Equipment Reviews – Finger protectors

We recently ran a couple of sessions introducing archery at a local school and wanted to make things as easy as possible for ourselves and the archers,  so we bought some finger protectors to go on the junior bows rather than worrying about issuing out finger tabs.
For those not familiar these devices, let me give you a quick description of what they are. There purpose is to protect the archers fingers when drawing back and releasing the string. Anyone who has shot a bow several times with no finger protection knows full well how sore your fingers can become, even if only using a bow with a light poundage draw weight.
These protectors remove the need for the archer to use a tab or shooting glove. This makes them great for taster sessions or have-a-go events. They fit over the bow string serving at the nocking point.
Whilst they are a great addition, they are a pain to fit on the string so I thought I would offer these thoughts as a review.
Since they have to slide over the string, getting them over the string loop isn’t an easy task. Trying to thread the bow string through the small hole in the protectors is near impossible. I tried using thin thread, even wire to help give me purchasse to pull the string through as you can’t push it through the hole.

Wire on string loop.

You have to be particularly careful not to damage the bow string by using wire or other thin string, as you run the chance of damaging or worse cutting the bow string threads. In the above image you can see the serving thread opening up.
I also found that thin wire snapped easily. I ended up using a cable tie I normally use for my mobile charging cable.

Threading wire through

Make sure you are working from one end of the string so you get the two pieces in the right spot.
I found once i had threaded the wire through, I could use a pair of pliers to grip the wire and pull the bow string.

Pulling string through

We have noticed they do move a little on the string when being used,, so you might want to monitor this. You could add a loop of spare serving at the bottom of the protectors on the string to stop it moving.
Warming in cup

Warming the plastic in a cup of hot water.

Top tip –  I found dropping the protectors into hot water prior to fitting them on the string made them slightly more malleable. This was a trick I picked up when fighting to fit different attachments to garden hoses. I found warming the hose made it more flexible so I tried it with the protectors and it worked.

Where did we get them?

They are available from most archery shops and we bought ours from Merlin Archery.
N.B. There are two types, one solid one large enough for those shooting three fingers under and a type which comes in two parts for those wanting to set up for splint finger or Med lose.

How much do they cost?

The ones we bought were £2.36 for a pack of 4. There are others available from different manufacturers.
Nusensei has a great YouTube on fitting these if you are thinking of using them.
Overall I think they work really well for have-a-go sessions or for junior bows. Since they are a pain to fit we bought spare strings and fitted them to these. This meant for each of our junior bows we have two strings, one with, one without.
One last point about doing this. Take your time. I rushed doing this as had four to do. This resulted in me fitting one set perfectly, but to the wrong string!
Thanks for reading and stay safe.
A few from the bookshelf

Help is out there – Literature and online resources

A few days ago I posted some resources to help you get through the UK lockdown titled Home isolation opportunities here are the followup details I promised.
You might be wondering where I am getting all these ideas on combating target panic or am I making it up as I go, based on a vivid imagination. Well no. I’m not that imaginative, just ask Sharon. She will tell you how I always struggle with Christmas and birthday present ideas.
The truth is there is a wealth of literature, along with hours of footage out there on archery of all forms and many of it addresses methods to control target panic.
Most of the techniques I mention initially come from a variety of sources, but have been tweaked or modified by myself. I do a lot of reading and reviewing of online material, along with active coaching of archers of all levels. I endeavour to learn from those experiences, trying different things, tweaking ideas for the individuals. Sometimes it works, other times it takes a while, but we get there eventually. For this reason, I would like to offer a list of resources that I have found useful over the years.

Literature

One very useful guide I’ve found which I’ve mentioned previously came recommended to me by another coach was “Instinctive archery insights” by Jay Kidwell. In the book, Jay who has a PhD in Psychology and is an archer the selves is offering a breakdown of how the human brain works with some very useful insights into practice techniques.
I’ve used versions of these techniques with several people, struggling with different manifestations of target panic or anxiety of shooting and found they work well. 
The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters may sound a strange choice as it has nothing to do with archery, but I have found the writings on the subject of mind management helpful. To put it simply it goes into detail of how we have two elements of our brain, the chimp brain and the computer brain. The key part is your chimp brain reacts faster, being more instinctive than the computer brain. The thing to remember is with work, you can program your computer brain which provides you with greater control. This is a really simplified definition of the book which doesn’t do it justice so please have a read as it can provide help when combating target panic.
Songi Woo an international archery coach mentioned using this book in a recent article in Bow International issue 138.
Bow international magazine tends to focus on more target elements of our hobby but it does produce some interesting articles on coaching advice and guidance.

Other sources are out there too

The Push ( https://www.thepusharchery.com/) podcasts have a wealth of knowledge and have run a series of podcasts on coaching advice and tips that provides a huge resource and can provide some great insights. You might recall I wrote a review of them a while back and I often go back to their coaching moments recordings.
Nusensei YouTube channel (youtube.com/channel/UC4IL0laJkpzH9JHmxNqjjMg) has some great material, though focused more on target archery it does offer some great advice and guidance applicable to all.
Joel Turner ( https://www.shotiq.com/) has done some fantastic work and offers loads of advice for archers. He has also produced a concept that offers great opportunities for archers in what he describes as open and closed-loop shooting. I’ll try and describe it in brief here.
Open-loop is when you have automatic movements or subconscious and does not have any time for feedback to stop or change the process
Closed-loop is when you make decision i.e choosing to move from one stage to another in your shot sequence, proving feedback so you can stop or adjust.
Archery 101 ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl-LVJYEHvPXzVyrduIMtIg) is also worth checking out for ideas on improvements.
Over here in the UK, we have a few YouTubers who have been producing materials for years.
The cuddly bear fronting Archery Adventures known to many as “Grizzly Jim” ( https://www.grizzlyjim.co.uk/) has produced some really good videos over the years along with the odd articles in Bow international.
Though he’s been a bit quiet on the archery front over the last few years Wolfie Hughes has produced some great videos in the past. ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnkId_L6JEv0r_x1MzMvxfg)
Richard Head Longbows has been producing videos for years on different topics so check out their channel ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr0ec0H7tNwfEEgoQ8qWoPQ)
I hope you find these of use, if you have any other resources you feel should be included then leave me a comment here or drop me a line.
Thanks for reading.