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Category Archives: Traditional Archery

Comeback

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It has been a very long time since I wrote a post for this blog. If I go back to this time last year, My life was turned upside down. Since September 2015, I nearly lost a couple of members of my family, I accepted a new job, sold our house, moved my family, bought a new house, and finished the first draft of my first novel. All in all, a pretty wild ride if I do say so myself…

The bottom line is that even though I haven’t written a post for this blog in four months, I have been writing…a lot!

Now I’m a believer. You see, you can find the time. You can devote the energy even when it seems like there’s none left in you. It is possible, if you want it bad enough, to actually finish something you have always wanted to do. Now I’m not patting myself on the back. I have no delusion that the revision process won’t be a chore. However, the first milestone has been reached.

I will try to do better about regular posts on this blog, as life seems to be leveling out somewhat. As I work through the revisions, expect to hear about it and I may be reaching out for some guidance from some of you overachievers. You know who you are. 🙂

It is now bow hunting season here in Wisconsin so there may be a post or two relating to my experiences.

For those of you who have stayed with me, Thank you! I am looking forward to sharing on a regular basis with you my friends.

 
 

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The Third Anchor

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My blog, though small, receives a sizable number of views each week from the Traditional Archery community. This due to two articles that I had published in the now defunct Stick and String Magazine. This has been a pleasant and unexpected surprise as I started the blog to discuss writing. But, the power of social media took over and the Traditional Archery forums send me visitors every day. Nice!

Most of those readers get here and, after reading those articles, look for additional archery information to read about. So, This will be the first of a series of posts relating to one of my other passions, “The mystical flight of the arrow”, traditional archery. Now please do not call me an archery snob. There is nothing wrong with compound bows or the people who choose to shoot them. I own two. I just like shooting my longbow and recurve bows more. Much of what I will discuss in my posts will translate for either traditional or compound shooters. So, let’s get started.

For years, I have had issues with my arrows impacting the target to the left of my aiming point regardless of the shot distance. This is not that uncommon for right-hand shooters. Now finger shooters who use sights will tell you to move you sight and that will fix the problem. Not necessarily. After much experimentation and a little reading, the problem became obvious. My eye was not in line with the arrow shaft. Using sights would make this adjustment somewhat easier. However, I shoot instinctively. In other words, i look at where I want the arrow to hit and my hands make the necessary adjustments. That’s the theory behind it. The reality of it is, like the golf swing or throwing a strike in baseball, there is a lot that goes into the perfect archery shot. Most critical is proper alignment of the body and sight picture.

To ensure that the archer can repeat the same shot every time, anchor points are used. For example, growing up my father taught me that when I brought the bowstring to full draw, I should put the tip of my middle finger on my string hand at the corner of my mouth. This worked for him just fine. and He was quite successful as a bowhunter. That’s how I learned to shoot. Guess what?. Most of my arrows drifted to the left of my target. It wasn’t the right anchor point for me. Much later I began placing the first knuckle of my string hand at the point of my jaw bone, beneath my ear. This increased my draw length and improved the alignment of my shoulder to my bow arm. A nice straight line. To ensure I was always at the same location and that my hand was in proper position, I tucked my first finger into the point of my cheekbone. This gave me a nice two anchor position that I could repeat over and over again.

Arrows still went left. *grumble, grumble*

Finally during a practice session I realized that sometimes when I turned my head just right. the arrows would hit the x-ring. After a little experimentation I found that if, at full draw, I tipped my head slightly to my right, the string would touch the tip of my nose. In that position, my eye was directly over the arrow with a straight line to the target. This third anchor point created a repeatable, very stable, sight picture that put the arrow in a perfect vertical plane. My “lefts and rights” came together into a vertical line. Because it is still new to me, I have to think about it. But it will become automatic in time.

Next time, I talk about the “ups and downs” and a little about judging distance.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Traditional Archery

 

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Vacation

I’ve been busy recently with vacation. It all started Friday before Father’s Day. The archery club I belong to, holds a traditional archery shoot every year on Father’s Day weekend. Shooters come from across the U.S.to participate in what many have called the finest traditional-only, 3D archery shoot in the U.S. Yes, I’m biased. However, when participants of the IBO World Championships tells you this, you tend to pay attention.

Only traditional equipment is allowed. Longbows, recurves, and primitive bows are the mainstay. no sights are allowed so instinctive shooting is required. Targets are commercially made three-dimensional life-like replications of real animals. They are accurate in size and shape. The main differences is the real animal does not have scoring rings etched into its side and it doesn’t hold still for very long. 🙂

Looking through the blind at the 3 dimensional  foam target.

Looking through the blind at the 3 dimensional target.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three dimensional targets look very real, but they are made from foam rubber.

The three-dimensional targets look very real, but they are made from foam rubber.

The Shoot consists of three loops of twenty targets each. It’s a lot of work to put these kind of event on but the Club enjoys putting it together almost as much as the participants enjoy shooting it. I did say almost, right! Unfortunately mother nature had other plans for us. Friday was set up day and was beautiful. Saturday and Sunday were a wash out when we got five inches of rain. It cleared up a couple of hours before it was time to tear everything down, but attendance was terrible. Oh well, better luck next year. It will be our twenty-fifth year.

After the Shoot, I visited with my father and took a few days to go to the cabin. Most of my time there was spent getting it in shape for the upcoming July 4th celebration. Then a day of yard work at the house was quickly followed by a three-day writer’s conference called 4th Street Fantasy.

4th Street is a small convention by most standards, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in content. Seeing friends from across the country, participating in panel discussions with world-class authors, sharing music circles and single malt in the evenings, all the while learning about the craft of writing; what better way to spend the last few days of vacation.  For those of you who love to write or read fantasy/science-fiction, this is a must to add to your bucket list.

 

 

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Shot Sequence

Look at the eyes, even after the shot. Concentration!

Look at the eyes, even after the shot. Concentration!

The archer steps into position, comfortable and grounded. She readies an arrow on the string and takes a deep breath letting it out slowly. Her eyes look up from the ground and she sees the target for the first time.

Twenty yards away, tacked to the white backstop is an “X”. It is surrounded by concentric circles moving away from the X in evenly spaced waves. But, they of no consequence. There is only the X. For the next few seconds, or perhaps a lifetime, there is only the X. While her conscious mind focuses only on the X, the archer’s subconscious performs the routine that has been perfected over years of repetition.

Three fingers of the archer’s right hand curl around the bow-string, while the right hand finds its familiar spot on the bow’s hardwood handle.

 

Down range, the archer’s vision focuses on the point where the lines intersect. Only the spot where they intersect. Everything else disappears from view.

The bow arm comes up until the arrow is aligned with the point where the lines intersect. In one smooth motion, the bowstring and arrow are drawn back until the fingers touch the bony ridge along the archer’s jaw line.

From this point the tension in the Rhomboid muscles of the back begin to contract. The arms and hands are relaxed with the exception on the finger curl of the string hand. The subconscious runs through an invisible checklist and decides whether or not the shot feels right.

The spot where the lines making the X connect breaks apart until there is only one dot of ink left on the target. No larger that a pin point. It is the only thing the eyes see.

The shot feels right and the back muscles continue to contract until the string fingers simply allow the string to move forward. it is not a conscious thought or action, just the result of the back tension no longer allowing the fingers to hold the string.

As if by magic, the arrow appears on the small dot of ink that the eyes are focused on. Only then does the back release. Only then does the archer realize that the shot has been made.

One perfect shot!

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Traditional Archery

 

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Sad Ending

On Monday, I received an email from Ned Miller, the editor and founder of Stick and String Traditional Archery Magazine. It stated that as of September 1, 2014, the magazine would publish its last issue. The reason given was not being able to generate sufficient capital to maintain operations. For two and a half years, Stick and string has provided traditional archers with an alternative magazine that provided quality reading and informational articles.

In the Summer of 2012, Ned read my post Room to Write where I commented on my collection of traditional archery equipment. Ned emailed me, stated that he had a new magazine, and asked if I would be willing to write an article for the Fall edition. After a few emails we settled on a topic and my article, “The Bridge Method”, appeared in the September 2012 publication. Then in the Summer of 2013, Ned published my second article, “Extending the Length of Your Arrows”.

I feel privileged to have been involved in Ned’s magazine. Ned was always easy to work with and as a fellow archer, was open to articles discussing anything related to Traditional Archery. Though it didn’t have a huge circulation, I know the people who contributed to and read Stick and String will miss it. I know I will.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Traditional Archery

 

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Concentration

The Dot is one of the most basic forms of concentration exercise.

The Dot is one of the most basic forms of concentration exercise.

I’m going to take a departure from my usual fare and talk about one of my other passions. No, not fishing. The water is to ‘stiff’ right now for that. Unless you’re one of those people who think sitting on a bucket in -50 degree wind chills looking down at an eight inch hole in the ice waiting for a really stupid fish is fishing, I do not!

Nor, am I going to discuss the nuances of crafting a fine hunting knife from a piece of steel and a few scraps of wood and brass. Though that might be a good topic for a post some other time. Today I want to talk about archery and why I love it so.

I am a traditional archer, which means I shoot a longbows, recurve bows, or primitive (self) bows. I have owned and shot the modern compound bows with wheels and cams and sights and such. But, I found that I like the simple “Stick and String”.

One of my recurve bows.

One of my recurve bows.

It started at a young age. My father would come home from work and even before dinner, the family would go into the back yard and shoot at a paper plate target pinned onto several straw bales stacked upon each other to form a backstop. We would spend hours in the evenings and weekends as a family shooting for fun. I the fall we would go to our vacation property in Wisconsin and bow hunt for the elusive White-tailed deer. Before I was old enough to go out on my own, I would tag along with Mom. Yes, my mother was an avid bowhunter long before it was fashionable for women to do so. She would find a place to stand along a likely deer run and sit me down at the base of a nearby tree to wait. usually, I would fall asleep. In high school, I gave up archery in favor of football and I didn’t take up the bow again until after I was married.

So, why does the ‘mystic flight of the arrow’ compete with my writing and fishing? They actually have a lot in common. The most important commonality is, for me at least, they take concentration. Different forms of concentration to be sure. But still the mind is exercised and stretched. During the ten to fifteen seconds of my archery shot sequence, I can not allow anything other than the shot to enter my mind. During the last few seconds before I release the arrow, there is only the small dot on the target. there is nothing else. only the dot. Where the arrow will ultimately strike. If I allow outside thoughts to enter in, the shot will be off. Once the arrow hits the target, my mind can relax until I am preparing the for next shot.This process of concentrate, relax, concentrate, relax, does a wonderful job of removing stresses of the day, calming the spirit, relaxing the body, and focusing the mind.

Look at the eyes, even after the shot. Concentration!

Look at the eyes, even after the shot. Concentration!

Then there is the satisfaction of watching the flight of a perfectly shot arrow. The unerring, arching path as the colorful feathered fletching rotates the shaft. Smooth arching flight. Over again and again. Each arrow carries with it negativity and stress. The perfectly shot arrow will always make you smile.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Traditional Archery

 

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Traditional Archery Build-along Article

IMGP3301 (2)For those of you who have an interest in archery, the Summer 2013 issue of Stick and String Traditional Archery Magazine just hit the stands internet. My article on lengthening carbon arrows was included in the build-along section of this issue. The article is included on the Traditional Archery page of my blog. Click here to view it.

The soft thump of the string,

The arrow is on its way,

The smooth arc to its target,

Only affected by Nature’s winds.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Traditional Archery

 

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