Arrows role in overcoming target panic

Forest of arrows

Forest of arrows

In the previous posts, I talked about personal confidence and your mindset. In the next couple of articles, I am going to look at the role of equipment setup and how these can affect your confidence in both positive and negative ways. As ever if you have any questions or queries drop me a line.
How can we build self-confidence?
Well, that is not an easy question as there are so many different potential answers. From my perspective, I’m going to use something I call the Archer’s triangle, to help break this down into manageable elements.

archers triangle graphic

The archers triangle

The triangle is what I see as the three key elements that are relevant for all archers, whether you are a target archer, hunter or field shooter. It consists of three components, Archer, Arrow and Bow. These three need to work together successfully for the best outcome. I am not saying they all have to be perfect, but they do have to work together. Since there are three I have always thought of them as the three sides of a triangle.

Arrow – all elements from shaft construction, spinning, point weight, length, etc.
Bow – covering bow mass weight, draw weight, length, brace height, etc.
Archer –  cover draw dynamic, shot sequence, mindset, draw length, release, etc.

Building personal confidence i.e. the Archer element takes time and practise, but we can build confidence via the other two sides, slightly more quickly. So I’m going to summaries some ideas on the Arrow and Bow aspects initially.
Don’t worry I’m not ignoring the Archer element or how we build the archers confidence. I will cover this. but initially I want to focus on the kit aspects and provide a few ideas on how you can develop confidence through your kit set up.

Building confidence with arrows

So we are going to start with our projectiles, whether wood, carbon or aluminium. Arrows are a vital component for all archers. For this reason, I want to offer you a thought “If you don’t have confidence in how your equipment will behave, then you will find every shot doubly challenging?

Think about this for a moment. If your quiver is full of arrows of different lengths, weights, spines then do you think each arrow is likely to perform in the same way?

A quick Google search will provide you with a bewildering amount of information on arrows, how-to guides on construction techniques, what works, what doesn’t work, etc. So I’m not going to cover that. What I am going to outline is how making my arrows helped me build confidence in their performance and behaviour. This, in turn, gave me confidence when shooting them.
You could argue that this is from the perspective of a traditional archer, making mostly wooden arrows, with feather fletchings, but I feel it is just as applicable for all archers, whether you are shooting Easton X7, XX75 or Easton Carbon Ones. So here goes.
Over the years I’ve probably spent hours making and tuning my wooden arrows to the different bows I shoot. Trying different combinations of arrow spine, arrow length, pile weight, fletching size and shape, matching total arrow weight, etc. I would document all this in various notebooks so I could refer back to them. Then I would shoot the combinations for a couple of weeks to properly test them at different distances and in varying weather conditions. If they worked fantastic, if not back to the drawing board and start again with the next set of variable until I found a combination that worked.
Sure I made mistakes along the way, that’s part of learning. I firmly believe that making mistakes should not be viewed as a failure. It can provide a great learning experience if we let it. Too many times I’ve seen people not learn from mistakes only to repeat them.

I found the process of making the arrows strangely relaxing after a day spent in front of a computer screen. The ability to focus on the single task of construction and stages involved in construction brought an element of mindfulness.
I also feel all this work paid dividends in two ways. I developed skills in making arrows, which I have been able to apply and teach to others. Secondly and more importantly, it meant I developed confidence in the arrow set up and how they would behave.

I may have told you this story before, but I believe it is worth another outing and helps to highlight how not being aware of your kits variances can affect your anxiety.

An archer came to me for some coaching. Their goal was to increase their consistency, especially at longer distances where they struggled most. They felt a lack of confidence shooting at distance and couldn’t understand why sometimes things worked and others times they would go high and next time low.

Reviewing their form and shot execution showed them to have a strong and consistent routine. It was only when I reviewed their equipment did an answer appear as to why they were struggling. Their arrows had a huge variance in mass weight, with the heaviest being over 100 grains more than the lightest. This would explain why over longer distances, 35 yards plus, the archer would see completely different results depending on which arrow they used. This leads them to believe it was something they were doing wrong, which had the effect of causing anxiety and loss of confidence.

Top Tip – pickup a digital grain scale so you can weigh your arrows easily. They are quite inexpensive and can be easily picked up off the internet or local archery shop. I wrote an article a while back on my use of them. Make sure they will weigh items in grains.

Digital grain scales

Grain scales with sponge

Obviously, there are far more potential variations in shaft weight, arrow spinning etc when making wooden arrows due to the nature of the materials. When compared with constructing arrows from machined aluminium or carbon, where the manufacturing tolerances are far more predictable. Gaining consistency in your arrow set up is vital and is one reason so many people use carbon.

You might feel you don’t have the skills to build your own arrows, but everyone can develop these skills. If nothing else you can review and check the length and weight of your arrows to ensure a level of consistency.

Grouping by weight

I group my arrows into batches by weight so all the ones I shoot are closely matched, whether they are used for first, second or thirds. So 12 of my arrows might weigh in at 460 to 480 grains. I would group all the ones from 460 to 470 grains together and have a separate grouping of 470 to 480 grains.
Unlike some archers, I don’t use my lightest arrows for my first arrows (normally the longest shots), working down to my third arrows being the heaviest (normally the closest). I prefer to know they are all in the same weight range and hence will perform consistently.

Monitoring

The thing to remember is that arrows wear out over time, especially wooden arrows. Eventually, the fibres in the shaft will no longer keep their strength, following constantly impacting targets or the ground. This is sometimes called shooting the heart out of the arrow. This can have an effect on the archer as you can quickly lose confidence in yourself if you feel you are doing everything right but your arrows aren’t flying well.
For this reason, I suggest you monitor your arrows and check they are remaining straight and undamaged. This is vital for all archers to consider, especially when shooting carbon arrows as these too can fail and sometimes in quite dramatic manners. I’ve seen some carbon arrows explode when released from the bow due to the archer not being aware the arrow is damaged and the stresses involved at the point of release caused a catastrophic failure.
Like wooden arrows, aluminium shafts can become damaged and dented over time; resulting in less than ideal flight trajectory, so it’s worth keeping track of them too. Sharon used to find the Easton X7 a great arrow when shooting barebow as they could take a hit or two without deforming. Which provided her with confidence in their performance.

Thanks for reading and as I have said previously, feel free to drop me a line with any questions or thoughts you might have on topics I am covering.

Digital grain scales

Hardest lessons to learn in archery – Watch the weight Or why we need to watch our weight

No not a comment on obesity in archery but a quick look at how weight in many different forms can effect archery, whether we are talking about the draw weight of your bow or the weight of the arrows used.

So when can too light be a bad thing, and again I’m not talking about the archers weight here or anorexic, but in fact arrow weights.

Before I launch into this article though I’d like to thank my guest co-author another Rob, Rob Cook.

Rob Cook

Rob Cook

As many of you know I’m a big traditional archer shooting wooden bows and wooden arrows, so when it came to checking my facts with carbon arrows and so on, so I enlisted Robs help. Rob was also one of the originators of the new Traditional Bow hunter class in the NFAS and has extensive knowledge on the bare bow scene.

Bow International ran an article a few issues back on the effect of arrows weights on arrow flight and I know other sites including The Push have talked about the importance of matching your arrows to the bow.

Too light an arrow and archers can encounter several issues. Light arrows can fly faster and some say further, but they can be affected by wind to a greater degree. also there may not be the mass weight to absorb the energy from the bow limbs on release as effectively. in essence its like a mini dry fire.

Most bow manufacturers will specify an optimum mass weight for your arrow and if you look on just about ever carbon arrow in production will give you an arrow weight in grains per inch

To give you an example of what I mean, a bow maker might say the arrow should be 9 grains per pound of draw weight, so for my draw weight of 45lbs that would be 405 grain arrow weight. Through a lot of trial and error I have found an arrow round 450 to 460 works best from the bow, anything below 420 and the bow becomes noisy  and the arrows don’t perform as well.

Rob has created this table of data on different arrow specs and weights for some of the more common arrows on the market. We’ve used a 100 grain pile in all the arrows below calculations and show two lengths 28 inches and 30 inches, so we can give a total weight. To keep it simple Rob has used a 45lb bow weight for spine as I used that weight in the above calculation. It should all make sense but if you have any questions let us know.

Manufacturer Shaft Type                    spine @28 Arrow Weight gpp spine @ 30 Arrow Weight gpp
Avalon TecOne 600 330 7.3 600 344 7.6
Beman Classic 600 367 8.2 500 434 9.6
Carbon Express Predator II 2040 354 7.9 2040 370 8.2
Carbon Express Heritage 75 388 8.6 90 424 9.4
Easton Carbon One 660 325 7.2 550 347 7.7
Easton Axis 600 340 7.6 600 355 7.9
Easton 5MM Axis Traditional 600 357 7.9 600 373 8.3
Easton ST Axis N-Fused Camo/Axis Trad 600 360 8.0 600 376 8.4
Easton Apollo 610 367 8.2 560 392 8.7
Gold Tip Traditional 600 373 8.3 600 388 8.6

 

So why is this so important and why am I bringing it up here on this blog?

The NFAS has seen a new bow style recently, that of Traditional Bow Hunter. This style allows archers to shoot carbon or aluminium arrows off the bow shelf (no arrow rests). It is seeing a number of traditional archers that shoot flatbow or hunting tackle which uses wooden arrows giving it a go. They are buying carbon arrows of the right spine but I wonder if they are considering the effect of shooting lighter arrows on their bows? I was discussing this with a couple of people including Rob, so we thought we would put this together.

It is worth remembering that a lot of traditional wooden bows have not been constructed to take ultra-light carbon arrows often used in target archery or are sold as cheap alternatives to wooden or aluminium arrrows. Please don’t get me wrong some bows have been constructed to take such arrows but not all.

N.B. Adding a heavier pile to the arrow will increase the overall weight but it will also change the dynamic spine of the arrow, making it more flexible or weaker.

So what can you do?

  • Check the weight of your wooden arrows and carbons so you know the difference.
  • Check what your limb / bow manufactures recommended weights are. Most if not all will have this information on their websites or would be happy to share it with you. After all they don’t want to see you trash your bow as it reflects badly on them.
  • Going for slightly longer arrows as this will increase the mass weight too, this is why we have included two sizes in the above table.

I hope this has proved interesting and helpful. I would like to say thank you to Rob for all his help and number crunching with this. He produced a load of data on different arrows in a long excel document, as well as speaking to several bow manufactures to check minimal weights.

Thanks for reading.