Archive for February, 2018

An Archer’s Journey: Injuries, confidence and good friends

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Since I enjoy shooting a bow so much, it sometimes becomes rather difficult to listen to my body when it talks to me. For the last few weeks, my joints, tendons and muscles have been telling me that I need to take a break. Being bullheaded, I blazed forward and figured I could beat the damn pain. Well, sometime that’s just impossible.

This week I wasn’t able to do very much with my bow(s). The injury in my elbow has gotten progressively worse and really flares up when I shoot one of my bows. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the amount of shock that is distributed into my arm when the arrow jumps off the bowstring and is launched forward. Trying to deal with the pain has been a chore and has eliminated most of my actual training. This week I was only able to shoot on my two league night, and I probably shouldn’t have even done that.

My hold was halfway decent on Tuesday night. I made a lot more good shots than bad ones. I ended the night with a 446 and 27 Xs. I feel like I’m finally starting to flatten out a little and gain some consistency. Amazingly, I can easily identify why I miss when I miss now. I also know that it I follow the steps properly, I will shoot every arrow in the middle. If I leave something out or try to rush through a step or two, I will usually miss, even it the miss isn’t by much.

I’ve been missing a few arrows at 6 o’clock lately, and after talking to George about it, I’m pretty sure we figured out exactly what is happening. I’m getting a little dipping and bobbing as I get into the shot and it fires right when the pin is at the bottom of the circle. I’m pretty sure I’m losing just a tiny bit of back tension, which is resulting in the low misses. I will make sure to work on maintaining the same pressure throughout the shot to keep this from happening in the future. If the same thing continues, I will know that I haven’t properly identified the 6 ‘o’clock problem.

I was unsure what to do on Friday night because of the pain in my elbow. I knew that I couldn’t shoot the bow that jars my arm, but at the same time, I felt like I could shoot as long as the bow didn’t beat me up. I quickly sighted in Mark’s bow and put his sight back on it. To my amazement the arrows hit right behind the pin when I made good shots. This was an incredible difference from last week when I struggled with the bow while trying to get it to group. Looking back at it, I found the problem. I recently traded a sight online and the problem was in the sight. Supposedly, it was a brand new CBE Vertex. Upon receiving it, I could see where there were a few scuff marks on it, so I knew that someone definitely had their hands on it, even if he didn’t use it. The quick detach would not lock down without having all sorts of slop in it, either. With the sight doing that, it wasn’t returning to the same place after the shock of the bow moved it, causing the arrows to spray. I lost all confidence in the bow, but in reality, it wasn’t the bow.

After shooting the bow through paper and getting the arrows to make a bullet hole through paper, I knew that the tune on it was pretty close to where it had to be. I knew I shouldn’t be getting the shots that were appearing in the target. As I continued shooting the bow, I started losing confidence. I thought it was me making bad shots, even though I knew the shots weren’t that bad.  Finally, I made two perfect shots. The arrows both scored as inside out Xs on the Vegas target. The third shot was as good as the first two, and the arrow landed dead high in the 7-ring. That’s when I instantly realized I wasn’t the reason behind the bad grouping. After further study, the sight was to blame.

Although I tell people all the time to pay attention to this stuff, I ignored what I tell them. If you are a good shooter, and you’re making good shots, the arrows should hit behind the pin or pretty damn close to that spot. If the arrows aren’t hitting there, there is most likely a problem with the equipment. You have to trust your form before your confidence takes the hit. Confidence gan be extremely hard to regain once you’ve lost it, and in turn, it could lead you to begin making bad shots for no reason at all. Trust your form, trust your shots and don’t be afraid to blame it on the equipment. But be careful when you start transferring the blame to your equipment. There’s a fine line between equipment problems and YOU problems. If you don’t shoot well in a tournament or on league night, don’t start blaming the equipment for something that has to do with your imperfect execution.

So by the time Friday night league got done, I felt pretty good about my shooting. I had an extremely hard time holding the bow steady because the draw length on Mark’s bow was about 1/2 inch short. I’m going to get the modules from him tomorrow to see if it makes things better. Although I only shot 51 Xs, the round felt a lot better than that. I got out of the gate with five Xs, but the next round saw the round take a downhill turn when I only anchored two Xs. Once I got into the round, I felt like I could shoot really well with the bow if I had a little more draw length. I went from hating this particular bow a week ago to realizing that I think I really like it. Actually, the only reason I didn’t like it last week, was because it was frustrating the hell out of me when the arrows weren’t hitting behind the pin when they should have been. The handle on the bow felt good, and I liked the way the bow reacted when I shot it. Now, after adding in the right let-off stops for me, the draw length became too short. I’m excited to try it with the correct mods on it not that I have the right stops on it.

I won’t be shooting much this coming week due to the elbow issue. Although I’m headed to the Wintercam Classic next weekend, I don’t expect much. It’s really hard to set something up this time of year to shoot at 3D targets when I’ve been shooting at paper. I also don’t have much ambition to stand outside and wing arrows in subpar weather. I did go outside on Wednesday when it was 70 degrees to make sure my marks were close. I shot a pretty decent group at 50 yards, so I think I’ll be able to keep them in the scoring rings.

Remember as we make this final push of the indoor season to concentrate on the things you’re working on. If your main objective is to have a successful 3D season, then you need to really make sure you focus on making good shots. The size of an average 10-ring on a 3D animal is considerably larger than an X. Pounding Xs isn’t that important as long as you can make good shots and keep them in a kill that’s the size of a small deer. That’s why many times in the amateur ranks of 3D, we see people win who don’t necessarily pound paper. It’s a different game that doesn’t require the pinpoint accuracy in many cases. Have fun and don’t over-aim. Confidence is everything in this game. As you saw earlier in this post, it comes in goes in the snap of a finger. Pay attention to your confidence, because as your confidence goes so does your shooting.

Here’s the group I shot at 50 to get my 50 mark.


An Archer’s Journey: A Sore Elbow 1:3

Monday, February 19th, 2018



  The last week has been rough on my body. My elbow injury from last summer doesn’t want to leave me alone, and this week it kind of came to a head. A few of the days, I dealt with a substantial amount of pain. With that being said, I wasn’t able to do too terribly much with my bows.

The week started off well, though. I headed to the range on Monday and worked solely on executing my shot with a relaxed hand. I have realized that it is essential to relax my hand and forearm to execute a perfect shot. To do this drill, I went to the club after work and shot a 450 came from 12 yards again. I pounded the center out of the target, and I made 43 perfect shots. It’s amazing how easy it is to shoot a bow when there’s minimal movement in the sight picture and when there’s no payoff for where the arrow lands once it is launched from the bow. As the old saying goes, “I’m Roger Staubach in my own backyard.” I’m sure some of you younger people won’t get the reference, but I’m sure most of you can relate to the quote. Although I can remember days that I’ve felt the same on the tournament trail, I’ve never sustained the test of time.

When I finished practicing on Monday night, I felt like I could do anything. The process was locked in and everything seemed easy. I knew I would find out how it really worked when I went to league the next night. When I attend leagues, I still feel a little bit of nerves. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been nervous when I shoot. I’m even nervous in my basement. I guess it’s just who I am as a person.

When I started practicing before Tuesday’s league started, I felt really good. The feeling continued throughout the round. I have to go back to about 2004 to find the last time I felt like I did on Tuesday night. My shot felt so good that I felt like I couldn’t miss; shooting was incredibly easy. In the middle of the round, I let my mind wander around a little bit, causing me to miss a couple of steps in my process. When the scores were tallied, I ended up with a 446 and 25Xs, however, my execution scored a 447 with about 38 Xs. I only missed one arrow that I shouldn’t have missed. I made a good shot and the arrow landed just below the 10 line at 6 o’clock. The paper was torn, and the arrow probably could have gone either way if the line was reconstructed. It was my bad for not changing the target. The other shots missed because I got a little tense and let the shot get out of my back and creep into my shoulder. Instead of letting down and starting over, I figured I could put a little extra tension on the release to get it to fire. Well, I found out that, unlike my old shooting form,  it’s not going to work with my new shooting form. All three of those arrows hit dead center at 12 o’clock in the 9-ring. I was easily able to identify why the shots landed where they landed.

Wednesday and Thursday I needed to take time off because of my elbow. I didn’t go near a bow, figuring it would serve me well for the weekend. I decided to shoot the annual Guan Ho Ha archery tournament on Friday night with George. I met him at the club for a few minutes to shoot a few arrows before heading down there. I could tell that it wasn’t going to be one of my better holding days, and I would probably score as well as the pin floated.

Surprisingly, I was pretty wound up during the first scoring end. Of the six practice arrows, I shot four 10s and two 9s. The best thing was that I made good shots. On my first two shots I hit dead center low under the 10-ring down near the bottom of the nine and a hair to the right. I gave the sight a few clicks and figured I would be ready on the first scoring end. Well, to my amazement, I began shaking more than I had mentally prepared for, and my sight picture was considerably different than it had been the last few weeks. I didn’t pay much attention to it and kept pulling. When the shots broke, they hit where the pin was and I ended up with two 9s and a 10, and every arrow was to the left of center.

The rest of the round got progressively better, and I felt good about at least half of my shots. I did notice that throughout the round, my release hand became tense, which transferred into my shoulder. When I felt it in my shoulder, I didn’t fully rotate the shot into the back and tried chicken-winging it. Mentally, I felt it here and there, especially near the end of the round when I was getting tired. Although it was in my mind that I was doing that, I wasn’t completely convinced because my shots still felt pretty decent.

When I finished my round, Mark Meyers told me that I looked a little bit short on draw length. I’m fairly certain that it was because I didn’t rotate and transfer into my back properly near the end of the round. Although I could feel it, I didn’t make the adjustment. I need to work on that in the future. I love having people who are knowledgable and share their knowledge with me to help me figure things out. I appreciate Mark’s eye, especially when he could have been watching a lot of other people. He knows what I’m trying to accomplish, and I trust his judgement. That’s what make things easy and saves time.

When we added the scores up, I ended up with a 440. I never paid attention to my score after the first end. I just stood there and tried to execute the best shot possible. I feel like I did a pretty good job. I also feel like I shot as well as the pin held. Most of my misses were to the left, other than the ones in the practice round and first scoring round. Looking at the target I didn’t miss my much considering how the bow felt like it was holding. I felt really confident after getting done. I thought I was going to shoot my all-time low score in a tournament, which wouldn’t have bothered me, but I ended up tying it. Scores aren’t important when you’re working to improve something.

My buddy Rick Baker came over from New Hampshire to shoot on Saturday morning. I watched him shoot about half of his round. He looked really smooth. I always like watching him shoot because he makes it look so easy. He told me his pin was shaking around quite a bit, too, but I never would have noticed. He looked pretty solid to me.

In between lines, before I headed home, I tried out a PSE PerformX 3D. I liked the way the bow felt. It felt really good when I had the shot in my back, and it seemed to hold well. I also executed good shots with it. Mark Meyers also let me bring one of his bows home to try. With the elbow pain I’ve been having, I’m fairly certain that I can link it to the bow I’m shooting. There seems to be a lot of shock going into my forearm and ending in my elbow.  I need to do everything I can to alleviate some of that.

Saturday and Sunday I spent some time shooting the bow that Mark let me borrow. I love the handle on the bow, and it feels pretty good at full draw. I’ve tried every let-off module and can’t seem to get the feel I need. I’ll keep working with it to get that feel. Jacob and Mark have both given me a lot of input on this bow. It’s always nice to have people who willingly share information about things they have learned. I appreciate that with all of my archery friends. It seems nice to know that I have so many friends in the archery community who go out of their way to answer any questions I might have. Thanks to all fo you, and that includes way too many people to list.

It’s weird how I need a certain feel to make the best shots possible. I know I might be unlike a lot of people who can pick anything up and shoot it, but I also am beginning to realize what I need to help me make the best shots that I’m capable of making. I’m glad that I’m starting to figure that part out. It has taken about a month of playing with different bows, but I feel fairly certain that I have a pretty good idea what I need. I guess time will tell with that.  Here’s a picture of the Guan Ho Ha target. If I eliminate the big misses in the first two practice ends and first scoring end, I feel pretty good about how it looks. Sometimes the score is not reflective of how we actually shot. I shot a much better round than I scored.



An Archer’s Journey: A Bumpy Road 1:2

Sunday, February 11th, 2018




Trying to get back to targets like this, which I shot with a BHFS set-up. One day at a time.


Over the years, I’ve realized that shooting bows can be easy if I allow it to be easy. I’ve also noticed that it can be incredibly difficult if I let my conscious mind become overly involved. Quieting the mind has always been something I’ve worked hard to achieve. When I was practicing this week, I had an extremely difficult time quieting my mind. I will need to focus more on that in the coming weeks. Sometimes archers have no idea that working on these things is essential for people of my skill level. Although I can’t confirm it, I don’t think that all archers face this battle. I believe that some people just shoot and don’t have to deal with the outside noise. I could be totally wrong, and I will never truly know because it’s impossible to interview every archery in the world.

This week was trying for me because of all of the bad weather we had. Having to shovel three times this week and break ice in the driveway made it really hard to hold the bow steady when I had time to shoot. I started the week my working on my aiming since aiming seems to be coming along the slowest of all of the things I’m working on. I spent about a half hour working on my aiming on Monday night without firing an arrow.  I pulled back, set the shot into my back, kept my finger of the trigger and just aimed. I aimed until the sight picture  broke down. I noticed that it was more difficult than I had imagined it would be due to my breathing. I never think about breathing when I’m shooting, but my breathing came into play during this exercise. After I finished my aiming drills, which consisted of sets of 10, I ended the session by shooting a dozen blank bale shots.

Tuesday found me at the range for my weekly Vegas league. I decided I would work on the transfer into the back for the entire round and focus on that. I would do the best I could with the aiming, but the transfer is what I decided to focus on. When the dust settled I ended up with a 446. I was happy with the score, but realized it could have been much better or worse. A few centimeters one way or the other could have made it an incredible round or a bad one, which is usually the way it goes for everyone. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky — or unlucky– we are when we calculate scores.

Wednesday was a busy day for me, so I didn’t get to do too terribly much with my bow, but I did take the time to do some blind-baling. I always find it amazing how easy it is to get the shot to go off when blind-baling as compared to when your eyes are open and you’re aiming at something. For me, I all comes down to tension. I run into issues when I have tension coursing through my body.

I got out of work early on Thursday to run down to Flying Arrow Sports to see my friends Jim Despart and Paul Bertrand. I texted Jim the day before and asked if he had a module I was looking for, and he told me he had it. I figured I would run down and get it so I would have enough time to put it on and shoot a little bit that evening.

After eating dinner, I ran to the club to see how it felt. My shot felt pretty good, and the transfer seemed smooth. I felt that the draw was still a hair too short, so I put four twists in each cable to give me a little bit  more length. When all was said and done, I felt good about it.

Friday was a miserable day for me at work. I also had to do some running around to check on things for my parents. When I got settled in, I barely had time to do sit down before I had to rush out to Friday night league. When I got there, I couldn’t hold the bow steady to save my life, and I also couldn’t hold the shot in my back. I didn’t have any energy. Since those days happen every now and then when I’m attending tournaments, I decided to stay and push through the round. In hindsight, it was a horrible decision. I ended up shooting two arrows out of the white, and both of them went out of the white because I lost back tension, the arrow crept forward, and it couldn’t save either of the shots. After doing that, I stood straight, imagined what would have happened if I followed the steps correctly, then I watched the arrow go into the center of the target in my visualization. After doing that, I moved onto the next arrow. I never focus on the bad part of anything. Instead, I visualize the right thing with the right outcome and move on. I ended the night with a 298 and low 50 X count. I guess it’s not all that bad because the last time I shot a 298, I shot 57Xs. If you do that math, it’s painful to think about. This 298 didn’t hit as hard as that one. I’ll keep plugging. After having shoulder surgery a few years back, the 5-spot round has always given my trouble due to the number of arrows. Unfortunately, it’s like speed shooting when we’re shooting in the league and there’s no time to rest in between ends. I need the rest.

I ended the week this morning by working on transferring the shot and holding it in my back. I put the stock handle back on my bow to see if it felt any worse or better than the Shrewd handle I’ve been using or the no grip that I used for the last week. After shooting, I’m unsure if I liked the handle or disliked it. I’ll have to shoot it a little more to make a solid determination. After practicing the anchoring and transferring, I decided to shoot a 450 round. I was happy with many of the shots. It seemed like I made two great shots out of the three on every end. I’m still not shooting very many Xs, but I think I’m shooting as good as the bow is aiming. I ended up with a 446 and 25xs. I need to work to improve the number of great shots. When I make a great shot, I will not miss. I feel like I was horrible with that at the beginning of the week, but I steadily improved up until today. The week ahead will be a new test.

I will be shooting the annual Guan Ho Ha tournament this coming weekend, and I’ll be shooting the annual tournament at Reedy’s Archery on Sunday. Although I was hesitant to sign up for either of these, I can’t get any better if I don’t put myself out there and take it on the chin if that’s what needs to be done. I feel much better than I did a few weeks ago, but I still feel like I have a very long way to go. Usually, the average person’s scores go down a few points in tournaments, so I don’t expect any miracles this weekend. I’m going to work on the changes I’ve been making and see if I’ve made any progress in a tournament type atmosphere.

Until next week—————>  keeping grinding……….because that’s what I’ll be doing.


An Archer’s Journey: Pulling out of the Parking lot 1:1

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018



Well, I got enough feedback to make me realize that some people wanted to hear about the journey. I’ll do my best to chronicle my progress this year and share the highs and lows and all of the work that I put into it. Although I’m not a great shooter, I’ve been reached some successful points along the way. I’ll never be a Jim Despart, because there are very few who can ever reach that level, but I do love archery and put a lot into it. This is more for the average Joe’s who are trying to get better and dedicate a lot of their free time to it.

On Jan. 15, 2017, I headed out to see Mike Price. I made plans to see Mike because I figured that through our longtime friendship, Mike wouldn’t pull any punches, and he would do his best to help me fix any issues that needed attention.

After spending the day with Mike, we determined that I needed to work on having better posture in my daily life,  and I definitely needed to add draw length to my bow. Mike told me I could probably go an inch to an inch and a half longer. He believed that would take the pressure off from my shoulders.

Somewhere along the way, I got dragged into the hype of having to go shorter and shorter. The best year I ever had indoors, I averaged 59.4 Xs in my indoor league, and shooting was really easy. I aimed and the shot went off. I never thought about the shot itself. Along the way, I lost the ability to do that, and I began thinking about all of the things I needed to do to make a good shot. On the days when I was nervous, I couldn’t hold the bow still to save my life.

Well, this week I finally got the draw length on my bow to a good starting point. To my amazement, my draw length is now pretty close to what it was back in those days when I shot my highest scores and didn’t think about my shooting. I’m back to the same draw length I was at when I finished at the top in every class I shot in at the national level, including Freestyle in NFAA, MBR, MBO and SPM. I had top 3s in every one of those classes at the national level before I ran into the shoulder problems. I’m proud of those days, too. But somewhere in my travels, my draw length ended up at 27′ and the tension started to build. Looking back on it, I can now trace my problems back to when I kept shortening the draw length.

It felt really good this week when I measured the draw and saw that it is now at 28 3/4. It seems so long to me, and when I changed it, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to be comfortable. I’m already beginning to feel more comfortable, and it has only been a couple of weeks since I made the change.

On Monday night, I dedicated a solid two hours to aiming at arrow holes from 5 to 10 yards and executing shots with the new form. My main focus was on transferring the shot into my back during the draw. Once the shot settled into my back, I focused on following the steps in my shot sequence and remembering to hold steady pressure on my hand against the handle and in my back. During this two hour process, I played with some stabilizer weights to get the bow to settle down a little bit. I switched back and forth between a 27′ and 30′ front bar. Finally, I decided on the 30′ front bar. I have 2 ounces on the front of it and 14 on the 12′ back bar. It’s  not that much weight as compared to what many archers are currently running.

Tuesday night found me at my weekly Vegas league. When I got there, I had a very hard time holding steady and making good shots. Since I brought two bows with me, I decided to roll with the one I started with. After getting halfway into the round, I realized I needed to try something different. After the seventh end, I hung that bow on the rack and grabbed the other one. The next eight ends, I only dropped two 10s and ended up with a 441 17xs. The bow I changed to had a tad shorter draw length, which is what helped with my execution and aiming. While a 441 isn’t great shooting, it could have been a lot worse. I’m not overly happy with where I’m at because I feel like I’m shooting better than I’m scoring.

On Wednesday, I spent a lot of time blank baling and shooting at huge dots from close yardage. I’m not sure of the exact amount of time, but I shot arrows on and off from around 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. My shot started to feel repeatable that night. I realized that I needed to work on my hand pressure on the riser.

I went back to the range on Thursday when I got out of work. I worked on my drawing, settling and aiming. After I got done working on execution without caring where the arrows hit, I decided to shoot a 300 game on a Vegas target. I didn’t expect much since I was shooting my small diameter 3D arrows. I got through the first 5 ends clean and shot a 150 with 8xs. The next five ends, I began feeling the wear and tear from the previous two hours, as I was headed toward hour number three of firing arrows with this new system. When I finished the round, I had a 298 with 15xs, and I dropped both 9s in the same end. When I dropped the points, it was because I didn’t stay in the shot. I need to focus more on that going into the future.

Friday night is 5-spot league night. I knew that 60 arrows was going to be rough because I kind of over did it this week. I figured if I could get through the night, I would take Saturday off and get back at it for a few hours on Sunday.

When I was warming up, I had a really hard time holding the bow still. When the round started, the sight picture calmed down and the pin held much steadier. I’m still having some trouble holding the pin super still, but it feels like it’s improving, after all, it still is a very new process to me, and I’m using different parts of my body that I haven’t used in a long time.

I didn’t start very well out of the gate, but everything seemed to go right in the beginning of the round. I’m not sure if it’s because of the new paper. I waited three rounds before clicking the sight, and after that, I seemed to be dialed in the rest of the night. I ended up missing two Xs in the first end and two Xs in the last end. Besides those four, I only missed two other ones over the course of the round. I shot a 300 with 54Xs. I also shot the two practice ends and may have missed an X or two in them, but I can’t really remember those two ends.

Looking forward to next week, I know I have to continue the grind if I’m going to be ready for 3D season. It’s a work in progress in will require a lot of work to get back to where I feel like comfortable and confident with the new changes. In the few rounds I shot, I quickly realized that I need to let down as soon as I lose back tension. If I try to struggle through it, the weight goes from by back into all sorts of places in my body that it shouldn’t be. Last night, when I lost the tension a few times, it moved into my shoulder, forearm and hand. If I feel that in the future it’s a red flag……………GO BACK TO START. When I shoot shots the right way, I know I won’t miss, and it’s a tremendous feeling.  I really like it.

This week I saw a few guys on Facebook who were talking about shooting their best rounds, and a few other guys who said they were working on things. After reading this, how may people work this hard? Remember that most of us aren’t pros, we are just Joes. Sometimes it seems like Joes just don’t put in the work. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t believe that’s true. Sometimes Joes put in a lot of work, but the work doesn’t come out on the other end. My only advice it to keep plugging and have fun doing it. I just love shooting arrows. Hopefully, I will get a little better, but either way, I’ll have an awesome time while I’m trying.

The target below is the one that I shot in league on Friday night. 300 54Xs…………..I’m making progress. This round felt really good. I’ll work on front and rear pressure this week and making sure the steps in my process are firing like a well-oiled machine. How is everyone else out there doing? Now, is the time to work toward spring when we all start winging arrows at 3D targets.