Thwack, Crack, and Robinhoods

If you live near coastal North Carolina and Virginia, it is difficult to find archery ranges. Josh, William, and I had the opportunity to shoot our bows on a local range in Suffolk, Virginia. The range wasn’t fancy, but it was doable for what we were wanting to do. We were just happy to find a place to shoot, to be honest.

Last month, Josh and I decided to shoot for Hoyt this year. We wanted to try something a little different. I ended up getting the Hoyt Eclipse which, to be honest, shoots better than the Mathews Prima. Don’t get me wrong, the Prima shot well, but it didn’t fit me well. Since shooting the Eclipse, my shots have improved.

While at the range, my goal was to practice my form and stay as consistent as possible. I shot my first arrow at 30 yards. When I drew back my second arrow, I aimed where my first arrow was sitting. As soon as I released the second arrow, there was a loud crack. We all knew what that loud sound meant…a robin hood.

If you’re not familiar with archery, a robin hood is when an arrow enters into another arrow shaft. Some archers call this a success. Others see it as money going out the window (arrows are not cheap!). This occurrence doesn’t happen very often because it is difficult to shoot the exact same way every time. There’s a lot of factors that can affect your shot…the weather, your anchor, your follow through, etc.

My first robbinhood at 30 yards (top).

So how did I feel about this robin hood?

There were some good feelings toward that robin hood. First of all, I’ve never had a robin hood further than 10 yards. At 30 yards, that says something. Within the last few years, it has been a journey to get myself shooting the proper way. It’s also taken me a long time to learn how to focus and train my mind to trust the process in the shot. That robin hood told me that I’ve become comfortable with my shots. 

Having better equipment built my confidence in my shots. The Eclipse fits me a lot better than the Prima did. It’s lighter in weight and the grip fits my small hand. Last year, I had a lot of issues with the grip on the Prima. I was torquing my bow so much last year. Having a smaller grip gives me a better grip while drawing the arrow back. Less torque means fewer left and rights.  It also has a smoother draw cycle which also gives me indication when I’m creeping on my shot before I release my arrow. 

This year, I’m feeling more comfortable and confident in my shots. Although I won’t be competing much this year, I look forward to getting out and slinging some arrows. It’s still a passion of mine that isn’t going to die any time soon. 

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

2022 Archery Season Phrase: “Why Not?”

Josh, Tikka, and I took a weekend trip to West Virginia. We were all missing the beautiful mountains and our families. We did not get home until 12:30 in the morning. Regardless of the time it took to get home, we’re happy to get away from reality.

My Mathews Prima (left) and the Hoyt Eclipse (right)

This morning, we stopped by HP Archery to visit, shoot some bows, and get our equipment fine tuned. We were happy to be back on the range.For the past month or so, I’ve been looking into branching out to trying new bows. I’ve shot Mathews since 2018 and that is all I’ve ever shot. There’s not one time I thought about shooting something other than a Mathews. Since I’ve been so open minded with everything this year, I decided to try out something else.

Our shop had a Hoyt Eclipse in stock. At first, we were afraid I couldn’t shoot it due to the draw length. The minimum draw length was 26 inches. I was shooting 25 inches. Josh double checked and measured me for my draw length. We both found I was 25 1/2 inches. Last year, I was measured at 24 1/2, but since we have corrected my form within the past year, we had a correct measurement.

At first we set it to 45 pounds, but realized I couldn’t draw the bow back. We adjusted the draw weight to 40 pounds on the Eclipse. This is what I currently have set on my Prima.  Once we had everything set, I was able to shoot a few rounds with it to see how I liked it.

My takeaway on the Hoyt Eclipse:

The bow itself didn’t feel bulky in my hand. The grip felt better in my hand than the Mathews Prima grip. I didn’t feel like I was fighting my bow while aiming at the target. Because the grip is a little more narrow on the Eclipse, there’s less of a chance for significant torque.

When I first drew the bow back, I was surprised how smooth the draw cycle was. In fact, the draw cycle was smoother than the Prima. The holding weight was heavier which meant I couldn’t “creep” my arrow forward as easily while aiming at the target. I was impressed with this because I have a tendency to do so with my Prima.

The grip feels a lot nicer on the Hoyt Eclipse.

Another thing we noticed was how fast my arrow was coming out of the Eclipse. When tested through the chronograph, the arrow was moving 6-7 ft per second faster in the Eclipse (and that was with the whisker biscuit attached. Think of how fast that arrow would have gone if a QAD or Hamskea arrow rest was attached to it!). 

Overall, I am impressed with the Hoyt Eclipse. In fact, my decision has been made for the Archery season…I’m hanging up the Mathews Prima and will be representing Hoyt. This decision was unanimous and like I told Josh, “Why not?” 

I look forward to continuing sharing this archery journey with you this year as we attend some 3D shoots. What’s your preference on a bow brand? Have you thought about branching out before? Let me know your thoughts!

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

Back to the Basics: Anchoring

Last week, I talked about the importance of hand placement on the bow. If you have not read it, you can find it here. So far, we have worked on footwork and hand placement. Today, I want to talk about anchoring. Before we get into learning about the proper form of anchoring, let’s talk about some background information.

What is anchoring?

Anchoring is the main component when you are aiming your arrow at a target. Anchoring aligns your bow to your face and assists you where you want that arrow to go. Having the correct draw length on your bow is very important. If you aren’t sure what your draw length is, I would suggest going to get measured at your local bow shop, or a bow shop located closest to you.

What is the proper form of anchoring?

Like footwork and hand placement, the proper form of anchoring is based on personal preference. However, you can easily make mistakes without even pinpointing the issues if you don’t pay attention to your “proper” form of anchoring. Anchoring can be very frustrating in the beginning because you are looking to be consistent each time.

When you are drawing your bow back, you want the bow string to line up along your face. The string will be your reference point if you are not using a peep sight. Your string needs to line up with the area in which you are aiming. This is personally a little complicated if you are starting out. I would highly recommend a peep sight if you are a beginner. You can find one here.

If you are using a peep sight, your dominant eye should line up with your peep sight. If you’re not aligned with your peep, you will need your bow tech to help you adjust it to your eye level. Your tech may need to tie in your peep sight in again.

You also want the string to run from the middle of your nose to the corner of your mouth. There are accessories out there you can use to help you be consistent on placement such as a nose button and a kisser button. If you are interested in installing these products, I strongly suggest a bow tech to install them on your bow. Once you are consistent on anchoring, you can take these items off. If you do, you still need to pay attention to your anchoring when you are practicing or competing. 

Again, I would practice shooting 40 arrows (10 rounds, 4 arrows each round) each evening. Pay attention to the small details. Have someone to watch you. If you are shooting by yourself, set up your phone and record your shoot. Review the videos and recognize the “rights” and the “wrongs.” If you would like to go more in depth with anchoring, you watch this video from School of Nock.

Breaking these basics down are helpful for you if you are a beginner or you have been doing this for a while and want to improve on your form. Let me know in the comments how your progress is going. I would love to know!

Stay adventurous!

Natalie

Back to the Basics: Hand Placement

Last week, I talked about the basics of footwork and the effects it has when shooting in 3D archery. If you haven’t read last week’s post, I provide the link here. If you are beginning archery and have been following along, I hope last week’s insight and resources helped you when focusing on your form. It may sound crazy, but footwork does affect the way you aim and follow through on your shot. Please continue to pay attention to your footwork while we move on Part 2 for Back to the Basics.

Hand placement is one of the most important things to pay attention to when practicing or competing. Why? Your hand placement affects the way you torque your bow. If you are one to put full grip on your bow, chances are, you have noticed how your arrow is inconsistently moving from left and/or right.

The goal is to have your bow balanced when you are aiming.

So how do I do that? There is a trick.

When you are drawing back, you want to pay attention to how the grip pushes against your hand. You want the grip to push back against the area below your thumb when you are drawn back. This area provides better grip on your bow and holds it steadier. When you’re practicing, pay attention to where your grip pushes back. If it’s against the area below your thumb, then you are on the right track. 

The grip should push back on the area I’m pointing to in the picture.

Now let’s talk about finger placement on the grip…

Even though your grip is pushing back on your hand, you can still have some torque based on your finger placement. Wrapping your fingers completely around the grip, will allow you to torque your bow left or right. This will cause frustration in the beginning if you aren’t paying attention to your fingers. Trust me, it took me a while to figure this one out. It wasn’t until Josh noticed it when we were shooting the indoor range. You want your fingers to rest near the front center of the grip. This will balance your bow a little bit more.

You want to form your fingers in a line close to the center of the grip.

This week, focus on where the grip pushes on your hand. If it’s not in the correct area, let down your bow and situate your hand to where the grip hits the correct area before drawing back. Once you draw back, pay attention to your finger placement on the grip. They should be aligned close to the center of the front grip.

Now that we have covered the basics on hand placement, you now have a checklist before releasing the arrow:

  1. Are your feet 90 degrees from the target and shoulder width apart?
  2. When you draw back, is the grip pushing back on the area below your thumb?
  3. Are your fingers aligned toward the center of the front grip?

Looking at your checklist, you may think that is a lot to think about. As you continue practicing, you will begin noticing how natural your placements are beginning to feel. If you would like to study more about hand placement, you can check out this video from School of Nock.

This week take some time each evening to shoot 10 rounds on your target (4 arrows per round which gives you 40 shots). The more you practice, the easier your body will remember the correct form. Next week, I will give you some insights on anchoring your bow before releasing your arrow. Let me know how things are going in the comments below or send me an email. I would love to hear how the progress is going.

Stay adventurous!

Natalie

Archery Trade Association

This weekend, Josh and I had the opportunity to attend the Archery Trade Association with our local bow shop in Louisville, Kentucky. This members-only event is the largest and inclusive show of the year. ATA is a three day event that consists of manufacturers, retailers, distributors, sales, professional archers and hunters, and others come together and share their love for the archery and bowhunting industry. Vendors have the opportunity to promote current and new products while networking with retailers nationwide.

Archery Trade Association 2022, Louisville, Kentucky.

Networking and placing orders weren’t the only thing you could do at the ATA. There were scheduled times for seminars, coffee talks, and coaching certifications. You can learn everything from arrow building, to marketing archery products to your customers, and hands-on training. Major bow vendors such as PSE and Prime gave potential buyers an opportunity to shoot their product demos in designated ranges. No matter the reason why you are attending, there was always something to learn and/or try out.

Many of the archery and bowhunting companies promoted their businesses through free product and cash giveaways, stickers, free apparel, and so much more. We were fortunate to retrieve and purchase items such as free t-shirts and hats from QAD, D-loop material for our bows, and two Scent Crusher Ozone Go products for your car.

Josh and I representing HP Archery at the ATA 2022.

Our experience at the ATA was amazing. Although we were tired and sore from walking by Saturday night, we both really enjoyed representing our local bow shop, meeting new people and trying out products we were interested in using during 3D and hunting season. If you were to tell me that I would be attending a members only archery event when I began my archery adventure in 2018, I would have been skeptical and laughed at the idea. My first year attending will be something I will never forget.

I know we did not visit every vendor like we hoped, but we made sure to stop by our favorite companies such as QAD, PSE, Tethrd, and T.R.U. Ball Axcel. If you ever get the opportunity to go to ATA, I highly recommend it. It’s amazing to see the technological advances the archery and bowhunting industries are making that will make your competitions and hunting experiences enjoyable.

If you would like to know more about the Archery Trade Association or want to become a member, click on the following link: https://archerytrade.org 

Back to the Basics: Footwork

Last week, I posted an introduction on going back to the basics while starting up archery practice again. I talked about the importance of practicing form while executing a good shot. You want to create muscle memory in your body because focusing on form is the least of your worries when you are competing. You focus on the target, the score, and your fellow competitors. You want it to feel as natural as possible.

Almost all archers go back to the basics, especially at the beginning of the season. 

Why?

If you are like me and the majority of archers, we take a break once the season is over. We may pick up our bow during hunting season, but we still aren’t practicing each and every single day. Over time, that muscle memory will begin to fade. You forget about the small things that greatly impact the shot. I compare practice to riding a bicycle, once you master the skill, you won’t completely forget what you’re doing.

I want to talk about footwork. Footwork is extremely important to having good form. It affects where your arrow goes once you hit that release button. In the beginning you want to put some focus on how your feet are placed before you anchor, aim, and shoot. 

What is the correct form of foot placement?

You want your whole body to be roughly at 90 degree angle of your target. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. If you stiffen your knees, your whole body will be stiff as well. This can result in mistakes due to poor form. 

How do I know if I have the correct footwork?

There’s two things I did to improve my form:

  1. Take pictures or video of yourself shooting:

When I started my archery journey in 2018, my footwork was horrible. My body was at a 90 degree angle from the target, but my feet were not. When I look back at the pictures before I entered the competition world, I can tell a difference in the footwork. I understood why I wasn’t hitting the target where I was aiming. I can understand why I was frustrated with archery in the beginning.

2. Watch any Archery video on Youtube:

You’re probably wondering why I included this piece when we’re focusing on your footwork. If you watch the fundamentals and importance of footwork from a tutorial video like School of Knock, it will begin to make sense. Watching archery competitions from previous seasons will also help because you get an idea of how you need to stand in competition. 

I highly recommend School of Nock for any fundamentals of archery. You can watch the video on footwork here.

Pay attention to how they stand and make a mental note. Whenever you are practicing, pay attention to your foot placement. When you start noticing your feet and making corrections along the way, eventually your footwork will come natural to you.

When working on foot placement, you do not need to be far away from the target. Josh and I work on our basics 4 yards away from the target. We aren’t so worried about hitting a specific target on the bag. We are focused on our form. Once we have our form down once again, then we will step back further from the target and practice executing good shots on the target bag.

This is my second year in the competition world, and I still look down at my feet before I draw my bow back. This isn’t because it doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s just a quick mental check because a lot goes on in competition and it’s possible to forget the small things that can impact your performance.

If you are taking this archery journey, let me know how you place your feet when you shoot and what you did to improve your footwork. Also, let me know if you notice a difference in where your arrow goes.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie Paige

Back to the Basics Introduction

Now that the holiday season is over, it is time for Josh and I to begin practicing for the 3D Archery season. Depending on where you live and what kind of target you shoot, the season typically begins in January or February. It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of time in between, but if you’re not planning on attending every single event, then you actually have time to be prepared.

Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been shooting for 20 years, it’s always important to go back to the basics. Not everyone shoots their bow all-year round. Over time, it’s easy to forget about the little things that affect your performance. Therefore, you need to start from the beginning. If you are starting out, this will take some time for you because you need to form some muscle. memory. I remember practicing the basics by shooting 40 arrows an evening. It sounds like a lot, but this is key to executing good form and identifying bad habits along the way. Once you have been shooting for more than a year, practicing the basics won’t take very long.

Last year’s backyard set up (and last year’s bow). I had no idea what I was doing. Pro tip: Don’t shoot toward your house if you are just starting. You WILL shoot your house.

If this is your first year competing or you are simply wanting to start shooting a bow, you need to learn the basics. From form to your equipment, it’s important to understand it all. If you don’t take the time to learn and be coachable, chances are you will get frustrated and have the desire to quit before you even get started. 

Am I a pro at this? No. This is my second year competing. However, I have learned a lot within the first year and have so much more to learn this year. Sometimes you learn in your garage or backyard and other times, you just have to get out there on the range and learn from experience. To be honest, you need to learn on and off the range in order to become a better archer.

My first indoor league competition with my Mathews Prima.

You’re also going to have a few archers out there to tell you how exactly you should be shooting in terms of form. There is a “correct” way so to speak when we are talking about foot placement, hand placement, and anchoring. The rest comes through personal preference. If someone does give you advice or you have someone who is coaching you, take in the advice they are giving and process whether it will benefit you in the long run. Most of the time, their advice is beneficial.

For the next few weeks, I am going to share some insights in terms of form that I have learned within the last year. I am no expert at this whatsoever, but if you’re a beginner, a lot of the time you feel less intimidated in asking someone who isn’t a semi-pro or pro (at least I am that way). 

Not only am I going to share some insights I learned from last year, but I am also going to share my journey along the way. Remember, I am still learning as well so we are all in this together.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie Paige

Pick Up Your Bow and Shoot

Josh, Tikka, and I made our trek to West Virginia last night for the weekend. It was a pretty long trip for everyone. Luckily, we made it in at a decent time. Unfortunately, we are only here for a day before we have to turn around and head south.

Josh and I spent the majority of our day at Hendershot Performance Archery in Belpre, Ohio. Josh has known the owners and employees at the shop for several years. Ever since we have gotten together, I have made new friends along the way. HP Archery is family owned and will take the time to assist your needs. HP Archery is our go to when we want to practice indoors. If you live close by, feel free to stop by and check them out. Tell them you read my blog post.

Shooting at 20 yards at HP Archery.

 While Josh was in the process of setting up his new 33” Mathews V3X, I had the opportunity to shoot my Mathews Prima. It has been a month since I picked up my bow and shot. I needed an escape from the hustle and bustle that has (and still is) occurred within the last couple of weeks.

Comparing my attitude from last year to this year’s attitude, I’d say that things are a little different. If I wanted to practice last year, all I cared about was hitting the middle over and over again. I wanted to be right every time. Everything had to be perfect. This was not the case today. I didn’t care if I made a group or hit the middle. I just wanted to shoot. I wanted to get that mentality back in my mind that I have stowed away since my last competition in August. Nothing mattered to me today. I didn’t care if I was perfect.

Squeezing in some shooting time before the Christmas dinner.

I know this mentality and feeling isn’t going to last very long. We will be practicing for competition after the first of the year. I will need to get back into the groove of things. I will need to prepare to judge yardage for the IBO competitions. I will need to have everything dialed in for the few ASA competitions I will be able to attend. I will need to get everything working to the best of their ability.

Until then, I am going to enjoy the time I had to just shoot. I was happy to have taken the opportunity and left all my responsibilities and worries at the door. I think major life changes change your attitude and perspective on life. Sometimes, the small stuff isn’t going to matter right now because that time for those small things hasn’t arrived yet. Sometimes, you just need to go with the flow and enjoy what you have in front of you. Sometimes, you need to pick up your bow and shoot.

The one and only time I hit the X without even trying.

After today, I look forward to getting serious while enjoying competition. I look forward to building on what I have learned so far and become a better archer. There’s going to be some ups and downs, but that’s part of life. This year, I have made it a goal to not sweat the small stuff and enjoy what’s around me. The rest will follow suit.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie Paige