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Showing posts with label Archery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archery. Show all posts

Archery, Aiming and Glasses Vs Contacts

Today one of my archery students was having a problem with the contact in the eye that he aims with. He used to wear glasses, but has made the switch to contacts. His contact was making his eye itchy and dry, and this was interfering with his ability to aim.

The quality of his aim today was thus suffering.

Logically, today would have been a good day for him to switch back to his glasses.

So does that make glasses better than contacts when it comes to aiming?

Not necessarily. The problem with glasses is that they will sometimes shift on your nose, thus shifting the magnification you are using to aim. Ideally, if the glasses were always perched on the same part of your nose then it would be okay, so the trick then is for glasses-wearers to adjust their glasses before a shot, and make a habit of doing it before shots.

Contacts, assuming that the user's eyes are not dry / irritated, thus would normally be superior. There are certainly pros and cons to both.

GADGET NOTE

There are also "Archery Sport Glasses", which are designed to give the user a greater focus / magnification so they can more clearly see where they are aiming, without squinting or straining their eyes. The lenses can also be adjusted to full sun or low light conditions. Some people consider "Archery Sport Glasses" to be cheating, akin to using other kinds of archery gadgets, and thus they might not be allowed at some kinds of archery competitions. It is more common to see them at compound archery competitions, which are very "pro gadgets" in the first place.


Recurve Bows, Brands and Models

During a recent email conversation with a new archer who is shopping for archery equipment, I recommended the Samick Sage because of its reliability and the many excellent reviews it has received in recent years. But I also mentioned that I could "recommend a variety of other brands / models if you want to see a wider range of companies and styles."

To which he responded: "Good I asked you, it would be definitely interesting to see other brands / models, more importantly it would be nice to know the difference."

Hence why I am now writing the post you see below, to showcase some of the other brands and models that are available when it comes to recurve bows designed for beginners (adults). Note - If anyone wants to see a similar list of Youth / Children's bows, post a comment at the bottom and I shall make another list in the future just for you.

The Samick Sage is a bit like the Ford F-150. It is economical and has everything you expect to see in a recurve bow made for a beginner. All the normal bells and whistles for a sum of $150 CDN.

Samick Sage Recurve Bow
But Samick is not the only manufacturer out there. They are just one of many. A recurve bow is a recurve bow is a recurve bow. They are all more or less similar, with slight differences in materials, shapes, lengths, level of quality, and prices.

PRICES LISTED BELOW MAY VARY ON WHERE YOU ARE PURCHASING.
Since many manufacturers list equipment in USD prices, the
exchange rate can cause prices in CDN to vary dramatically.

The PSE Razorback and the Jandao Recuve

If these two bows look similar it is because they are both made in the same factory and look exactly the same. Just different brand names on them. Both cost about $100 USD. They are nothing special and are basically a very cheap introductory recurve bow. I am not even going to bother showing a photo of one. The Samick Polaris falls into the same category of cheap beginner bows, with very similar looks to the Razorback/Jandao.

The PSE Blackhawk, Ghost, Mustang, and Talon

Unlike the Razorback mentioned above, these bows are worth showing. They're all pretty bows and have histories of receiving excellent reviews, the Blackhawk ($260 USD) most of all. The Mustang is $220 USD, the Ghost is $250 USD, and the Talon is $235 USD. I think the Ghost is the prettiest of the bunch, but the Blackhawk has some impressive pedigree/reviews so it is difficult to ignore.

Above: PSE Blackhawk
Above: PSE Ghost

Above: PSE Mustang
Above: PSE Talon

The Martin Poplar, Martin Willow and Martin Cypress

The following are three takedown wooden recurve bows, all made by Martin Archery: Poplar, $130 USD; Willow, $200 USD, + the Martin Cypress, $250 USD. Of the three the Cypress is nicest and prettiest, shown below. Design and features wise, the Cypress is Similar to the Samick Red Stag (shown further below).

Above: Martin Cypress

The Samick Red Stag

If the Samick Sage doesn't interest you, there are also other bows made by Samick which might interest you instead. The Samick Red Stag is one such bow, or rather, three. There is the takedown recurve, the one-piece recurve, and a longbow version (prices for all three versions vary between $200 USD to $300 USD). There is a downside to the Red Stag however, it is not drilled for any kind of accessories. It is meant for traditional fur rests only. It is also a bit noisy, so you will want to consider getting dampeners / string silencers.

Samick also offers a variety of similar bows, like the Lightning Nighthawk, Squall, Phantom, Phoenix II, Leopard II, Volcano, Stingray, and similar models which are designed more for looks.


The Martin Jaguar, Martin Sabre and Martin Panther

The following are three non-traditional takedown bow models, all made by Martin, which some similar design features. The Martin Jaguar is the most basic model at $200 USD, the Martin Sabre is a more advanced model at $250 USD, and the Martin Panther is $300 USD. (There has also been sales in the past for $150, $200 and $250 respectively.) As recurve bows go they fill a niche market of people who are less attracted to wood and want something that is either camouflage or "Darth Vader Black".

In recent years they have also come out with Jaguar Elite (weighing 2.6 lbs) and the Jaguar BF (blue for bowfishing).

Martin Jaguar

Martin Jaguar BF

The Bear Grizzly

The photo below doesn't just show any Bear Grizzly. That is my Bear Grizzly, which I got years ago and even named it "Seahawk". At $380 USD the Grizzly has decorated the shelves of many archers' homes for decades now. The basic design hasn't changed much since the 1950s and these days they are made with "FutureWood", a wood polymer blend that makes the wood tougher and protects from water damage.

Bear Archery also sells a variety of other recurve bows and longbows worth looking at, but the Grizzly is the model that I personally fell in love with.



The Martin Independence

It used to be that Martin had a wide range of recurve bows with a variety of different designs. They made very pretty bows like the Martin Dream Catcher, the Gail Martin, the X-150 / X-200, and so forth. Just Google "Martin Dream Catcher" and see how pretty that bow is and you will understand why some of the older models are arguably better when it came looks.

But all of those models have been discontinued, leaving only the more popular models like the Martin Hunter and Martin Mamba, for which they have jacked the prices up to $630 USD for the Hunter and $600 for the Mamba...

Now keeping in mind the Martin Mamba and Martin Hunter are widely regarded to be two very good bows for their price range, which might explain why Martin has been jacking up their prices in recent years. If they cannot meet the demand because it is so popular, it is time to raise prices.

The Martin Independence (shown on the right) however is basically one of the cheaper models now available, for $400 USD, and it is a very pretty bow.

Stylistically it is similar to a Martin Mamba, but without certain design features that make the Mamba more time consuming and expensive to make.

That was the whole principle behind the old X-200 and X-150 models. They were faster and cheaper to make because the designs were simpler.

However $400 seems like a steep price to pay for the bow, especially when you can go on eBay and buy an older X-150 or X-200 for considerably less. Remember my comments up above about the Ford F-150? Well the Martin X-150 / X-200 was basically Martin's answer to what archers needed: An inexpensive recurve bow that was well made and lasts a long time.

Yesterday I met up with two people who both had X-200s and I joked that I should buy one too and we could start a X-200 Owners Club. Ha!

Browsing eBay can be an excellent way to get a nice quality bow for significantly less than what you would pay for a brand new one. However there are downsides. Finding the poundage you want will be much trickier, the bow may not be in mint condition and have problems, and lastly other people be bidding against you - which can inflate the price and you could end up in a bidding war. So buyer beware.



Note - Now this is not a complete list of manufacturers available. Bear, Martin, PSE, Samick are just a handful of the more popular companies available out there. They are the Fords, GMCs, and Chryslers of the archery world. I haven't even touched on European manufacturers like Ragim, Border Archery, etc. I also limited myself mostly to the so-called traditional style recurves, the ones that are more ideal for beginners due to their price range. I ignored the proverbial Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini type companies, because frankly those are out of the price range of most people (see the brief mention of Blacktail Bows below).



CONCLUSIONS: A recurve bow is a recurve bow is a recurve bow...

There are obvious huge price differences mentioned above, from the $150 CDN Samick Sage, to the $630 USD Martin Hunter. The sky is the limit when it comes to how much a person is willing to spend on a bow.

A quick tour of blacktailbows.com for example will make your jaw drop at the artistry of some truly exquisite and beautifully decorated bows. Their bows don't sell for mere hundreds, they are thousands of dollars each. See the image on the right to see what I mean.

And then there are antique bows or rare bows that belong in a museum, in which case they can become well nigh priceless.

But if the sky is the limit, how do you know which bow is right for you?

Honestly, you don't. It is like going to the dog pound and trying to pick out a puppy. You don't know which puppy is the right puppy for you, you just pick one based on its size, shape and demeanor and hope it falls in love with you just as much as you fall with it.

Having a really beautiful bow like a Blacktail doesn't mean you are going to be more accurate with it. It is just as likely that the bow will end up decorating a wall and collecting dust, because your favourite bow will end up being the one you are most comfortable shooting with and you get the most enjoyment out of shooting.

Thus you won't necessarily know you've fallen in love with a particular bow until after you've shot it many times, perhaps even given it a name, and gotten very used to shooting it. If someone sees the bow, likes the looks of it and offers to buy it off you would you sell the bow that you love so much? Probably not.

It would be like selling man's best friend. You love that little guy. You take him everywhere with you. And when you find that bow you will never want to let it go. You may buy and collect other bows over time (I am up to 27 bows currently...), but the bows you love you will never sell.

Where to get archery lessons west of Toronto?

Q

"Hello,

I am living in Oakville and that location is too far away from me. Do you give [archery] lessons at  other locations [closer to Oakville]?

Thanks,
C"
A

Hey C!
Sadly, no. There is a shortage of archery ranges in your region and I am not in the habit of traveling that far to teach.

OCCS is closer to you, located near 403 and Burnhamthorpe Road in Mississauga.

They have an indoor range and teach group archery lessons, although they might not be teaching the style of archery you are looking for - they only teach Olympic style, whereas I teach all 5 major styles of archery (since Craig referred you to me I am guessing you are hoping to learn how to shoot compound). I cannot comment on the quality of the instructors, but they are certainly closer to where you live.

See http://www.classicalsport.com/archery-adults
Barefoot Bushcraft in the Niagara region (Allanport Road) is actually further away from you, but might suit you better if you are in the habit of going to the Niagara region.

Barefoot Bushcraft Outdoor Archery Range
BB has two instructors, Wolf who teaches longbow / traditional bows / bushcraft, and Britt who teaches compound. So depending on which you are interested in learning they could help you as well. Lessons with either Wolf or Britt are more likely to be one-on-one lessons. They run their own private archery range which is outdoors.

See http://www.barefootbushcraft.ca/services/archery-lessons/

Those are the only two locations I currently know of that are out your way. I recommend you shop around for instructors in the Hamilton, Burlington and Milton area. Chances are there are archery instructors out that way that I have never heard of who will be able to instruct you in the style of archery you are looking for.

[Disclaimer - I have no affiliation with either of the above two organizations, nor have I been paid to advertise them. I simply enjoy promoting the sport of archery.]

If you still want lessons out this direction, let me know and we can begin scheduling.
Best of luck!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

Bowstring Flaying, should I worry about it?

Q

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

A

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Shooting!


How dangerous are crossbows?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q

"Hey Charles,

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

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

Regards,
Francis"

A

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

Archery Question: Building Upper Back Strength

Q

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

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

Best,

Stephen"

A

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

Have a great August!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca

Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Three

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

Examples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The PDF is available on Scribd and other sources.

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

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

Note: Make notes from the various things you learn.

Total Cost: $0.

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

Ideally it would be nice to have the following:

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

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

Total Cost: $0.

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

This might involve:

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

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

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

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

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

Total Cost: Varies or $0.

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

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

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

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

Total Cost: $0.

Step Five, making arrows / etc.

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

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

Total Cost: Varies or $0.




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

Well then you are left with the following options:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shooting!

A Comprehensive Guide to Archery within Game of Thrones

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

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

Game of Thrones Season 1, Episode 1

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


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

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


Game of Thrones Season 2 Episode 9

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


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


Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6

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


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

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

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


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


Game of Thrones Season 4, Various Episodes

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

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


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

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 9

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

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


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

Ramsay using a Penobscot Bow

A Penobscot Bow

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

Happy Shooting!

Recreational Archery - 5 Ways to have Fun Shooting

Want to have more fun while practicing archery? Here are 5 ways to make recreational archery even more fun - and challenge your skills!

#1. Shoot Balloons with Arrows

One of the simplest and easiest ways to keep kids / young archers occupied is to use balloons on your target.

Tip - For extra fun, put about 2 tablespoons of glitter inside the balloon and watch the explosion of glitter when they hit it. Filming the glitter explosion is also a good idea. If you don't have glitter handy, you can also use corn starch and food colouring.

However leaving broken balloons and lots of glitter all over the place is bad mojo, so please clean up your mess afterwards.


#2. Blowing out a Candle with an Arrow

For more advanced archers, this is a fun challenge. Trying to blow out a candle without hitting the actual candle. (And without setting fire to your arrow. For obvious reasons you should take safety precautions when practicing this.)


#3. Shooting at Fruit / Vegetables

Another popular thing for kids to shoot at is fruit and vegetables (preferably the kind they dislike the most). While watermelons might seem like a good idea, that is a waste of good watermelon! Instead try shooting at apples, broccoli or something the kid really dislikes.

"Zombie Survivalists" - people who are a bit obsessed with the TV show "The Walking Dead" - prefer to shoot at head sized melons, however they seem to be forgetting that to kill a zombie you have to get them in the brain, which is roughly double the size of an apple, which means they should be picking pretty small melons.

Note - Shooting at fruit and vegetables tends to leave juice all over your arrows and that will smell bad if you forget to clean your arrows afterwards. Keep some water, rags and maybe even some cleaning alcohol handy for cleaning your arrows after you are done shooting and clean them before storing them away.


#4. Robin Hood an Arrow

Trying to split an arrow is a huge challenge. See my tips on How To Split An Arrow. For extra challenge, try to Robin Hood a Moving Target.

To do it on purpose, place an old arrow (one you don't need any more) in the middle of your target and then practice shooting until you manage to robin hood (hit it directly in the end). You may not get it on the first day of practicing this particular challenge, but with regular practice you will eventually do it - and do it again and again. (I have lost track of how many times I have Robin Hooded my arrows.)

If you would rather not destroy one of your arrows, a different challenge is to shoot at a piece of LifeSaver candy. If you get it right it in the middle then that is just as good as Robin Hooding an arrow.


#5. Field Archery / Roving

Field Archery is a specific sport of archery, wherein your challenge is to try and hit a target at a random / unknown distance. The distance is usually unmarked and the location is usually across a field, across rough terrain or in the wilderness. As a sport, it was traditionally practiced by people who are into bowhunting and "rovers".

One way to get into Field Archery is to get a Target Ball, like the one shown below. Then simply toss it into a field and begin shooting at it. I recommend using metal blunt arrowheads so you don't damage the ball as much. The interior of the thick rubber ball is filled with sand, so you will definitely want to avoid using broadheads as that will leave holes and cause it to leak sand. I also recommend using wingnuts on the arrowheads so that your arrows don't get lost in grass easily in the event you miss.


Roving is an old tradition of young men going for a walk and shooting at random objects along the way, often while drinking and making up drinking songs like "A-Roving We Will Go". Rovers would wander across the countryside and pick random targets to shoot at, sometimes combined with "I dare you to try to shoot ____." The practice of roving dates back to the 16th century, and possibly earlier when it might have been known by different names.

The modern equivalent of roving is called "Stump Shooting", shown below. The archers wanders around old woods and looks for old tree stumps that are fairly rotten and falling apart, and then shoots the rotting tree stump. Make sure you check to see if the tree stump is actually fairly soft, as you wouldn't want to shoot at a hard tree stump and damage your arrow.


Want more archery tips and fun ideas? Subscribe to CardioTrek.ca using the options on the upper right.

How to do an Archery Trick Shot

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

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



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

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

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

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

Yes and no. I shall explain why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



And below, a tight cluster on a bottle.

Happy shooting!


Archery Lesson Plan + How many lessons should you do?

Q
Good Afternoon,

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

Thank you,
F.

A

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca


Statue of Archer

#TakeYourShot for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Archery for Seniors

Today I was reading an older post I wrote called "You are Never Too Old to try a New Sport" and decided that I should elaborate on the topic of Archery Practice for Seniors.

I currently offer a 10% Seniors Discounts to everyone over the age of 65 when signing up for archery lessons, but I have also routinely had 1 or more promotional discounts per year in an effort to get more seniors outside and doing archery.

In the past I have discovered I really enjoy teaching older people the sport of archery, and when you really enjoy doing something you tend to want to chase that feeling again and again - hence why I routinely actively look for archery students in the older age brackets.

Seniors have a number of benefits when it comes to taking up archery as a sport.

A. They have more flexible schedules and can practice more often, often continuing to do archery after they finish taking lessons with me. A number of my past students are now regulars at the archery range, and it is always a pleasure seeing them again and again.

B. They're patient and willing to put in the time needed. Like any activity where the phrase "Practice Makes Perfect" truly matters, archery is one of those sports that require time and patience. Seniors in my experience are abundantly patient.

C. Seniors are very social and archery is a social sport. When not shooting, archers have a tendency to talk amongst themselves. Having good social skills is not a necessity obviously, but seniors I have encountered while teaching archery are typically quite talkative, and being a talkative person myself I enjoy the conversations about the history of archery as a sport / hunting practice / recreational activity. Thus on a social level, that is an advantage. (In contrast anti-social people tend to not enjoy archery as much, end up quitting after awhile, and their archery equipment ends up collecting dust in a closet or basement.)

As a sport archery provides a lot of positive things for seniors as well.

The Benefits of Archery for Seniors

#1. Exercise that combines walking with upper body strength.

Archery is easy on the knees as it only requires small amounts of walking to fetch arrows. There is a fair amount of standing involved, but archery can also be done while seated on a stool or even while seated in a wheelchair. This allows people with a broad range of mobility concerns to still be able to exercise and have fun.

Because the muscle work for archery is mostly for the arms, shoulders and upper back it is very beneficial for building stronger muscles, similar to a weightlifting workout - but nowhere near as boring as weightlifting.

#2. Archery sharpens the memory and observational skill centres of the brain.

Sports like archery have been proven to help reverse or alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, dementia and similar ailments. In the case of archery, the sport is very form oriented and shares similarities to yoga and Tai Chi. Having "good archery form" is a mostly a memory issue, and as archery students progress their memory-based actions start to become habits as muscle memory takes over. The regular mental stimulation of the brain exercises those parts of the brain, allowing the brain to become more robust and resistant to a variety of ailments.

#3. Archery is a very relaxing sport.

While it does take some upper back muscle to do, once people get the hang of it the sport is quite relaxing. It is very low stress and the worst thing that can happen is that you break or lose an arrow. You can take your time at it, there is no rush and it is indeed encouraged that people take their time perfecting a shot as opposed to rushing and performing shots at a frantic pace, as that only leads to sloppy inaccuracy.

#4. Good for your posture.

Walking in general is good for your posture, but archery also encourages a person to stand up straight and pay attention to the quality of their posture while shooting. The quality of a person's posture effects the quality of their accuracy, and learning "good archery form" will often feel like a lecture on good posture.

#5. Fresh air is always good for you.

See my past post on The Benefits of Fresh Air.

#6. Stronger bones.

Walking and weight lifting exercises (archery is effectively a muscle endurance exercise) also help to build up bone density, which gives you stronger bones which are more resistant to damage. My brother-in-law recently broke his hip while rollerblading in Vancouver, and he is only in his 30s, which makes you realize how easily people can break bones.

#7. Archery has a long list mental, physical and social benefits.

For a more complete list of all the benefits of archery read "Archery, huh, yeah, what is it good for?"

Note - You may have noticed that all photos shown here are of older male archers. Sadly, archery is not very popular with female seniors, a fact I find disheartening. I have taught a few older female archers, and I certainly would like to teach more of them, but they are certainly a rarity.

Individuals interested in archery lessons in Toronto are encouraged to contact me. If you are over the age of 65 please let me know and I am more than happy to give you the 10% discount. (The discount is on top of the regular discount for purchasing 3 or more lessons. So for example 3 weekday lessons is discounted to $170, so if you are a senior the total would be $153 instead.)

Happy shooting!


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 http://www.archerytoronto.ca/Archery-Equipment-in-Toronto.html

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.


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