Sign up for personal training / sports training by emailing
Showing posts with label Archery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archery. Show all posts

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


"Hey Charles,

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

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



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

Archery Question: Building Upper Back Strength


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

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




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

Have a great August!

Charles Moffat

Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Three

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The PDF is available on Scribd and other sources.

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

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

Note: Make notes from the various things you learn.

Total Cost: $0.

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

Ideally it would be nice to have the following:

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

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

Total Cost: $0.

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

This might involve:

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

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

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

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

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

Total Cost: Varies or $0.

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

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

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

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

Total Cost: $0.

Step Five, making arrows / etc.

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

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

Total Cost: Varies or $0.

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

Well then you are left with the following options:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shooting!

A Comprehensive Guide to Archery within Game of Thrones

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

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

Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 1

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

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

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

Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 9

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

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

Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6

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

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

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

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

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

Game of Thrones Season 4, Various Episodes

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

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

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

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 9

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

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

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

Ramsay using a Penobscot Bow

A Penobscot Bow

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

Happy Shooting!

How to do an Archery Trick Shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes and no. I shall explain why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And below, a tight cluster on a bottle.

Happy shooting!

Archery Lesson Plan + How many lessons should you do?

Good Afternoon,

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

Thank you,


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

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

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

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

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

Charles Moffat

Statue of Archer

#TakeYourShot for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

To donate to the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation you can visit either: or is also looking for people to submit links to YouTube videos of archery trick shots for the campaign so that people can get inspired and take part / donate.

Want to see more archery trick shots? Leave a comment below and a suggestion for another archery trick shot and I will see if it can be done.

Toronto Archery Photos a Hit

One Very Popular Photo
I recently received an email from Google notifying me that some photos of mine are extremely popular.

Years ago I submitted 5 photos to Google Maps in an effort to help boost the popularity of the Toronto Archery Range located at E. T. Seton Park.

Those photos have since apparently gone a bit viral, with over 300,000 views. Woot? Sure, what the heck. Woot!

During that time I have also seen attendance at the Toronto Archery Range skyrocket. Much of that is largely due to the Hunger Games and other film / TV franchises.

But the good people of Toronto wouldn't necessarily know we even have a public archery range. That is the real trick. The range is one of Toronto's best kept secrets, as the vast majority of people don't even know that the place exists.

When I first started going to that archery range in 2009 it was usually dead quiet there and you would be the only person there most of the time. On a busy day there would be maybe 3 people there, and they were the "regulars" and you would get to know them all by name.

During the height of the Hunger Games/etc visitors to the archery range exploded, with crowds of 15 to 30 people there regularly, or even 60+ on the really busy Saturday mornings.

So clearly the word that the place existed was getting out. Huzzah!

Last year it was so busy I found myself wistful for the quiet days back in 2011 and prior to that, when archery was comparatively less popular.

Recently visitors to the range has dropped off in 2016. A sign perhaps that the archery fad has slowed down a bit and only the true archery fanatics are sticking around.

However as the archery fad of the 1940s to early 1970s shows, these things come in stages. The 1940s-1970s fad lasted 4 decades, spawned largely due to all the Robin Hood movies in the 1940s. (There was literally dozens of them, beginning with the 1938 film "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Errol Flynn and showing the archery skills of Howard Hill.) The fad ended a few years after 1973, the year Disney made their animated version of Robin Hood. Deliverance in 1972 was also part of the same fad.

A brief archery fad in the 1980s sparked up after the making of the 2nd and 3rd Rambo movies. Another one followed with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. A small one occurred after the first Lord of the Rings film in 2001.

But those fads were all relatively small. Especially compared to the decades long fad of the 1940s-1970s era.

In this era of smartphones, the internet, and cable television it is very difficult for people to get motivated to go outside - thus it is also more difficult for large numbers of people to get involved in an outdoor sport. We will likely never see an archery fad as big as the one which occurred between 1938 and 1975.

Ramsay's Archery Skills on Game of Thrones / National Post Article

I was recently asked a series of archery questions by a reporter from the National Post, a Canadian newspaper. The questions pertained to a recent episode of the popular television show "Game of Thrones", episode 9 of season 6 during which the character Ramsay Bolton (formerly Ramsay Snow) displayed his impressive archery skills.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the recent episodes of Game of Thrones you may want to watch the episode in question before reading any further.

Some of the questions I was asked included:
  • How far would Ramsay, the shooter, have to be to successfully target the victim? How far would be too far?
  • And how long would this shot typically take? How fast do you believe the arrow is moving? 
  • What style of arrow and method of shooting is Ramsay using, and do you think these are good choices considering what he is about to do?
  • Would the arrow continue moving in a straight path at this distance? Would his victim have been able to “zig-zag” and avoid it, in other words?
Ramsay Bolton with Penobscot Flatbow

Ah yes, the scene with the Penobscot bow. I was very happy when I saw that. The Penobscot are a Aboriginal American tribe who used "double limbed flatbows" which have extra cables attached to extra limbs on the bottom and top of the bow, which allows the archer to adjust their tiller and weight by shortening/lengthening the cables by twisting the cables to tighten or loosen the cables. The adjustability and added power makes the arrows go further with a longer arc, which ultimately leads to more accuracy at longer distances.

Normally Ramsay in the TV show is seen with a Hungarian style horsebow, a type of shortbow which is not known for its long range accuracy, but by switching to a Penobscot bow he gets added range and accuracy. As a fan of the Penobscot bow, it was very nice seeing it being used in the show.

Sample of a Penobscot Bow

Penobscot Woman with Penobscot Bow
Note - Torontonians interested in buying a Penobscot bow should contact Gary at Basically Bows at 940 Queen Street East. Address and hours are listed on

How far would Ramsay, the shooter, have to be to successfully target the victim? How far would be too far?

Depending on the archer and the power (measured in poundage) of the bow, he could be pretty far away. Howard Hill once shot a bald eagle at 150 yards away, which is twice the distance modern Olympic archers shoot at. Rickon is a lot bigger than a bald eagle however, but I would estimate he was about 100-120 yards away when the fatal arrow hit him.

Ramsay showing off, deliberately missing.
Judging by Ramsay's previous skill shown in the TV show, this is not impossible. I would say Ramsay is likely "reasonable accurate" out to a distance of 120 yards when shooting at a man sized target. Ramsay's skill is quite good and he even shows off a bit by looking away during one shot and deliberately missing. Judging by the camera angles and the size of people in the distance I think the two opposing forces were about 200 to 250 yards apart.

[It is difficult to estimate the precise distances as camera angles will sometimes skew distances. I am basing my estimates on previous experience of seeing the sizes of people at known distances of 100 yards, 200 yards and 300 yards.]

And how long would this shot typically take? How fast do you believe the arrow is moving?

To nock, draw and aim - only a few seconds. You would not want to be holding it for a long time when aiming at a moving target, as the character Ramsay likely would have tuned to the Penobscot to his ideal poundage for the utmost accuracy and speed. The arrow was likely traveling between 200 to 250 feet per second (fps) on release.

Regarding the precise arrow speed I am basing that on the estimate that Ramsay might have tuned the Penobscot bow to approx. 80 lbs, the higher the poundage the more power and speed released initially. Based on Ramsay's physical size, his youth and the fact he has clearly been shooting a very long time, 80 lbs seems like a reasonable amount.

Historically any bow used for war would be a much higher poundage than any bow used for hunting or recreation.

To put this in context 80 lbs is the bare minimum for an English warbow, which is more powerful than the standard English longbow. Longbows for adults are *usually* in the range of 20 to 80 lbs. English Warbows are usually in the range of 80 to 200 lbs. For example Howard Hill once used a 173 lb now while hunting a bull elephant in Africa, which admittedly was overkill in terms of power.

A typical hunting bow in Ontario is between 40 to 70 lbs, stipulated because the minimum legal poundage for bowhunting deer is 39.7 lbs and for moose/elk/black bear the minimum is 48.5 lbs.
A bow that is only 20 - 30 lbs of draw weight in contrast would have a speed of approx. 100 to 125 fps. Only a fraction of what a Penobscot bow is capable of.

What style of arrow and method of shooting is Ramsay using, and do you think these are good choices considering what he is about to do?

Ramsay appears to be using a wooden arrow with long turkey feather fletching (for added accuracy on non-windy days, less accuracy on windy days). The arrowhead appears to be a moderately heavy traditional broadhead. He would not want an arrowhead that is too heavy as that would reduce his long distance accuracy, so he has chosen one that is relatively narrow and saves on weight.

Ramsay Bolton with Hungarian-style Bow
Ramsay is using a style of archery similar to the Howard Hill style of shooting (this is how famous Howard Hill is, he has an archery style named after him). Howard Hill would also lean forward and into the shot slightly, aligning his body with the angle of the bow. The style is popular with longbow and flatbow archers, and bears similarities to Mongolian, Persian, Turkish and Hungarian archery styles. The style involves deliberately canting (changing the angle) of the top limb of the bow to the side so you get a cleaner view of the target and it compensates for the sideways motion of the arrow - without the cant the arrow would tend to go further to the side, but the cant allows the archer to be able to compensate for the difference and makes it easier to aim at their target.

As longbow archery styles go, there are three common styles you may have seen previously: English Longbow Style (no cant, shooting long distance in volleys because of reduced accuracy), Japanese Kyudo (no cant, but with significant stylistic differences in form and release), and the Howard Hill style of shooting. Of these three styles, the Howard Hill style makes the most sense, plus since he has already been seen shooting Hungarian style horsebows, it is not so different from the style of shooting he does regularly.

So yes, a moderately weighted arrowhead with a long fletched arrow, using a Howard Hill style cant makes total sense to get the most accuracy.

Hungarian Bow

Would the arrow continue moving in a straight path at this distance? Would his victim have been able to “zig-zag” and avoid it, in other words?

The arrow would be traveling in a straight arc, so yes, it would be straight and arcing downwards. In theory, yes, Rickon would have been able to zig zag at that distance and dramatically reduce the chances of Ramsay hitting him, but Rickon clearly was not thinking that. He also did not think to run behind the burning crosses and let the heat rising from the crosses change the view of the target so that it was blurry and more difficult to aim at. So if he had thought to zig zag behind the crosses, his chances of survival would have shot way up.

I should note that in the TV show Stark children who have their wolf killed somehow have a tendency to die. Sansa is the only character who has had her wolf die a long time ago and has not yet died. She has so far bucked the trend, which makes me wonder if she is doomed. Rickon was clearly doomed the moment he got captured and his wolf was killed. Robb got separated from his wolf during the Red Wedding and it was locked in a kennel, thus signaling his death was imminent. Arya is fortunate that her wolf is still wandering the Riverlands. Bran only recently lost his wolf on the TV show (not in the books) so it will be interesting to see if he also dies sometime.

Additional Notes

Check out Ygritte's bow that she had. It is a recurved replica of the Meare Heath bow, which is a famous example of ancient bow designs.

Ygritte with her Meare Heath replica

Diagram of the Meare heath bow

Ramsay was taking his sweet time there between shots. He was in no rush. Had he wanted to he could have shot perhaps 10 times easily in the space of 1 minute, but instead he was patient and took his time about it.

Which I think is part of his character. He takes his time and enjoys his sadistic pleasures. In contrast when he realizes he is in danger he manages to get three shots off at Jon before he starts getting punched in the face. That scene was shorter but was a better example of fast shooting.

Got archery questions?

Send your questions to More than happy to help answer questions.

Happy shooting!

Five Tips for Winning an Archery Competition

Yesterday (Saturday, June 25th) I took part in an archery competition. The events in question included three categories of archery: Olympic, Compound and Barebow. Unfortunately they were short on competitors for the Compound and Olympic categories, and while I don't normally compete in such things, I agreed to take part so that they would have more competitors.

Drawing upon the experience, I have constructed a list of five tips for people looking to take part in archery competitions.

Tip #1. Understand the system being used for the particular competition you are in.

For example, the competition yesterday involved 3 ranking rounds, 3 shots per round. The results from those 9 shots (3 rounds x 3 shots per round) then determined your rank for the duels.

The rankings then determined the order of the duels, the highest ranking people facing off initially against the lowest ranking people. The winners of those duels progress to the next level, the losers duel it out to stay in the competition, if they lose round two then they are eliminated. As the duels continue, they eventually reach 4 semi-finalists, who are narrowed down to two people - the finalists.

Understanding how the competition system works will give you a better idea of how you are expected to win the competition. A dueling system like above could knock people out of the competition just by having 1 or 2 bad rounds.

In my case, there was only 3 people competing in the compound competition. So I was ranked against Randy, and then after I won that duel I faced Luis. Below are the scores during the rounds:

Charles Vs Randy

Round 1
Charles 10x 9 8 = 27 with one bullseye
Randy 5 3 3 = 11

Round 2
Charles 7 7 1 = 15
Randy 9 8 4 = 21

Round 3
8 6 5 = 19
7 6 5 = 18

Total Charles 61 vs Randy 50

Charles Vs Luis

Round 1
8 7 5 = 20
8 8 8 = 24

Round 2
4 3 2 = 9
10 9 8 = 27

Round 3
9 7 7 = 23
9 8 5 = 22

Total Charles 52 vs Luis 73

Round 3 Vs Luis. Green Fletch = My Arrows, Orange Fletch = Luis Arrows.

Tip #2. Keep track of everything you did during the rounds of the competition.

This isn't just useful for the current competition, but will help you to analyze what you did well and what you did wrong, that way you can use that information for future competitions as well.

So for example I know Round 1 vs Randy I took my time and did very well. Round 2, I rushed the shots when I should have took more time. Round 3, I narrowly beat Randy by 1 point by forcing myself to be more patient.

Versus Luis, I did okay during the first round, but during round 2 I encountered two problems. The first problem was mental, I had calculated that I needed to improve my score by at least 4 points just to catch up to Luis. This caused me to stress more about my shot and tense up. The second problem was wind, which caused me to stress more. After the first shot did so poorly I felt like I was already defeated and it didn't matter any more. By the second shot, it was clear my score was going to be dismal, thus by the third shot I had basically given up. Round 3 I recouped some of losses and even beat Luis by 1 point, but by then it was too late.

Analyzing this after the fact, you realize that what I really did wrong during the first duel was that I rushed the 2nd round when I should have been more patient, I could have got a score in the 20s had I not rushed it. And the second duel was mostly mental, and a dose of patience could have helped versus the second round when the wind was messing with my head.

Tip #3. Practice, Warmup and Tune before a Competition

I joined that competition last minute and had only practiced shooting compound once during the previous two weeks. I had hoped to arrive at the competition an hour early to do some "last minute practicing" but ended up arriving about 30 minutes before the event instead.

Had I known I was going to be taking part in the competition further in advance, I should have been practicing compound 3 times per week, tuning the bow for more accuracy, and I should have made more of an effort to arrive earlier and give myself ample time to "warm up" before the event.

In comparison Luis, the winner, regularly shoots compound and was amply prepared. I divide my practice time between traditional recurve, longbow, Olympic recurve and compound.

Thus anyone wishing to do better during a competition should be practicing the archery style in question more regularly so that they will well-practiced and well-tuned before the event. Showing up early to warmup is also handy.

Tip #4. Pace what you eat and drink.

Having a BBQ on a hot day and cold drinks may sound like a great idea for a party, but for an archery competition you would be better off eating healthier and trying to pace your consumption of both food and liquids. Obviously you want to avoid dehydration on a hot day, but you should also try to avoid over-hydration, eating too much and feeling bloated.

Since the competition yesterday was just for fun, it didn't really matter what I ate or drank during the event, but during any serious event people should try to be more cautious about their eating habits.

Tip #5. Mentally prepare yourself to prevent competition anxiety.

During the 30 minutes that I warmed up before the event I focused mostly on shooting a longer distance, so that when I was shooting at the distance at the shorter competition distance it would feel comparatively easy. I feel this did actually help.

There are other ways to mentally prepare yourself, including regular practice so you feel more confident in your skills.

Other Ways to Mentally Prepare Yourself:
  1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude - basic skill.
  2. Maintain a high level of self-motivation - basic skill.
  3. Set high, realistic goals - basic skill.
  4. Deal effectively with people using social skills - basic skill.
  5. Use positive self-talk - intermediate skill.
  6. Use positive mental imagery - intermediate skill.
  7. Manage anxiety effectively - advanced skill.
  8. Manage their emotions effectively - advanced skill.
  9. Maintain concentration - advanced skill.
Mental Skills Pyramid for Competitive Athletes

Some of the above mental skills come with taking part in competitions regularly, as experience will allow an athlete to draw upon past experiences with competition anxiety and they will be able to better cope with that anxiety.

You will also note that the above skills are useful for other kinds of competitions. Or public speaking.

Final Notes

I also won an arrow case as a door prize just for showing up, which was actually the primary reason I took part in the competition. I just wanted the arrow case right from the beginning. I had zero use for a trophy to collect dust.

Happy Competing!

Archery, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

If you said "Absolutely nothing." you would be repeating the song lyrics, but sadly mistaken.

The mental benefits of archery are listed as follows:
  • Increased memory function.
  • Better sensory awareness.
  • Higher observational skills.
  • Increased logic skills.
  • Increased problem solving skills.
  • Increased concentration skills.
  • Increased pattern recognition skills.
  • Increased mathematical skills and numerical aptitude.
  • Spatial awareness skills.
  • Better understanding of yourself (intrapersonal skills).
  • More complex thinking strategies (eg. being able to think about multiple things simultaneously).
  • Decreased chances of developing Alzheimer's Disease and similar diseases.
  • Higher order reasoning skills.
= Archery effectively raises your IQ over the long term. With a side benefit of reducing the symptoms of senility and similar mental problems.

The physical benefits of archery are listed as follows:
  • Increased fat loss.
  • Increased strength / muscle mass.
  • Increased endurance.
  • Improved cardiovascular system.
  • Increased hand-eye coordination.
  • Increased balance.
  • Improved overall health (including your immune system).
= Archery, like many forms of exercise, has a long list of health benefits from regular exercise. Everything from a stronger heart and an improved immune system.

And lastly, the social benefits of archery - since archery tends to be a rather social activity - are listed as follows:
  • Increased linguistic and verbal skills.
  • Increased understanding of body language and non-verbal communication.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Increased empathy. 
  • Better emotional processing.
= Archery will cause you to make more friends. That is really what it comes down to. Any person who is remotely social will end up making new friends when hanging out at the archery range. You would have to be completely anti-social and deliberately avoiding meeting new people to not be accidentally making new friends doing this sport. It is an extremely social sport and complete strangers will often build friendships in the span of a few hours.


Archery will make you Smarter, Stronger and more Social. What it is good for? Lots.

Naysayers of this might also point out that bowhunting, bowfishing, competing in archery competitions are also potentially useful, but frankly those are things that limited in their application. You would have to go out of your way to deliberately hunt, fish, or compete. In contrast, the mental, physical and social benefits will effect your life on a regular (if not constant) basis, especially if you become a regular at your local archery range.

Oh and one last benefit. Archery is FUN! What other reason do you need???

The photo below was taken when myself and two friends all brought our antique Browning bows to the archery range and we lined them up to compare them. :)

Archery Testimonials x 4


"Thanks again for the archery lessons! You are the best. We tried archery tag several times but didn't really learn how to shoot properly until we met you.

To anyone reading this, Charles is an amazing archery instructor who is very patient, very good at communicating ideas, and he helped us to get rid of a lot of our bad habits. You could not ask for a better instructor. He makes the lessons fun and we learned so much every lesson.

- Amber and Muhammad"


"Charles provides quality archery instruction and service. He has good attention to detail, is nice, friendly, very knowledgeable, and I am very happy with my archery skills. They are all due to his tips which covered everything from how to stand, how to pull, WHEN to pull, how to stand up straight, how to aim, how to release and much more. I had a problem with my drawing arm that was causing me to tremble, but Charles taught me how to fix it by pulling the bow correctly after pre-aiming. I would not have thought of that. He also taught me how to use consistent power so each arrow has the same amount of power and why that is important for accuracy. I am coming back for more lessons next year.

Thank you for the archery lessons!

- Zhang Min"


"Charles is a great instructor. I took five lessons with him and each lesson is different and tailored to fix whatever problems I am having. By lesson 5 I was shooting long distances and even scored a few bullseyes. The part I enjoyed most was the drills in which he would challenge me to try new things, like moving a target ball around so I have to learn how to adjust my aim, adjusting my aim for windy conditions and shooting at moving targets. I never thought I would be able to shoot at moving targets or long distances so accurately, but now I can.

I surpassed my expectations and now have my own equipment. I am extremely happy with the lessons I received.

- Jennifer D."


"To the reader:

Before signing up for archery lessons I did my research. I did this because I want to get into traditional bowhunting and I wanted someone who understood what I was looking for. One of the things that impressed me right away is that Charles practices archery in the winter. From what I can tell he is the only instructor in Toronto who does that. He also does bowfishing, which is not the same as bowhunting, but impressed me nevertheless. I was also impressed by the amazing amount of archery tips he had on his website, all for free - which got me thinking, if that is all the tips he gives away for free, then what is he teaching? So I decided it would be worthwhile to sign up for 1 lesson. I figured 1 lesson wouldn't hurt.

Wow. I learned so much in the first lesson it still boggles my mind. He started with a safety lecture, then he did an eye test to see which is my dominate eye, then he showed me how to put together a 3-piece recurve bow (at the time I didn't even know what a recurve bow was and I kept calling it a longbow by accident). Then he did a lecture on how to aim and then a lecture on proper archery form, which covered everything from what I should be doing with my toes, my fingers and even my neck.

Then we started shooting. Charles was very careful to adjust my form each time I was shooting so I could get better shots and foster what he calls good habits. Sometimes he allowed me to make mistakes so I could see what a difference bad habits makes. By the end of the lesson I was shooting clusters at a target 62 feet away.

Needless to say I immediately asked to sign up for more lessons. The following lessons taught me how arrow spine worked and how that effects the quality of the shot, how arrowheads come in different sizes and shapes and what they are used for, how to wax a bow string, how to properly string a recurve bow, how to string a real longbow, and he gradually increased the strength of the bows I was shooting so that I was becoming stronger. He also taught me several different aiming methods, which I found fascinating.

During lesson 6 we were shooting at a paper target of a deer 165 feet away, which I found to be a lot of fun. Charles had learned that I was also interested in bowhunting and surprised me during the final lesson with the deer target. He gave me an interesting tip:

If you want to hunt then you should routinely practice at double the distance you intend to hunt at. So for example if you want to hunt at 90 feet or less, then your should regularly practice at 180 feet. This way you feel confident in your accuracy at a time when you more likely to be pumped full of adrenaline and might start second guessing your accuracy.

That was an important tip to me. But it was just one of many I learned from his lessons. What you see on his website is just the 'tips' of the iceberg. Thanks again!

- Chris W."

A Steady Relaxed Hand on your Compound Bow

What NOT to do - over-gripping the bow.
A very common beginners mistake for new archers is gripping the bow when you don't need to. Gripping the bow tightens up the forearm muscles and causes people to torque and/or jerk the bow, as well as increasing unnecessary vibrations and micro-jerking.

The best solution for preventing this is to completely relax the hand and forearm. Not even the thumb should be tensed. Everything should be relaxed. Fingers, hand, thumb, forearm, and elbow should be relaxed. Even the bow shoulder should be reasonably relaxed.

Hand position is a matter of debate however. My preference is for the base of the hand (the palm) to be bracing the bow as that reduces the chance of torquing the bow.

Some archers however prefer to angle their hand slightly diagonally, which increases the chances of hand torque. As an instructor I try to steer people away from that and I consider it to be bad form if a student is doing it because it is robbing them of more accuracy. However some archers swear by their chosen hand positions (archers are sometimes a superstitious lot) and choose to ignore physics.

The above hand position will tend to cause left-ward torquing.

Some archers also like to tuck their fingers up on the side of the handle, which again tensed up the forearm and increases the chances of jerking the bow mid-shot. Even micro-jerking (so small the human eye can barely detect) will rob accuracy. Again, some archers swear by this hand position and choose to ignore the laws of physics.

The fingers are too tense and will cause right-ward jerking.

Close, but if the fingers are too stiff, they can still cause jerking of the bow.

Another problem is people who have their fingers facing forward but they are still making them stiff or making claw fingers. Any amount of tension is going to hurt accuracy. Ideally what you want should look more like your hands do when you are standing and your hands are relaxed at your side. Or comparatively, the shape of your hand when you reach out to shake someone's hand. A nice relaxed, natural position.

Another common mistake is when archers relax only three fingers, and then pinch their thumb and index finger together. Again, any amount of tensions robs accuracy.

Please don't pinch your index and thumb together.

Claw hand plus even a tensed up pinky finger can rob accuracy.

Ideally you are going for the nice relaxed handshake position, with the base of the palm bracing the bow (not the thumb, the thumb area used as a brace increases hand torque). See the above photo and several of the photos from further above from people who favour bracing the bow against the lower "drumstick" of the thumb.

Some people only seem to have a basic understanding of what hand torque does to their shots and cannot be bothered to try fixing the problem.

Common Mistakes
  • Gripping the Bow.
  • Tensing the Fingers.
  • Tensing the Thumb.
  • Pinching Thumb and Index Finger.
  • Claw Hand.
  • Rotating the hand and bracing on the Thumb "drumstick".
  • Holding the Handle too far to the left or right (aka, not centering the hand on the handle).


Comfort also seems to be a big factor for accuracy. If someone doesn't like the handle of the bow they are using, that lack of comfort will often cause them to tense up their hand when they should not be. Having a good comfortable handle therefore allows the person to relax their hand more and allows for a more comfortable, relaxed and accurate shots.

Notice above how many of the people in the photos are using the bare handle and haven't added anything to the handle to make it more comfortable. That is because they don't know any better.

What people are supposed to be doing is purchasing a better quality grip and then attaching it to their bow. Some people even make their own. Like the two examples below.

Another alternative is to wrap the handle, as desired by the user, with leather or faux leather. Some people also use braided para-cord and have experimented with other materials.

To learn more about how to shoot compound bows you can sign up for compound bow archery lessons in Toronto.

6 Tips for Tighter Compound Bow Clusters

Below are six bow tuning tips for improving the quality of your clusters when shooting a compound bow:

#1. Make sure your Nocking Loop is installed correctly.

Most compound bows these days come with a nocking loop for a mechanical release already installed on the bow these days. Most of the time they are installed correctly. Sometimes they are not. Here are some tips for making sure it is correctly installed:

(A) Make sure the loop is not pinching the nock too much while at full draw. A way to test this is to draw the bow back, arrow nocked, with no arrowhead on the arrow. If the arrow rises off the arrowrest (assuming you are not using a whisker biscuit or hostage arrowrest), then nock pinch will result in the arrow rising a bit off the arrowrest. If the arrow isn't staying on the arrowrest, then the nock is being pinched. To fix this, adjust the nocking loop so that the nock has about 1/4 or 1/3 of a mm of extra space. Some people might even give it 0.5 mm. At full draw the extra space disappears. Retest to see if you are getting arrow lift, if it is doing so, repeat the process to give the nock more space until it stops causing arrow lift when at full draw.

 (B) Check what direction the nocking loop is pointing. It should be pointing straight back away from the bow, but sometimes it could be installed crooked. The "String Torque" of it rotating back to its original position from a drawn position can result in minor fluctuations in accuracy. Sometimes if the loop is really off centre, it might even come in contact with the arrow, which could potentially ruin a shot entirely.

#2. Synchronize your Cams.

There are a variety of names for this, including synchronizing, timing, positioning, and indexing. Whatever you call it, the purpose of synchronization is to make sure the dual-cams on your bow are reaching full draw and let off at the same time. Having both cams synchronized increases speed, accuracy, consistency and the overall "feel" of the compound bow.

When synchronizing it is best to have a friend (or archery instructor) with you so that one person can be drawing the bow while the other person is checking the positions of the cams. Preferably someone who has done this before and knows what to be looking for. (It is also possible to use a machine to draw the bow for you, like a Draw Board. eg. The Lancaster Archery Supply Pro Shop Draw Board sells for $199.99, but if you are only buying it for this one task, then it is really not worth buying.)

Once you determine that one cam or the other is out of synch then all you need to do is either lengthen or shorten the cable by either twisting / untwisting the cable to change the lengths. Depending on the model of the bow you can also adjust the length of cable by changing the position of the stopping peg.

Note - Adding extra stuff on your bow strings can sometimes drastically change the tautness of the bowstring and effect synchronization, and thus hurt speed and accuracy. Thus any time you add or remove anything from the bow string / cables you should recheck the synchronization to see how it was effected.

#3. Make sure your nocks fit the bow string properly.

Sometimes people buy arrows with nocks and they are either too tight or too loose on the bow string. Both are bad for accuracy. Too tight means the bow string is pulled forward on the brace height during release. (Too tight also adds string noise by making a louder twang, which for hunting purposes could alert the prey.) Too loose could result in a misfire / the nock slipping off the bow string during a critical juncture.

Ideally what you want is a nock that isn't too tight, too loose, allows the bow string to spin freely but without torquing the arrow. If it cannot spin freely when nocked, then it is too tight. If it is so loose that the nock falls off the bow string, it is too loose.

When nocking an arrow you should hear a click sound. It should not be a snapping or twang sound. Then roll the string using your fingers and see if the string can move freely within the nocked position. Click and spin.

Another way to test for looseness is to nock an arrow, point the bow at the ground and gently tap the string. If the vibrations of the bow string being tapped cause the arrow to slip off and fall to the ground, it is too loose.

If your nocks are too tight or too loose you will need to experiment with other nock sizes until you find one that is perfect. Or the reverse is to re-serve the serving on the bowstring and make it slightly thicker or thinner.

#4. Make sure your arrow nocks are properly installed.

An improperly installed nock can sometimes be the difference between shooting the target and digging broken shards of arrow out of your arm. Hopefully that doesn't happen to you! Such accidents sometimes occur when people are shooting a nock which is broken, damaged, cracked, or my favourite word of the day: Kaputt!

But if the latter can be avoided, so can the former - improperly installed nocks. The correct way to install a nock is to wax it first (string wax works great for this) and then slide it into the shaft. Once in, align the nock as desired and it is done. That is it. Wax it and install. The wax acts to make the nock even tighter inside the shaft, and reduces the chances that it will slip out in the future or become crooked due to vibrations.

You should also regularly check the status of your nocks for damage and check the alignment.

#5. Learn how to do Nock Indexing.

The definition of Nock Indexing is simply checking to see how the nock is aligned compared to the arrow fletching vanes. It should probably be called "Nock Fletching Alignment" as that more accurately describes what you are doing. Briefly touched on above, it is simply a matter of aligning your fletching and nocks so that they are in the same position and match your arrowrest when shooting.

If you don't do Nock Indexing, your fletching will rub against the arrowrest in different ways and each shot will be slightly different.

Note - You also need to make sure that the fletching vanes are not coming in to contact with any cables while being shot. To check for this, draw back the bow for a shot, then go back down slowly to check to see if any cables make contact with the vanes.

#6. Reinforce the Peep sight serving.

I am a strong believer in this last one.

When you buy a compound bow the peep sight is usually installed for you, but the serving around the peep sight (assuming they served it!) can sometimes be loose and move around - which in turn causes the peep sight to move around between shots. To remedy this problem, reinforce the peep sight with extra serving and make sure that sucker isn't moving around on you. Having a peep sight that stays put where it is supposed to be dramatically improves consistency in my opinion.

Photo on the Right - The serving above and below that peep sight is too loose in my opinion. Minor movements up and down by even 1 mm will effect the accuracy by about 2 inches at a distance of 20 yards, or dramatically more than that when shooting at 30, 40 or 50 yards. On my bow I reinforced the serving a full cm top and bottom, and tightened it so the peep sight cannot move around at all.

Note that reinforcing the peep sight may effect the cam synchronization, so you should always do this first before doing any synchronization.

Want to learn more about compound bows and archery? Sign up for compound bow lessons in Toronto.

12 Things Every New Archer Should Do or Know

The following is a list of 12 things new archery enthusiasts should do or at least know before they begin the sport of archery.

#1. Find a good archery instructor. Your own personal Yoda.

One of the worst things you can do as a beginning archer is to try and train yourself. This leads to bad habits, and once those bad habits become entrenched they are very difficult to get rid of. It is arguably easier to train someone who is a blank slate and has not yet entrenched any bad habits.

Archers also sometimes develop bad mental habits, so having a good instructor can also help you deal with mental hangups. As you progress archery becomes less about the physical strain and more about mental conditioning.

I should also note that your instructor should be a good communicator. Someone who has difficulty communicating things to other people (due to a lack of people skills or communication skills) may have been trained as an instructor, but that doesn't make them a good instructor. People skills and communication skills are the hallmarks of people who are good instructors, as they convey their thoughts and ideas clearly and in a manner so that students can easily understand what is being communicated.

It doesn't matter who you choose to be your instructor (eg. it doesn't have to be me), but it does matter that it is someone you feel confident about their skills as an instructor. It might be a friend, a relative, a co-worker - but you might also determine that your friend isn't that good at explaining things, which is why having an experienced instructor helps. And it also matters that you do the following...

#2. Find an instructor who teaches the style of archery you want to do.

This is arguably more important than #1.

You wouldn't hire a compound bow instructor to teach recurve bow, and you wouldn't hire an Olympic instructor to teach traditional recurve. The styles of archery of separate, use different archery forms, aiming techniques, and comes with its own set of rules.

For example lets say you want to learn how to use a Mongolian style bow and how to use a thumb ring, well then you need an instructor who knows how to shoot horsebows with a thumb ring.

Myself I teach all five major styles of archery. The only things I don't teach is crossbows and kyudo. The first bow I ever shot was a compound when I was 10 years old, I made my own longbows when I was a teenager, I had Olympic archery lessons when living in South Korea, and I now teach all five styles: Longbow, shortbow/horsebow, traditional recurve, Olympic recurve, and compound.

#3. Be yourself and don't compare yourself to other archers.

Everyone was a beginner at one point and many beginners make the mistake of comparing themselves to other archers who have:
  • Been shooting a lot longer.
  • Shoot a different style of archery.
  • Are physically bigger and stronger.
  • Have better posture.
One of the best things you can do is stop worrying about what other archers are doing and focus on what you are doing. Don't try to shoot like everyone else, because everyone else is different - often focusing on different styles, and you should not try to mix styles.

Example - I know a person who bought a horsebow, but they started comparing themselves to Olympic archers and tried to replicate their shooting style (using Olympic/South Anchor instead of Traditional/North Anchor) and the quality of their accuracy went down because they were using the wrong style of archery with their bow - and consequently an inconsistent draw. Seeing the Olympic archers shoot made them think they were doing something wrong and instead of working on their traditional form, they switched to Olympic anchor and actually saw their accuracy get worse instead of better.

So please, please do not compare yourself to other archers who are shooting different styles of archery. Focus on your own style.

#4. Worry more about your technique than your equipment.

In the beginning it doesn't matter if your archery equipment is frugal or expensive. You will shoot poorly regardless. Shooting form and technique matters more because that is what builds skill, proper form and accuracy. Getting better quality equipment can come later.

#5. Archery is always harder than people expect it to be.

Especially the further you are shooting. Twice the distance isn't twice as difficult, it is exponentially more difficult.

The first things new archers learn is that is that it is always harder to pull a bow than they were expecting, and even harder to hold it steady. Next, learning how to aim (or adjust sights) is really a matter of building clusters of arrows on the target, but if your form is poor then your arrows might be all over the place with no consistent cluster - and that itself will be very difficult if your form is inconsistent due to not understanding how archery form works - which goes back to #1 and #2 above, about finding a good instructor who teaches the style of archery you are learning.

Even with an instructor it will be a hard process, but a very rewarding one as people with instructors learn way faster, break/lose less arrows, and gain accuracy. Not being able to see that increase in accuracy will feel more like defeat than a win, and thus people who are trying to teach themselves will often quit doing archery because they don't think they are very good at it.

#6. Archery does Not Come Naturally - it takes PRACTICE.

Some people even practice during the Winter.
Yes, some people have physical advantages of height, strength and good posture - but that doesn't make them naturally good at archery. Practice is the most important part, as the more you practice the better your archery form becomes consistent and the more accuracy you gain.

Thus even if you feel like you didn't do well the first time, you should also realize that you at least improved compared to the first round. Your first shots will likely be horrible. It is when you finally get an idea of what you are supposed to be doing, learn to relax more, and then you will see your accuracy improve.

In seven years of teaching archery I have had a few students who go the bullseye on their very first shot, but that is not the norm. And they never would have got that bullseye were it not for me carefully adjusting their form before that first shot occurred. It was a matter of patience that they held their shot long enough for me to fix their form, adjust their aim perhaps and then they managed to do so well because of those combined factors.

#7. When shooting compound, use the correct draw length and desired draw weight.

One of the worst things you can do with a compound bow is give it to someone who has a different draw length and a draw weight that they are not used to. They might be under-drawing or over-drawing the bow, and too much weight or not enough will feel foreign to them.

The sights will also be off because compound bows are designed to be adjusted to the user. So the draw length, the draw weight and the sights will all be off.

The same thing goes when using an Olympic bow. If the sights are set for a specific person, they are basically useless to someone who is shorter or taller.

I recall years ago watching a person teaching two friends how to shoot. The person didn't have any experience teaching, but was trying to teach their two friends, which included a tall man and a short woman. They were both using the same Olympic recurve, with the sight set up for the instructor. The tall man was comparable in height to his friend and was able to get his arrows on to the paper target they were shooting at, although not with great accuracy. The short woman however, her arrows were landing two feet below the target because her draw length was different and she wasn't getting the same amount of power as the two men, thus her arrows would arc downwards more and miss completely. The two men couldn't figure out why she kept missing so low, even though she was using the sight - to them, that was all that mattered. It was because the sight was in the wrong spot for her height. It was set up for their friend who was a good foot taller than she was.

#8. Don't rely on gadgets to get accuracy.

Form matters more than gadgets. Gadgets are crutches. A good archer can shoot the target without any need of gadgetry. Focus on learning good form and good habits, and your accuracy improves. Focus too much on using sights, stabilizers, clickers and other gadgets and you will be looking at your equipment for the mistake and not at yourself for improvement.

A good archer seeks to improve their form constantly. A bad archer blames their equipment.

#9. Try to beat your own score, but remember that score doesn't matter.

It is the sport that matters. Don't worry about trying to beat the scores of other people. Try to beat your own score and have fun/relax while doing it. Overthinking the shot, becoming tense or frustrated, these are things that will ruin your accuracy. Relaxation is key. Becoming frustrated will cause you to tense up the wrong muscles at the wrong time and ruin your shot.

Patience and relaxation are two important things for building accuracy. You will get there, but being impatient and frustrated about it will only the delay getting the results you are looking for.

This is especially important for competitive archers, as competitions often spoils the fun of the sport. No fun means less relaxation, less relaxation means you will be overly tense and ruin your shot.

"Fear is the path to the Dark Side [of archery]. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." - Yoda.

#10. If you want to get really good at archery you need to be passionate about it.

Someone who is less than passionate about archery is not going to be practicing very much. In a survival situation it makes sense for a person to be passionate about that which will bring them food, but for people doing archery for recreation, then they might only practice once per year or once per month.

Once per month will allow for a very slow progression of learning. For the truly passionate people once per month is not enough however, they crave to be practicing several times per week because they love it so much. That level of passion drives them, archery becomes an addiction to them, and they improve dramatically within a relatively short period of time because they are shooting so often.

#11. Make Practice part of your Routine.

Scheduling one or two days per week as part of your archery practice routine will allow a beginner archer to quickly build their skills quickly. Some archers may even do 3 or 4 days per week, if their work schedule allows them to be practicing that often. Once you get into the groove, it will become something you just do every week.

#12. Have Fun and Shoot for the Stars.

If you are not having fun, then why are doing this?

And if you are not challenging yourself to shoot further distances with more accuracy, then you won't really see improvement.

It is when you challenge yourself and have fun at the same time that you will see both an improvement in your accuracy and have a great time while shooting.

Even people who are training for a competition should regularly try shooting for fun and giving themselves new challenges, because the joy of a new target to shoot at is good for their mental conditioning. They will go into a competition feeling more relaxed and confident.

Coming up with fun things to try is sometimes a challenge by itself, but when in doubt try the following:

Shoot at a moving target (eg. water bottle on a string works well).
Shoot at a target at a random distance.
Shoot at a tiny target (like trying to pierce a string).
Shoot at a balloon tied to string that is pegged to the ground at a long distance. So not only is it a moving target, but it is further away.
Call your shots on a paper target (eg. Try to hit 3 o'clock on the blue or 9 o'clock on the black.)

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