Sign up for personal training / sports training by emailing

Form Techniques for Avoiding String Burn


"I see a lot of folks get bow arm sometimes. A lot of huge bruises in some cases. It even happens to me sometimes. I also see a LOT of plucking. What are some ways to prevent bow arm from happening?"

- M.T.


I don't call it "bow arm", I prefer to call it "string burn" - similar to rope burn. String burn occurs when people accidentally hit their arm with the bow string while doing archery and it can leave a bruise, welt or even rip the skin off your arm if you are using a higher poundage bow (like a powerful compound bow).

Form Techniques for Avoiding String Burn

#1. Relax your arm and shoulder. (This is also better for increased accuracy.)

#2. Elbow should be facing sideways and not locked.

#3. Lean slightly into the shot for better shoulder alignment if you have difficulty relaxing your bow shoulder.

#4. Use a lightweight bow. Avoid any bow that causes you to over tense your bow arm.

#5. Plucking the string could still cause the string to oscillate and hit your arm, so for best results practice doing a "dead release". A dead release doesn't move, a live release does. Keep your thumb/hand on your face as you practice dead releases and keep track of any shot where your hand plucked to the side, backwards, forwards, up or down. If it keeps happening you may need to consult an archery instructor familiar with dead releases.

Brace Height
#6. If the bow string is hitting your wrist or hitting near your wrist, that is because your brace height is too low. Unstring the bow using a bowstringer, twist the string 10 or more times to make it tighter and then restring the bow. Check the brace height using the 'rule of thumb' to see if the string is touching your thumb. If it is not touching you should be fine, but if the string is still touching your thumb then you need to unstring your bow tighten another 10+ rotations and then restring your bow. Keep doing this until the string is no longer touching your thumb when you check using the 'rule of thumb' method.

Rule of Thumb

If you want to learn more on this topic or similar topics sign up archery lessons in Toronto from Have a great day and stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself.


Triple Senior's Discount for Archery Lessons during September and October 2015

For archery lessons I normally offer a Senior's Discount of 5% for people over the age of 65 (with proof of age), however for a limited time I am offering a 15% discount for seniors over the age of 65. This offer is only good for people booking their lessons in September or October 2015.

My Weekday Rates

1 Student
$60 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $170; 5 Lessons - $270; 10 Lessons - $520.

So if you live in Toronto, you were born in 1950 or earlier, and you want to learn archery now is your chance to get archery lessons in Toronto. For more info email with any questions.

Have a great day!

Have Some Apple Pie = Hand, Shoulder, Anchor/Aim, Power

"Have Some Apple Pie" is an old school archery saying from the 1950s. It is meant to help beginner students remember most of the things they should be doing when practicing their archery form: Hand, Shoulder, Anchor/Aim, Power.

Hand - Should be centred on the bow handle and relaxed.

Shoulder - Should be relaxed and aligned with the bow arm.

Anchor/Aim - Anchor spot should be firmly planted beneath the dominant eye on the mouth in the Traditional Anchor Spot (aka North Anchor) in order for the archer to be able to aim properly. Take your time aiming. Adjust your aim gradually from round to round, not from shot to shot unless your aim is obviously off dramatically.

Power - Muscles on the upper back (the rhomboids) should be clenched together tightly so the archer's back muscles are doing most of the work, reducing the amount of work done by the archer's arms and shoulders.

There are other factors as well that goes into good quality archery form - issues like standing up straight, not angling your neck in weird positions, learning how to use the same amount of power every shot, fine tuning your anchor spot, relaxing your bow hand completely (aka "dead hand"), and many other issues.

If you want help with perfecting your archery form you can sign up for archery lessons or you can email me to get your name on the waiting list for my forthcoming book.

Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Two

Some of you may have read my old post titled "DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget" which follows the logic of making your own archery equipment in order to be able to practice archery / exercise cheaply.

However there is a second way to get into archery cheaply - and that is to buy used equipment.

The problem with buying used equipment is that there are some pros and cons...

Pro - It is a lot cheaper than buying brand new equipment. Seriously, this is really the only benefit. However if you learn from Cons below, you can still navigate the dangerous waters of buying used equipment without getting yourself burned.

Con - The equipment you are buying might be in poor condition, so you need to look for the following: Cracked, split, warped bow limbs; cracked or broken bow tips; bow strings that should be replaced; bow risers that are cracked. Ideally you want to buy a bow that is practically new (excellent condition), but the owner has simply moved on and purchased a more expensive bow and now wants to get rid of their old cheap bow that is still in excellent condition, but they just don't like it any more.

Con - The equipment you are purchasing might not suit you physically - this is a very common problem with beginners buying used bows. They buy a bow that is too powerful for them and then they cannot use it properly. Other common problems is beginners buying a bow that is either too big or too small for them, like an adult trying to use a children's bow.

Con - The person you are purchasing from might be an idiot and give you lots of misinformation. They might feed you the wrong information on things like: How to string the bow properly; How to aim properly; What proper archery form looks like; How to pull back a bow properly (without causing various sports injuries); Etc. Clearly this is a very good argument for getting archery lessons BEFORE buying your first bow, just so you have a better idea of how to all of these properly.

Con - The person you are purchasing from might simply be a liar. I will give you an example, earlier today I was browsing bows on eBay and an American was selling a PVC bow he made himself, claiming it was 130 lbs of draw weight. This guy was clearly lying. There is no way a PVC (poly vinyl chloride is basically a kind of thick plastic) bow could have a draw weight of 130 lbs without breaking. More likely the bows he was making was in the 40 to 60 lb draw weight range, and he was either lying - or just plain ignorant about how to measure draw weight properly.

However lets assume that you take precautions as you browse listings for used equipment. Let us assume that you purchase equipment that is "practically new", that you limit yourself to bows that suit you physically, and that you avoid people who sound like either idiots and/or liars. Well, then you might be able to purchase an used bow (and arrows) for comparatively less and get into archery on a pretty frugal budget.

A few purchasing tips:

Tip #1. Buy something with a lower poundage. 25 lbs or less is ideal for a male, or 20 lbs or less if you are female. Why? So you can learn proper form. Trying to pull a 30 to 60 lb bow that is too powerful for you is not going to afford you the endurance to be able to learn proper form. (Writing this, I know immediately there will be people [usually men] who ignore this advice and then go and buy a ridiculously powerful bow that they can't even pull properly, will get a shoulder injury or some other kind of sports injury, and will berate themselves for not listening to my dire warnings. Sports injuries are common [especially for beginners], so why not learn proper form and avoid the injuries?)

Tip #2. Buy a bow that is the correct size for you. Examples: No buying a children's bow if you are over 5'2" tall; Avoid buying a shortbow if you are super tall (like 6'4" or taller) because you will probably break it with your super long arms.

Tip #3. Buy arrows that fit the length of your arm / draw length. If you are not sure what your draw length is, find out before you start purchasing arrows.

Tip #4. Buy arrows that suit the type of bow you are shooting. The type of arrows used on a compound bow for example are very different from the kind of arrows you should be using on a recurve or a longbow.

Tip #5. Buying archery equipment off Toronto Craigslist or Toronto Kijiji might seem like a good idea because you can pick the equipment up in person, but you need to be careful all the same as some of the sellers on those websites are pretty sketchy.

Tip #6. Buying archery equipment off eBay is more expensive due to the extra cost of shipping, but you can look at the seller's reputation score on eBay to see how reputable the seller is. They also typically post lots of photos of the equipment they are selling, so you can get a clear idea of how good of condition the archery equipment is in.

Tip #7. Buying archery equipment off a friend who does archery is arguably one of the best ways to purchase equipment, because in theory your friend isn't going to lie to you about the quality of the equipment. Or if they do lie, I guess they weren't that good of a friend, were they?

Speaking for myself I like buying antique bows for my own personal collection. Recently I purchased two "vintage" longbows on eBay: #1. A Roy Rogers longbow from the 1950s (Roy Rogers was a TV show from 1951 to 1957, and various longbows were made circa 1952 with the logo on it) that is a collectors item. #2. A Ben Pearson lemonwood longbow with linen backing, circa 1945. (I am also currently bidding on a vintage recurve bow as well, rounding out my recent acquisitions.)

From which you might conclude "Wow, those are really old bows!" and I would agree. They are the kind of bows you don't shoot that often because they ultimately end up decorating your wall instead. So the last tip, if you are buying your bow for the purpose of doing archery as a sport / exercise, then do NOT buy a vintage bow. Vintage bows need to be treated with respect and care as they could break easily in the hands of someone who overdraws its, strings it incorrectly, dry fires it, etc. Therefore...

Tip #8. Buy a bow that is relatively new. Avoid vintage archery equipment that are more for show. There are a lot of old vintage bows from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s - largely due to a long lasting archery fad during those decades, and thus many bows from that era still exist and are shoot-able, but they are not necessarily a good bow for a beginner as they could easily snap on the 1st or 2nd shot. (You can thank the Errol Flynn film "The Adventures of Robin Hood" for the enduring success of archery during those decades.)

If you have questions about buying your first bow or buying an used bow please feel free to post your questions in the comments section below.

New Weekend Archery Rates

Weekend archery lessons is one of my most popular / most requested services. Unfortunately, weekends also tend to be time I want to spend with family - and due to supply and demand there are only Saturday and Sunday to choose from.

(Or alternatively, you can prebook Winter archery lessons.)

During the 2015 archery season I opted to charge a different rate from weekday lessons and quickly determined that charging extra for weekend lessons was not much of a deterrent. People booked them up so much that every weekend time slot was fully booked to the end of the year by the time mid July rolled around. Logically this meant every person contacting from mid July to the present and asking for weekend lessons was going to disappointed that I had only weekday time slots to offer - or worse, I was pointing them towards prebooking for 2016.

So if you are looking for weekend lessons and reading this, you are coming to the conclusion that weekend archery lessons are rare - and more so if you are looking for a quality instructor. This is one of the reasons why I have been devoting more of my free time to writing my new book on the topic of recreational archery, because I know I cannot teach everyone. I simply do not have enough hours on weekends to teach every person who emails asking for weekend archery lessons.

But I can however sell them a book that teaches them all of the fundamentals.

And for those willing to pay a premium for weekend archery lessons, here are my new rates that are coming into effect at the end of October.

New Weekend Archery Rates

1 Student
$90 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $255; 5 Lessons - $405; 10 Lessons - $780.

2 Students
$120 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $337.50; 5 Lessons - $540; 10 Lessons - $1050.

3 Students
$150 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $427.50; 5 Lessons - $675; 10 Lessons - $1320.

(Note that I also charge the weekend rate for ALL lessons conducted outdoors during the Winter. If I am going to freeze outside in the snow while teaching, I should get paid extra for it.)

Building Confidence - Positive Coaching Techniques in Archery

One of the things I have determined during my years of teaching archery is that importance of confidence. If a student lacks confidence they will tense up more often and the next thing you know they are jerking their bow arm, plucking their releases, etc. It is largely an issue of anxiety. They feel anxious, they tense up, and then their shots go awry.

In contrast if I take the same student and get them to play a game - make it fun in some way - they relax more, their ability to focus and perform well goes up, and the quality of their shots are dramatically improved.

For this reason I often employ Positive Wording during my coaching technique. It is quite simple, all I do is use words like:

Well done.
Ooooo good shot!
Yep, that is what I like to see!

You get the idea. I also express this through body language too, sometimes clapping, slapping them on them shoulder after a good shot, pointing out good habits they are building on while simultaneously saying "Good!"

Stylistically I find this method of coaching encourages archers to have a more positive attitude about what they are doing and positively reinforces the good habits they are building on - and thus reduces the bad habits many beginner archers have. These positive habits lend themselves to more accuracy over time as their archery form becomes more consistent.

In contrast if an archery coach were to use Negative Wording like the following below the archer will begin to feel frustrated and upset, thinking they are doing poorly. This will give them more anxiety and cause them to shoot worse - consequently slowing down the learning process.

Don't do that.
That was horrible.
Wow. That was terrible.

Now that doesn't mean I don't still use negative words sometimes, but I carefully choose which words I allow myself to make a habit of using when coaching. Words like the following:

Oops. Try doing ______ to fix that problem.
Whoops. That was a nasty blank.
Aww, that could have been better. I was expecting it to be much closer because you were doing so well.

Basically I tone down the negativity and use the opportunity to either teach them something to fix the problem, or I am using words that convey a more jovial meanings. "Whoops" for example sounds much better than "That was horrible." because it implies it was an honest mistake / accident.

I also like using words like "tiny" and "minor" when describing small errors the archer made, because they are in truth small errors and thus should be downplayed because it was such a small mistake that it is not worth ruining their confidence.

As mentioned above I have also determined that some archery students respond better to a game or to being challenged in some manner. If you give them a challenge many new archers will attempt to rise to the challenge because they want to see if they can do it. If you make the challenge a game too, well then you are just adding fun to the recipe for success - and a little bit of fun in my experience goes a long way towards a student relaxing more, tensing up less and improving the quality of their good habits.

All I am really doing is using Positive Reinforcement through the use of choice of words, body language and introducing games that help motivate the new archer. It isn't terribly complicated to do, I just have to be mindful of doing it in an effort to build their confidence and build positive habits.

It also means I have to recognize when some students have more anxiety issues and thus I have to take extra steps to make sure that one student is properly encouraged and motivated. A little encouragement goes a long way.

One Perfect Shot

Prebook for Archery Lessons in September and October

Time is running out to prebook for archery lessons in Toronto - the only time slots remaining in 2015 are in September, October and the start of November. (The archery season ends roughly when there is snow on the ground and it is too cold.)

If you still hoping to get archery lessons in 2015 sign up now for lessons in September and October.

For a limited time you can also sign up for compound bow lessons and get a 10% discount. This offer expires July 31st.

Very Dead Turkey

Top Twelve Archery Posts on

During the past year I have been working on my forthcoming book on recreational archery and compiling various chapters. However for those of you who cannot wait for the book to come out, have a look below at samples of my past writing on the topic of the archery.

Arrow Splitting String Down Middle
Below is a list of 12 archery posts on ranked by their popularity (excluding archery lesson testimonials).

Archery Warmup Exercises + Stretches

Rapid Fire Archery - Different Techniques of Fast Shooting

Archery as an Alternative to Weightlifting

Correcting Errors in Archery Release

Learning Instinctive Shooting for Archery

Archery Lessons for Kids in Toronto

Robin Hood after hitting Moving Target
How do you calculate poundage on a Bow?

Archery Tips for Amateurs

Stabilizers for Archery - How do they work?

Olympic Archery Equipment - Does more expensive equipment mean better shots?

Mind Body Fitness Vs Zen Exercising

Dominant Eye for Archery and Other Sports

On the topic of recreational archery I feel that is archery at its purest form. The sheer joy of archery for archery's sake. No compound gadgetry or Olympic gadgetry, no confusing hunting or competing with the sport of archery, just archery in its most natural form without anything added or subtracted.

Earlier this week I was named "Athlete of the Week" by CityTV News, not because of any great deed in terms of competition, nor for any feat of bowhunting skill, but for my interest in furthering recreational archery as a sport. Yes, I teach archery - but I don't limit myself solely to bowhunting or solely to people who want to compete in archery. My goal is much simpler: To promote archery as a whole, both as a pastime and as a recreational sport.

The CityTV news clip made reference to my ability to shoot at moving targets and shooting while walking, but I do many other things too. For example in my personal practice I routinely practice shooting at many different distances, sometimes while also shooting at moving targets. Such practices force my brain to work over time, to force myself to concentrate on the task at hand.

In my most recent personal practices I have taken to shooting at tiny moving targets, the size of a bottle cap. Or other similar targets so small most archers wouldn't even attempt to shoot at a moving target that small. Such practice causes me to go into a semi-meditative state as I study the moving target and determine how best to hit it. Part of it is timing, other parts are things like aiming (finely honed aiming), perfect form, perfect release, etc.

Bullseye on Plastic Bottle Cap
If you are looking for archery lessons in Toronto or if you want to add your name to the waiting list of people who want a copy of my upcoming book, send me an email. Sometime in the future I will also be adding a form for people who want to pre-order my archery book*.

* Note - Technically it will be my 2nd archery book. The 1st archery book I wrote was a book of zen poetry on the topic of zen archery and is titled "Dreaming of Zen Archery", which is available on Kobo.

Have a great day reading and shooting!

8 Ideas for Adrenaline High Weight Loss

Adrenaline Highs are powerful and can be used to boost energy levels / burn calories in an effort to lose weight. But attaining that adrenaline high while exercising can be tricky. So here are 10 ways to possibly attain an adrenaline high by doing something exciting.

Please note that all of the activities listed below are things you can do in Toronto. If it isn't possible to do it in Toronto, I am not listing it.

#1. Axe Throwing

Honestly, this is a really good sport for getting rid of some calories and get rid of some of your aggressive feelings while you are at it too.

In Toronto there are several locations that can help you if you want to try axe throwing:

BATL Axe Throwing | The Home of Axe Throwing

Bad Axe Throwing | Where Axe Throwing Lives

Please note that I have no affiliation with either of these companies. I cannot speak to the quality of their service or safety standards.

#2. Mountain Biking

To do this you will need a mountain bike - preferably a good one, so don't go to any Canadian Tire or a store that doesn't specialize in mountain bikes. Instead go to a store that actually specializes in mountain bikes.

Below is a list of the Top 10 Mountain Bike Stores in Toronto, listed alphabetically:

Broadway Cycle / The Bike Depot
Cycle Solutions
Dukes Cycle
Liberty Street Cyclery
Silent Sports
Sporting Life Bikes
Sweet Pete's

#3. Rock Climbing Indoors

With safety harnesses you might not feel that this is too dangerous, but with a healthy fear of heights you will still get a shot of adrenaline. Below is a list of indoor rock climbing gyms in Toronto:

The Rock Oasis
Boulderz Climbing Centre
Joe Rockhead's Indoor Rock Climbing
Toronto Climbing Academy
True North Climbing Inc.

#4. Dancing + Music!

Combine music with dance, and regardless of whether you do this at home or at a dance studio, or at a dance club you can get that extra boost of adrenaline.

#5. LARPing (Live Action Roleplaying)

Okay, hanging out with nerds who fight with sponge swords may sound like over-the-top geek to you, but running around with swords is surprisingly good exercise and really burns a lot of calories in a hurry. There are numerous locations / organizations in the GTA that have LARPing events, usually on weekends. Pick one and get involved.

#6. Archery Tag

Similar to LARPing, Archery Tag offers teenagers and people in their 20s / 30s a chance to run around and shoot their friends with foam tipped arrows. Toronto has multiple locations that offer archery tag. The location I recommend is Battle Sports in North York. See

#7. Play Zombie Tag

Hire a makeup artist (or a friend who is awesome with makeup) for a day, invite lots of friends to a large park, and then run around and bite your friends. [No actual inviting involved, instead you are supposed to "hug" them without tackling them.]

Toronto also has lots of zombie survivalist groups, the Toronto Zombie Walk, and other events / organizations you can join to meet more people who are interested in zombies.

#8. Parkour and/or Freerunning

Last but not least, Toronto also has various organizations (clubs, schools, etc) devoted to the arts of parkour and freerunning. You can basically just pick one and get into the sport of running, jumping, hurdling over obstacles.

I was hoping to find several locations, but the following was the only one I could find that has its own website.

The Monkeyvault

The Pan Am Games in Toronto

The Pan Am Games are coming to Toronto this month and will take place from July 10th to July 26th. The Parapan Am Games will also be in Toronto, August 7th to 15th. The sports involved in the Pan Am Games are as follows:

Archery (70 meter Olympic style archery only, no field archery, no flight archery, no equestrian archery)
Athletics (includes all the track and fields events such as running, hurdles, discus, javelin, shot put, high jump, long jump, etc)
Beach Volleyball (seriously, beach volleyball is a separate sport from regular volleyball)
BMX (as a separate category from cycling)
Bowling (why is billiards, darts and lawn darts not considered sports if bowling is included?)
Canoe / Kayak Slalom
Canoe / Kayak Sprint
Cycling - Road
Cycling - Track
Equestrian (just horse jumping, no horse racing for some strange reason)
Field Hockey (as if we couldn't find an ice rink to have a normal hockey game in Toronto...)
Football (World Football, or as Americans call it "Soccer")
Gymnastics - Artistic
Gymnastics - Rhythmic
Handball (it is like a cross between hockey and basketball)
Modern Pentathlon
Mountain Bike (why isn't that considered to be a cycling event?)
Open Water Swimming
Roller - Figure Skating (wait, wait, wait... figure skating? But no ice hockey???)
Roller - Speed Skating
Rugby Sevens
Sailing (small sailboats that are built for speed, in other words a sport only rich people can do, although you could say that about many of the other sports listed here - like horse jumping)
Shooting (rifles, but why not crossbows too? Crossbows at least require more exercise to load.)
Softball (baseball with bigger balls)
Swimming (for speed that is, including many different styles of swimming)
Synchronized Swimming
Table Tennis
Tennis (another sport for rich people who have their own tennis courts)
Water Polo (but not normal polo, the kind you play with horses - although admittedly polo is another sport for rich people)
Waterski & Wakeboard
Wrestling (Olympic style wrestling, not the American version with play-acting and steroids)

I am ever amazed as to how certain "sports" get into these large scale events like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, etc. I do therefore have some criticisms, on this and other topics.

#1. Some sports just aren't that popular, so why are they included?

Are there really that many people who play handball or water polo? I think not.

#2. Some sports aren't really sports in the normal sense.

eg. Shooting or Bowling, yes, I get it they do require some physical strength to do them - but they're not exactly something you break a sweat doing. Worst case scenario you might get a sore trigger finger or sore bowling fingers. And if shooting and bowling are sports, why not darts, lawn darts, billiards, or the biathlon (shooting and skiing)?

#3. Sometimes it feels like they are just inventing new sports.

Waterski, Wakeboard, Trampoline, Kayak Shalom or Sprint... if these are sports why not also:

Dolphin Riding (no seriously, if we have horse jumping, why not dolphin riding?)
Rock Climbing
Team Paintball
Team Archery Tag

#4. Some sports are really just aimed at rich people.

Golf, tennis and sailing are three good examples of sports that are mostly only done by rich people. Equestrian horse jumping and any other sport involving horses also falls into this (as would Dolphin Riding...)

#5. What if a Parapan Athlete wants to compete in the normal Pan Am games?

This is an idea that has always made me wonder. For example lets say a man is missing a leg, but wants to be in horse jumping? His single leg might be a minor disadvantage when it comes to riding the horse, but you could also argue that he weighs less and the horse might be able to perform better with a lighter rider.

Same goes with golf. Do you really need two working legs to play golf? I think not.

Shooting rifles? Sure, they just need one good eye and a trigger finger.

Archery? Same deal. No reason why a person in a wheelchair cannot achieve greatness as an archer.

Fencing? A person with one arm only needs one arm to do fencing. In the video below you see a French citizen who is missing part of their arm.

So in conclusion always remember that the sports during the Pan Am Games (and the Olympics and other similar events) are the result of a committee voting on feedback from not the athletes themselves, but from sponsors. Sponsorship money is really what it comes down to.

The same thing goes for the athletes. The necessary time needed to practice a sport, train, eat properly, the cost of coaches and traveling to competitions is often the result of money from sponsors. If sponsors were sponsoring equestrian archery for example, then that would likely be a sport at the Pan Am Games.

In the world of competitive sports, it really all comes back to the issue of sponsors and money.

If you can think of a sport that should be included, leave a comment below.

If you have comments on the issue of money in sports, absolutely leave a comment about that too.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!

Subscribe by Email


Popular Posts