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Bowstring Flaying, should I worry about it?

Q

"My bowstring is flaying a bit on the tips. Should I be worried about it?"

A

Hello!

Not really. Bowstrings are designed to be multiple times stronger than the bow itself. A few strands flaying is not a big concern.

Individual strands have their own weight allowance. Eg. 20 to 40 lbs per strand. So if your bowstring has 16 strands and they can withstand 40 lbs per strand then its max weight is theoretically 640. Since strands can flay / snap it is desirable to have a max weight that is many multiples of the bow's weight.

If two strands flay the bowstring is still usable because it still has 560 left. If half of the strands flay it is probably time for a new bowstring.

The individual strength of strands can vary wildly between the type of material. Some materials might only be 20 lbs per strand, 25, 30, etc. So for example a particular brand might only be 20 lbs per strand, but might also be physically lighter, and/or more/less likely to stretch. With 16 strands that bowstring would be able to withstand 320 lbs, which is still abundantly more than the bow itself, but might have the advantages of less weight and stretching less.

Flemish Twist Bowstring
To save weight / add speed some archers will also make 14, 12 or 10 strand bowstrings. Thinner bowstrings means it will require more serving for the nocks.

Most archers prefer to have a robust bowstring that lasts a long time, hence why 14 and 16 strands are the most common. Some will even do 18 or 20 strands just to make the bowstring more robust and take the slower arrow speed as a trade off. (Crossbow bowstrings typically use between 24 and 30 strands, although the actual amount may vary on the crossbow manufacturer and model.)

You may also notice differences in sound, arrow flight accuracy, nock looseness/tightness, bowstring stretchiness effecting brace height, how easily strands flay, and differences between the types of materials you are using (dacron, fastflight, more traditional materials).

For those people who want to gain extra speed / accuracy they may want to consider learning how to make their own bowstrings using better quality materials so they can learn how to optimize speed by lowering the physical weight of the bowstring. If you do decide to do that, a good place to start is to learn how to make a Flemish Twist bowstring.

Happy Shooting!


How dangerous are crossbows?

My condolences go out to the families of the three people murdered in Scarborough around 1 PM today with a crossbow. For more details about that incident read Triple Crossbow Homicide in Scarborough.

I was contacted earlier today by the radio station Newstalk 1010, which had a number of questions about crossbows. The discussion sparked a number of frequently asked questions about crossbows, however the conversation was relatively short and I don't feel like we covered all the FAQ people would possibly like to know. To allay the concerns of my fellow Torontonians here are some frequently asked questions and the corresponding answers.

How dangerous are crossbows?
In short, very dangerous. Hunters in Ontario commonly use them for shooting black bears, elk, moose and large game. So they are very lethal.
How easy is it to buy a crossbow?
Very easy, provided you are over 18 years of age. They are available at most hunting/fishing stores, and can even be purchased at Canadian Tire or Walmart or similar stores. I doubt that some stores like Walmart even routinely check for ID when people are purchasing crossbows, because the staff working there may not know the laws about selling crossbows to minors.
How powerful are crossbows?
The minimum poundage for a hunting crossbow in Ontario, by law, is 150 lbs of force. Which is a lot of kinetic energy when you compare to other types of bows. For example if someone was shooting a normal bow (compound bow, recurve bow, longbow, etc) then the minimum legal requirement is 39.7 lbs when hunting deer or smaller game. For larger game like elk, moose and black bear the minimum is 48.5 lbs. So when you compare to normal bows, crossbows are incredibly powerful.

Anything smaller than 150 lbs is considered to be a "youth crossbow" and is illegal to hunt with. Some crossbows are exceptionally powerful, like the "Excalibur Matrix 405", which has a 290 lb draw weight and a speed of 405 feet per second when firing 350 grain crossbow bolts. Note, there is no legal limit on how powerful crossbows can be. Hypothetically a hunter could use a ballista to hunt deer.
How easy is it to make your own crossbow?
These days, very easy. If a person had a 3D printer they could print the stock needed to make the crossbow, and then they would just need to attach a bow of somekind to the front, made out of wood or high tensile steel or a steel alloy. (Modern crossbows are usually made out of metal.) Failing that a person could also just build their own out of wood and metal, total cost would be less than $50 for all the parts. The hardest part to make would be the trigger mechanism.
How fast or slow is it to load and reload a crossbow?
This is the Achilles heel of crossbows. Typically, they are VERY SLOW to reload. A typical modern crossbow in the hands of an experienced crossbow enthusiast could be reloaded perhaps twice per minute using a foot stirrup and a cocking rope. Three times per minute if it was a very light poundage crossbow and/or the person operating it was quite strong. A slower but easier method would be to use a windlass handcrank, in which case expect perhaps 1 shot per minute. Using a windlass crank is more common with any of the really heavy poundage crossbows, like the one shown below.

Excalibur Windlass Crank
How do crossbows compare to other kinds of weapons?
Due to their slowness, crossbows are not the greatest weapons. They are easy to use, as any person can basically purchase one, practice with it a few times and learn most of what they need to know to be able to competently shoot one. However due to their slow speed, they have historically done poorly when compared to other weapons. There are a number of historical battles during which large numbers of French crossbowmen were utterly decimated by a comparatively small number of English longbowmen simply because the longbows could be quickly reloaded and fired with ease, whereas the crossbows took a ridiculously long time to reload. You would think based on sheer numbers the French would have won those battles, but underestimated how quickly English longbowmen could reload and how slow their own forces were at reloading.

A crossbow would be a very slow and inefficient weapon to use in close combat. Compared to other kinds of weapons, if being used in close combat, an axe, a sword or even a hatchet or dagger would be a more efficient weapon. For example, in January 1969 in Buffalo Narrows Saskatchewan 7 people were massacred with an axe. It is one of the largest massacres in Canadian history that didn't involve firearms. It makes you realize just how much firearms play a role in large massacres, such as the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989 which killed 15 people, using a semi-automatic rifle and a hunting knife.

As a sniper weapon, the crossbow excels. It made Swiss crossbowman William Tell famous after he was forced to shoot an apple off of his son's head, and later escaped and used the same crossbow to assassinate the Austrian reeve Gessler - an act which sparked the Swiss rebellion and eventually the creation of the Swiss Confederation.
Should crossbows be restricted or banned or require a license to purchase?
They already face the restriction of age to purchase a crossbow, but it would be worthless to try and require a license for crossbows. It is difficult to estimate how many crossbows are in Ontario, but if perhaps 1% of people in Ontario owned a crossbow it would be 136,000 crossbows - and most of them are probably collecting dust in basements, closets, attics, garages, etc. Some people may have even forgotten they have one. That would be 100s of thousands of people for the province to try and regulate for a hunting tool that is mostly used only for hunting, and hunters typically are not fond of change and would protest strongly against any proposed restrictions, bans or licenses for crossbows.

European nobility tried to ban the crossbow during the Middle Ages, with little success. At the time it was considered to be too easy of a weapon to manufacture and thus also made it really easy to assassinate nobility, hence why they tried to ban it. Their attempts to do so didn't really work however and the popularity of crossbows later waned with the advent of firearms.

Ontario would face the same problem. Crossbows are simply far too easy to manufacture. Especially these days with 3D printers that could make the stock and then it just needs the bow and trigger mechanism. Trying to ban them would be useless as criminals with evil intent would always find a way to make their own weapons regardless, hence the current problem with 3D printed firearms.
Conclusions
Yes, crossbows are dangerous. But they are a bad choice to be used as a close quarters weapon and typically are very slow to reload when compared to firearms or even other kinds of bows. As details of today's massacre are revealed we learn that it took the murderer 5 minutes to load and reload and kill the three people in the garage and injure a fourth person by stabbing him. That lengthy time leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Why did the people not simply rush him while he reloading? What other weapons did he have handy? Did they have a handgun on them too, but chose to use the crossbow because it was quieter? Why did none of the neighbours who heard the screaming come and investigate the cause of the screaming? Why did the murderer choose to use a crossbow when other weapons are faster and more efficient? What was their motive for committing the murders? Why did they also leave a suspicious package down at a condo at Queens Quay and what was inside the package? Explosives?

There are way too many unanswered questions at this time. We hope that police can release more details about this incident soon and that it is hopefully an isolated incident.

My condolences go out to the families of the three people murdered. All life is sacred.

Archery Question - Does the size of the bow matter at all?

Q

"Hey Charles,

Thank you so much for the [archery equipment] information and help, I'll start looking around based on the information that you provided and hopefully this week we'll be able to get our own equipment.

Does the size of the bow matter at all? I noticed that the sizes vary from 60' to 66', I'm not sure if the size matters as long as we get the proper poundage.

Regards,
Francis"

A

Hey Francis!
Yes, to some extent it does matter. Longer bows are known to be more forgiving accuracy wise, meaning you can make a small mistake and it won't be too far off. Shorter bows are generally less forgiving, so if you make a mistake it will often be a more dramatic difference.
Coincidentally this also applies to compound bows too, hence why many compound shooters like longer axle-to-axle compound bows because they are more forgiving of mistakes and thus more accurate. That said, it is a trade-off because some hunters prefer smaller bows which are more maneuverable through thick brush and weigh less.
Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

Archery Question: Building Upper Back Strength

Q

A former archery student of mine sent me the following question today:

"I have a few sessions coming up with a personal trainer. Is there anything specific I should ask him to do to help with my back strength? I am keen to get beyond the 18 -20 lb kiddie strength mark.

Best,

Stephen"

A

Hey Stephen!
 
You should tell the personal trainer to pay extra attention to the following muscle groups:
  • Upper Back (Rhomboids and Trapezoids)
  • Shoulders (Deltoids)
  • Triceps
If you are shooting regularly (once or twice per week) you will be building muscle in those places and eventually 20 lbs will feel easy and you will feel the urge to move up to 25 lbs. If you are not shooting regularly however, exercises that target the above muscles will be beneficial.
I should also note that archers regularly benefit from all over exercise. A stronger heart and lungs allows an archer to be more relaxed about their breathing and they are pumping oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to the muscles.

Have a great August!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Three

Earlier today I answered an email from someone looking to get into archery but was on a tight budget. Fortunately I had already written a number of articles on the topic previously.

Examples

DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget, which details how to make your own bamboo laminate bow on a tiny budget.

Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Two, which is a guide to buying used equipment, the pros and cons of it, and what kind of equipment a person should be looking for.

Optional Archery Equipment: Need or Don't Need is a list of optional equipment that people don't really need / can craft themselves with very little skills. eg. Sewing your own bow sock or knitting your own quiver.

Years ago I also wrote a piece on the topic of "The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Archery Lessons", which explained a step by step approach to getting into archery and not paying for archery lessons.

Looking over those older articles published in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 I realized that perhaps it was time I wrote a Part Three on the topic. So here goes...

DIY Archery Equipment with (Almost) No Money and No Skills

Step One, read the PDF for Volume I of the Traditional Bowyer's Bible. Henceforth referred to as "TBB".

The PDF is available on Scribd and other sources.

The most important chapter to read is the one on bow design. Reading the other chapters are also handy as you will learn quite a bit about archery and bow making from Volume I of the TBB alone, so you don't necessarily need to read Volumes II, III or IV.

Some libraries might also have a copy of the book. Or if you know someone who already has this book perhaps you can borrow it from them. Whatever you do, find a way to read this book.

Note: Make notes from the various things you learn.

Total Cost: $0.

Step Two, determine what tools you actually have available that would be useful for bow making.

Ideally it would be nice to have the following:

  • Hatchet or Axe
  • Draw Knife
  • Rasp and Files
  • Carving Knife

Hopefully you will already have most of everything you need. If you don't ask to borrow some tools from some friends / family members. If you can get every tool you need without spending a penny then you will be in a good position to start bow-making.

Total Cost: $0.

Step Three, acquire the raw materials to start building a bow.

This might involve:

1) Cutting down a small hardwood tree with the above mentioned axe, and then splitting the tree into several staves the correct length for bow-making. If you get four staves from one tree then you will have enough to hone your skills 4 times.

2) Finding a piece of old oak / hard maple or other kind of hardwood that is a good length and shape for bow-making. There is a chapter in the TBB which details what kinds of wood are good for bow-making.

3) Buy a piece of hardwood. I find oak is one of the easiest pieces of hardwood to find and work with, and it relatively inexpensive.

4) Getting a piece of bamboo instead of using wood. This might involve having to buy bamboo, as it is not something people normally throw out. If you go in the bamboo route you will want to research everything you can about making bamboo bows. I recommend starting by reading DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget, as I cover one method on how to make a bamboo laminate bow in that article.

You will also need an extra piece of scrap wood for making a tillering stick.

Total Cost: Varies or $0.

Step Four, start bow-making using what you have learned in the Traditional Bowyer's Bible.

Tillering the Bow
Don't expect your first bow to work perfectly. In fact, expect your first bow to probably break. Pay attention to the tillering process and try to make a fairly light and easy to use bow. Don't try to make something really powerful like a "50 lb longbow capable of killing a bear" because chances are likely that bow will be sluggish, the arrows will fly really slow, and will be horribly inaccurate.

A common beginners mistake is to try to make a powerful bow. Instead try to make something that is easy to use, takes about 20 lbs to pull to a draw length of 28 inches, and shoots the arrows nice and fast because that is really your end goal: A bow that shoots arrows quickly and accurately.

After you've made several bows your skills will have progressed and you will have gone from having no bow-making skills to having a good start at learning how to make bows that shoot fast. Then you will be ready to try making something more powerful.

Total Cost: $0.

Step Five, making arrows / etc.

To make arrows and other archery equipment, you are basically just reading different chapters from the TBB and applying the same principles above. A scrap of leather for a shooting tab or an old pair of leather gloves to protect your hand. Buy or find the necessary parts for arrow making and fletching: Straight wood shafts + feathers for fletching + obsidian, flint, metal or glass for arrowheads.

The blue glass arrowhead shown below is made using flintknapping. All you need is a piece of glass and something hard (eg. a large nail or bolt works well) to hit it with to begin the process of learning how to flintknap.

Total Cost: Varies or $0.




But what if I don't want to make my own equipment?

Well then you are left with the following options:

1. Buy equipment that is used. In which case I recommend reading Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Two.

2. Buy equipment that is new, but try to save money by making your own accessories. In which case I recommend reading Optional Archery Equipment: Need or Don't Need.

3. Borrow equipment from a friend who also does archery until you can afford to do one of the above options. Your friend is going to want the equipment back and if you break any of it, you will be expected to buy/replace anything you broke.

4. Ask friends / family members to get you archery equipment for your birthday / Christmas / etc. Be patient, that might take awhile to get everything you are looking for.

5. Sell / trade / barter old things you don't need any more to get archery equipment. That old bicycle you don't use any more? Sell it and buy archery equipment.

Got more ideas on how to get or make your own archery equipment? Post your ideas in the comments section below.

Happy shooting!

A Comprehensive Guide to Archery within Game of Thrones

The Top Five Episodes of Game of Thrones with respect to Archery...

There are a lot of excellent archery scenes in Game of Thrones. I have picked 5 of my favourite scenes that best illustrate archery as a skill.

Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 1

"Relax your bow arm." - Robb Stark, instructing Bran Stark on how to shoot.


This scene is actually quite good from an archery perspective. Bran makes several common archery mistakes, like plucking his release, and tensing up his bow arm / bow shoulder. The advice Robb gives Bran to "relax" his bow arm is actually very good advice.

Archery Trivia - The glove Bran is wearing is a Neet archery glove, made in the USA, which use Velcro on the wrist strap. The manufacturing tag was removed.


Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 9

Not much is talked about the shot here executed by Bronn, but it is important because he is later made a knight and called Sir Bronn of the Blackwater, referring to this shot. The result of the shot, spoiler alert, is one heck of an explosion.


Archery Trivia - The bow used by Bronn is a replica of the Meare Heath bow. The Meare Heath is remnants of a prehistoric neolithic flatbow wrapped with deer sinew in a IXIXI pattern. Below is a remnant of a Meare Heath limb next to a modern replica of a limb.


Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6

This episode is important because it is one of the few episodes containing Anguy the Archer - the best archer in all of Westeros, and includes a scene where he is teaching Arya how to shoot.


The problem with the above scene is Arya's form. She is pulling so far to the side, her form is inconsistent and she is apparently shooting at such a short distance that she is basically "shooting instinctively". At such a short distance she should be able to hit easily whatever she wants to hit, with very little skill required - and very little time spent aiming. Anguy points this out, noting this she took her "sweet time" doing it.

He then proceeds to correct her elbow so that her back is doing more of the work, and encourages her to shoot without aiming (trying to teach her how to shoot instinctively).

Another good scene to watch with Anguy is in Season 3 Episode 2, when Anguy intimidates Hotpie into backing away when he shoots an arrow almost straight up and it comes back down only yards away from himself where Hotpie was standing - and backed away just in time to avoid being hit.


Archery Trivia - Anguy's bow limbs are tipped with carved horn, suggesting that the bow is quite strong and powerful. However Arya is still pulling it, suggesting Arya is really strong for her young age (doubtful) or the people directing the scene chose to ignore that a girl Arya's age would never be able to pull and hold steady such a powerful bow.


Game of Thrones Season 4, Various Episodes

It is hard to choose one episode or scene from this season, so instead we will point to Ygritte's role in season 4 in general.

In the show (and the books) Ygritte is supposedly a great archer, but routinely the actress is doing all sorts of bad things with her bow which makes her look like a complete amateur. Things like:
  • Using 4 fingers on the bowstring (+ inconsistent use of her fingers in general);
  • Wrapping one finger of her bowhand around the arrow;
  • Pulling back the arrow near her shoulder or often a foot away from her face;
  • Inconsistent draw length...
 I could go on and on. Watching Ygritte shoot in season 4 is like watching a how to guide of how NOT to shoot. You can basically just pick any episode from season 4 with Ygritte shooting and you will have a scene showing you what NOT to be doing.


Archery Trivia - Ygritte's bow is another replica of the famous Meare Heath bow, except this one is a shorter recurved version of the Meare Heath.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 9

I have a whole post dedicated to this episode. See Ramsay's Archery Skills on Game of Thrones to learn more.

To summarize, Ramsay shoots at various distances in this episode and is even showing off to the soldiers behind him by deliberately missing most of his shots. In the moving GIF below he doesn't even look at the target as he deliberately misses. (I shall not spoil the rest of the scene, but suffice to say that if you have not seen that episode then maybe you should reading the above mentioned post about Ramsay's Archery Skills.)


Archery Trivia - The bow Ramsay uses is a Penobscot bow, a double limbed flatbow that uses adjustable cables so that the user can adjust the power of the bow and thus can maximize power and improve long range accuracy. The Penobscot are a Native American tribe from the Maine region of the USA, their bows were rather unique design wise.

Ramsay using a Penobscot Bow

A Penobscot Bow

I may add more posts on this topic in the future, perhaps choosing 5 other episodes and make a sequel post. If this is something you would like to read leave a comment below and subscribe to CardioTrek.ca.

Happy Shooting!

Pokémon Go as a Workout Plan - How to get the Most Exercise and the Most Pokémon

First, what is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game that works on both Apple and Android devices (smart phones and tablets). The game uses real world exploration to collect Pokémon in the game, and later to battle Pokémon against each other.

Note - The game has become intensely popular, as the Pokémon Go craze has swept the USA and Canada. For some people it is now more popular than Facebook. It isn't just for kids either. Many adults, usually between 20 to 40, are now playing the game. But that doesn't mean that elderly people cannot get into it too, and are doing so - partially for the fitness benefits.

The goal of the game is to physically get the player to go from location to location, collecting Pokéballs, Pokémon, and other objects within the game. This means that people are walking, jogging, running, cycling, etc to get from location to location as part of the goals of playing the game.

Pokéstops are real world locations, varying from park benches dedicated to people, statues, museums, art galleries, historic sites, etc. At each Pokéstop a person visits they can then slide the icon sideways so it spins and they then get free Pokéballs and other stuff that are useful for playing the game.

Being close to Pokéstops also means that you are also in a great place to catch random Pokémon. They will randomly appear on the screen, usually with your phone vibrating or making a beeping noise to alert you that there is a random Pokémon nearby. Click on the Pokémon and you can attempt to catch it by throwing Pokéballs at it. (Which feels a bit like basketball, but once you get the hang of it throwing the balls and catching them is pretty easy. The only trick is if you miss, that Pokéball is gone and you can run out of Pokéballs very easily if you are struggling to get good accuracy with your throw.)

Pokégyms are unlike real gyms, in the sense that you don't normally fight people at gyms. When you visit one you can try to defeat the current defender(s) of the gym which works a bit like the old "King of the Castle" game you might have played when you were a kid. You fight your strongest Pokémon against whichever Pokémon are guarding the gym. If you manage to defeat all of the Pokémon guarding a gym, then you capture that gym and you can leave a Pokémon there to guard it. You will get your Pokémon back after they are later eventually defeated.

Pokémon Go's Augmented Reality

So why is Pokémon Go good for Fitness?

This game has been surprisingly good at getting people outside exercising when they would normally be indoors watching TV or fooling around on the internet. It is arguably a Competitive Sport.

The more you exercise, the more Pokémon you get, the more powerful those Pokémon become, the better they do in battles, etc. Thus it is a surprisingly powerful and easy way to motivate people to go outside and exercise.

That motivation factor is one of the biggest reasons why some people succeed at losing weight and others fail in their attempt. A game which helps motivate people to go for walks outdoors certainly scores points on the motivation factor, even if it does seem childish.

Now it is possible to gain various things within the game, like Pokéballs, just by paying for them. However even if you pay for the Pokéballs you still need to go outside and walk around to find and catch Pokémon - as they are rarely going to be on your doorstep. Thus while some people might choose to spend money in an effort to reduce how much exercise they have to do to play the game, they still need to exercise a fair bit just to find Pokémon.

Furthermore you cannot cheat during this game. While it is possible to catch a few Pokémon while in a car or on a bus, most of the time the speed of the vehicle will cause you to miss things, such as Pokémon and Pokéstops that are too far away by the time GPS catches up to the speed of the vehicle you are in. Thus the ideal speeds to be going is somewhere between walking and bicycling.

What I find fascinating is that this game has done what no sport has done before - get millions of people to suddenly go outside and exercise, with little more motivation than the attempt to find fictional non-existent pocket monsters who only exist within the game. You don't really get much out of the game beyond the fun of catching them, and the journey of catching them becomes the really fun part instead - in other words, walking around and exploring becomes the real challenge and the whole point of the game. The journey becomes both the means and the end goal.

10 Ways to Lose Weight using Pokémon Go

1. Family Fitness - Take the whole family with you and you can all play the game together as you explore. Friends who are also into the game means more people to talk to while you explore, so it becomes a social activity for everyone involved.

2. Jogging - Get from Pokéstop to Pokéstop faster by jogging. Dress for the occasion and take water with you! (Or plan your route so it goes by libraries with free water fountains.)

3. Cycling - Get there even faster on a bicycle. See more Pokéstops and catch more Pokémon in less time. Many bicycle trails will also have various Pokéstops along the way too.

Map of Pokémon locations in downtown Toronto
4. Walking - Take the easy way and just walk it. Very relaxing. In Toronto a simple walk around the downtown area will garner you quite a few Pokémon. See map on right.

5. Hiking - Hilly parklands can sometimes have lots of Pokémon. In the last two days I have visited two parks in Toronto and came away feeling invigorated from walking and exploring, and catching quite a few Pokémon.

6. Focus on Cardio - Don't be afraid to alter your speed now and then. Rotate between walking and jogging between Pokéstops the same way people do using HIIT (high intensity interval training). This way you get to enjoy the best of both worlds between walking and jogging, getting more Pokémon faster, but with breaks that allow you to take it easy once in awhile.

7. Stay Safe - Don't take silly risks. Pay attention to where you are going, what is around you, avoid cliffs or steep ledges, take the long way around, avoid dangerous shortcuts, and take your time. Also you don't need to look at your phone the whole time. You can ignore it while you walk from location to location.

8. Go to the Beach - If you want to swim, then do it safely. All of the Pokémon will be on the shore however as they usually dot places of importance, historical or otherwise. Many water-based Pokémon can be found near lakes, rivers, and ponds - and Toronto has plenty of rivers and water features to check out.

9. Rollerblading - Again, watch where you are going and be careful. Rollerblading will let you get from place to place faster, which saves on battery life - and you get to capture more Pokémon faster.

10. Skateboarding - Not for everyone, but still a decently fun way to get around Toronto.

Note - Fans of the Pokémon TV show will also note that one of the main characters also used a skateboard frequently to get around.


How to do an Archery Trick Shot

The trick shot I did yesterday for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation's #TakeYourShot campaign got me thinking about the nature of archery trick shots and how people can practice for them. Visit http://www.takeyourshot.org if you want to take part and do your own trick shot or donate to this great cause.

You can see the one I did yesterday in the video below, during which I shot two arrows at once at a target 20.5 yards (61.5 feet) away.



To accomplish the task I practiced shooting two arrows at once for half an hour prior to making the video, determining several things...

#1. Where to aim. #2. How much to be canting the bow. #3. How I should be nocking the arrows in order to get more consistency (mostly to prevent them from colliding midair and going awry).

Once I had those things figured out I was ready to film it and we managed to do it in one take. The two arrows were tight enough on the target I didn't feel the need to do it again. (It is basically impossible to get super tight clusters when shooting two at once anyway.)

Regardless, having done it, the experience got me thinking about the nature of trick shots and whether it is possible to teach someone how to do a trick shot.

Yes and no. I shall explain why.

You really need for the person to know how to shoot first. They should know all the basics and have good consistency when doing normal target practice. A complete amateur shouldn't really be attempting to do a trick shot, as their arrows will be super inconsistent even under normal circumstances.

Thus I feel I should break down this possible process into several steps, which are basically mandatory if someone is hoping to do a trick shot and do it well (without trying to do it and failing 10,000 times before they finally succeed).

Step #1. Learn how to shoot properly first. Whether you get archery lessons, learn from a book, or learn how to shoot based on years of practice. There is no point attempting a trick shot unless you are guaranteed to at least have a decent chance of succeeding.

Step #2. Know your limits. A good archer should have a decent idea of how far they can shoot accurately and try to stay well within those limits when trying to show off. Trying to shoot at a really long distance for example in an effort to display your skill, when you normally don't practice at that distance - well that is a great way to become discouraged, break/lose arrows, and eventually realize that maybe you picked something that is too difficult.

Step #3. Choose a Trick Shot that is within your range of Skill. Try to pick something relatively easy that you already know how to do, or is perhaps only slightly harder than something you normally do already. This way your chance of success will be way higher. To be a proper trick shot archer, you should be able to repeat the trick shot more than once - not just the one time when the camera was filming and you deleted all the other failed attempts.

Step #4. Practice the Trick Shot. This is really your chance to get good at it. So that you can repeat it on command. Years later, you might not have done the trick shot in a long time, but you should remember all the basics and in theory should be able to repeat the trick shot based on memory.

In my defense yesterday was not the first time I practiced shooting two arrows at once. I have been doing that for years now. Years earlier I did a series of trick shots for Rice Krispies and one shot included shooting two arrows through a bag of flour simultaneously. They wanted me to shoot a single arrow through it, and I suggested that it was a tad boring and what if I shoot two at once? They liked the idea and we went with it. Another shot involved shooting through a plastic milk jug and having it pour milk through the holes into two bowls of Rice Krispies cereal. Twas quite fun doing those.

Step #5. For best results, repeatedly practice the Trick Shot on multiple days. Self explanatory, practice makes perfect. By the time you decide to film it, you should be able to do the trick shot "most of the time" on command. 60% of the time or better would be good.

Step #6. Perform the Trick Shot on Camera. By this point you should be able to do the trick shot either on the first or second attempt.

One of the things I regret not doing yesterday is repeating the trick shot, thrice. To prove it was not a fluke. I should have shot two arrows at once, then another two arrows at once, and then maybe another two arrows at once. A nice cluster of arrows on the target.

Instead I did it on the first attempt and then didn't bother doing it over again. Oh well. Maybe next time I will up the ante.

I am also thinking of doing a whole series of archery trick shot videos. Moving targets, three arrows at once, shooting upside down, various ideas. We shall see.

For fun below is another trick shot video I made in 2015, during which my goal was to hit a tiny moving target - a bottle cap.



And below, a tight cluster on a bottle.

Happy shooting!


Archery Lesson Plan + How many lessons should you do?

Q
Good Afternoon,

I am interested in signing up for archery lessons. I was hoping to get some additional information about the lessons. From the site, I see that they are packages for 1,3,5 and 10 lessons. I was wondering if the multiple lessons have a sort of lesson plan, for example the first lesson deals with X and Lessons 2 and 3 deal with Y. Or if you have a recommendation of how many lessons a beginner like myself should start off with.

Thank you,
F.

A

Hello!
Yes, I do follow a lesson plan - although it does sometimes vary from client to client. eg. Some clients want to learn how to shoot longbow, shortbow, compound or have specific goals in mind, which changes how lessons unfold. Depending on wind conditions some lessons will also deal with how to adjust for the wind.
Below is a typical lesson plan.

Lesson 1 - Safety Lecture, Eye Dominance Test, Aiming Lecture, Form Lecture + Field Archery Practice (various distances), with a focus on form.
Lesson 2 - Target Practice at 60 feet. Focus is on developing quality form and getting rid of bad habits, may include learning how to adjust for the wind depending on wind conditions. The lesson may sometimes include a Field Archery element for fun.

Lesson 3 - Target Practice at 60 feet. Focus is on adjusting aim and doing an aiming exercise, while still working on quality form. May include different types of aiming exercises or one of the topics mentioned below.

Additional lessons beyond that can vary dramatically, but typical topics include:
  • Long Distance Shooting, either Field Archery or at 90 feet (possibly further depending on the relative skill of the student).
  • Adjusting for Wind at Longer Distances. 90 feet up to 300 feet.
  • Perfecting Form / Getting rid of any remaining bad habits, how to recognize bad habits.
  • Shooting at Moving Targets / How to Gap Shoot.
  • Precision Marksmanship at 60 feet - requires the student to have developed good form first.
  • Instinctive Archery - but only if the student requests to learn that style.
  • How to shoot while Kneeling + Alternative Stances.
  • Varying Distances, Adjusting Aim based on minor Distance changes.
Some lessons may also include a mini lecture and/or demonstrations on a topic such as arrow spine, arrowhead grain, how to wax a bowstring, how to string a bow using a bowstringer, how to string a longbow, etc. Mini lectures typically occur during the middle of a lesson, to give the student a bit of a brief break from shooting.

As to how many lessons, most people choose based on the following:
  • 1 lesson for people who want to just try archery.
  • 3 lessons for people who are thinking about getting their own equipment.
  • 5 lessons for people who definitely want to get into archery, and possibly are already shopping for equipment.
  • 10 lessons for people who want to get better at archery in a hurry and are definitely planning to purchase equipment.
If you have additional questions feel free to ask. Have a great day!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca


Statue of Archer

#TakeYourShot for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

Earlier today I performed a trick shot on behalf of http://takeyourshot.org/, which is raising money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, located in Toronto.

#TakeYourShot is a social media campaign to raise money/awareness and they are encouraging athletes and sports enthusiasts to use whatever skills they have - football, basketball, darts, archery, bowling, javelin, axe throwing, etc to show off their skills and raise awareness/money for the PMCF.

The trick shot I chose to perform was "Two Arrows at Once", which I recorded at 120 frames per second on my cellphone and then slowed it down to 30 frames per second to show it in slow motion.



The video was made today (July 11th 2016) at the Toronto Archery Range. I spent half an hour before the filming practicing shooting two arrows at once, then handed my cellphone to a friend and we recorded the trick shot in one attempt. That first attempt was so good we didn't bother doing it over again.

The bow used was a three piece Samick Red Stag, which I have named "Ulmaster", draw weight 35 lbs. The arrows were Easton Power Flight 400s. The distance I was shooting at was approx. 20.5 yards (61.5 feet or 18.5 meters).

To donate to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation you can visit either: http://takeyourshot.org or http://www.thepmcf.ca/Ways-to-Give/Donate-Now.

ArcheryToronto.ca is also looking for people to submit links to YouTube videos of archery trick shots for the campaign so that people can get inspired and take part / donate.

Want to see more archery trick shots? Leave a comment below and a suggestion for another archery trick shot and I will see if it can be done.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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