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.

Equipment Review – Spin Pin Target Pins

Spin Pin target pins

Spin Pin target pins

A while back the guys at Spin Pin were kind enough to send me some samples of their target pins for me to try out and I thought it about time to finish the write up and give my thoughts on them.

I’ve been using their target pins for about 6 months now on my layered foam bosses on the range and comparing them to the more traditional target pins.

First Thoughts

My initial thoughts when they arrived were I quite liked the size and shape as the pin heads aren’t too large. The grip on the top to screw I thought might make it easy to screw the pin into the boss, much easier that the simple push in ones. The plastic also feels robust, and I wondered how they will cope with being hit by an arrow. I know the traditional white pegs shatter if an arrow from my flat bow hits them.

Anyway those were my initial thoughts.

Traditional pin and Spinpin

Post Testing

Having tested them for a longer period of time I find I quite like them.

They are easy to use as the thick thread makes screwing them into the target boss very easy. I thought it might be worth getting some other peoples’ views so at a coaching session I ran a few months back I got a couple of students thoughts on them.

They agreed with me that they were pretty easy to use, with the head shape making it easy to screw in. As one said, it removed the need for brute strength to push the pin in.

Can take a hit

Can take a hit

They are pretty tough but they aren’t indestructible if you hit them straight on with an arrow, they will break, but to be fare so would any others.

I like the way you can use them to “tighten” the target face back on by simply screwing the pegs back in.

Simple screw them in

I’ve only found one problem with using these target pins and that is really dependent on how you mount your target faces.

The reason is, if you mount paper faces on a couple of layers of corrugated card, which isn’t unusual to lengthen the life of the target face, then use the pins it doesn’t give much pin length to secure them into the boss, so when drawing the arrows the target can sometimes be pulled off. This isn’t a big problem if you don’t use the two layers of corrugated card or just one layer of card. Also you could simply be a little more forceful when securing the face.

I did write to the guys and suggest they made the pins a bit longer, but as they said that might make them harder to use on other bosses, like straw ones. Also based on my experience if you mount your target faces on a single layer card it’s not a problem.

As I’ve said I have used these for the last few months now and been happy with them securing the targets to the boss. I tend to use 4 or 5 of these pins to secure the cards rather than just a couple with the more traditional ones, but this seems to work well.

secure the target

secure the target

Most of my tests have been on paper faces mounted on card or on the ProKill24 faces that are printed on a plastic like fabric, so I haven’t had chance to test them out on  hessian faces  so I can’t comment on their suitability.

I’d had hoped to try them out on one of my bag bosses a bit more but haven’t had chance thanks to too many garden projects. Though they seemed to work fine on the tests I did perform.

Overall I like the ease of use as it takes less pressure to push them into the target boss, I do think making them slightly larger would make them even better. Overall not bad and work well.

Thanks for reading