Some thoughts on the first bits and pieces a new archer should buy

Quick break from my series on target panic to revisit a topic which I think will be of interest to many.

Several years ago I wrote a post offering advice on what equipment newbies should consider purchasing, before buying their first bow. Since I have been working with several new archers in the recent months I thought it a good time to revisit this post and update it where necessary.

As a coach I often get asked by my students about buying a bow. How much do they cost? What should I got for?  Where do you recommend I go?  I’ve seen one on E-Bay is it any good? I always reply by saying wait a few weeks or even a couple of months before you buy one. In that time use the club equipment for until you have a better idea of what is suitable for you.
But sooner or later your students will want to purchase their own bow (which is great don’t get me wrong) but there are a few things that might be worth getting first. So I have put this post together to offer some thoughts.

First things for any new archer to buy (before a bow) should be
Whistle – What a whistle? What’s that got to do with archery? Well put simply it’s for safety calls and is a necessity for insurance on some club sites including ours. All members of the NFAS should have a whistle on them so they can signal if necessary.

A tab or glove of their own. Normally I recommend a beginner starts with using a tab to protect their fingers. As they progress I have them trying both a tab and glove, along with trying different sizes and shapes until they find something they prefer. Recently I’ve found several students opting for a glove which I think is partly due to the colder weather.

This is the single thickness tab

This is the single thickness tab

 

Personally I think a tab is best, though it took me ages to find one that I was completely comfortable with. I feel tabs are easier on their fingers and promotes good finger position on the string.

Quiver, you can pay a small fortune for some quivers, but when you are starting out go for something simple. So long as it will hold 4-6 arrows and is comfortable to carry on your belt it’s a winner. Quick note about back quivers here. I’ve tried back quivers, several in fact and never found one I was happy with so have stuck with a field quiver. I know some people  love them but for your first quiver, keep it simple.

simple quiver image

simple quiver

Some quivers will have a pocket or pouch on them which can very be useful for holder a whistle, stringer, spare string.

Top Top – pick up an arrow tube to store arrows when not in quiver. I carry 3 or 4 arrows in my quiver and the rest are in an arrow tube on my back. Safe, dry and there if I need them. You can use an extendable poster tube, which are cheaper, just make sure you drop some foam in the bottom of the tube to protect it and stop arrows puncturing the plastic. 

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

Rob trying to judge distance to a shot

An arm bracer or arm guard that fits. What I mean is it doesn’t fall down the arm or is so tight it cuts off circulation to your arm. Like quivers there are loads of different designs, some that go all the way up the arm, others that only cover the forearm. Some are plain others are covered in intricate designs carved into the leather. At the end of the day function is more important, so get one that fits, works and you like.

Arrow puller, while not the most glamorous of archery elements they do makes life easier for drawing arrows, allowing you to grip the shaft more easily, especially on cold days.
Arrow rake – no matter how good you are, sooner or later you will be needing one for finding those arrows that fall short (a cheap decorating roller can be used, once modified for the purpose )

What kind of bow should I buy?

I will cover this in more detail in a separate post but what I will say is in my opinion for a first bow the most sensible option is the take down recurve practise bow.
They are relatively cheap (£55-£75 depending on where you get them), so if they don’t stick with the hobby it’s not such a huge investment. Also you might be able to pick one up from club member who has progressed. The advantage of a takedown is the limbs can be upgraded to heavier poundage as archer develop their strength and skill (I did this after a few months myself, with some shops giving a discount if you trade your old limbs in). Worth noting that not all limbs fit all bows, but I will go into more details in a future post about fittings and ILF bows (International Limb Fittings).
I have found the bows are forgiving to use which is what you want as a beginner.
Such bows come in a vast variety of sizes, shapes, poundage so good for all abilities, heights, draw lengths etc. so are easy to find one suitable for all shapes and sizes of archer.
As I said I will cover this in more details in the next post.

Thanks for reading

Drawing arrows – sounds simple, but is it?

How to draw an arrow, surely that is pretty easy? Just grab it, pull and out it pops. Simple right, after all it is one of the first things you learn when you start archery. Isn’t it?
Back in 2012 (yes I have been writing this blog that long !!) I wrote an entry on the method of drawing arrows and following a few discussions I thought I might revisit it along with providing an update for it.
As with everything there are numerous ways to accomplish a task. Some will be the right or preferred way and no doubt there are several wrong ways to do things. Just look on YouTube and you’ll see a dozen different views. This is the same with pulling arrows from the target, whether this be a 3D or foam boss. In this post I am going to go through the process I recommend to my students when they start.
So before I start I’d like to remind you these are my views and personal advice.
There are a few things to remember before you draw arrows.
  1. First off, its important that all archers whether newbies or experienced get to  see where their shots have landed in the target. If nothing else it provides them with feedback on how they are doing.
  2. Check it is okay for you to draw the arrows as some archers prefer to draw their own arrows.
  3. If in a competition, ensure those scoring have finished noting down the results. In fact you shouldn’t touch any arrows until the scorers have marked the score cards. Most organisations have this in their rules as it prevents arguments over whether the arrow was scoring before being touched.
  4. Make sure no one is standing in a location that they may be hit by the arrow as you draw back.
I must admit to cringing sometimes when I see archers pull arrows. Some people grab them and just pull without considering what might happen or could go wrong. I’ve seen carbon arrows snap in an archers hand, slicing their finger open or wooden arrows bending into a banana or snap as someone is a little over zealous when drawing them. So my first tip is slow down.
Drawing arrows badly

Drawing arrows badly

When it comes to actually removing the arrow from the target, then can I suggest the following.
Never grab the arrow from the end by the nock and fletching as shown in the picture, as it may well result in a bent or worse still broken arrow. You often see archers pull arrows like this because they are unaware of the potential problems that might occur, especially with wooden arrows. Maybe they are used to drawing carbon arrows that are more resilient than wooden ones. The thing is any arrow can break and I’ve seen more serious injuries when carbon arrows break than any other. I’ve also seen several annoyed archers when they see their prized wooden arrows snap because of a lack of care.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with carbon arrows, but you need to remember whether carbon, wood or metal,the material can brake. When carbon breaks it can result in razor sharp edges.
The other thing to consider is you don’t know if the arrow has impacted on metal ground pin in the target or possibly a lost arrow point.
For this reason I always advise you  hold the arrow at the front end nearest the point. This gives less chance for the arrow shaft to break or bend.
Then pull back in a steady even draw. Also there is nothing wrong in asking for help if you find you can’t draw the arrow on your own. Some foam, 3D targets are very hard to draw arrows from.
I always suggest when drawing an arrow you avoid using your thumb on top of the arrow shaft as this can lead to you expending downward pressure and increase the risk of bending the arrow., as shown in image below.
gripping arrow

Gripping arrow without using your thumb

The method shown in the picture is the best way I’ve found. Grasping the arrow with the fingers of one hand and with your other hand bracing target. This grip is sometimes referred to as a gorilla grip as it does not use your thumb.

Drawing arrows

Drawing arrows with one hand on the boss to steady it

This method allows you to brace the target with one hand preventing it moving. By holding the target with the other hand you can judge how stable it is. I’ve seen archers go to pull the arrow and the boss or 3D target fall on them as it wasn’t secured or stable.
Ideally once the arrow is drawn it should go directly into a quiver or on the ground. Try to avoid putting arrows on top  of the boss or leaning against target as they are easily lost when they roll off the back of the boss or forgotten.
Some people may use an arrow puller to give them a better grip on the arrow. These can work pretty well in most circumstances but can slip in wet weather. I would say it is worth investing in an arrow puller or grip as this gives you greater grip on to the arrow. In the case of carbon arrows it also reduces the risk of getting carbon splinters. as they offer a level of protection to the archers hand.
Last piece of advice I would like to offer is to put your bow down somewhere safe before you start drawing arrows. This may seem obvious but you will be surprised how often people lean them against the 3D and suddenly discover their bow is falling over as they draw the arrows.
I hope you find this useful, let me know your thoughts .
Thanks for reading.