sharon - old bow

Low poundage bows are not a waste of time or money

So before I start let me wish everyone a very Happy New Year. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and are looking forward to the new year, full of archery.

I wanted to start this year by addressing a question that has arisen through recent coaching sessions, that of the use of light draw weight bows.

In many of the techniques I’ve mentioned over the years and will be in these articles on target anxiety or target panic, I’ve sited, you are best using a light poundage bow, rather than your normal draw weight.
This is something I believe is of huge benefit for archers whether they are new to the hobby or experienced.
Bows of relatively light draw weight, say 18lbs provide a useful tool for an archer, as from personal experience I find them heavy enough to allow the person to execute proper back tension, whilst being light enough poundage for them not to have to be fighting to hold it at full draw. I’ve used light draw bows myself when I’ve been struggling with my form or recovering from a shoulder injury so I know it works.
Another advantage with these bows is it allows the archer time to focus on improving different elements such as draw up, release or anchoring more easily. By shooting the lighter draw weight, it allows you to develop good posture, overall form, release, etc. All these elements then go to give you confidence in your ability and shot sequence. In turn building confidence in your shooting when you transit to your normal weight bow.
Think back to when you started shooting. Chances are you didn’t start with a heavy draw weight bow? I’m guessing you started with a lower draw weight bow, so you could develop your skills and muscles, without straining yourself. So does it not make sense to revisit these bows when you are developing your confidence and techniques to overcome target panic?
Remember using these bows is less about being strong and/or hitting the bullseye at 40 yards, it’s about learning to control your anxiety.
I have a couple of such bows in my coaching arsenal that have helped more archers than I can remember. They are simple 18lb takedown recurves, one ILF for those more used to shooting that style and one with wooden riser and simple bolt-in limbs for those who prefer the feel of a wooden riser. I quite enjoy using these bows myself at times to keep my form and technique solid. For those interested, I normally shoot a 45lb flatbow.
Sadly I’ve seen an implied stigma from some archers when you suggest using a lighter bow, as though they see its a failure or not macho. It’s not an indication of failure and this mentality is something I get very annoyed about. So in short and a message to those that think that, grow up.

N.B. Just a quick point here. If you are fighting to draw and hold your bow at full draw, then chances are you are over bowed i.e. the draw weight is too high.

Thanks for reading

Tip for when using your bow stringer

This is a quick tip which came about from a coaching session last weekend.
Saturday I was working with some new archers, who were very keen to try out their brand new bows. There is always something special about having you own bow, doubly so when it is your first one. They had bought bows, arrows, quivers everything they needed and were assembling the bows ready to hit the range. The only problem was their stringers kept slipping on the upper limbs.
This is something I have seen loads of times before and is a common problem especially if the bows are at all wet or the archer is less experienced in stringing bows. The archers put the stringer pocket on the lower limb and loop on the top one, go to stand on the loop and lift the bow. The problem is the loop on the upper limb slips down towards the centre of the bow.
Most stringers have a leather or rubber section in the upper loop to grip the bow limb, but I’ve noticed that they aren’t always that good. This is true of whether they are string or nylon webbing sort. Some just don’t offer that much of a grip to the bow, being either too small or smooth.
example of a webbing stringer

Example of a webbing stringer with a small stitched in pad

string or rope stringer pad

Example of a string or rope stringer pad which is pretty smooth

So this is where the tip comes in.
You can use a piece of something like slip-A-grip to go over the sewn in grip. You might recall I wrote an article on this stuff ages back title Don’t lose your grip for cheap arrow pullers etc. It is a open weave material with a rubber or plastic coating which offers the user greater traction. I use it a lot in my motorhome for the cupboard shelves to plates and stuff moving round. You can buy it from pound shops or any decent super market, I got mine from Lakeland.
Using this material offers a greater grip on the limb, so the stringer is less likely to slip when under tension as you string the bow. You still have to be careful and take your time but does help a bit.
example of a webbing stringer with grip fabric

example of a webbing stringer with grip fabric

I’ve used the same material to patch up an old stringer where the grips worn off as shown in the pictures below.

Old worn stringer

I then added some grip material, securing with some waxed string so doesn’t move. I’ve used this stringer for over 8 years and for 3 years with this material on it, so I know it works. It wears out after a while but is easy to replace and I find it gives me more confidence in using the stringer as I know it is unlikely to move or slip even in wet conditions.
stringer with grip

Same stringer with grip material

I hope you find this of use and thanks for reading.