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What is a good bow for an archery beginner?


"What is a good bow for a beginner who is new to archery?"


I don't need to add a name to the above quote because I have been asked the same question so many times in the last 5-6 years that I have been teaching archery in Toronto that it doesn't really need a name to go with the quote.

For beginners I recommend they start learning on a recurve bow, but what brand? What model? How many pounds should the the draw weight be? Are they getting a right handed or left handed bow?

#1. Eye Dominance

Lets start with right vs left hand issue, as that is arguably the most important question. Start by taking the Eye Dominance Test to determine whether you are right or left eye dominant. For best results get an archery instructor to help administer the Eye Dominance Test to make sure you are doing the test properly.

Don't worry about whether you are right or left handed, you don't use your hands to aim in archery - you use your eyes.

If you are right eye dominant you need a right handed bow. You will hold the bow in your left hand and pull it with your right hand, back to an anchor spot beneath your right eye.

If you are left eye dominant you need a left handed bow. You will hold the bow in your right hand and pull it with your left hand, back to an anchor spot beneath your left eye.

Thus if you go into a store or order online, you need to make sure the bow you are buying suits your dominant eye. So for example if you go into a store and they only have right handed bows available and all the left handed bows are sold out then you should WAIT. Order a bow that is suitable for you. Don't waste your time or money buying a bow that doesn't suit you.

#2. Draw Weight

You cannot pull a bow that is too powerful for you to pull properly. You need to be able to pull the bow string back to your mouth with your bow arm fully extended and your chest facing 90 degrees away from where you are aiming. If you cannot pull it back to Full Draw and hold it steady then that bow is too powerful for you.

If you pull it back and it feels too easy then the bow is likely too light for you. Ideally you want a bow that is a little bit of a challenge. Not too light and not too heavy of a draw. Finding the right amount can sometimes be tricky, but that is something an archery instructor can help you with. An experienced archery instructor can often just look at a person and will be able to make an educated guess as to an amount that will be a good draw weight for that person.

For most beginners I typically recommend a draw weight between 16 lbs and 30 lbs, depending on the physical stature and strength of the person. Now if you are reading this and thinking "I'm a big guy, I can handle 30 lbs" then you probably should be using 24 or 25 lbs instead. Overconfidence when buying your first bow often leads to people going into a store and the next thing you know you purchased a 50 lb bow you can barely pull (let alone hold steady) and will end up being unusable to you.

#3. Brand and Model Type

There are many companies available out there. For beginners I recommend the following brands and models below. (Prices listed in parentheses are in Canadian Dollars, adjusted for the exchange rate as of April 2015.)

Bear Grizzly ($425), Super Grizzly ($600) or Takedown ($1050)
Jandao ($120)
Martin Jaguar ($200), Sabre ($250) or Panther ($300)
PSE Razorback ($135)
Samick Polaris ($130), Sage ($150) or Red Stag Takedown ($240)

So for example if you are looking to get into archery on a budget, a 20 lb Jandao or 24 lb Jandao might be just what you need. If you want something prettier / more powerful, get a 25 lb or 30 lb Samick Sage. If you want something even prettier get a Samick Red Stag Takedown. If you want something that is higher end in terms of beauty, quality and durability, get a Bear Grizzly or one of its more expensive relatives.

So for example the bow shown on the right here is a Samick Sage, which comes in a minimum 25 lbs - which means that someone seeking to use that bow properly should be strong enough to be able to pull and hold it steady, otherwise they are just wasting their money.

Before buying anything however you should probably get some archery lessons first, just to make sure archery is the right sport for you. Your archery instructor will also be able to make equipment recommendations so that you are getting the right arrows for your bow, a good arrow rest, and everything else you need. eg. If you are buying a recurve bow you will want a Bow Stringer and you will need to learn how to string a bow properly.

If you want to get into archery, but you want to get into it very frugally check out my past post on DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget.

Booking Archery Lessons in Toronto

Hey Toronto!

I have good news and bad news.

First if you are looking to book archery lessons in Toronto for the current season, you had best book ASAP if you want the plum time slots. Weekends and Weekday Evening time slots are booking up like crazy.

This means if you delay, there will be no weekend or weekday evening time slots left.

In other news there are plenty of weekday time slots in mornings and afternoons, so if you have a flexible work schedule, certain weekdays off, or even unused vacation time why not sign up for archery lessons?

A Very Straight Vertical Line of Arrows

See the vertical line on the target on the right? That line is so perfectly straight because the archer is making maybe 1 or 2 little mistake that is causing vertical inaccuracy.

How do you fix this?

#1. Make sure your draw length is the same; You need to achieve full draw every time. It helps to have a coach to double check you are using a full draw each time.

#2. Relax your bow hand and bow arm/shoulder. If your hand, arm or shoulder are too tense they can torque in various directions, often creating vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines of arrows. (eg. When fatigued, diagonal lines are quite common.)

#3. You might be Face Walking your anchor spot. Face Walking is an archery term used to describe an inconsistent anchor spot that goes up/down or left/right on your face while shooting, creating lines of arrows on the target which are either vertical or horizontal. To make sure you are not Face Walking it is helpful to have an archery instructor who can watch for the warning signs that you are making mistakes and help you to correct your mistakes.

There are other factors that can also cause lines on the target (eg. horizontal lines caused by windy conditions), but to learn what you are doing wrong and how to correct the problem it is very beneficial to have an archery instructor.

To book archery lessons in Toronto email to begin scheduling your lessons. Before you know it you will be shooting super tight arrow clusters or even splitting your own arrows.

Super Tight Cluster of 3 Arrows
To learn more about Arrow Clusters and Splitting Arrows (Pulling a Robin Hood) see:

Splitting an Arrow down the Middle

Arrow Clustering at Work

Consistency and Arrow Clusters

Archery Lessons Testimonials

If you are looking for archery lessons in Toronto I am currently accepting new students. Here are a few testimonials from some past students.

"Thank Charles for being such a great teacher and answering any questions I had about archery!

I really appreciate you taking the time to teach me how properly shoot. Starting off, I knew absolutely nothing about archery but after even just the first lesson, I was already 1000% more knowledgeable about the sport and even decided to get my own bow very shortly. I’ve already recommended Charles to a bunch of my friends and coworkers of mine because he certainly knows his stuff!"

- Mark H.

"Charles is an excellent teacher and mentor. He's patient and knowledgeable, which is key in any type of instructor. During my first few lessons, he gave excellent tips to provide a strong foundation and set me on the right path as an archer. He also knows to tailor later lessons specifically to each individual so you can improve quickly. I've had a lot of fun and seen a lot of improvement in my short time taking lessons. For archers at any level, I would highly recommend Charles as an instructor!

Thanks again for all your help last year and I look forward to seeing you at the range!"

- Raymond H.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my archery lessons with Charles and I have since gone back to him many times for equipment advice. I learned a lot from him during just the first few lessons, but I continually learned new things all the way until my 10th lesson. I will likely come back for more lessons when I get a longbow so I can learn 'the Howard Hill stance' that Charles demonstrated one time.

His knowledge, his patience and his willingness to teach is an asset to anyone who wants to learn archery."

- Jessica A.

"Thanks again for helping to improve my shot and tune my compound bow. For anyone who is into compound bows I recommend Charles' archery lessons. I drove all the way to Toronto [from Barrie] for his lessons and it was definitely worth it."

- Henry T.

Super Tight Arrow Cluster

Archery Anchor Points

I have made other posts in the past about anchor points, but as demonstrated by the quote "Anchor point, anchor point, anchor point!" from my post "Archery Compliment / Tight Clusters" anchor points are extremely important when it comes to accuracy - and accuracy in archery means tight clusters.

Basically there are many factors that go into shooting an accurate cluster of arrows - but if you cannot pull back to a consistent anchor point, much of your efforts are going to be in vain.

There are other issues of course, things like draw distance / using full draw, making sure you are standing up straight and leaning to one side (no "teapotting" as per the "I'm a little teapot" song) and a host of other issues I teach during my archery lessons here in Toronto.

The image below is a culmination of 8 photos I took with my cellphone between October 2014 and March 2015. The people in the photo had different appearances, in some cases glasses, beards, hats on, different hair styles, etc. But they all had one thing in common - the approximate location of their anchor spot. Some of them were even left-handed shooters, so I just reversed the image before overlapping it.

"Eight Archers, One Anchor Spot" (Version II)
I feel the image demonstrates the importance of having a solid anchor spot (regardless of whether you are using "North Anchor" like a traditional archer or "South Anchor" like an Olympic archer. Maybe sometime in the future I will take more photos of Olympic archers and a photo similar to this one showing South Anchor.

Now you might think, what difference does it make where I pull back to?

Well it doesn't - just so long as you can remember to use the EXACT SAME SPOT each time you shoot. This is why traditional archers use the corner of their mouth as their anchor spot, because it is a handy landmark for remembering where to pull to exactly - in an effort to be as precise as possible.

So what difference would it make if you pulled to different spots on your face each time?

A lot actually. When shooting at a distance of 60 feet I estimate that moving your anchor spot 1 mm can make 1 to 2 inches difference in terms of accuracy, depending on the person and the type of bow they are using. So if your anchor spot is off by just 5 mm but you are doing everything else perfectly your arrow could miss its mark by 5 to 10 inches. At longer distances the degree of accuracy becomes ever more important so you need to have a very consistent anchor spot when aiming at long distance targets.

For archery lessons in Toronto email me to schedule lessons. I will teach you how to shoot accurately and consistently.

Instinctive Archery Vs Anchor Points



I saw a video recently about Lars Anderson in which the narrator made a number of claims about archery and people on the internet have been having a heated debate it ever since. I am curious as to what your opinion of Lars Anderson's new video is? I see you have an older post which talks about him. [See Different Techniques of Rapid Fire Archery to see the post he is referring to.]

- Jamie Y."


Hey Jamie!

Yes, I have seen the video numerous times, but just in case other people have not seen it lets shows it again.

Warning - The following video contains many falsehoods, many of which I will explain below why they are false, myths, half-truths or complete fabrications.

So during the video the narrator does make quite a few claims - many of which have been proved erroneous, as the internet is filled with people who are Fact Checkers and take any wild claim as a chance to Fact Check the claims being made. This is especially true of Fact Checkers who look for lies made by politicians.

My personal opinion on that style of archery, known as Instinctive Archery in archery circles, is that it is fun for shooting things at close range (point blank). However it is utterly useless for long range or even mid range accuracy, absolutely useless for hunting, and really only useful for showing off at point blank distances. (Little kids with zero experience can hit the target at point blank distances.)

For more details on the erroneous statements made in the video here is a list of statements and why they are wrong / false assumptions / outright lies.

#1. The narrator claims at the start of the video that ancient techniques of archery have been forgotten. This is wholly untrue. Those techniques have been preserved by the Cherokee (and similar tribes) in North America, by Persian archers in the middle-east and by several different cultures in Asia (most notably Mongolia and Korea). So claiming that the techniques have been forgotten is an outright lie.

#2. Lars Anderson is not "reinventing" anything which has been lost. He is just copying what has already been preserved. He is not using any "forgotten historical methods" because they were never forgotten and are still used in various parts of the world.

#3. Holding the arrows in the drawing hand is nothing new, nor is it reinventing something new.

#4. While the technique of holding arrows in the drawing hand is not as widespread as it once was, it is certainly not gone entirely.

#5. Quoting a book that says "This is the best type of shooting and there is nothing beyond it in power or accuracy" does not make it true. Quite the opposite. If you want power and accuracy with a traditional bow, use an English yew longbow or a Cherokee osage flatbow. The osage flatbow is believed to be similar to the design of the famed Welsh bow (which is believed to have been a yew flatbow). Longbows and flatbows are waaaaaaaay more powerful than the shortbow Lars Anderson is using in the videos, and that power translate into faster arrow speed and more accuracy both at close range and longer distances. In contrast Instinctive Archery is only really accurate within point blank range and comes with a measure of luck (the video of Lars shooting omits all of the failed attempts he did).

#6. "Why has it been forgotten today?" asks the narrator. Again, beating a dead horse here. It wasn't forgotten. It just isn't as commonly used any more.

#7. Modern archers don't actually use back quivers most of the time anyway. They use hip quivers or quivers that attach to their bow like in the images below.

#8. Yes, it is true that modern archers do stand still while firing at a target. This is very important for accuracy at long distances. It is equally important that they use proper form and have a consistent anchor spot with drawing back their arrow to aim. Shooting at long distance targets are exponentially harder to hit - the difference between shooting at 20 yards and shooting at 40 yards is not twice as difficult, in my opinion it is more like four times as difficult. Thus 60 yards is roughly 16 times more difficult and 80 yards is roughly 64 times more difficult than shooting at a target at 20 yards.

To put this in perspective Howard Hill (one of the greatest archers of the last century) once shot an eagle that was 150 yards away (that is roughly twice the distance of what modern Olympic archers shoot at, a mere 70 meters). Shooting a relatively small target like an eagle is not easy, especially at an extreme distance. I guarantee Howard Hill was standing extremely still when he performed that shot.

#8. Not all archers use one eye aiming. While it is true that it is more accurate to use one eye while aiming, not all archers do this. It is a matter of personal choice but some archers do prefer to shoot with both eyes open. This is not an Instinctive Archery method per se, but rather personal preference.

#9. "and other technical gadgets, but that is another story" says the narrator. In this case the narrator completely skips over the purpose of the gadgets which is to help archers to shoot more accurately at longer distances with less reliance on skill or experience (eg. compound bows have so many gadgets that they are very forgiving in terms of accuracy, but you have to learn how to tune them properly in order to attain that accuracy). I myself favour my students learning how to aim the traditional way with no gadgets or sights, with one eye open. How many gadgets or lack of gadgets people use is really a matter of personal preference. It is not "wrong" to want to use gadgets, it just means you are trying to get an advantage so you don't have rely on skill / perfect form so much.

#10. "several movements before you can actually shoot". Okay, so what? Yes, using right-side arrow rests (on a bow where you draw with your right hand) is slower - but it is also more accurate. So what if you can shoot faster? If you are shooting at a target, do you want to shoot at it quickly and miss or do you want to shoot at it accurately and actually hit it? The purpose of archery is not a contest to see who can shoot the fastest. It is to see who can shoot and hit the target - being fastest is just a perk.

There is a story about Byron Ferguson (one of the three greatest archers of the last century) who was at an archery event in the USA when a compound shooter decided to challenge him to a duel of sorts, in which they would both shoot at a target and whoever hit it first won. So speed was a factor in this little duel, but I should note that Byron did not rush it either. The target was a small moving target on a track a long distance away - an incredibly difficult shot for most archers. Byron drew an arrow from his hip quiver. He nocked it, drew back the arrow, aimed for a brief moment and then shot the moving target. He didn't rush through the steps, but he was faster than the compound shooter he was still fiddling with his gadgets by the time Byron's arrow hit the target. Was Byron shooting super fast with his longbow? No. He didn't need to. He just needed to shoot accurately and hit the target. The compound shooter was slower just because he was reliant on his gadgets and sights to do most of the work for him.

In the same contest however, Byron Ferguson Vs Lars Anderson, I guarantee Lars would have got a shot off first - and would have completely missed the target because of the distance. By the time he got to his second or third shot Byron would have hit it accurately.

Accuracy matters more than speed. Shooting quickest doesn't matter squat if you can't hit the target.

#11. So apparently Lars studied old paintings and drawings of archers holding their arrows on the right side of the bow. I am sorry, but I studied painting and art history in university but basing your assumptions on old art pieces opens you up to the problem of the 'ignorant artist'. People who don't know how to do archery at all often depict archery in drawings and paintings in the wrong manner. It is like Picasso's Left Handed Picador, artists make mistakes when draw things they know little about. You cannot use drawings or paintings as historical evidence because often the artist simply doesn't have a clue. Artists also frequently archers drawing bow strings back with two fingers instead of three (the proper way to draw back a bow string). The arrowheads are also frequently painted wrong, and the woulds on Saint Sebastian don't show the shape of the arrowheads penetrating. Paintings are wholly inaccurate on multiple levels.

#12. "which is both faster and better" says the narrator. Nope, no it is not better. Faster yes. Definitely not more accurate.

#13. The narrator assumes that historical archers all used the same techniques of archery. Completely false. Archery techniques not only varied from culture to culture, but also from archer to archer. One style of archery might be more popular in Bhutan for example, but that doesn't mean every Bhutanese archer uses the same techniques and the exact same style. (Bhutan's national sport is archery and modern Bhutan now uses a wide variety of different styles of bows and different styles of archery. The styles uses historically in Bhutan likely also varied wildly from archer to archer and there was no set style common to all Bhutanese archers.)

#14. "and start reading historical manuscripts" says the narrator. Actually no, you don't need to read those at all. Yes, Lars may have read lots of historical manuscripts during his research of so-called 'ancient techniques', but those same techniques are still used today by many different cultures.

#15. "and ultimately it is also more fun." says the narrator. Yes, this is partially true, Instinctive Archery is fun - but not everyone wants to do Instinctive so whether it is "more fun" is a matter of personal preference. Myself I love shooting at moving targets, but I also love shooting long distances on a windy day. Both are those activities are quite a bit of fun, but I wouldn't go telling people it is "more fun" in an authoritative way as if my opinion is somehow the rule of law.

#16. I wonder how many times Lars dropped his bow when trying to toss it in the air and catch it.

#17. "master archers shoot the bow with both hands" says the narrator. Not necessarily. The narrator is quoting a book Lars Anderson supposedly read. Just because the book says so does not make it true.

For example Awa Kenzo - one of the three greatest archers of the last century - always shot right handed. He was reputedly "able to shoot 100 bullseyes with 100 arrows" and during a demonstration in Japan he once shot the filament out of a lightbulb, without shattering the lightbulb. Awa Kenzo is the epitome of the zen master archer - but he only shot with his right hand.

So sorry, but I am calling bogus on the narrator's quote from that book.

#18. "must be able to hit a blade so the arrow splits into two parts". Wow. This book just claims all sorts of stuff. I will also note that Lars does many of these trick shots while standing less than 10 feet (3.33 yards) from the target. Lets see him repeat that shot while at a greater distance.

There is a video of Byron Anderson on YouTube shooting a tylenol pill in the air at a distance of roughly 10 yards (30 feet). That is still a relatively short distance, but I think Lars needs more practice if he wants to catch up to Byron Anderson.

#19. "Archers could also pick up enemy arrows and shoot them back." So what? Anybody can do that. Seriously, anybody with working arms and fingers can pick up an enemy's arrow and shoot it back. How is that an important skill?

#20. Notice how Lars catches the arrow in mid air and then shoots it at a target that is literally a few feet from him. At that distance he would be better off just stabbing the enemy with the arrow.

#21. Shooting at a target up close is not an impressive ability. Sitting at a table and shooting two people across the table from you is something anyone could do. Yes, speed would be handy in that situation, but the moment he takes out his bow wouldn't the enemies just stand up and stab him with a sword?

#22. Again with the claim that "this technique was forgotten". I am really getting tired of these. It was never forgotten, it continued to be practiced. Just because firearms became the primary choice for hunters does not mean people neglected to do archery and preserve old techniques. The Cherokee tribe in the USA for example has maintained an unbroken succession of both archery skills and also bow-making / arrow-making techniques. This means that the skills that are being passed down to young members of the Cherokee tribe today are the same skills that were passed down pre-European settlements in the USA, skills that have been passed down from fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers - doubtlessly skills dating back to the pre-history of their tribe.

#23. Penetrating chainmail armour is not hard to do with an arrow. It is actually ridiculously easy because the chinks in chainmail are designed to reflect blades, not arrows. The arrows go right through the chinks in the armour like a hot knife through butter. Penetrating plate armour, that is difficult. There is a story about a group of Saxons who were chased into a tower by a group of Welsh archers. The Welsh bow was so infamously powerful, but this story demonstrates how much. The Saxons barricaded themselves inside the tower, behind a door made of 4 inches thick oak. The Saxons were wearing chainmail armour, but the arrows from the Welsh archers went right through the 4-inch thick doors, right through the armour, and killed them easily.

#24. I think the reference to using "both hands" to give a bow more power is actually a reference to foot bows. I think Lars / the narrator has misinterpreted the meaning of using both hands. Likely it was used in a manner similar to the footbow shown on the right.

#25. So the narrator says ancient archers were expected to shoot 3 arrows in 1.5 seconds. So... Weird question, but how were they measuring time without a stop watch? Was it really 1.5 seconds or were they using a different measurement of time?

#26. "while speed is important hitting the target is essential" says the narrator. Finally, some truth in this video full of lies, half-truths and glaring historical inaccuracies.

#27. At which point he then tries shooting at a moving arrow with his own arrow. Yes, that clearly requires some skill - although again he does it a ridiculously short distance of mere feet from him - and again we don't get to see all of the failed attempts. And trust me, there would have been plenty of failed attempts before they finally managed to succeed at this archery stunt.

#28. So in the 1938 film "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (featuring a young Howard Hill as a cameo and performing all of the archery stunts) Robin Hood splits an arrow with another arrow. The narrator in Lars' video then says "some consider this to be the ultimate archery trick". Yes, some people might consider that to be the ultimate archery trick. However myself personally, I have hit and split my own arrow on moving targets (and have the photos to prove it) at 60 feet away on a windy day. See my post Robin Hooding a Moving Target from 2014 for details of this feat.

So then the narrator says that "They are wrong. The ultimate archery trick is splitting an incoming arrow in two with one of your own." Apparently at a very short distance - and apparently by editing out all of the failed shots in which he completely missed.

So yes, Lars Anderson does have some impressive speed and accuracy at short distances, but speed is not everything - in fact speed is pretty useless and impractical when it comes to any situation that doesn't involve short range combat.

For hunting purposes, for warfare (which means volleys of arrows), or for competitions then accuracy at longer distances is more important. Most bowhunting occurs at ranges of 20 to 40 yards (60 to 120 feet) and in war archers would be shooting volleys extreme distances anywhere from two hundred yards away to 1400 yards - wherein accuracy was less important because they were counting on the sheer number of arrows raining down death upon the enemy. At short, mid range and long range distances that is when the archers would begin actually aiming at specific targets. Aiming at a target point blank almost never happened because if you were that close to an enemy it is time to get your shield and sword out lest they start hacking you to pieces.

Persian archery - for which Lars Anderson claims to base much of his research on - was specifically a style of horseback archery, which meant archers were shooting at targets that were close range while riding by them on horseback. It is basically the "driveby shooting" style of archery. Horseback archery is not famed for its long or even mid distance accuracy. It is really only accurate at point blank distances.

There have been many websites and videos that have refuted Lars Anderson's newest video and the wild lies from the narrator. My nitpicking of each of the points in the video is nothing new or unusual. I am not "reinventing how to nitpick a video" or making any wild claims of "discovering ancient techniques of how to nitpick videos". I am not the first person to nitpick this video full of outrageous statements, half-truths and lies. We live in a society of people who know how to Fact Check. Deal with it.

The world has lots of trick shooters out there. I am content to be one of them, but I don't need to make phony misinformation to garner attention.

Want to learn how to shoot an arrow? Practice. Preferably by practicing proper techniques with the aid of an archery instructor who knows what they are doing. I do not recommend copying anything you saw in the Lars Anderson video. Copying what he does is just plain dangerous and will likely damage your archery equipment. (For archery lessons in Toronto, contact me or one of the other local archery instructors.)

Learning how to draw back to a consistent anchor point is one of the first steps archers need to learn how to do. Subscribe to Cardio Trek and stay tuned for an upcoming post about consistent anchor points. Update - See Archery Anchor Points.

Below is an art piece of sorts I created using the faces of 8 different archers with their faces overlapped. In the photos they are all pulling back the arrow to approximately the same anchor point.

"Eight Archers, One Anchor Spot"

I ended up making a 2nd version of the image to align their heads and the bow string better than the first draft.

"Eight Archers, One Anchor Spot" (Version II)

Update - If you do want to see a video response to Lars video, I recommend watching "A Response to Lars Andersen: a New Level of Archery" posted by YouTube user "skepticallypwnd". I didn't see that particular video response until after I finished writing this, but it does make some of the many same point I have made and many other archers have made about the ridiculous statements made in Lars' video.

Including one statement which I skipped over, the idea that "the back quiver is a Hollywood myth". The response video points out that the back quiver has existed for millennia - and unlike Lars who apparently is clueless about some things - there are plenty of historical images showing people using back quivers, and while the style of archery used may not be accurately depicted by artists, we can safely say that back quivers are not a "Hollywood myth".

I would like to point out that ancient hunters knew how to stuff a back quiver with fur so their arrows didn't move around / fall out easily, making them both quieter (for hunting purposes, having a quiet quiver is handy) and also helping to prevent the loss of arrows by making it more difficult for arrows to fall out haphazardly.

The video by skepticallypwnd also points out that the mass media sort of jumped on the bandwagon with headlines like "Everything you know about archery is a lie", and then proceeded to quote a video that was itself full of lies, half-truths and misinformation.

I am also happy to see in their video that I am not the only one who caught the "1.5 seconds" lie and asked how they managed to measure time.

Also another page you might be interested in reading is Geek Dad's posting titled "Danish 'Archer' Demonstrates Gullibility of Audience".

UPDATE, February 2016: Glossary of Terms

There seems to be some confusion about the term "Instinctive Archery" and what makes instinctive archery so different from other styles of archery so I have decide to add a quick glossary for those people who don't understand the differences.

Traditional Archery - Aims off the tip of the arrow, utilizes a high anchor point sometimes referred to as North Anchor, Traditional Anchor or High Anchor. Usually no gadgets, although arrowrests are sometimes used. Sometimes also called "Barebow Archery". Commonly uses many kinds of more traditional styles of bows, longbows, shortbows and traditional recurves, including ethnic varieties like the Turkish horsebow, the Korean horsebow, the Japanese yumi, the English longbow, the Cherokee flatbow, etc.

Gap-Shooting Traditional Archery - This is a sub-type of Traditional Archery, which uses the same techniques as Traditional Archery, with the exception of how to aim. Instead of aiming off the tip of the arrow, Gap Shooting involves using the gap between the target and the side of the bow / shooting window. Gap Shooting is usually used by experienced archers who have been shooting for a very long time.

Olympic Archery - Aims off a sight attached to the bow, utilizes gadgets like a clicker, stabilizer, and arrowrest. Also uses a low anchor point sometimes referred to as South Anchor, Olympic Anchor or Low Anchor. Utilizes Olympic archery equipment designed specifically for shooting at 70 meter targets during competitions.

Compound Bow Archery - Aims through a smaller peep sight and off a sight attached to the bow. utilizes pulley cams to create a let off on draw weight, stabilizer, complex arrowrests (eg. drop away arrowrests, whisker-biscuits, etc) and does not normally use a fixed anchor point because the peep sight is doing most of the work in that respect and worrying about an anchor point is considered unnecessary on a compound bow.

Instinctive Archery - Doesn't aim off anything in particular, does not use any kind of sights or gadgets, does not necessarily have a fixed draw length or a fixed anchor point - this doesn't mean the archer doesn't sometimes use an anchor point, it merely means that most instinctive shooters do not use a fixed anchor point. However it should be noted that if they are looking at the target and using a fixed anchor point, then they might be technically Gap-Shooting without realizing it and they are not doing instinctive archery. eg. Lars Anderson does not use a fixed anchor point. Many people confuse Gap-Shooting with Instinctive Archery, mostly because they don't know what the difference is.

Equestrian Archery - Firing a bow from the back of a horse, usually while the horse is in motion. Often utilizes either Traditional or Instinctive archery techniques, as well as specific techniques designed for equestrian archery, eg. a "live" horseman's release, during which the drawing arm moves backwards away from the bow after releasing the arrow.

Do you have to be super fit to get the benefits of cycling?

Spring is almost here and it is time to get the old bicycle out!

Over 13.5 million Canadians commuted to work in 2011*. Many of them drove cars to work.

* Statistics marked with an Asterisk are from Statistics Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, they took various forms of transportation including cars, public transit, ferries and bicycles. Public transit users are made up of about 12% of the population which jumped up 1% from the 2006 census when it was 11% of the Canadian population.

Cycling accounts for just over 200,000 commuters in Canada. Victoria, B.C. has the most cyclists of all the major cities in Canada. Clearly Canadians are increasingly warming up to the idea of cycling as an alternative to driving to work. And why shouldn't they, there is documented evidence that cycling can improve your physical health, your mental health as well as helping the environment and providing a relatively cheap and easy way to get to work.

Given all the benefits it makes you wonder if out-of-shape people would be more likely to cycle to work if they were physically fit?

After all, it stands to reason people who are out-of-shape and not proud of their bodies might be loathe to bicycle to work if they feel they are not physically up to the challenge. It thus becomes a bit of a Catch-22 that if a person is overweight, how can they lose weight via bicycling if they feel defeated before they have even started.

First, let's see what cycling in Toronto looks like on a statistical level. There has been a small increase in cycling in Toronto over a 10 year period (1999 to 2009) of about 6% of Torontonians who commute to work via bicycle. Particularly from 2001 to 2006, the number of Torontonians cycling to work increased by 30%. The biggest increase was in female riders and the demographic that increased the most was female riders aged 45 - 54 and male riders aged 55 - 64. This demographic might be due to a higher number of middle-aged / older Torontonians getting into cycling for its health benefits - possibly with other unknown factors contributing to the rise.

Though cycling is on the rise in Toronto, the city still lags behind all major cities in Canada. 1.2% of commuters in Toronto cycled to work in 2011*. When compared to Victoria's 5.6% of commuters who bicycle to work, Toronto's 1.2% seems tiny in comparison. Clearly Toronto has lots of work to do if Toronto is to become a more bicycle friendly city.

Granted Victoria only has a population of 78,000 people (2006 census) while Toronto has 2.5 million. So Toronto has 30,000 cyclists who commute to work to Victoria's approx. 4,368 cyclists who commute to work.

Next, let's find out what kinds of health benefits we can experience with cycling.

Cycling can improve your general health and fitness, everyone know that, but lets take a moment to bust a myth about pollution inhalation. Cycling to work reduces the amount of pollution you intake on your commute. Contrary to popular belief, cyclists inhale less pollution than motorists do. You would think it would be the opposite, but according to 'An Overview of Cycling Research', a document compiled by Dr. Chris Cavacuiti which examines a plethora of studies on the topic, cyclists inhale less pollution than motorists do. So even though motorists are in the "safety" of the cars, they still inhale more fine and ultrafine particulate matter than cyclists do - possible because motorists are often stuck in traffic for longer periods of time, and they may also be inhaling fumes from their own vehicle. The exact cause of why motorists inhale more pollution has not been determined as of yet, but what is known is that they are definitely inhaling more of it.

On the exercise level studies have shown that active transportation - exercise that is part of the daily routine of getting to work as opposed to exercise that is structured activity (i.e. going to the gym) is more sustainable over time. This means people get into the routine of bicycling to work and this routine becomes customary, whereas people who visit the gym sometimes lose focus and stop going to the gym.

Many gym-goers also use stationary bicycles while at the gym, but the health benefits of cycling inside an air conditioned gym vs cycling in the great outdoors isn't so much a matter of which is better from a health perspective, but which is better for people to stay motivated to keep doing it. Cyclists who cycle outdoors report that they love cycling and would never willingly give it up. Gym goers on stationary bicycles are more ambivalent on the topic and report becoming "bored easily".

Mental health can be improved by cycling as well. A meta-analysis discovered that exercise can be used as a treatment for depression. Exercise can also contribute to reducing the risk of sleep disorders and eating disorders. There are other benefits to cycling including increased sense of community, decreased congestion, and reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia.

Cycling is also a great way to build endurance - which has a variety of side benefits for many other activities (including activities in bed).

There are many benefits to cycling but unfortunately there are also risks. The risks include death and injuries and such incidents are reported in the news media. However fatality rates for cyclists are much lower in Canada than pedestrians and drivers/passengers. So you are more likely to get hit by a car and killed while walking across the street than you are to be killed while cycling.

Over a 20 year period between 1988 and 2008 fatality rates have decreased in general for cyclists. Overall, when taking a risk benefit analysis on cycling, most people find that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.

So do you need to have a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1985 to start cycling or bicycle to work? Obviously not. You certainly do not need to be Arnold to start to get the benefits of cycling. The best thing to do is to just start - and if it is possible to bicycle to work where you live, why not do so? Of course it may be hard at first, your lungs will burn and so will your thighs, but keep at it and it will get easier over time.

Before long you will be reaping the health benefits of cycling and you will be wishing you had started cycling to work sooner.

Archery Question - Stacking, Wall and Let Off



I see you teach archery and even though I don't live in Toronto I was hoping you might be able to answer a terminology question for me. Thanks in advance for helping me with this!

Anyway, my question relates to stack. Back in the Autumn I was in the backyard with a friend who has been doing archery a lot longer than me and he told me that my compound bow stacks a lot. I didn't want to look stupid at the time so I just sorta nodded and said "Yeah, it does." because stacking a lot sounded like a compliment to me.

However when I tried researching what stack means I came across a lot of references to longbows and shortbows, and nothing about compound bows. So my questions for you are: What is stack? What does it mean when he says my compound bow stacks a lot?

Thanks again for your help!
Michael A."


Hey Michael!

Your confusion regarding stack is very understandable, especially since your friend was using the wrong term.

The correct term for them to be using is Wall, sometimes referred to as a High Wall if it is particularly difficult to pull as it gets closed to the Wall. Compounds bows sometimes have a "Forgiving Wall" or a "smooth draw", which means it isn't as difficult to pull as you get closed to the Wall, but often means the bow in question loses a few fps in arrow speed on release. Your compound bow is apparently one of the High Wall / merciless designs, which are made for speed and not draw comfort.

Because compound bows have pulleys they cannot get stack.* (I will explain what stack is in a moment). Instead compound bows get harder and harder to pull back on until they reach what is known as the Wall, and once "over the Wall" you experience the Let Off when the compound bow suddenly becomes a lot easier to pull.

So for example if you have a 50 lb bow with 80% Let Off, the Wall will feel like you are pulling 50 lbs, but once you get past the Wall the left off kicks in and the bow feels like it is only 10 lbs pull.

I also applaud you for trying to research what Stack really means. You are correct, stack relates to longbows and shortbows.

Stack is the angle of the bowstring to the limb tip, which due to physics makes the bow's pull weight feel heavier than it really is. When the bow is relaxed, the string angle on a longbow is very narrow, but as you pull back the string angle widens dramatically. The wider it becomes the more a longbow will stack, making it feel harder than it really is.

Thus Stack and Wall does feel similar when you are pulling back on a bow, hence your friend's confusion of the two terms. I am guessing your friend is into longbows or shortbows, and thus learned of the term but didn't know what Stack actually means.

Shortbows stack more than longbows, due to sharper angle of the tips.

In the case of recurve bows or bows with reflexed or recurved tips, they still stack, but thanks to the recurved shape of the tip the angle of the string to the tip is reduced. Thus recurved bows still stack, but the amount of stack is reduced significantly depending on the bow.

This is why you will often see recurved bows with very dramatically curved limb tips that have been designed in order to maximize the amount of reduction in stack. (See the image further below.)

If you want to learn more about Stack and how it works (on a physics level) I recommend reading The Traditional Bowyer's Bible (Volume One) and read Chapter 3 on "Bow Design and Performance" by Tim Baker.

A Highly Recurved Limb Tip

Sprains, Strains and how to Prevent Them in the First Place

We all want to stay active and a regular exercise routine is an essential way to ensure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. The one drawback to regular exercise is the possibility of injury. This is something that we cannot always avoid and when it happens it can really affect our exercise routine and our everyday lives. We have all heard the horror stories of people doing some exercise and ending up with broken limbs, sprained ankles, pulled muscles and ligament injuries. This can put you out of commission for several days to several months. So what injuries are possible and what can we do to avoid them? Below we will see what can happen and how we can prevent them from happening.

While listening to the radio I heard the story of a young woman who decided to participate in crossfit training. This is a high impact type of exercise that includes exercises such as high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, girevoy sport,calisthenics, strongman and other exercises. These types of exercises requires a high level of athleticism and great strength. The young lady loved doing crossfit as she had a been involved in sports her whole life including competing in the Olympics for martial arts. Crossfit provided her with an opportunity to compete with others and remain athletic at the same time even if she was not able to it at an Olympic level. One day she was doing box jumps (literally jumping up on boxes from a standing position) and she felt her leg crumble underneath her weight. It turned out she had shattered her lower leg from ankle to knee breaking it in multiple places. It took several surgeries, a lot of physiotherapy and many months of recuperation to get her walking again much less working out.

Traumatic injuries such as the one described above are the worst types of injuries we can suffer while working out. Common injuries like sprains and pulled muscles are a bigger concern for everyday people. But it is important to remember that exercise is not inert. They can provide you with great benefits but can also cause great injuries. It is best to do any exercise with great care and preparation. Also, consult your doctor before you do anything strenuous or if you feel that you are experiencing pain or discomfort while doing the exercise.

How do you get a sprain?

Sprains can happen all over your body. When do exercise you may encounter a sprained ankle or wrist. Sprains are injuries to ligaments when they are suddenly pushed past their limits. They can tear or become deformed as a result. Usually, you just need to give your sprain some time to heal and some cold compress. If they are particularly bad, you may need to seek some medical attention as soon as possible.

How to prevent sprains?

Some ways to prevent the injury are to not over do it if you have not done an activity for a while. Say you had to take an extended break from playing basketball and finally got the opportunity to start playing again. Do not over do it by playing exhaustively for an hour. Your ligaments and muscles just cannot take it. You need to give them some time to stretch and get used to being used in that way. Stretch first, take it easy for the first few times on the court (do not exert yourself too much), play for a short period of time, and stop if you feel any discomfort.

Another type of muscle sprain is a groin pull. It can occur when you push off your feet in a side to side motion, like when you run. You see this injury in athletes all the time especially in sports such as hockey, soccer or football. In these sports, people are required to run or skate at the drop of a hat and it is this kind of situation can cause a groin pull.

You can prevent a groin pull by stretching and warming up beforehand. Make sure that you do so in a through manner to ensure the best results. Also, just like the basketball player above, make sure that you have conditioned your muscles for the task at hand. Build up conditioning through repeated exercise over time can prepare your muscles for any activity you might do.

5 Exercises to do in March

So March is here and warmer weather is just around the corner. Here are 5 exercise ideas for people to do during March while the snow is melting and it isn't quite warm enough to do other more summer-oriented activities.

#1. Shovel Snow out of the driveway. Chances are likely you will need to do this anyway, but if that is already done you can also:

Make one last snowman before it melts.
Have a snowball fight with friends / family before it all melts.
Move all of the snow on your property into one corner and let it melt there, so that the grass can start growing sooner.

#2. Go Snowshoeing, Skiing, Snowboarding or Ice Skating one last time.

Or if there isn't enough snow left to do those activities, go for a hike instead. Take the dog with you!

#3. Stay inside and exercise like you did in January and February. Maybe you dislike cold weather entirely and have no interest in going outside when there is still a wisp of snow on the ground, in which case staying inside might be more your thing... But that sounds awfully boring so why not change it up a bit? You could:

Get a gym membership for 1 month only.
Get a membership at a yoga studio for 1 month.
Get a membership at a rock climbing studio for 1 month.
Get a membership at a boxing gym for 1 month.
Sign up for 1 month worth of martial arts lessons.

#4. Try an Extreme Sport that is either outdoors or indoors. Examples:

Sign up for archery lessons in Toronto.
Join a paintball organization so you can run around and shoot friends with paint.
Try "Archery Tag" at one of the various locations in Toronto that offer it.
Join a club that does Parkour or Freerunning (hopefully you are under 30 and already reasonably fit).

#5. Spring Clean your Home. Cleaning things is actually very good exercise and your home probably needs a good cleaning anyway. Listen to music while you clean, take your time doing it, work up a sweat, and remember to take a break every so often. Have fun!

Can Feng Shui improve my workout?

Feng Shui is the Chinese philosophy system of harmonizing oneself with their environment.  In it, one seeks to arrange their space to ensure that energy is able to flow uninterrupted throughout.  Remember Yin and Yang, well they also play a part in feng shui in that they help to describe the flow of energy within a space.

How does this help you with your exercise routine? It just so happens that creating a feng shui space can allow you to energize your workout, improve your desire to work out and make you feel better in the long run.

What exactly are we feng shui'ing? We want to focus on the space so we want to select, arrange and prepare a space that is conducive to the flow of energy.  We can accomplish this by doing some very specific things to our personal gym rooms at home.
What colour should I use?
We should start with colours that you should not choose.  Dark colours such as brown and black are not the colours you should be painting the wall of you personal gym.  They tend to bring down the mood of a room and can cause people to feel tired and ready to got to sleep (definitely not traits of a room we want to do energizing exercise in).  
You should pick a colour that will make you want to move and shed those pesky pounds.  Colours you may want to pick are ones that reflect nature and the outdoors such as shades of green or sky blue.  These colours will put you in a peaceful mood that will allow you to focus on your exercise.  Or you may want to pick a pale yellow that will reflect the natural light coming from your windows.  And lastly, you can pick a hot colour like red that will increase you energy and make you feel like working extra hard to burn your calories.
Selection of a room
If you are so lucky as to be able to pick the room you will be exercising in you should pick a room that gets lots of natural light and maybe a bit a breeze.  This will provide you with a space that has the proper flow to it.  Also, try to find a space that is away from too much noise, but be sure to balance it out with some sort of energizing element (perhaps some red paint) as too much tranquility will not give you a well balanced space.

Arranging your gym equipment
To make sure that you place your gym equipment in a manner conducive to feng shui the first step is to make sure that your space is kept clean and tidy.  The best way to ensure that the space is able to encourage the flow of energy is to keep it clean.  
Next, if you can put some of it away in a closet you can ensure the space is kept as open as possible and that it will not disrupt the energy flow.  Place the equipment in the eastern section of your house.  This is the area most associated with new beginnings, family, friends and health.

Feng shui is a great tool in ensuring that your exercise is done in a positive and productive space.  Using the ancient Chinese philosophy will help you to lose those pounds you want in no time.
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!


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