Gorgeous weather this evening, great for outdoor shooting, and I had a much, much better night’s shooting. 

I had my long arm guard on to prevent the bow string hitting my arm. Tonight, I didn’t need it. The string didn’t slap me once.

I also had a glove instead of my tab. This left my fingers numb for about an hour afterward, but I could feel much more while shooting and it definitely made me shoot better, just as shooting with bare fingers seemed to work for me on my first 3D shoot. 

As a note to myself, I think having a bottle of water with me made a difference. Last week I was flagging terribly by the two hour mark. Today, despite the heat, I felt I could happily have kept going. 

I realised,  though, that the club takes about ten minutes per end on average. By the time all the archers are done, and usually the compound shooters take longest, and we all collect arrows, and hunt for missing ones, it’s about ten minutes. In a two hour session, with 20 minutes for set up, that’s only  10 ends. On that basis, you’re doing a lot more shooting if you have ten arrows with you, than just three the club gave you.

On the whole, I shot much better today. That said, there were a few dodgy shots, like the one pictured, and a lot of misses. And one more broken arrow. But…

I started shooting on the 30 yard boss. My very first shot was in the gold and that set me off on the right foot. But then I started to struggle a bit, like last week. So, I decided to start from scratch and reassess each stage of what I was doing.

I’d been leaning forward as part of my stance because my coach does it and because KiSik Lee described 70 per cent weight on the front of the foot in his book. But he also said sink your weight like a martial artist. I used to do karate, so I adopted a neutral stance and sank my weight. I could feel myself anchor to the ground. And I shot better. My bow arm was fine, I decided, because it just wasn’t in the way or causing a problem tonight. My grip was relaxed, and that was fine. 

I can’t explain it, but something I read in Bow International magazine earlier today struck home. I can’t remember what article it was, but it mentioned relaxing. I suddenly decided that relaxing was key. And here I had relaxed into my stance, relaxed my bow arm, my grip, but also relaxed mentally. I’d decided my stance and those things were right. They weren’t the problem.  I was doing them right. I relaxed mentally. I’d been over analysing. And then I realised I needed to relax everything. 

I  had been trying to put all the weight in my shoulders, then ‘load’ more weight. This just made me not shoot straight. So, I relaxed my draw. I just drew it, to the anchor point, and I decided that was right. The anchor point, I decided was right. And I’ve been worrying about it a lot, but now, after a few golds, I’m realising it’s not the problem. 

I shot some good arrows. Can’t say grouping was great, but took the advice of those who’ve commented on my blog here and just tried to enjoy it and find what worked for me, but moreover try to accept that this is OK, and to relax about it. 

So, having filled up the 30 yards boss with arrows, I made a joke about it being too close and moved to 40 yards. Believing this was being a bit daft for a total beginner, I relaxed even more. About half my arrows hit the boss, but the more I relaxed, the more I hit. 

There was a lad who I hadn’t spoken to before and he was shooting the 40 yards with me, but using a recurve with accessories. He missed slightly less than me, but not by much, and he hit the gold the same amount of times. He’d been shooting for a year. I told him I’d been shooting two weeks and he did a double-take, “That’s good. Wow. That’s very good.” I don’t have a lot of other people to compare my beginner state to, but, hey, that made me feel good. 

Shooting at 40 yards, I realised that my release was still messing up a lot of shots. I didn’t let myself get stressed about it. Instead, I relaxed it. And it improved. 

Not too bad at 40 yards, especially compared to last session’s disaster.

Sure, I didn’t hit with every arrow, but I was getting there. 9 out of 10 on some ends. 

So, for fun, I moved up to 50 yards. I hit about half. 

50 yards

But I enjoyed it, and each shot I expected to hit.

Only landed one arrow on the 60 yards, but partly that was pressure as I was the only one still shooting, and partly it was because the facewalking wasn’t working. (Still trying facewalking just because that’s what I’ve been taught.)

This is what did and didn’t work:

30 yards – corner of mouth. 

40 yards – slide it down to top of chin. 

50 yards – slide it down to under jaw.

60 yards – I’ve run out of face. 

At some future point, I’ll figure out what do do at 60. Perhaps a split finger draw will provide the answer. Dunno. 

I feel that I’ve got it now. As long as I do what I did tonight then I can hit the bosses and it becomes just a matter of aiming. Currently,  I find coming up from beneath the gold, pointing with the arrow tip, and releasing as it gets to center, works best.

The biggest problem tonight was arrows falling short or just missing. But tonight that was a facewalking and aiming problem, not a cack-handed archer problem.

And I just feel the love for it all over again.

Edit: I’ve just looked back at Traditional Jester’s and Steve Ruis’s comments on my last session and realised I’ve basically not discovered anything by myself here but just done what they suggested. Clearly their advice had sunk into my subconscious (or whatever) and had just been waiting for the next session to make itself known. Thanks guys!

6 thoughts on “Session 5

  1. Where to start, where to start. Fingers numb for an hour after shooting. This is a real warning sign. You glove pads apparently are not thick enough. If you were using a decent tab, I would suggest adding another layer to the tab’s materials. You can get permanent damage to your fingers from exposing the joints to extreme pressures, like from a bowstring.

    I did some experiments when archers are balanced upon ordinary bathroom scales. When asked to stand normally, they have a roughly 50:50 balance between toes and heels. (Being a bit more on the heels is normal.) When I hanced them a bow to hold close to their body, their distribution was close to 60% (toes) to 40% (heels), which is what KSL recommends. In other words, you don’t have to do anything to get the correct toe-heel weight distribution.

    Now a trad bow is nowhere near as heavy as a modern recurve or compound, but I want to suggest to you, that those instructions are for a completely different style than you are shooting. It all does not apply. The best thing you can do for now is to be as balanced as you can be, which you can sense naturally. The objective for all of that is to be still at the moment the string is loosed. You do not want to be swaying or otherwise moving while shooting. This you can see because parts of the bow and arrow are visible in your field of view. They shouldn’t be moving relative to the visual field at the moment of release. If you are, you can a balance problem you need to fix. Otherwise do not bother with silly instructions to have 70% of your weight on the toes of your feet.

    That’s all I have time for now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to agree you shouldn’t be getting finger sting with a glove. I had a glove that I had to put some extra strips of soft leather inside to stop the issue. I currently use a Bodnik Speed Glove and I haven’t had an issues with finger numbness, it’s a fab glove.

      In terms of your anchor point make that the same for every distance, whether it be the middle of your chin, the side of your mouth or behind your ear.

      When I shoot my hybrid field bow my stance is fairly narrow and I use a y-draw and anchor at the side of my mouth. My weight is more distributed on my front leg and I canter my bow slightly. I’ve found this to be comfortable for me.

      I used to draw my longbow in exactly the same manner, with the same anchor point as it’s the same poundage. I’ve changed this recently as I want to start building up to a warbow weight so around #100. So my draw is now totally different.

      My last piece of advice would be to avoid the impulse to shoot at varying distances. Get on a 20yrd target and work on getting your groupings really tight. Once you’ve done that consistently move the distance up and repeat.

      Enjoy your shooting, you seem to shoot enough so you’ll soon get everything nailed down.

      Liked by 1 person

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