at 6 meters. If the horizontal length of the tear is 3″ or wider, you need an arrow with a different spine. If the horizontal tear is less than 3″ wide you will most likely be able to tune your arrow.

Fix any vertical discrepancies first, then work on horizontal discrepancies. The following is a list of the possible tear patters and how to fix them for a right handed archer. Ideally the arrow will enter the paper perfectly straight and the hole will just be a small circle “bullet hole”.

A nock high tear – (the arrow enters the paper with the nock higher than the point) Your nocking point is too high, lower your nocking point until there is no vertical discrepancy.

A nock low tear – (the arrow enters the paper with the nock lower than the point) Your nocking point is too low, raise your nocking point until there is no vertical discrepancy.

A nock left tear – (the arrow enters the paper with the nock to the left of the point) Your spine is too weak, decrease draw weight or decrease point weight or cut your arrow down a little at a time until the tear is 1″ or less.

A nock right tear – (the arrow enters the paper with the nock to the right of the point) Your spine is too stiff, increase draw weight or increase point weight until the tear is 1″ or less. You may also able to fix the issue with a longer arrow but you will most likely need a new shaft for that.

The paper test is basically the same as the arrow angle test that Byron Ferguson uses. In Byron’s test he stands at a very close distance and shoots a bare shaft arrow directly into a target. He then analyzes the position of the nock in relation to the position of the point. The corrections are the exact same as the paper test.  If you do not have access to a paper tuner, the arrow angle test is a good method BUT you must make sure the target itself is not affecting the arrow angle as the arrow hits it.  For this reason it is best to use a brand new foam target.  A hay, stuffed bag, or even used foam targets may give false readings!

Once you are able to consistently get a horizontal tear 1″ or less your arrows are generally tuned and you can go ahead and fletch them up.  Once the arrows are fletched conduct the test once more to see if you need to adjust your nocking points.

If you were able to get good results with a bare shaft but not with a fletched shaft you may have some issues with clearance. I highly recommend conducting an insufficient clearance test. One way to do this is to use a dry powder foot spray like tinactin powder spray. B147E50B-2E19-4844-9E14-D2696485D9DBApply the powder to the last quarter of the arrow shaft and the fletching. Do not disturb the powder sprayed on the arrow while preparing to shoot. The arrow should be shot into a firm target so that it will not penetrate to the fletching.

After shooting the arrow examine the bow and the arrow for the dry powder. If there is evidence of contact, the nature of any interference can be determined and corrected.

Method 2 – Group tuning

Group tuning also requires that the archer is capable of a good release and shooting acceptable groups. Group tuning involves shooting a group of fletched arrows together with a group of unfletched arrows (bare shaft) and comparing the results. While group tuning, you should aim at the center of the target, but do not concern yourself with actually hitting the center of the target at this time.  Only compare where the bare shaft group hits in relation to the fletched group. I suggest using three fletched and three bare shaft arrows. Use only shots completed with good execution for comparison. Completely ignore any poorly executed shots.

Group tune at 18 meters from your target. Begin by shooting your fletched arrows followed by your bare shafts. Compare your results with the following diagrams for a right handed archer:

traditional-group-tuning-resultsIf you need to make height adjustments to the nock locator(s) and you used tie on nock locators, you should be able to spin the locator to move it up or down. It will follow the spiral of the center serving.

If you are having more than one problem e.x. you bare shaft group is above and left of the fletched group, you will need to use solutions from both diagrams to fix the issue.  Start with fixing any up/down issues then work on any left/right issues.

If there are multiple solutions, you can select one or use a combination of two or more to fix the problem. The worse the problem is the more drastic your solution will have to be.

Remember the corrections you are making are adjusting the dynamic spine of your arrows. There is a limited range to what your current spine is capable of. If you can not get the arrows to group within 6 inches of each other at 18 meters, there is a good chance you will have to use an arrow with a different spine to achieve proper tuning.

Congratulations, at this point, your arrows are tuned to your bow and you are ready to work on getting that high score. Good luck and have fun.

If you have any tuning tips or tricks that I did not mention here, I would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment below with your tuning tip.

 

 

Arrow tuning 101, Olympic recurve edition

I can not stress enough the importance of tuning  your arrows. Without arrows tuned to your equipment, you can not achieve precise and consistent results no matter how good your form is! In this article I will be going over two successful methods of arrow tuning for a recurve bow.

At this point you should have your bow all set up and tuned.  If your bow is not set up, you can refer to my article “How to set up and tune your recurve bow, all the secrets they don’t tell you

Additionally your arrows should be of an appropriate spine rating. If you are unsure about this, you can refer to my article “Bow and arrow sizing, how to find a good fit”

Method 1 – Rigid plunger tuning

  1. Set rigid plunger – Begin by replacing the spring in your plunger with a piece of a wooden match or a wire so that there is no give to the plunger piston. This creates a rigid plunger.
  2. rigidplungersightandarrowalignmentSet rigid plunger position – Move the horizontal position of the plunger so the arrow alignment is set to a perfect center shot. When viewed from the shooters perspective, align your view so the the string is directly down the center of the riser. From this perspective the string should fall in line with the exact center of the arrow, i.e. the arrow is centered in the bow and pointing straight forward.
  3. Bare shaft paper test – Shoot a bare shaft (no fletching) through a paper tuner at 6 meters. If the horizontal tear is consistently 3″ or wider you need an arrow with a different spine. It is crucial you are able to execute a stable shot with a good release.  If you are getting inconsistent results from the same arrow you may not have enough consistency in your shot execution to get decent feedback. Fix any vertical discrepancies first, then work on horizontal discrepancies.A nock high tear – (the arrow enters the paper with the nock higher than the point) Your nocking point is too high, lower your nocking point until there is no vertical discrepancy.A nock low tear – Your nocking point is too low, raise your nocking point until there is no vertical discrepancy.

    A nock left tear – (the arrow enters the paper with the nock to the left of the point) Your spine is too weak, decrease draw weight or decrease point weight until the tear is 1″ or less.

    A nock right tear – Your spine is too stiff, increase draw weight or increase point weight until the tear is 1″ or less.

  4. Set sight – With a rigid plunger move back to 18 meters.  Shoot groups of fletched arrows at a 40 cm target. Move the sight pin until the arrows are grouping in the center of the target.
  5. Set medium plunger tension and adjust plunger position – Replace the spring in the plunger, use the medium spring set to it’s medium tension. Re-adjust the arrow alignment to just left of the string as per the instructions in my article “How to set up and tune your recurve bow, all the secrets they don’t tell you“.
  6. Fine tune plunger tension – Again, from 18 meters, shoot groups of fletched arrows at a 40 cm target. Adjust plunger tension until arrows are grouping in the center of the target.

At this point, your arrows are generally tuned to your bow. To achieve even better results you may want to continue on to fine tuning.

Method 2 – Group tuning

Group tuning also requires that the archer is capable of a good release and shooting acceptable groups. Group tuning involves shooting a group of fletched arrows together with a group of unfletched arrows (bare shaft) and comparing the results. While group tuning, you should aim at the center of the target, but do not concern yourself with actually hitting the center of the target at this time.  Only compare where the bare shaft group hits in relation to the fletched group. I suggest using three fletched and three bare shaft arrows. Use only shots completed with good execution for comparison. Completely ignore any poorly executed shots.

Group tune at 18 meters from your target. Begin by shooting your fletched arrows followed by your bare shafts. Compare your results with the following diagrams for a right handed archer:

group-tuning-resultsIf you need to make height adjustments to the nock locator(s) and you used tie on nock locators, you should be able to spin the locator to move it up or down. It will follow the spiral of the center serving.

If you are having more than one problem e.x. you bare shaft group is above and left of the fletched group, you will need to use solutions from both diagrams to fix the issue.  Start with fixing ony up/down issues then work on any left/right issues.

If there are multiple solutions, you can select one or use a combination of two or more to fix the problem. The worse the problem is the more drastic your solution will have to be.

Remember the corrections you are making are adjusting the dynamic spine of your arrows. There is a limited rage to what your current spine is capable of. If you can not get the arrows to group within 6 inches of each other at 18 meters, there is a good chance you will have to use an arrow with a different spine to achieve proper tuning.

Sight Alignment
Once you are able to group tune successfully, look at where the group is hitting in relation to the center of the target.  If your group is left of the center, move your sight pin to the left.  If your group is right of the center, move your sight pin to the right. If your group is above the center, move your sight pin up. If your group is below the center, move your sight pin down. Continue to make small corrections until the group is in the center of the target.

At this point, your arrows are generally tuned to your bow. To achieve even better results you may want to continue on to fine tuning your arrows. Below are two methods to fine tune.

Short distance fine tuning

Once you have completed group tuning you are ready for short distance tuning. You can achieve a very good equipment tune at short distances. Use a 40cm or 60cm target face and place it “front side in”, yes this means you will be shooting at the back side of the target face. Basically a blank white square of paper. For the best results use a level or a plumb bob to get the edge of the target to be as close to level or plumb as you can.

Nock Locator Adjustment
Stand at a distance of 10-15 yards from the target. Using fletched arrows only, start by shooting at least 6 arrows horizontally along the top edge of the target face.

If there is a wide discrepancy in the vertical distance between your arrows i.e. inconsistently hitting above and below the line, you should make small adjustment to your nocking point position.  First make note of the initial position, then make a small, no more than 1/16″, upward adjustment to the nocking point position. Again shoot 6 arrows horizontally along the top edge of the target face.

If the discrepancy gets better i.e. the arrow pattern gets closer together, the nocking point position change you made was in the appropriate direction. Continue to make small changes in the same direction until you are satisfied with the arrow pattern.

If the discrepancy gets worse i.e. the arrow pattern spreads further apart, the nocking point position change you made was in the wrong direction. Reset the nocking point to it’s original position and then make a small adjustment in the other direction.

short-distance-fine-tuning-top.jpgDynamic Spine Adjustment
Again stand at a distance of 10-15 yards from the target. Using fletched arrows only, shoot at least 6 arrows vertically along the left side edge of the target face.

If there is a wide discrepancy in the horizontal distance between your arrows i.e. inconsistently hitting left and right of the line, you should make small adjustments to the dynamic spine of your arrow by adjusting the cushion plunger.  If you do not have a cushion plunger and you are using screw in points you can try a different point weights. First make note of the initial position, then make a very small change to increase the tension in your plunger. Again shoot 6 arrows vertically along the left side edge of the target face.

If the discrepancy gets better i.e. the arrow pattern gets closer together, the tension adjustment you made was in the appropriate direction. Continue to make small changes in the same direction until you are satisfied with the arrow pattern.

If the discrepancy gets worse i.e. the arrow pattern spreads further apart, the tension adjustment you made was in the wrong direction. Reset the plunger to it’s original position and then make a small adjustment in the other direction.

short-distance-fine-tuning-side

Walk back fine tuning

Start 5 meters away from a 40cm target, set your sight to shoot the 12 O’clock position of the outside edge of the entire target. Shoot a group of three arrows.

walkbacktuning-small.jpg

DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SIGHT and move back to 10 meters.  Aim at the exact same 12 O’clock position of the outside edge of the target and shoot another group of three arrows.  Your arrows will be lower on the target.

Move back to 20 meters and again shoot a group of three arrows aiming at the same position. Again your arrows will be lower on the target.  Continue to move back 10 meters at a time until you groups are at the bottom of the target.

If your groups line up in a straight vertical line, your arrows are fine tuned an you do not need to make any dynamic spine corrections. If your arrow groups slope down the the left, your dynamic spine is too stiff, decrease your plunger tension and try again, repeat until your groups line up vertically, then adjust your sight if necessary. If your arrow groups slope down the the right, your dynamic spine is too weak, increase your plunger tension and try again, repeat until your groups line up vertically, then adjust your sight if necessary.

Troubleshooting

If you are running into any issues giving you inconsistent results I highly recommend conducting an insufficient clearance test. One way to do this is to use a dry powder foot spray like tinactin. B147E50B-2E19-4844-9E14-D2696485D9DBApply the powder to the last quarter of the arrow shaft and the fletching. Do not disturb the powder sprayed on the arrow while preparing to shoot. The arrow should be shot into a firm target so that it will not penetrate to the fletching.

After shooting the arrow examine the areas where the dry powder spray was applied and look for areas where it has been is scraped off. If there is evidence of contact, the nature of any interference can be determined and corrected.

Congratulations, at this point your bow is well tuned and you are ready to work on getting that high score. Good luck and have fun.

If you have any tuning tips or tricks that I did not mention here, I would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment below with your tuning tip.

 

 

If you’re not doing this, you may not be getting the most out of your practice.

Self-motivation through SRGs (specific realistic goals)

The importance of self-motivation in performance cannot be overemphasized. Motivation creates energy, and self-motivation is one of the most important sources of positive energy available to an archer. Maintaining high levels of self-motivation is a skill. Setting meaningful goals, achieving those goals successfully, and managing failure properly are all critical components of motivation. The willingness to persevere with training schedules and to endure the discomfort and self-sacrifice associated with forward progress is linked to an archer’s level of self-motivation. Regardless of an archer’s physical talent, low self- motivation spells trouble. Of all the mental skills, self-motivation is first in importance.

-“Mental Toughness Training for Archery”, NAA Level III Coaches Certification Course, CO Springs, CO, 2005

For those of us not born with a remarkable aptitude, achieving excellence in any discipline takes practice and patience. Determination, interest, and longevity are absolutely necessary to reach elite performance levels. If you are self-motivated you will be able to do what it takes to achieve excellence. One of the best ways to establish and sustain self-motivation is with what I call specific realistic goals or “SRGs”.

There are two types of archery SRGs:

  • Performance Based
  • Process Based

Performance based goals are score oriented e.g. shooting a 250/300 or maintaining an average arrow score of 8.5. Process based goals are skill oriented e.g. master the grip or execute 6 shots in a row with good expansion.

There are also two SRG terms:

  • Short Term
  • Intermediate Term

A short term goal is one you will aim to achieve in a month. An intermediate goal is one you aim to achieve in six months to one year.

Setting a SRG will give you a clear and realistic understanding of what it is you want to do, when you have achieved it, and what you should do next. Your achievements through setting and accomplishing these goals will give you the motivation to continue and enjoy archery.

The key to my SRG system is finding realistic challenges. If the goal is unrealistic you are setting yourself up for failure. Conversely, if the goal is too easy it will not be rewarding enough.

Before establishing your SRGs you will need to have a picture of your “end game“.  This is what all the goal setting and hard work is for. This is your dream. You can make it whatever you want but make sure it is something you really, REALLY want. Over time your end game may change and that is fine. If it does, just set your sights to your new end game and go for it. If you eventually achieve your end game, step one, celebrate!, step two, create another one. You may end up achieving multiple end games or never accomplish one at all, but you should have a dream and go for it.

So what is your end game?

Now that you have your end game, establish your SRGs.  I suggest creating four SRGs:

  1. One Process Based Short Term SRG
  2. One Process Based Intermediate Term SRG
  3. One Performance Based Short Term SRG
  4. One Performance Based Intermediate Term SRG

Using my SRG Bracket you can easily record and keep them for reference:

SRG-Bracket

If you are unable to complete a SRG within the term, don’t worry just carry it over and keep working on it. When you do achieve a SRG enjoy and celebrate, and then create a new one. Don’t underestimate the importance of celebrating the achievement of your goals. You worked hard, and you were victorious. You should congratulate yourself!

To stay self-motivated, have a dream, create goals, work for it, stay focused, and always celebrate and enjoy your victories.

I hope my SRGs help to keep you self-motivated you on your path to achieve your dreams.

What are some ways you stay motivated to keep shooting? Have you used goal setting before? What did you like/dislike about it?

 

 

The controversial draw weight agenda

Finding your optimal draw weight is an important topic.  I believe there are many things to take into consideration.

I will discuss the recurve bow in detail but first let me quickly go over the compound bow.

For a compound bow, selecting an appropriate draw weight is simply finding one that you can draw safely. To draw a compound bow safely, you should be able to hold the bow directly out in front of you, then draw the bow straight to your anchor in a controlled movement so that the arrow remains pointed directly at the target the entire time. If you are struggling and moving excessively while trying to draw the bow and the arrow is wandering uncontrollably all over the place, your draw weight is most likely too heavy. You are risking the safety of yourself and anyone around you. Select a compound bow with a draw weight you can handle safely so that the arrow does not move off target, even for a moment, when drawing the bow.

For a recurve archer the issue is more sophisticated.

Fundamentally I believe the draw weight you use should be based on two questions: What do you want to use your bow for? And, what technique are you using?

What do you want to use your bow for?

There are many uses for a bow. The most common are target shooting, hunting, or recreation. I urge you to consider using the minimum draw weight necessary to successfully shoot the bow for its use. Arbitrarily increasing draw weight not only increases your risk of injury, it can also decrease your accuracy.

Lets look at the most common uses and some of the requirements necessary to shoot them successfully.

Recreational archery
Fun is the top priority for a recreational archer. Recreational archers shoot for the pure enjoyment of shooing an arrow at a target. If the bow is too difficult to pull back, you will not enjoy shooting it. Conversely if it is too easy, it may not be as satisfying. I would say, a good recreational draw weight is one that allows you to experience the thrill of shooting an arrow with a decent amount of speed and power, but not so much that it forces you to use a lot of strength just to pull the string back.

Target archery
Score is the top priority in target archery. For a target archer, the bow becomes a tool of precision like a scalpel for a surgeon. To be accurate and precise, you need to be in full control of the bow, not the other way around. The first thing to consider is how stable you are with the draw weight.  Your accuracy comes from your stability. If you lose stability your accuracy will suffer and your scores will drop. The second thing to consider is trajectory. A high, arcing trajectory has a much larger margin of error and is more difficult to be accurate with than a low, straight trajectory. Finally, the bow must have at least enough power to get the arrow to the target at the distance you are shooting. If not, you will have to shoot a shorter distance or increase draw weight

For a target archer, the question of optimal draw weight becomes a balance between stability and arrow trajectory. Lower draw weights are more stable but yield a higher, arcing trajectory.  Higher draw weights are less stable but yield a lower, straighter trajectory. Personally I would say stability is more important and should take priority. After all, a slow arcing hit is better than a fast straight miss! It is also important to factor in the sheer volume of arrows target archers shoot daily. I would say, a good draw weight for target archery is one that has enough power to get the arrow to the target with out causing any loss of stability or control for the archer even when shooting a high volume of arrows.

Bow hunting
Getting a kill is the top priority for a hunter. A hunter’s bow is powerful tool for procuring meat. For a hunter the draw weight must be powerful enough to thoroughly penetrate the animal for the kill.  Some animals require more power to kill than others. To start, it is important to find out the minimum draw weight that will meet this and any state law requirements. Once you know the minimum draw weight you will need to hunt, the question of selecting draw weight becomes an issue of stability. The higher your stability the better your chances are of success. Since most hunters are not shooting at great distances or with the frequency of a target archer, a good draw weight for a bow hunter is one that allows you to have a reasonable amount of stability with at least the minimum amount of draw weight required to kill the animal you are hunting.

Another issue to mention is ethical hunting.  As a person who empathizes, ethical hunting is very important to me. For me, ethically hunting first and foremost means you are hunting for food.  To hunt ethically means you are willing to put in the effort it takes to prepare so when the time comes, the animal will suffer as little as possible. I believe you are ready to ethically hunt when you have the ability and confidence to know, in optimal conditions, you can get the kill with your very first shot!

What technique are you using?

In archery, there are countless techniques you can use to draw a bow. Each technique will have it’s own potential efficiency. Often, especially in archery, the most bio-mechanically efficient techniques do not often feel natural. They take time to learn, apply, and strengthen. The technique’s potential is only reached when it is done correctly. Techniques with higher efficiency use less strength and energy to accomplish the same amount of work which lowers your risk of injury and allows you to shoot with more stability and precision.

Efficiency in relation to injury
The efficiency of the technique will determine how much draw weight you can use safely without injuring yourself. There are two common types of archery injuries, repetitive strain injuries (rsi) and isolated strain injuries (isi). A repetitive strain injury results from doing a straining action multiple times.  An isolated strain injury results from doing a straining action just once.

The idea of too much draw weight is difficult to define. There is a limit to the repetitions and frequency an excessive amount of draw weight can be used before the archer is at risk of injury. If you are using too much draw weight by just a small amount, the risk of injury is very low until you cross into the realm of over-use, then the risk of injury is much higher. If you are using too much draw weight by an enormous amount, the risk of immediate injury is very high. It is much more difficult to determine what draw weights can lead to repetitive strain injuries with over-use.

You can quickly increase your draw weight tolerance and further reduce the risk of injury by using more efficient techniques. Another method to increase your draw weight tolerance and reduce the risk of injury is with specific physical training (spt) exercises. The benefits of specific physical training are great, but just like lifting weights, they take time and dedication.

Efficiency in relation to stability
The efficiency of the technique and your strength, will determine how much draw weight you can hold with stability. Your stability is what allows you to shoot with accuracy. There are different levels of stability. The level of stability you should have is based on what you use the bow for and your our own personal standards. Target archery requires an extremely high level of stability and accuracy. Hunting requires a decent level of stability, accuracy and a high level of power. Recreational archery does not really have any strenuous requirements. The technique you use will also determine what muscles you use or don’t use to shoot. Bio-mechanically speaking there are more and less stable techniques.  A more stable technique will use stronger, larger, and therefore more stable muscle groups. Additionally more stable techniques use efficient alignment and more bone structure to resist the draw weight of the bow.

So what is your optimal draw weight?

There is not an easy answer here. Everyone’s body, strength, endurance, mobility, etc is different.  Not one answer is necessarily right for everyone. What I suggest you do is consider all the information I have presented…. look at what you will be using the bow for, what sort of technique you have, and your injury risk management.

There is a diagnostic test I like to use to help archers decide on a draw weight. I do not suggest you base your decision solely on this test. It should be used in conjunction with the other information from this article. The test is quite simple, get a bow with a draw weight you are considering using, then:
Draw the bow to your anchor and hold it there as steady as you can until you begin to shake, fatigue, or collapse.
The amount of time you were able to successfully hold your bow without shaking, getting fatigued, or collapsing will help to inform you about your optimal draw weight.

If you can hold the bow steady for…

  • 10 seconds or more you have a very high level of stability and a very low risk of injury
  • If 7-9 seconds you have a high level of stability and a very low risk of injury
  • If 4-6 seconds you have a moderate level of stability and a low risk of injury
  • If 2-3 seconds you have a low level of stability and a mild risk of injury
  • If 1 second or less you have a very low level of stability and a moderate risk of injury

Again, keep in mind everybody is different, my analysis is based on my personal experience, research, and observations.  I am sure it is possible to have very low level of stability with a very low risk of injury.  It is also possible to have a very high level of stability with a very high risk of injury.  To know for sure, I recommend working with a physical trainer or physiologist.

For target archery, stability is the most important, so I personally recommend you use a draw weight that allows you to have a high to very high level of stability.

For bow hunting, power and stability are both important, so I personally recommend you use a draw weight that allows you to have enough power to get the kill and at least a low to moderate level of stability.

For recreational archery having fun and not getting injured are the most important, so I personally recommend you use a draw weight that has a very low to low risk of injury.

One final thought on switching from a compound to a recurve, being able to safely shoot a 70# compound bow, does not also mean you can safely shoot 70# recurve. Even if you end up using the same muscles to draw the recurve that you used with the compound, the let off of the compound only requires you to fully engage those muscles for a fraction of a second. with a recurve, those muscles are engaged the entire time, some times up to 10-15 seconds. If you are coming from a compound and new to recurve archery, I would say there is a very high risk of injury if you start with the same draw weight as your compound bow.

I hope this information helps you to decide on a safe draw weight that will allow you to have great success and enjoy the sport of archery for years to come.

This can cure your target panic!

It can happen suddenly and at any time. Often the reason is unknown. The insidious   affliction known as target panic.  If you get a case of target panic it will ruin your shot and can cause real psychological problems. But fear not, there are cures. To understand how to cure target panic, it is important to understand what it is and how it affects your shooting.

I would define target panic as a sudden and overwhelming urgency to release the shot as soon as your aim aligns with the target.

There are variable degrees of target panic. If it is bad enough it can trigger a completely involuntary motor reaction like a twitch, collapse, or release.

Punching the trigger for a compound archer is not necessarily target panic. Punching the trigger can be just improper shot execution. However, involuntarily punching the trigger when your aim aligns with the target is definitely target panic.

Target panic is outcome based, i.e. your mind is entirely consumed with the thought of your arrow hitting your target. To cure target panic I believe you must learn to make the shot process based. This will divert the focus from the target to an internalized step by step shooting sequence.

With target panic, releasing the string is automatically activated by aim. These two must be separated and unlinked. This can be done with expansion.

Expansion is the step that follows aim in the shooting sequence. For most archers, expansion is a small increase of back tension by moving your rear scapula in towards your spine while simultaneously reaching your front arm towards the target. The release should happen while you are expanding.  For a compound archer using a wrist release or a thumb barrel release, place your finger gently on the trigger and leave it there. Use the expansion, not your finger, to increase the pressure on the trigger until it goes off. Expansion not only prevents target panic it also prevents archers from collapsing.

In order to cure target panic, there needs to be a conscious decision to stop focusing on aim and start focusing on expansion before you release. The following steps are designed to help prevent acquiring target panic or cure it if you already have it.  Try using these steps as a drill and incorporate them into your practice…

  1. Practice just the expansion. For a recurve shooters, try using a 3′ stretch band. For a compound shooters, try a 6′ loop of para cord and your release. Again, expansion is a small increase of back tension by moving your rear scapula in towards your spine while simultaneously reaching or stretching your front arm towards the target. Make sure you are not raising your front shoulder. Your anchor does not move or change. Remember, the expansion is a VERY SMALL movement. On a recurve, your arrow will move back only a fraction of an inch ideally less that 1/4″. Using the stretch band or cord instead of your bow is important. It allows your brain to isolate and connect to specific muscles. If you are uncertain on how to expand properly, I recommend contacting a coach that can help.
  2. Learn a sequential shot process using steps. Each step should be an isolated and compartmentalized action. The following is a simplified shot sequence I recommend you use:
    1. Nock – nock your arrow
    2. Hook  – put your hook or set your release on the string
    3. Grip – set your grip on the handle
    4. Setup – raise your bow to target
    5. Draw – draw the bow
    6. Anchor – settle your hand on your anchor
    7. Aim – align your aim to target
    8. Expand – focus on the correct movements to expand
    9. Release and Follow through – release the shot and follow through naturally
  3. Practice the entire shot sequence with a stretch band or cord. Add an internal verbal command to stop the aiming step and start the expansion step. Once the aiming step is completed try saying to yourself “now expand” then switch your focus to your back and front arm, and begin expanding. As you are reaching the end of your expansion, release. By doing this, you are making a conscious decision to stop focusing on aim and apply your focus on expanding. Since you are not using a bow and there is no target at this time, just pick a random reference in front of you to point at for aim. Repeat this step until you feel comfortable and confident using the shot sequence with a stretch band or cord.
  4. Now apply some restraint. Practice the same process with a stretch band or cord but once you get to the end of expanding let down instead of releasing. If you are using a mechanical release with a trigger, keep your finger behind the trigger the entire time! Do not bring your finger around to the front of the trigger at all! If using a back tension release, set it so it does not release. Repeat this step until you feel comfortable and confident.
  5. Now do both. Using the stretch band or cord, complete the entire shooting sequence once by letting down, then once by actually releasing. Do this 1:1 ratio of letting down to releasing until you feel comfortable and confident.
  6. Now grab your bow, some arrows and set up in front of a blank target. Repeat steps 3-5 using your bow instead of a stretch band or cord. Do not use a target face yet. You will just be “blank bale shooting”.
  7. Repeat only step 5 with your bow but this time use a large solid target like a paper plate to shoot at. Something that is easy to hit for you.  Do not fixate on aim. It is not important at this time. The target is just there to help you break the panic feeling. Point your bow toward the target and let your aim come to rest anywhere on the target. Let go of consciously trying to aim and focus on executing the shot with expansion. Repeat this step until you feel comfortable and confident.
  8. Finally try shooting at a standard target face.

If you are unable to successfully complete a step, go back to the previous step, practice it for a while then try again. I believe the key to curing target panic is learning to shoot with a process based sequence, focusing on each step of the sequence instead of the target. Pay special attention to changing your focus from aim to the expansion. The aim will become sub-conscience as you expand.

I hope this helps your archery.  If you have any experience with curing target panic and would like to share your thoughts please comment below. Thanks.

How to find your draw length, and how it affects your draw weight.

Basically your draw length is how far you pull the string back.  The Archery Trade Association (ATA), formally the Archery Manufactures and Merchants Organization (AMO), is responsible for publishing archery related standards. The ATA defines draw length as “the distance, at archer’s full draw, from nocking point on string to the pivot point of the grip, plus 1 3/4 inches“.

The are a couple of important safety issues related to your draw length.
The first is arrow length. If you do not know your draw length and you try to shoot an arrow that is too short you may end up drawing the arrow beyond the rest or the shelf which can be very dangerous. It is important to make sure your arrow length is longer that your draw length. The length of the arrow also determines the dynamic spine of the arrow, ideally you want the arrow to be just the right length so that it will tune correctly and shoot straight.
The second is overdrawing the bow.  If you shoot a recurve bow that is too short for your draw length, you may end up bending the limbs beyond their tolerance and they can break. Every bow has a specific draw length that it will perform most efficiently at. Ideally you want to find a bow length that will perform best with you draw length.

Beyond these safety issues, your draw length is also important to know when determining your actual draw weight, and setting up a compound bow for the first time

How to find your draw length

With a recurve, the best way to find your draw length is to use a measuring arrow. Place a piece of masking tape on your bow just above the arrow rest/shelf. Draw a vertical line on the tape that is directly above the pivot point of the grip. Nock the measuring arrow on your bow, and draw back to your anchor.  Have a helper read the measurement at the vertical line.  Do this a couple times to make sure the measurement is consistent and accurate. Finally add 1 3/4″ to the measurement and you now have your ATA draw length.

If you do not have a measuring arrow you can have a helper put a mark on a normal arrow directly above the pivot when you are at full draw. Measure from the valley of the nock to the mark then add 1 3/4″ to get your ATA draw length.

piviot-point.jpg

To determine your draw length without a bow, you can use the following calculated draw length:

With your arms stretched straight out to your sides, measure from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger.  This is your wingspan. For many people, wingspan is generally the same length as height. To get your draw length, divide your wingspan by 2.5

Wingspan / 2.5 = Draw Length

This calculation is not exact, your draw length my vary slightly from the number you get, but it will get you a figure that can help you approximate appropriate bow length, safe arrow length, and compound bow draw length.

Using your draw length to determine your actual draw weight

The draw weight listed on the limbs of your bow is the ATA draw weight. For standardization purposes, the ATA draw weight is weighed and marked at a 28” draw length. If you do not have a 28″ draw length, your actual draw weight will differ from what is marked on the bow.

The best way to find your actual draw weight is with a bow scale. Again, place a piece of masking tape on your bow just above the arrow rest/shelf. Draw a vertical line any where on the tape. Nock an arrow and draw back to your anchor. Have a helper mark the arrow at the vertical line, then let down slowly. Now, attach the bow scale to the string and draw the bow using the same arrow until the mark on the arrow lines up with the vertical line on the tape then let down slowly.  Check the bow scale for your actual draw weight.

To determine draw weight of a “conventional” recurve bow with out a bow scale, you can use the ATA draw weight calculation formula:
Divide the bow’s ATA draw weight by 20 (ATA recommends a factor of 20), then multiply by the number of inches your draw length differs from 28”. Finally subtract or add this amount to the bow’s listed draw weight if your draw length is shorter or longer respectively.
Examples:
Bow Weight = 42 lbs, Draw length = 25.5” (2.5” shorter than 28)
42 lbs ÷ 20 = 2.1 lbs
2.1 lbs x 2.5” = 5.25 lbs
42 lbs – 5.25 lbs (subtract because draw length is shorter than 28″) = 36.75 lbs
The actual draw weight at 25 1/2″ is 36.75 lbs
Bow Weight = 38 lbs, Draw Length = 30” (2” longer than 28)
38 lbs ÷ 20 = 1.9 lbs
1.9 lbs x 2 = 3.8 lbs.
38 lbs + 3.8 lbs (add because draw length is longer than 28″) = 41.8 lbs
The actual draw weight at 30″ is 41.8 lbs