The draw length on your compound bow is a vital part of your setup that can greatly increase your comfort, accuracy, and longevity behind the bow. It is also a part of the setup of a bow that many pro shops and archers alike do not take the time to properly fit. Poor draw length can throw your body out of alignment creating fatigue after only a few shots. It can also produce inaccuracy as your body must compress and hold in odd positions to compensate for the draw length. Finally, it can also cause you to feel uncomfortable when shooting, leading to less love of archery overall. So, let's make sure your bow fits you!
Before we start, it is important to note that archery technique and bow set up are things that are really personal. Each archer may have slight (or massive) variation in that technique and still shoot great! We are simply talking about the set up and technique that will work for most archers most quickly, and that will produce the most accuracy and least fatigue for that majority of archers. Levi Morgan shoots his bow with a slightly short draw length, and he's a multi-time world champion, but go watch the tournaments and see what you notice in aggregate.
Simply put, the draw length of a bow is the distance the archer pulls the bow from rest until it stops on the back wall of the bow. Improper draw length can cause a host of postural issues and technique errors. Below are some pictures with improperly fitted bows. On the left you will see a draw length that is a bit too long, and the picture on the right shows it to be too short. If one of these looks like you, then please get to an archery pro shop and get fitted properly ASAP!
If your bow is improperly fitted, the mod position, length of the d-loop, release aid position and more can be adjusted to get your fit proper. But how do you know what your draw length actually should be?
There are several ways to get your draw length measurement. The fastest, but not the most accurate, way of getting that number is to take the span of your arms from fingertips to fingertips and divide that by 2.5. This number is an approximate number that will give you a good starting place, but this number can be misleading as it is obviously impacted by the type of release aid you are shooting, your anchor, and more. However, many pro shops like Deer Creek Archery have a draw length testing machine so that you can see how you actually hold at that draw length with your own release aid and anchor and allows us to check your posture. Below are some pictures of an archer at full draw with a good draw length. You can see the archer has good shoulder, torso, head, and elbow positions, and the string position has good clearance from her face while her hand is at anchor. If your technique looks like this at full draw, your fit is correct!
Naturally, this article serves as an overview of the draw length fitting concept, but there are many more details that a pro shop or good archery coach can identify for you. Below is a video of one of the foremost archery coaches in the world, George "Griv" Ryals, talking about how the shoulder position can identify draw length issues, even when an archer seems to fit their bow well. The moral of the story is this: double check your draw length fits you properly and if you have doubts, stop in to your to your local pro shop to get it checked out!
When it comes to archery, technique is definitely the king. One of the biggest parts of your technique is your posture and alignment of your muscles and bones. Without proper posture and alignment, you are fighting your bow and your body to stay still and pull through the shot correctly.
In previous articles, we have talked about vertical posture and alignment (check out the article on draw weight so you can see things like "sassy hip" and such), but today we want to focus on establishing the "barrel of the gun" and ensuring that our bow-drawing arm is in line with our arrow. The "barrel of the gun" is just a fancy (USA Archery) way of saying that we must line up the front arm straight behind the bow, lining up the shoulders, head, and spine. In the following images, this "barrel of the gun" is shown with a blue line. Setting your alignment in that way lets you hold steadier, draw further, and use back tension more effectively. The red lines will show the alignment of the arm that is drawing the bow, which should be directly behind or inside of the arrow line.
One thing you will notice in setting your posture this way is that you will engage more of your core and feel more pressure in your back as the muscles draw the weight of the bow. Additionally, you can see in the image that the angle between the red and blue lines is tighter in the second image, lending itself to accuracy. Here are a few more archers setting the barrel of the gun- see if you can determine which is the before and which is the after.
Finally, one of the benefits that this better posture gives you is an easier and more repeatable follow-through. Because the elbow is already in line with the arrow, archers have an easier time contracting their back to draw the elbow behind them, with their hand following behind the arrow, as they release from this improved posture. Check out the images of these archers below so you can see how good follow-through naturally comes from this positional improvement.
When was the last time you had one of your tall friends check your posture and alignment? If you haven't done so in a while, we strongly recommend stopping by the range so that we can help you to align your body properly and shoot even better than you are. See you on the range!
Let's face it- archers like to pull back strong bows and shoot their arrows quickly. Whether it is to shoot more accurately on a field, 3D or indoor course, or simply to get the most ethical kill shot on an animal they are hunting, archers are not wrong to try to shoot higher poundage. However, when archers prioritize their power over their technique, their shots suffer. This week, we cover how to know when you are pulling too much weight and why it matters.
Many of our archers are unfortunately reluctant to lower their poundage, even when it is the right thing to do. Many archers see the weight of their bow as a point of pride or something that they need to keep at his highest possible number, almost the way a weight lifter might think of their max bench press. But that could not be further from the truth! In archery, technique is the proverbial king, and if your bow is so heavy that it pulls your technique out of wack, your bow is making you a worse archer. So, in order to ensure that you don't lose your technique, we have outlined a few hints that you may be pulling too much weight.
One big tell that you are shooting too much weight is when your groupings spread out and your muscles fatigue. If you notice that you can only shoot 10 shots before you fatigue and cannot continue shooting tight groups, you are likely pulling too much weight. Of course, this is only one factor that might affect your groups. but it is an easy one to see if you know that you are typically a strong shooter.
But the biggest tell for our instructor team that you are pulling too much weight is your draw cycle. When archers have to muscle their draw in order to get the bow's cams to break over and reach the wall, we always tell them to stop and take their poundage down. Poor draws can compromise your control of your back muscles, put your body out of alignment, as well as be down right dangerous to other archers (or neighbors!). Check out our video on poor draw cycles to see if you need to lower your poundage and work on your technique!
Use these tips to ensure that you are making good shots with good technique and not compromising your shot for the sake of being able to tell your friends that you shoot an 80 pound compound bow. Take care and we'll see you on the range!
If you have been in Deer Creek Archery recently, you know that we teach a style of shooting that focuses on pulling with your back, not your fingers. Often times. our archers are surprised by what we teach since they learned a different style and have been seeing it for so long. However, there is a method to our madness! Here is why we teach the "surprise shot."
No matter what style of release you are shooting, there is always a question of how best to shoot it. For the archers shooting thumb buttons, the common misconception is that they slowly squeeze their thumb over the button, almost as if making a fist, For the wrist strap or index finger shooters, many archers like to pull the trigger with their finger as if shooting a gun. These ways of activation fall under the category of "command shooting," where the archer directly chooses to shoot....NOW!
The "command style" can work, but tends to produce a very specific set of issues. First, archers who use this style tend to have issues with target panic. Whether freezing high or low, jumping off the shot, or what have you, when you are trying to decide when to shoot, you require a much higher level of mental discipline to be effective. That is not to say that it cannot be done! Many famous, talented hunters like Cameron Hanes, or archers like Sarah Sonnichsen and Demir Elmaağaçlı use this style to great effect. However, 90% of archers will notice more issues with target panic shooting with a command style.
Secondly, command style archery produces certain misses that are difficult to get rid of. When punching the trigger, or command shooting, right handed archers will tend to miss to the left and have erratic high and low misses. These mistakes happen because archers are fixated on the target and not the feel of the shot, leading them to forget their follow through (for more on that, see this article).
But fear not, archers, there is another way! Shooting with a surprise shot style of shooting simply means that you stop trying to aim and choose when to shoot, and you simply pull through with your back muscles (specifically your rhomboids) to make your shot break consistently the same way. This video can show you an example of good back tension shooting and its benefits with one of the best archers in the world, Levi Morgan.
Shooting with a back tension style leads to the solution of these issues because you surrender your control. Instead of deciding that the shot will go off right now, you instead focus on pulling through the shot, creating better follow-through and more easily replicable movements because we are using large muscle groups. Additionally, because you don't decide when the shot will go off, you are put in a position to simply hold on the target and focus on how the shots feel as you slowly add tension with your back. For most archers, committing to this style of shooting drastically reduces the feeling of target panic and results in more 10s! To see this type of shot done, simply stop in to the shop and we will show you how it works!
While any style of archery can produce great results if you do it the same way every time, surprise shooting, or back tension shooting, will tend to create more consistency because the larger back muscles are easier to consistently activate. Come try some surprise shooting on the range and see if you like it!
When building hunting and target arrows, we have already covered the idea of total arrow weight, and how it can affect momentum and kinetic energy. However, before your arrow gets to your target or the animal, it needs to fly straight, and that is where this week's topic FOC (front of center) comes into play.
FOC is the term used to describe the balance point of your arrow not being at the true middle of the arrow, but rather slightly forward of the center (hence the name). Ideally, this number should be about 10-20% of the total arrow length. So, as an example, if an arrow's total length is 30", the FOC point should be approximately 3-6" in front of the exact center of the arrow. The reason it is desirable to have the FOC so high is because the arrow will fly truer. With the weight distributed that way, the arrow's fletchings conduct the air around the arrow to guide it more effectively, and the arrow doesn't get thrown off course. Below is a schematic of how the balance point of the arrow should be aligned.
If your FOC is correct, your arrows will fly straighter, and conduct the air around the arrow more effeciently. However, if your arrow's FOC is off, the fletchings of the arrow will produce too much drag and send the point of your arrow in different directions, and the arrow flight will be very erratic, resulting in poor shot placement on the animal you're hunting, or a missed shot on a target. But don't go overboard on the FOC- if the weight is too far forward, the arrow will sink into the dirt at even short distances.
To test the FOC of your arrow, balance the arrow on your finger (or any object) so that you can see where the arrow balances. You then find the center of your arrow by measuring the total arrow length from the end of the shaft to the throat of the nock, and then mark the center of the arrow. From there, mark the arrow and measure the distance from the center of the arrow to that mark. Calculate the percentage of the total arrow length that the FOC distance makes up, and make sure that number is between 10-20%!
See below to see an example of an arrow that has poor FOC and an arrow that has solid FOC.
When you are building your hunting arrows, you need to ensure that your FOC is well designed, otherwise your arrows will fly in unexpected and inaccurate ways, causing poor shot placement, slower and less ethical kills, and unpredictable results. The target archers need to know that this simple arrow set up principle can cost them the match!
Stop in to Deer Creek Archery soon and we will help you figure out your arrows' FOC, and help you reconstruct or setup your arrow builds for a more ideal shot!
When it comes to peep sights, size really does matter. Many people say that you need to have an ultra tiny peep for accuracy, while others will claim that you need to have the peep as large as possible for maximum lighting. We believe that there are trade offs either way, so this week is dedicated to helping you select the right size peep for your eye and your bow build.
Right off the bat we need to say that small peeps improve accuracy. The smaller the peep sight, the smaller the window of your aiming, and the more accurate your shot thus becomes. Additionally, people with naturally strong vision will notice that the smaller peeps actually allow them to have clearer vision down range because the reduced aperture allows their eyes to focus better on further targets. However, small peeps can cause huge issues in settings with strange lighting, low lighting, or for those people with problematic eye sight. Below is an example of the various sizes of peeps, with the smaller ones being the more accurate.
Larger peeps tend to be easier to use for those with poor vision or in scenarios with low or poor lighting because the larger aperture. Our older archers tend to prefer the larger peep sights for that exact reason- it helps them see the target no matter the lighting. That said, larger peep sights are significantly less accurate because there is a lot of space around the sight within the sight window of the peep sight, and that area gives the archer the ability to be unknowingly inconsistent as the sight moves around the area of the peep sight's sight picture. Check out the picture below for an example of that spacing causing issues.
So, what peep should you select? We recommend that archers get the smallest possible peep that still allows them to clearly see the target, For some archers, that may be the large, 1/4" peep, while most others will have a fine time with a 1/16" peep. A really good idea is to invest a bit of extra money in a Specialty Archery Peep Sight with threading. Using that peep and a tool that is included with the package, an archer can adjust the size of the peep sight as needed, allowing for a flexible, durable, and adaptable peep sight size that fits them even as their eyes and bow change.
If you still can't decide, I recommend that you fit your peep to the sight of your sight, once you are at full draw. The edge the peep should perfectly eclipse the edge of the scope at full draw such that looking through your peep sight is looking only through the sight. Below is an example of a peep being too large, too small, and just right.
We hope this helps you increase your accuracy, and we look forward to seeing you on the range!
Many of our archers and bowhunters have issues where their shots unexpectedly hit left and right and they cannot figure out why. They check their grip, their stance, their posture, and then they start tweaking the sight back and forth, chasing the gold. However, many of our archers do not think about their follow-through. It is a vital and difficult to master part of a shot, and improving your follow-through can drastically improve your archery accuracy.
Simply put, follow-through is what you do after the release fires or your fingers release the string. Many people erroneously think that as soon as the release goes off, the shot is done and you can look where it went and ignore what happens with the bow drawing hand afterward, However, the truth is that for a fraction of a second, the bow and the arrow that is being shot are still in contact with you, and what you do in those moments of transition are very important. A common issue, for example, is for right handed archers with an index finger trigger release to shoot using their finger to pull the trigger, not follow through properly, and thus have arrows go oddly left with no explanation. This issue can be fixed with proper follow-through!
Below are exaggerated examples of good and bad follow-through. Check them out and compare the differences.
As we covered in previous weeks, the best shots in archery happen by surprise by using our back muscles to pull slowly through the shot. The same pulling motion will create an excellent follow-through if continued after the shot breaks. The body must remain still, and the only motion comes from the release going off, allowing your elbow to pull to a point behind you as your hand thus drifts naturally over the rear shoulder, directly in line with the bow string as it leaves your face. Executing a shot in this way increase accuracy and consistency, and when you try it and get comfortable with it, you will likely see that it feels better, too.
Check out archery expert and renowned coach John Dudley's synopsis of this same idea. He teaches a method using a positive contraction of the bicep that may help some archers who have a hard time understanding what the shot should feel like.
Arrow spine ratings are a vitally important number when building the right arrow setup for your bow, but they can often be very confusing. Arrow manufacturers often don't use a universal standard rating system, so a 350 in one arrow can be the same as a 400 in another, and to complicate the matter further, some arrows (like the Carbon Express Maxima Reds) have different spine strengths in different parts of the arrow. So, what do we do?
First, you need to get your bow build's numbers. Specifically, you need to know your bow's draw weight, the length of your arrow shaft (not your draw length), and your desired point weight. These three numbers can be used to reference an arrow selection chart from your favorite arrow manufacturers (we particularly like what Black Eagle has going on), to select your arrow. Generally, the lower the number, the stiffer the arrow's static spine. The arrow's static spine is measured simply by weighting down the center using a spine testing machine. It's old school, for sure, but it is effective!
However, the stiffness you select there is only the static spine of your arrow- the spine of the arrow at rest. When you begin to alter the length of the arrow shaft, add weight to the front or rear of the arrow, or alter the arrow in any other way, you change the dynamic spine rating of the arrow. Adding point weight increases your arrow's FOC (front of center balance), but it decreases the dynamic spine rating, whereas shortening your arrow can increase the dynamic spine of an arrow that is too weak, but be careful not to cut too much! So, for example, if you had a Black Eagle Deep Impact Arrow with a 350 spine, but you add 185 grain broad heads to it (like a German Kinetic) your 350 spine is now going to perform at a spine rating more like a 400-450, even though the static spine rating is the same. If I then cut the arrow down to 27", I can increase the dynamic spine of that arrow back toward it's static spine rating. There's no perfect formula for this calculation, but talk to your local pro shop, or confer with experts online like John Dudley's "Knocked and Ready to Rock" segments for support.
In later weeks, we will get into building arrows, tuning arrows, and more detailed on arrow selection, but for this week, you are armed with the knowledge of how to select arrow shafts using the spine rating, and the knowledge of how arrow components can affect an arrow's dynamic spine. See you on the range!
Whether you are training for the national professional World Archery or IBO circuit, hunting deer and elk deep in the woods, or just shooting once a week at your local range, having the right arrow setup is critical to any archer. While the most scientifically complex element of arrows is their spine (either static or dynamic), one of the most important parts of the arrow composition, and one thing that is often not discussed enough, is the overall mass weight of your arrows.
We hear the debate about once a week in our shop:
"You want a light arrow, man! You'll lost all your speed otherwise and then your deer is gone by the time it gets there!
"No way- you need that high mass weight to get a lot of kinetic energy. Without it, you can't get a good pass-through shot and the deer can survive longer!
So, which is it? Does an archer need light, fast, arrows or heavy arrows with a high kinetic energy rating? The truth is that sometimes, and archer wants both!
Fast, lightweight arrows are best for getting your arrow out toward targets that can react quickly (in the case of hunting) like an axis deer.. The lighter arrow is also advantageous in the event that you are shooting at distances that are not clear or that you have to estimate, because the lighter arrow will have a more stable/flat flight trajectory at the longer distances. When you get a light, fast arrow, it will get to your target quicker and give you some vertical forgiveness for longer range, but it will also cost you in flight stability and kinetic energy. Light arrows get there quickly but often do not punch as deeply into the target, creating smaller wound channels without passing through the target and increasing the distance that you must go to find the animal you were hunting,
Heavy arrows are excellent for taking down large targets or targets with a thicker hide that cannot be penetrated with lightweight arrows. Additionally, given their higher inertia and kinetic energy, these heavy arrows are less effected by wind and more likely to pass through a target upon impact, creating a larger wound channel for a quicker kill. Furthermore, these heavy arrows take so much power for your bow to shoot that they significantly quiet down your bow! So, in short, you get a heavy, powerful, silent shot. A moose is a good example of a target that would be better suited for a heavy arrow build, since they are one of the largest ungulates in the world and have thick hide and bodies. But keep in mind that these arrows drop much more quickly due to their weight, and thus are not forgiving for estimated distances, nor at longer distances where you'll have to have a specialty sight to be able to aim at the target.
So, what should you do? Well, the answer is not a simple "this one is better." What you should do is ask yourself what your goals are and how you will be using the arrows you are building. If you hunt shorter, known ranges and distances, if you are hunting larger game, or if you are looking to kill an animal as quickly as possible, it's time to get some weighty arrows like Easton FMJs or Black Eagle Deep Impacts. Conversely, if you are shooting at animals at distances you frequently must guess at, shooting at animals with quick reaction time, or shooting at animals with lighter hide, a lighter arrow such as the Victory V-Force or the CarbonTech Whitetail might be best for you.
Additionally, in the event you have arrow shafts whose weight you want to manipulate, keep on checking back to this blog where we will later show how to use brass inserts, heavy broad-heads, and lighted nocks to affect the arrow's dynamic spine rating and FOC.
In other articles, we will tackle many more parts of arrow information such as FOC (front of center) on arrows, setting up arrows with the correct spine rating, manipulating arrow spine, arrow diameter and friction, and more. However, for this week, use this information to end the debate- archers can make use of both types of arrows, and you should determine your goal before making your selections. Check out this video below for a summary of this information from Easton.
Archers everywhere use stabilizers for both hunting and target archery, but many don't know what a stabilizer is for and what makes a good stabilizer.. In Deer Creek Archery's opinion, stabilizers are best used to reduce vibration and to increase rotational resistance so that the bow holds steadier during the execution of your shot.
First, stabilizers are about adding stability (who would have guessed?) to your shot. This is accomplished by adding weight to the end of a rod that points away from the middle of the bow. The basic rule of thumb is that the further the weight is away from the pivot point of your bow (your handle), and the more weight is on that stabilizer, the steadier your hold and the more accuracy you achieve. So, how long should your stabilizer be? The answer is that it should be as long as you are able to comfortably maneuver, control, and balance at full draw, given your application. By no means does that mean you need a 32" rod with 15oz. on the end. In fact, while you do hold steadier with more weight, you should never have so much weight that you sacrifice technique. If you can't hold your bow and maintain a perfect body alignment like a "T," then that bow is too heavy! But don't worry, even a few ounces just 6-8" from your riser can dramatically increase your performance. We would encourage you to test a stabilizer before you buy it to ensure that you are getting a good fit.
The second reason to use a stabilizer is to reduce the noise and vibration of your bow. The bow's resonance after a shot breaks can be largely eliminated use rubber or other sound and vibration dampening elements such as gel, sand, etc. This quieting effect makes your bow have that much sought after "dead in the hand" feel and reduces the sounds that animals might hear when your shot breaks, thus giving them less time to react and evade your shot.
Whether or not to use a rear bar is also a matter of preference. Many hunters use them, and just as many hate them. The trade off is about balance and maneuverability. The more weight you have on the bow makes it hold steadier, and adding weight to the rear of your bow to counteract the stabilizer in the front absolutely keeps the bow more balanced, but if you can't crawl toward an animal you're stalking or climb into your tree stand because your stabilizer is digging into things, it's worthless! What works for you may vary from your friends, so come on in to Deer Creek Archery and test some out. We have some of the best stabilizers on the market from Stixx to Axion, and a host of accessories for your convenience.
For a more detailed look at stabilizers from one of the most renowned coaches and instructors in the archery game, George "Griv" Ryals, we would send you to his website at this link to read his article on the topic
There are many different kinds of stabilizers out there, and which one you like best is a matter of personal feel. We hope that this Technical Tuesday article has given you some things to consider when buying a stabilizer.
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