Being Casual Archer Is Suffering

One of my many hobbies is target archery; being a good way of getting outside, good low-intensity exercise, nice stress relief, and an interesting meditation exercise when I can fall into the correct mental state.

And then you neglect regular practise for a few months due to other demands on your time, and have the arrogance to think the “Yeah, I can go back to pulling my old poundage easy as, I’ll just shoot less arrows at first!”

YOU WILL BE PROVEN WRONG.

Granted, I do pull a weight that a majority of the amateur target archers, and a few professionals I’ve spoken to have simply baulked at. (My sample size is very small.) Admittedly, compound bow shooters pull more at the start of their draw cycle (limited to 60lb for target archery, anywhere up to a hundred or so for custom hunting compounds) but the design of the bow means they’re usually holding less than 20% of that weight at full draw.

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I run Samick Extreme BF limbs, which are carbon fibre/rock maple/high modulus foam composite, rated at 46lb draw weight at 28 inches. An important fact about recurve bows is that once you start drawing them past 28”, the draw weight increases at about 2lb per inch of draw. My draw length is 31.5”, and I’ve measured my draw weight to be 52lb at that length. It doesn’t sound like much, but all that weight is carried on three fingers and your back muscles, if you’re doing it right.

The feeling of holding that much power at full draw feels pretty amazing and a crisp, clean release of the bowstring is a thing of beauty.  But this isn’t about my success, it about my terrible failure to learn from my mistakes!

My ideal practise when I was ramping up to competitive shooting was 20 ends of eight arrows, taking a maximum of two minutes per end at 25m distance. For the mathematically challenged, I was shooting 160 arrows in about the space of three hours, including the time taken to retrieve them from the target.  I quite comfortably took first place in my only archery competition to date with this regime, so I guess it works?

Sadly, life intervened and I put my dreams of competitive success on the backburner. 6 months later, I scrounge up the time to throw a few arrows downrange and start shooting. The first 24 arrows felt nice, a little rusty in terms of form and technique, but still feeling good. I decided to push it out to 5 ends of 8 arrows, (at the time it sounded reasonable) and then that was where the problems started. My grouping for end number four was a little wider than before, maybe a 10cm spread at 25 metres instead of the 5cm of the previous groups. End number five was all over the shop. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I’d strained something in my right shoulder and as a result my release was super sloppy.

The combination of endorphins and an induced semi-meditative state dulled the pain until a few hours later, whereupon I realised that the shoulder was probably out of commission for a week or so while it healed.

Truly, being casual archer is suffering.

 

Stay angry my friends.

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