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How to get the best of both worlds when buying archery equipment

A


"Hey Charles, hope all is good with you. This is Aadil, I took lessons with you like over two years ago, unfortunately have not practiced archery since. I want to get back into it, and maybe down the line take more lessons.

I wanted to ask if you could recommend arrows and bows:

For bow, I am looking at the Samick Sage Takedown @ 40 lbs.

http://www.lancasterarchery.com/samick-sage-takedown-recurve-bow.html

For arrows, I am a bit confused about because there are so many. Would you be able to recommend any?

Would love to hear you again, and perhaps maybe catch you on the field someday.

Best,
Aadil S."

A

Hey Aadil!

Long time no see!

I never recommend starting at 40 lbs when getting your first bow, but if you really want to get 40 here is my recommendation:

Get two sets of limbs, 25 lbs and 40 lbs. This way you can practice form on the 25 lb limbs and when you are later ready to shoot 40 (to build muscle, to hunt deer / small game) you can switch to the more powerful limbs. This then gives you the best of both worlds... A lighter set of limbs which are easier for a beginner to practice form on, and a stronger set of limbs for when they want to build muscle, shoot longer distances, practice for hunting, etc.

What I don't like to see is when a beginner gets a 40 lb bow, finds out that shooting it is exhausting, the exhaustion takes the fun out of it, and then their bow collects dust in the closet most of the year. Having the lighter limbs allows them to have more fun, still practice, practice more often, and has the bonus feature that you can give the 25 lb bow to a friend / sibling / etc and they can still hopefully shoot it.

Since you are looking at getting a 40 lb bow, I recommend getting 500 spine arrows. Depending on your draw length you might need different arrows, so please consult the chart on the following page:

http://www.cardiotrek.ca/2014/05/3-frequently-asked-archery-equipment.html


The 500 spine arrows will be a bit too stiff for 25 lbs, but better to be too stiff than to be too easily broken.

Also with respect to arrow fletching, aim for 3 to 4" fletching. 5" fletching is great on a day when there is zero wind, but we live in Toronto and there is ALWAYS wind here. 3" fletching will be less effected by the wind. 4" fletching will be more accurate when there is less wind. Pros and Cons to both.

I wouldn't worry too much about brand names. Get 500 spine and 3 or 4" fletching and you should be fine.

With respect to more lessons I sometimes have discounts, so if you check my website once in awhile I sometimes post a discount. So if you are thinking of getting more archery lessons, perhaps subscribe / come back to my site regularly and you will probably see a discount posted.

If you have more questions feel free to ask. See you at the range!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

The Fine Art of Buying Archery Equipment

Today I purchased some brass nock beads and some red bowstring serving (via Amazon.ca).

For me it was mostly a matter that I needed to buy some baby items for my son (things like safety covers for outlets) and I needed to get the order over $25 to qualify for the free shipping.

So I figured I might as well buy some archery equipment, things I know I will need eventually.

For example, I know I need the bowstring serving because I have a number of old bowstrings that need to be reserved / repaired, and thus made usable again.

I also knew I needed nock beads as I am currently running low on them. I sometimes sell them for $2 each to anyone who needs them, including free installation on my part. If I start running low then I need to conserve them and cannot sell any in case I need to replace one.

I see teaching people how to properly install a nock bead as an educational experience that every archer should learn. Same goes with learning how to make a bowstring, how to serve / reserve a bowstring, how to wax a bowstring, etc. These are basically maintenance issues that every archer should learn to do.

But on to my main topic, the Fine Art of Buying Archery Equipment.

There are some tricks here.

#1. Buy Generic Items Online

If you are buying generic things (like nock beads, bowstring wax, etc) you can definitely order online via Amazon, Three Rivers, Lancaster, Merlin Archery, etc. You don't need to buy these items in person unless you are in a rush to receive them.

#2. Try to Only Buy Things you know you NEED

Years ago I would sometimes buy things I knew I didn't really need right away. Fancy arrowheads, extra fletching just because I liked the colour, etc. I have three boxes of "archery supplies" now filled with things like that which are waiting for me to eventually repair arrows, replace fletching, etc - and to be honest I rarely find the time to do those things.

To qualify as something I need, I really need to NEED it right away. ASAP.

eg. Those pack of 6 broadheads that are still in the packaging? I probably didn't need those at all. (I do still want to go hunting someday, but until I actually get my hunting license I actually don't need to buy broadheads.)

The new bowstrings I bought a couple years ago and am currently using on several bows? Yep. I definitely needed them. It was just a matter of time.

If you are shopping for archery equipment for the first time I recommend taking a checklist of items to be buying. See Archery Equipment Checklist.

#3. Always buy Bows in Person, Ideally

Honestly I have broken this rule many times when buying antique / vintage bows off eBay. Buying a new bow, I always buy it in person and I have it strung in the store to double-check it is working properly. Buying a vintage bow off eBay, I am already aware that it is a gamble - hence why I prefer to only buy from people with perfect ratings and only bows which have photographs showing every part of the bow in detail.

#4. Avoid Impulse Purchases

See a fancy bow on sale, but it isn't what you are looking for? Don't buy it.

Sure, it is on sale, but the salesperson in the store just wants to make a sale and then get rid of you. The bow could be wrong for you. The wrong poundage, the wrong style, the wrong draw length, a lefty bow when you actually need a right handed bow, etc. Salesmen often just want to get rid of something and can/will lie to customers to get rid of an item.

Try to return it? "Oh, you bought it on sale. There is no returns on sale items."

Always better to "browse now, buy later" if you are new to archery.

#5. Learn the Lingo

Archery is rife with jargon terminology. New archers really should take some time to learn the names of different things so they can tell a hen fletch from a banana fletch. Read an archery glossary.

  • Hen Fletch - Usually faces towards the bow, whereas the cock/rooster fletch faces away from the bow. The two hen fletches are typically one colour, while the cock fletch is a different colour.
  • Banana Fletch - Describes the shape of a style of fletching because it is shaped like the curve of a banana. Other common shapes are shield fletch and parabolic fletch. Many archers get their banana fletching in yellow because it is amusing.

#6. Buy Arrows that suit the Bow

A very common beginner mistake is to buy arrows that are too flexible / too stiff for the bow the person is shooting. You should consult an arrow spine chart.

Read 3 Frequently Asked Archery Equipment Questions to learn more about arrow spine.

#7. Take a Friend / Family member

Hopefully someone who will talk you out of buying something you don't need / is unsuitable.

If you aren't sure about buying something, you really need a sober second opinion sometimes to remind you "Oh, wait. Isn't that a left-handed bow?"

FYI
  • You draw a right handed bow with your right hand (the drawing hand). You hold the bow in your left hand (the bowhand).
  • You draw a left handed bow with your left hand (the drawing hand). You hold the bow in your right hand (the bowhand).



Is traditional archery the same as instinctive archery? Nope.

Q

"Hi Charles,
Is what we did last class considered instinctive shooting, since we didn't use sights?

D."

A

Hey D!

That would a misnomer to call traditional aiming/style the same thing as instinctive. The two things are very different.

Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion/misinformation about what instinctive aiming / instinctive style is (Lars Anderson is not helping either, his videos are full of misinformation), and this is not the first time I have had to explain the difference. Compound Shooters and Olympic Shooters have an awful habit of looking at traditional style and thinking that it is instinctive, but they don't know that there is an aiming methodology to what the traditional archer is doing, and that there is a specific form.

Traditional Aiming - Aiming off the tip of the arrowhead.

Gap Shooting - Aiming using the gap between the side of the bow and the target, using memory to remember where to aim. Sort of like an imaginary sight.

Aiming with Sights - A gadget commonly used by Olympic and Compound shooters that tells them where to aim.

Instinctive Aiming - Not really aiming, but rather just "shooting from the hip" using "gut instinct", like you might see in a Western quick draw duel.

Traditional Recurve Style - Following form principles designed to increase accuracy through repetition, muscle memory, stable footing/form, consistent back power, etc.

Olympic Recurve Style - Very similar to Traditional Recurve Style, but with several changes to take full advantage of gadgets commonly used in Olympic archery.

Compound Style - Form wise it appears similar to the other two, but compound shooters are less worried about form as the gadgets on the typical modern compound bow basically allow a complete beginner to shoot with a remarkable amount of accuracy with little to no knowledge about how form could improve their accuracy.

Howard Hill Style - Commonly used by longbowmen and some traditional recurve shooters, the Howard Hill Style is similar to Traditional Recurve Style and is for archers who prefer to cant their bow while shooting. (You saw me demonstrating this style on Sunday with my 1972 Black Hawk Avenger bow, although with the aided flair of me kneeling during the shots.)

English Longbow Style - No canting, often involves aiming to the side a bit. In the case of an English Warbow there is a different method of holding the bowstring and releasing.

Horseman Style - Nearly identical to the Howard Hill Style, but with a Horseman's Release and/or a Thumb Ring. Often with a much more profound cant on the bow.

Instinctive Style - Formless. Just pull back any which way and shoot. No form needed. So for example if I lifted one leg and pulled the bowstring back underneath my leg (like a showoff would) and then shot, that would count as instinctive shooting. Pull back the bow from behind my back, over my head, partial draw, overdrawing way off to the side, etc - that would all be instinctive. The downside of this formless style is that the archer is really just guessing where the arrow will go. With practice they get better at guessing, but it is really only remotely accurate at very close distances. Any mid to long range distance and instinctive style/aiming is useless.

Little kids who have never done archery before basically shoot instinctively.

What I prefer to teach is ALL the different methodologies of shooting, starting with traditional and progressing in the directions the student is more interested in. If they later want to learn how to use sights, I will teach them how to use sights. If they want to learn Horseman Style, a horseman's release, etc - then I will steer the teaching in that direction. If they express an interest in longbows, then I will typically teach them the Howard Hill Style and show the differences between English Longbow and Howard Hill style. Thus if they want to learn multiple styles, I will teach them multiple styles.

So what you did on Sunday was:
  • Traditional Aiming.
  • Traditional Recurve Style.
  • Field Archery - In terms of what you were aiming at and the random distances. As opposed to say "Target Archery", "Flight Archery", "Clout Shooting", "Popinjay"... "3D Shooting" would be pretty similar to Field Archery, but would often involve shooting uphill or downhill.
If you want to learn more about Instinctive Style during lessons let me know and I shall demonstrate some shots and you can try it out too to see how you like the formless style of shooting.

(I decided to use this question and answer for an article on my website. I will list your name as "D." for privacy's sake.)

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca
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