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Welcome to the 3Rivers Archer's Den

Archer's Den

Welcome to the Archer's Den. Here you will find a gathering of traditional archery stories, tips and techniques, trophy animals taken with traditional bows, and plenty more. Stay a while and learn something. We hope you enjoy and even submit a trophy of your own, or leave a comment on a post.

All posts by Sam Strong

How to Cure Target Panic

by Sam Strong

There’s not much that can be worse in traditional archery than hearing the dreaded words “target panic.” Target Panic is a mental block causing the archer’s form to break down and wreak havoc on your shooting skills. It can sometimes be described as a fear of missing the target. Other archers describe it as shot anticipation. In other words, it’s the expected recoil of the shot, similar to flinching when shooting a firearm. Your body braces itself for what is going to happen at the release.

Target Panic hurts your accuracy with a bow and arrow

Regardless of the definition, I think it is safe to say that target panic is a failure in your shot sequence. It can ruin a lot of the hard work that is put forth into perfecting your form. Fortunately, there is a lot of information regarding techniques and accessories to help you get back on track.

It often starts when an archer places to much mental pressure on making the shot and the fundamentals aren’t followed through, leading to erratic shooting. Probably the most notable flaw is having an inconsistent anchor point. Some archers find themselves unable to get to full draw. Other shooters start to collapse at the shot and their form breaks down just prior to releasing an arrow.

A symptom of target panic is not being able to come to full draw

One of the unique things about target panic is the fact that it may not be noticeable at first, but over time it becomes a full blown problem. The first thing in being able to cure the target panic is recognizing and diagnosing the problem. If you find yourself letting go of the string too soon, not coming to full draw, creeping before the shot, having a poor release, or losing your composure, you just might have the feared disease called target panic.

Overcoming the problem is best done by using a controlled shot sequence. A controlled shot sequence is one where the archer goes through a mental check list, making sure each part of the shot is done properly and precisely the same way each time. Instead of drawing back and shooting, you focus on the individual aspects of the shot. For instance, you break it down into the draw, the anchor, the release, and follow through.

Shooting att a Blank Target to focus on your form
Blind bale shooting to focus on your form

Another technique often used is blind bale shooting. Blind bale is a term used where the archer is shooting at a very close target. Some shooters will close their eyes while doing this exercise while others might not release an arrow at all. The idea is that you learn to focus on the shot sequence and the mechanics, not the target itself. This method is a great way to help develop your form as you “feel” the shot. Just be conscious that you will need to transfer what you have been working on over to the actual shot sequence.

Sideklick Draw Check Clicker in use
Sideklick Draw Check Clicker mounted around the arrow shelf
The limb mounted Crick-It Draw Check

Draw checks are great tools that aid in curing target panic. There are several different types available and often referred to as “clickers.” These devices ensure that you reach full draw each time by giving an audible click to let you know you are at full draw.

Other devices include grip sears and tab sears. They can be somewhat difficult to explain in writing, but it works by giving an audible cue after going through your shot cycle. As you draw the bow, you place a slight amount of pressure on the sear. With practice, you develop a rhythm where as draw the bow pressure steadily increases. When you are at full draw, you use the last bit of back tension to pull through the shot causing the sear to click. This gives an audible cue and a psychological (or mental) note to release the string.  

Handy Clicker in the bow hand

Another device called the Handy Clicker has gained some popularity. It works very similar to a grip sear, but is not attached to the bow. It can also perform as a tab sear, giving the shooter a couple of options to see what works best for their needs.

I think the best advice is learning to re-program your mind and create a shot sequence. By separating the shot into different tasks, such as the release, the anchor, etc., you can develop better form. By concentrating on one aspect of the shot at a time and then linking the tasks together, you eventually learn how to control the shot.

Learn to trust your equipment, your form, and your skill, will lessen the anxiety of the shot. In the end, you will be back to shooting more confident and more proficient than you previously have ever been shooting.

Making the Switch to Wooden Arrows

3Rivers Archery Harvester Wood Arrows
Beka with 3Rivers Archery Harvester Wood Arrows

When I started shooting a traditional bow a few years ago, I was looking to eventually start hunting with it. Since I was still new to the whole trad world, I decided to stick to what was easiest when it came to arrows and went with a dozen Carbon Express Heritage Traditional arrows. Carbon seemed like it would be the easiest to shoot until I had figured out this whole hitting the target thing.

My first year of hunting with a traditional bow went remarkably well…difficult at times and frustrating, but remarkably well. As I delved deeper into the world of all things traditional and slowly accumulated knowledge, I began thinking of becoming more traditional and making the switch from carbon arrows to wooden arrows.

When I sat down to do some research, I almost changed my mind. So many people said that wooden arrows were harder to tune, harder to shoot, were more expensive, and not as durable as carbon or even aluminum. But, I loved the idea of taking that extra step – maybe making my life more difficult – but I wanted to do it.

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to wooden arrows… I really wasn’t sure where to start, it was overwhelming.

3Rivers Archery is one of my favorite places to order anything I need for traditional archery, so I reached out to them for some help on choosing arrows. I really had no clue how to start and wanted the advice from someone who is knowledgeable.

Shooting the 3Rivers Archery Test Kit Wood Arrows
Shooting with the 3Rivers Wood Arrow Test Kit

What I didn’t know was that 3Rivers offers a wooden arrow test kit. To sum it up, they custom cut and fletch arrows of four different spines and ship them out for you to try. You shoot them, figure out which one works best with your setup, and you’re set. You can then choose to order as many as you like of that specific spine. It all was far simpler than I thought it would be.

I received my order within days of letting them know what I needed, and the four different spines were color coordinated by fletching with a color coded key on the top of the box.

I started with the spine I thought would work best for my setup, and then worked my way up to a heavier spine and back to the lightest. It only took about a dozen shots to figure out which worked best…and I only lost a few of the arrows in the process.

I had ultimately been worried about the penetration of the wooden arrows versus the carbon arrows…but the wooden arrows went deeper into my deer target and hit harder than the carbon. As a heaver arrow, it made sense. I couldn’t wait to try them during spring turkey season.

I ordered a dozen of the wood Harvester arrows, which were almost too beautiful to shoot, and a pack of the 125 grain glue-on Woodsman broadheads.

I was a bit anxious to see how they would perform on a live animal… It’s always the true test when testing out new archery equipment. Will they withstand the test of hunting?

Bowhunter with turkey taken using traditional archery equipment
Beka with Turkey

My turkey season started out slow, but mid season I managed to tag a big gobbler at first light. I never found my arrow, so I’m not really sure how it fared but I had a dead turkey on the ground so that was really all I cared about. Good penetration and plenty of blood gave me the confidence I wanted in my arrows.

On the last weekend of spring turkey, I managed to fill my second tag and this time I did find my arrow. I was highly doubtful that I would ever be able to reuse a wooden arrow, but after inspecting it for cracks it seemed to be in perfect shape. The fletchings were a little messed up but both the shaft and the broadhead were fine.

I’m looking forward to taking a deer or two with them this Fall, and hope to take a black bear in the next couple years.

If you’re on the fence about making the switch to wooden arrows, I highly recommend taking the leap. If you’re unsure of what spine you need, take advantage of the 3Rivers program and order the test kit. It’s worth it.

By Beka Garris

See Beka Garris on Instagram

Reasons to try Traditional Archery

Predator recurve bow lying on ground in fall season.I’m sure there are people in this world that ask, “Why would anyone want to use a traditional bow when modern compound bows are readily available? What reasons exist for someone to want to make archery more difficult?”

This is not easy to explain. Most of us who shoot traditional archery would say it’s not a ‘reason’ why we shoot, but an ’emotion.’ Let’s take a look at why so many traditional archers have a strong passion for the sport, and why you might want to give it a try yourself.

The Heritage of Archery

Traditional archery represents a certain amount of adventure and a spiritual challenge to many people. Bowhunters are especially attracted to the traditional side of archery as shots are made fast and the minimal amount of gear needed can be a big benefit.

Target archery is very popular and many schools have programs as part of their curriculum. The added challenge a traditional bow offers compared to a compound bow (with its let off, sights, releases, etc.) definitely has its appeal.

For those who enjoy history, the story of the bow and arrow is closely tied to the story of man. The traditional bow started as a tool for survival. Then the bow helped to build some of the largest empires this world has ever known. Then finally, traditional archery became a sport practiced by kings and commoners alike.  Today Medieval reenactors show off at Renaissance faires and other events how the bow was used in medieval times for those looking to experience that.

As technology has advanced to the point of affecting most (if not all) aspects of our lives today, many of us look for ways to revert back to simpler methods. Traditional archery allows us to put technology aside and experience the simple joy of a ‘stick and string.’  Inside there is a feeling that entices us. Witnessing the simple arc of an arrow in-flight, and the overwhelming satisfaction when it strikes the intended target. It is a feeling hard to describe, but when it hits you, you will be hard pressed not to smile and feel your concerns drift away.

Simplicity of the Bow and Arrow

Primitive bamboo backed bow with wood arrowsMaybe it’s time for you to put down the high tech equipment and give traditional archery a try. Most beginners I speak with are afraid to try this sport, feeling it’s overly complicated. Like anything else, there is a learning curve, but the sport really isn’t all that complicated. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

In its basic form, traditional archery is very simple. You have the basic equipment needed to shoot, which is the bow and the arrow. A few other helpful items, while not entirely necessary, but worth purchasing are a glove, an arm guard, a bow stringer, and a quiver. Other types of accessory equipment, like elevated rests, sights, releases, stabilizers, etc. aren’t necessary. Even though these items can be combined with the sport, you don’t need them to get started. In fact, it may be easier and more enjoyable without them.

All the technology available also means that there are many resources available to help you learn about the sport. On top of that, you’ll also find most archers are willing to offer advice. The overwhelming amount of information sometimes leads to confusion. Shooting traditional archery is meant to be simple. So don’t be discouraged by all the information or knowing where to start. You are always welcome to call us at 3Rivers Archery to have any questions answered and to help point you in the right direction.

The Challenge of the Traditional Bow

Successful Bowhunter with deer and recurve bow

A vast amount of people pick up the sport of traditional archery looking for a new challenge. A lot of traditional archers seek to really test their skills and resolve.

Traditional archery is a lifelong journey that challenges the best of archers and hunters alike. Learning the basics for shooting a traditional bow is simple enough, but becoming proficient over time is the real challenge. Willing to accept the limitations of the sport will give you something to embrace and keep you coming back to shoot more and to perfect or achieve your goals. Even the best of archers spend their entire lives working to perfect their form and enhance their skills.

For target archers, the competitive side of the sport can be motivational. You compete against other archers yes, but you will compete against yourself the entire way. Making sure you are shooting at your very best every shot can be quite the thrill. The mental game of consistently putting arrows in the gold is tough. Setting goals and hitting them, such as shooting a 270 on a 300 Vegas round, is quite an accomplishment. To learn more on the competitive side of traditional archery, be sure to check out World Archery.

The popular saying of, “It’s not where you’re going, but how you get there,” explains a lot of the desire to hunt with a traditional bow. Traditional bowhunting is about getting close to an animal and having a huge amount of patience to wait for, and execute, the perfect shot. Traditional bowhunting can be one of the most challenging aspects of the sport of archery. The thrill of getting closer to game than you do with any other hunting weapon is hard to describe. The immense feeling of pride in your hunting skill when you arrow your first animal is another feeling that you just cannot put into words. Nothing is quite like it.

For some bowhunters taking away the advantages, such as bow sights, and using only ‘primitive archery’ equipment is the reward they are searching for. Their success comes from relying on their woodsman skills instead of technology.

Mental Focus of Traditional Archery

Dale Karch shooting his longbow.To be an accomplished archer means that you need to have control of your mental focus. It’s often one of the most difficult things to execute, but one of the reasons many find archery so relaxing. Being able to focus on your form, technique, and target requires practice. When done properly, your mind doesn’t wander, but concentrates on the task. When you pick up a bow and shoot a few arrows, you’ll find yourself forgetting about all your troubles. It truly is a great form of relaxation.

There are not a lot of things that can go wrong with the simplicity of the equipment used. Therefore, you won’t be focusing on things like whether or not something changed and needs an adjustment. If the shot is off its mark, then it is probably the fault of the shooter, not the equipment. It can be satisfying to know that the harder you work, the better you can be. Archery is an individual sport. What you put in is what you get out of it. From shooting in the backyard, to shooting on the World stage for your country, it is all achievable and enjoyable (if you’re doing it right).

Traditional Archery is an excellent form of recreation that the entire family can enjoy. It’s also a great form of physical exercise, not just from shooting, but also from walking, whether it’s a 3D target course or just back and forth to the target in your backyard. Another benefit is the fact that archery can be shot year round, indoor and outdoor.

What Does it Cost to Shoot a Bow?

Sports can be expensive to get started and the more involved you get, the more it can cost. However, traditional archery is one of the few sports where the cost is reasonable and doesn’t have to get very expensive to enjoy it to the fullest. While it’s true that you can spend a lot of money on high end equipment, the basics to get started are quite reasonable. A good starter package can range from a little more than $100 to $300.

Be sure to check out our selection of Traditional Bow Kits here.

Once you give traditional archery a try, you most likely will never look back. It’s an alluring sport that captivates the mind, sending you on the journey to explore the archery experience. Try the 3Rivers Archery Product Finder to get you started in Traditional Archery.

By R. Strong and Johnathan Karch


Bowfishing with a Traditional Bow – The ‘Must Have’ Gear

The height of bowfishing season will soon be here and just weeks away from some of the best bowfishing action. So let’s talk about the essential items you’ll need. Regardless of whether you’re after rolling carp from the bank of a river or somewhere on the coast looking for stingrays, the right bowfishing gear will make a difference.

Below is a list of what I consider necessary items. First and foremost is the fact that each state has their own set of rules that can differentiate on individual lakes. Be sure to check local regulations for licensing and species information before heading out.


The sport of Bowfishing is tough on gear and you can expect for items to get scratched and dinged along the way. Here’s what I look at in the way of equipment for bowfishing.

Cajun Bowfishing Fish Stick BowBowfishing Bows:

As mentioned above, you can expect your gear to take some abuse. I don’t want to take an expensive bow with me and have it get damaged on the inside of a boat. Worse yet, it could get broken because I set it down in the wrong place during the excitement. There are many options to choose from when looking at a new bowfishing bow. The truth is most any bow can be used for bowfishing, but some have distinct advantages over others.

Bowfishing is often fast action and a traditional bow lends itself well to this style of shooting. When you first see a fish, it can disappear as quickly as it appears, especially in dark murky water. So most of your shots are going to be in the form of snap shooting. This is what makes traditional bows well suited for bowfishing.

Longbow: Longbows offer a lightweight bow, so it can be less tiresome when bowfishing for long periods of time. However, just like the name, they are typically longer in length. This makes them a little more difficult to maneuver in places such as a boat.

Recurve: I feel the best choice is a recurve bow. They come in different lengths allowing you to select the ideal size that’s suited to your preference. They can also be found in takedown models that can be disassembled for easy storage and transportation. The bear Super Magnum is only 48” in length and one of my favorite for bowfishing.

Regardless of your personal choice, I recommend considering a bow that has accessory bushings such as the AMO sight bushings, stabilizer bushings, and plunger hole. There is the Traditional Gadget Adapter if you find yourself wanting to add a stabilizer bushing without altering the bow. If you don’t mind installing them yourself, it’s fairly easy to add the sight bushings and stabilizer bushings.

Bowfishing Reels:

There are a number of bowfishing reels on the market. These reels commonly mount to the stabilizer or sight bushings and have their advantages and disadvantages as well. A quality reel should hold up over time and it’s the one place where I prefer to spend more on my equipment.

Cajun Archery Bowfishing Drum Style reelDrum Reels for Bowfishing:

Using this style of reel, the fishing line is manually wrapped around the drum and spools off once an arrow is released. The advantage of these reels is that they are cost effective when compared to other reels. However, these reels tend to be slow as you pull the line in by hand and then rewind it on the drum after each shot. Since Bowfishing can be a fast pace sport with multiple shots appearing at one time, this can be a problem. Another issue is that the line can tangle easily causing some frustration. These reels have different mounting options as some will mount to the stabilizer bushings and others mount by taping the reel to the bow. If you have a limited budget, this reel can be a good option. However, you will most likely want to upgrade at some point.

Cajun Archery Bowfishing Spincast ReelSpincast Reels for Bowfishing:

Spincast reels are similar to reels frequently found on fishing poles. Usually, they come pre-spooled with bowfishing line and ready to go. Just like a standard spincast reel, you have to push the button to release the line prior to shooting an arrow. One of the advantages of a spincast reel is the drag adjustment. This option allows you to tire out the fish, making it easier to reel them in. By just simply spinning the crank on the side, you reel the line back into the spool. Some of the better reels have different gear ratios to make it even faster to retrieve the fish. Most of these reels are mounted to the bow using a reel seat that fits the stabilizer bushing in the riser.

AMS Pro Retriever Bowfishing Reel mounted to bowRetriever Reels for Bowfishing:

Retriever reels have become popular over the last several years. They often use a heavier braided line stored in a plastic bottle and work well with larger game fish. There are no buttons to push before shooting, making it quick to operate. The line easily spools out after releasing an arrow. Experiences with tangling issues are few and by squeezing the trigger, you reel in the line. The only disadvantage is the fact that it can be a little slower winding when compared to a spincast reel due to the gear ratios. This style reel normally connects to the bow using the AMO sight bushings.

Bowfishing Arrows

Muzzy Carbon Classic Bowfishing ArrowBowfishing arrows are typically heavier in weight than a standard hunting arrow. Shooting distances are often shorter and penetration becomes the most important factor. Usually these arrows are made of fiberglass or solid carbon. Under normal circumstances, you won’t lose a lot of these arrows. So I don’t mind paying a little extra for one that’s durable.

AMS Safety Slides:

AMS Safety Slide on bowfishing arrowRegardless of the type of reel, I highly recommend using Safety Slides on your fish arrows. Safety Slides are designed to eliminate the “snap back” of an arrow should the line get hung up. They don’t interfere with arrow flight, are inexpensive, and help prevent possible injuries. In my opinion, this should be a mandatory part of your bowfishing gear.

Bowfishing Points:

Bowfishing 3 Barbed Grapple PointFor bowfishing points, you want one that penetrates and is able to hold on to the fish. There are many options to choose from and everyone is going to have an individual preference. I look for something that’s easy to use and has proven itself over time, like the 3-Barb Bowfishing Grapple Point. These points penetrate great and have three barbs, so you’re not likely to lose a fish after it has been shot with one these. The barbs are easily reversible making it simple to remove the point after hauling in the fish.

Other Bowfishing Gear

Bowfishing Rests: There are a lot of options for a rest and even some prefer to just shoot off the shelf. The plastic/rubber flipper rest or weather rests are easy to use, but the longevity is generally short and they don’t hold the arrow in place. Roller rests are another popular design that’s simple to install and allows for centershot adjustments. The Cajun Brush Fire Bowfishing Rest is the design I prefer. It’s offers fast shooting and holds the arrow in place until you’re ready to shoot.

Polarized Sunglasses: These make a big difference by reducing the glare on the water. Using a good pair of polarized sunglasses enables you to see fish that you might ordinarily miss. A good pair of sunglasses should be a necessary part of your gear.

One last item to consider is Finger Savers. This can solve the problem of sore fingers after a long day of shooting. They are easy to install, waterproof, and inexpensive making it a worthwhile addition to your bowfishing gear list.

It’s hard to beat a day of bowfishing on the water with some friends. Getting started doesn’t take a lot and you just might find it addictive. However, paying close attention to some of the essential items might make a difference to your success.

By R. Strong


Turkey Hunting Gear for the Traditional Bowhunter

As the snow melts away, my mind starts to turn towards turkey hunting with traditional archery equipment. Now is the best time to make sure you have all your gear ready for hunting turkeys. When the first day of turkey hunting arrives you need to have confidence that your gear performs when you get within bow distance of a strutting tom turkey.

Shred Head Turkey Broadhead by Dirt Nap
Dirt Nap Shred Head Turkey Broadhead

Zwickey Broadhead Stopper with broadhead attached to arrow
Zwickey Scorpios Broadhead Stoppers

Turkey Broadheads:

The number one thing I hear bowhunters talking about is finding the right broadhead for turkey hunting. The wing of a wild turkey is difficult to penetrate and does a good job protecting the vitals, which is why I like a cut-on contact type broadhead. I want the broadhead to penetrate, but not pass through. Dirt Nap has a turkey broadhead called the Shred Head which does just that, it penetrates well, but the separated edges limits how far the broadhead actually goes inside the bird.

If you are happy with the way your current broadheads perform and just looking for a way to slow the arrow down, you might want to consider using Zwickey Scorpios Broadhead Stoppers. These are placed directly behind the broadhead. After the broadhead hits the target, they slide back to the end of the shaft,  slowing penetration down. They work really well and are a great option to consider.

Jake decoy from Montana Decoy Purr-Fect Pair (Jake shown)
Montana Decoy Purr-Fect Pair Turkey Decoys

Fanatic XL Turkey Reaping Decoy by Montana Decoy
Fanatic XL Turkey Reaping Decoy

Turkey Decoys:

I have found decoys to be very effective for getting toms within bow shooting range. Although I hate carrying the big bulky decoys around with me while I’m turkey hunting. Montana Decoys offer a couple of great solutions.

I generally set up a blind and wait for the turkeys to come in on their own and this is where I prefer the Montana Decoy Purr-Fect Pair Turkey Decoys. These decoys fold up small enough to fit into a pack, are easy to setup, and have a very realistic look about them. Setting up the jake and hen pair really drives a boss tom crazy and almost always seems to bring him in. The other great thing about this setup is the fact that the tom is focusing on the decoys, not you. It makes it much easier to draw a bow back and avoid detection with this system.

When the hunting is slow and you want to be more active searching out the toms, the Fanatic XL Turkey Reaping Decoy is the decoy to have. This large decoy helps conceal the hunter while allowing freedom of movement to shorten the range when you start stalking turkeys that are out of range. The mesh window keeps the hunter behind the decoy, yet still be able to see in front. It also has both the front and rear image of an actual wild turkey to further enhance toms.

String tracker mounted to longbow
Leather String Tracker

String Tracker:

Another thing about turkeys is that they typically don’t leave much of a blood trail. A string tracker can make a short job out of what would be a long trail. The Leather String Tracker works by attaching a small spool of string to the riser of your bow. The string is then tied to the front of the arrow. After the release of an arrow, the string starts unwinding from the spool. From there, it’s just a matter of following the string to your turkey.

Turkey Targets:

Wild turkeys can be surprisingly difficult to bring down. Many bowhunters misjudge the small vital locations on turkeys and learning proper shot placement is important. One of the best ways to learn is shooting targets.

Camo Chair for hunting blind
Portable Swivel Chair

Pruning Shears for hunting
Ratchet Shears

Camouflage face-mask for turkey hunting
3D Camo FaceMask

Ben's 100 Deet Tick and Insect Repellent
Ben’s 100 Deet Max

Other Turkey Necessities:

For turkey hunting, you’ll find a wide variety of needs that can help you become more successful. A wild turkey has great eyesight that can easily spot movement. So it’s crucial to remain still while hunting out of a blind. For me, that means I have to be comfortable to keep from fidgeting. I almost always carry a chair with me when I’m turkey hunting. The Redneck Portable Hunting Blind Chair does a good job and works well on uneven ground as the legs are adjustable. It’s easy to carry and the seat swivels allowing you to turn without a lot of movement.

One thing that is an absolute must for me when turkey hunting is to use some type of tick repellant. While mosquitos are bad enough, ticks can carry Lyme disease that can cause serious health issues. Ben’s 100 Deet is what I like to use and have found that it works well on keeping these insects away.

A facemask is another item I always keep in my pack. QuietWear makes a 3D Grassy Camo Facemask that does an awesome job. It’s made like in a ghillie-like style that really blends in and well worth the price.

I also like to carry a set of ratchet shears with me. I use them for numerous situations, but mostly for clearing out places where I’m going to make a ground blind and shooting lanes. They don’t weigh a lot and come in handy so often that it’s another item I always carry with me.

One last thing I keep in my pack is some camo rope. Obviously, it comes in handy for so many numerous things. I find myself using it not only for tying down blinds, but also to help haul my turkey out of the woods. I tie a loop with a slip knot and slide the turkey’s legs through it beneath the spurs, and then I tie a stick around the other end for a handle. This makes it easy to sling the turkey around my shoulder using the stick as a handle.

Now that the weather is starting to break, it’s time to start getting ready for turkey hunting. Getting a turkey with a traditional bow can be difficult, but a very rewarding experience for those that put in the time and effort to be successful.

By R. Strong


How to Use the Atlatl Spear Thrower

Person throwing an atlatl dart
Throwing an atlatl dart

The Atlatl (pronounced at-latal or atal-atal) is becoming more popular each year with archers looking for a new challenge. While the atlatl is not the same as a bow and arrow, similarities do exist. The atlatl is an ancient weapon predating the bow and arrow. Essentially, it’s a throwing device using a spear (known as a dart) that uses leverage to give more velocity. Using a flipping motion can propel darts to speeds close to 80 mph.

History suggests that mastodons were hunted using these primitive weapons. Today, a handful of states allow the use of atlatls during hunting seasons. As Fish and Game commissions determine the effectiveness of this ancient weapon and the impact they have on wildlife, the rules and regulations are changing on how they will be included in current hunting seasons.

Besides hunting, there are competitions taking place all over the world. Throwers using modern materials as well as authentic reproductions compete for accuracy in Primitive and Open classes. The World Atlatl Association has a wealth of information regarding sanctioned events with members throughout the world.

Regardless of the use, whether learning about a primitive skill or wanting to hunt, the atlatl can be a fun sport for people of all ages. Developing the skills to be able to accurately throw the atlatl to making your own equipment adds to the enjoyment.

Photo of Atlatl Fever Dvd
Atlatl Fever Dvd

Darts on Target bookWhether you want to make your own equipment or start throwing right away, getting involved in the sport is easier than ever. There are many instructional forms of help available such as the Atlatl Fever DVD.

Photo of three traditional atlatls
Traditional Atlatl Kits

If you prefer a more traditional design or wanting a little more hands-on approach, you may want to look at a wood atlatl kit and darts.

Throwing with an atlatl is similar to throwing a baseball. The main difference is that you are flipping your wrist at the end of the throw. Timing, balance, consistency, and follow through will eventually lead to accuracy.

There are many techniques on how to throw an atlatl. I feel the pre-loaded stance is the best technique for accuracy and hunting.

How to Throw the Atlatl

Step 1:

Grasp the atlatl in your throwing hand with the back end of the dart placed to the rear of the atlatl. The recessed nock end of the dart will sit on the ‘spur’ point. Hold the dart in place using your thumb and index finger.

Step 2:

Turn your body so that you are facing between 45° and 90° in relation to the target. Keeping your knees bent with feet spread shoulder-width apart, turn the front foot approximately 45° towards the target. Raise your throwing arm so the dart is close to eye level and in-line with the target.

Step 3:

Keeping the point straight, slowly start the forward throwing method. Increase the speed during the throw, but try to keep the point straight. At the end of the throw, quickly flick your wrist forward adding the momentum and leverage to the dart. Continue through the throw by using your entire body to help add speed, not just the arm.

Step 4:

This method should be similar to a pitcher throwing a fastball using many of the same mechanics. Follow through is vital to gain consistency.

Just like archery, there is no one specific technique to throw an atlatl. You will have to experiment and find what works best for you. But learning is part of the fun. So why not give it a try?

By R. Strong


How to Use Arrow Weight Systems

Arrow weight systems with brass washers, weight tubes, woody weights, etc.
Different Types of weight systems

Arrow weight is a major factor affecting the behavior of your bow’s performance. Depending on the results you hope to achieve, you may want to change the overall weight of a finished arrow. Target archers are generally looking for speed to decrease the arc of the arrow’s flight. On the other hand, bowhunters often prefer a heavier arrow that increases momentum and results in better penetration on big game.

There are many choices to help you achieve the proper arrow weight for your specific archery needs. Changing shafts, adding weight tubes, and using insert weight systems are just a few ways to alter a finished arrow weight. Keep in mind that anything changed on an arrow has an impact on the dynamic spine, which changes how it shoots from your bow. Dynamic spine is the flexing of an arrow during arrow flight as it clears the riser of the bow. A weak arrow will flex too much and an arrow that is too stiff won’t flex enough.

The arrow spine selected needs to be correct in order to have the arrow fly properly and hit where you are aiming. It may take some fine tuning by adjusting arrow weight to get the best performance. Adding weight to the front of an arrow will have a significant effect weakening an arrow’s dynamic spine as it changes the amount of force needed to push the arrow. Using weight tubes distributes the added weight over the entire length of the arrow and changes the dynamic spine minimally.

Methods of changing overall arrow weight:

Photo of Carbon Express PileDriver Shaft
Carbon Express Piledriver Shaft


The first step is selecting the proper weight shaft for the desired results. Even though the static spine is the same, many manufacturers will offer models in different GPI (grains per inch). By calculating the GPI for a finished arrow length and combining the weight of all the components, you can get a close idea what to expect for a finished arrow weight.

There are specifically designed shafts for target shooting with a low GPI, like the Carbon Express Maxima Pro RZ carbon arrow shafts. These shafts help take out some of the guesswork for aiming by providing a flat shooting arrow. On the other hand, some shafts offer a heavy GPI for hunting; like the Carbon Express PileDriver DS Hunter shafts and will aid in penetration for the hunter. Tapered shafts, such as the GrizzlyStik Momentum TDT carbon arrow shafts are made with weight forward of center (FOC). Using FOC to your advantage offers better penetration for hunting situations.

3Rivers Archery Weight Tubes

Weight Tubes:

Weight tubes offer a simple, yet effective way to add weight to an arrow. They provide more momentum with a minimal effect on dynamic spine. Offered in three, five, or eight GPI; weight tubes may be the solution to add weight without having to buy new arrows.

After deciding which weight tube to use, remove the nock end and slide the tube down the shaft. Place a mark at the end of the tube where it’s flush with the shaft and cut it at this location. Now slide the tube out of the shaft by approximately one inch. Align the shoulder of the nock even with the end of the tube (this is the distance that the nock slides into the shaft). Mark and cut the tube here, slide the tube back into the shaft, and re-insert the nock. This should give a tight fit with the weight tube installed.

Photo of brass washers behind field point
Brass Weight Washers

Points, Washers, and Collars:

The easiest of all methods to change arrow weight is to switch the point weight. There are many different weight screw-in and glue-on points. Adding weight up front can significantly change the dynamic spine of the arrow. For every 25 grains of weight added to the front, it weakens the dynamic spine by approximately 2 ½ lbs.

For more precise adjustments, there are some methods of changing weight. Brass washers weighing five grains each will allow for the finest of tuning. You can use up to three washers that fit over the threads and behind the shoulder of the point. Screwing the point to the shaft holds them in place. TECH TIP: Use a thread lock like Tip Jam Thread Bond for keeping your points secured in place.

Point collars and nock collars protect the ends of the shaft. While the primary purpose isn’t to change the dynamic spine, it can have an effect on it and something that should be kept in mind.

3Rivers brass inserts
Brass Point Inserts


Heavy inserts have become the most common way to increase the weight of an arrow. Most standard inserts that come with your arrows are aluminum and only weigh 10 to 20 grains. Brass, heavy aluminum, or stainless steel inserts are made to fit a variety of shafts from .204″  inside diameter (ex: Easton Axis or GT Traditional Classic shafts), .234″ (ex: Beman Centershot), or .246″ ID (ex: 3Rivers Traditional Only). Weight of inserts can range from 50 grains up to 100 grains.

Weight Adapter Diagram
Weight Adapter Diagram

Increasing in popularity are insert weights. Most standard aluminum inserts come threaded on the back end of the insert and allow the use of modular weight systems. This means that they are flexible for fine tuning weight forward.

Gold Tip screw-in weights
Gold Tip FACT weights

Gold Tip FACT Screw-in Weight Systems (shown) or the Black Eagle insert weights are good examples. The weights are built to the internal dimension of the shafts such as .246″/.244″ ID, .204″ ID or the latest .166″ ID and are available in 10, 20, and 50 grains models. Screw-in weights can be used individually or stacked one upon another to achieve various weight unit combinations. Tip Jam is also recommended to keep the weights from vibrating loose.

If you want to adjust or change the weight, you use the adjustment wrench. Simply remove the nock and slide the wrench down the shaft to thread or remove additional weights. The biggest advantage to these systems is that you can keep the same screw-in point or broadhead weight. Being able to adjust and having the ability to easily fine tune with the weight combinations are all benefits.

Photo of Nock Adapter for arrow weight system
Gold Tip Weight System Nock Adapter

Nock Weights:

Nock weight systems work the same as insert weights except the weight is placed at the back of the shaft. The main function is to change the arrow’s FOC giving more options for tuning. Adding weight to the back of the arrow will act to stiffen the arrow’s dynamic spine. It takes less weight at the nock end of the arrow to impact the spine of the arrow, compared to adding weight to the front of the arrow.

Photo showing woody weight application
Woody Weight System

Wood Shafts:

While there aren’t as many options to customize the weight to wood arrows, there are a few worth mentioning. Woody Weights look similar and glue to the front of the wood shaft the same as glue-on field points. They are available in several different weights ranging from 75 to 200 grains and can change the overall length of the shaft by a small amount. The standard 5° point taper allows gluing of points and broadheads directly to the weights.

3Rivers Internal FOC Weight Jig
3Rivers Internal FOC Weight Jig

Another option is the Internal Footing Jig that requires drilling a hole in the center of the shaft. Then inserting a metal rod into the hole adds weight up front. Changing the length and type of rod allows for customization of the overall weight. These copper rods weigh roughly 19 grains per inch while the tungsten rods weigh roughly 33 grains per inch.


As you can see, there are a lot of arrow weight systems available to change the overall arrow weight. Depending on your needs, some will have minimal effects and others will significantly alter the arrow’s flight. If you have questions, feel free to give us a call at 1-260-587-9501 or send us an email at

By R. Strong


What is the Best Arrow Quiver for me?

Longbow with quiver and arrowsHow to Decide Which Arrow Quiver is Right for you?

Trying to choose the right quiver can be as difficult as choosing the right bow. While the essential purpose is to simply hold arrows, there are many options available. So where do you start? Other than personal preference, it’s going to depend on the type of shooting you plan on doing. To help you decide, let’s break them down into three categories (Back Quivers, Side/Hip Quivers, and Bow Quivers).

Leather Back Quiver with Strap
Traditional Archer Leather Back Quiver

Backpack style catquiver 3½
Catquiver 3½ True Timber® Quiver Pack

What About a Traditional Back Quiver?

The first mention of an arrow quiver and most people will probably envision a back quiver. A traditional style back quiver brings to mind images of Robin Hood and medieval times. They are still quite popular in the world of archery today and fully functional. Most back quivers will hold a dozen or more arrows without any problem and give quick access when needed.

This style is perfect for the hunter or reenactor who wants to drift back in time. Find a good quality leather back quiver and it will serve to last a lifetime. With some practice, it can be the quickest method for getting an arrow on the string. If there is one downfall, it’s that they tend to shift around as you walk through thick brush. In a hunting situation, it can be discouraging when you duck under some branches only to have your arrows falling out.

One helpful solution to this problem is a quiver side strap. The side strap will assist in holding the quiver in place and from moving around while walking.

Cat Quivers are another versatile type of back quiver that holds the arrows securely in place.They not only protect the arrows, but also protect feathers from inclement weather. They offer an adjustment that allows the archer to adapt the quiver to their specific length of arrows. Worn like a backpack, they have the unique advantage of offering accessory pockets and compartments. Several different options are available in size as well as price.

Neet Leather Target Hip Quiver
Neet Leather Target Hip Quiver

Side Quiver with accessory pocket
Safari Tuff ArrowMaster Side Quiver

What About Side Quivers or Hip Quivers?

There are many variations of side quivers and hip quivers, but the function is basically the same. The archer wears this style off the hip or to the side and the design provides a relatively easy way to access the arrows. Some models will use a belt or a sling to hold it in place, while others use a clip that attaches to the waist line of your pants or to the inside of a pocket.

Hip quivers tend to be most popular with target archers since the arrows are kept out of the way, but offer easier access than a back quiver as they keep the arrows right at your side. Another advantage is that they tend to be more comfortable than the back quiver, especially when shooting in hot weather.

Often times you’ll find they have pockets to store accessories such as a glove, score cards, etc., making it a convenient option for the shooter. Dividers or tubes to keep arrows sorted to an individual’s preference can often be found, making it an improvement over other style quivers.

Side quivers are more of a cross over between a back quiver and hip quiver. The side quiver is a good option for a hunter as the arrows are well protected while easy to reach. It makes it a convenient option to pull out an arrow when needed and eliminates some of the problems experienced with a back quiver. With these arrow quivers, the arrows don’t rattle around as much (or fall out). They can also be adjusted where it’s most comfortable and out of the way for those long hikes.

The Safari Tuff and Great Northern companies both offer side quivers that have some nice additional features. The Safari Tuff side quiver keeps the arrows quiet by adding the fleece lining and the water repellent Amerisuede material does a great job of keeping the arrows dry. The Great Northern Side Kick arrow quiver will securely hold arrows in place using a gripper. The strap is easy to adjust making it quick to adjust for the best comfort.

Bow Quivers are the Best Arrow Quivers Right?

Detachable quiver on longbow
Selway Slide-On Bow Quiver

Bow quivers are best suited with the hunter in mind. There’s nothing extra to carry as they mount directly to the bow. It gives the best advantage for putting an arrow on the string with minimal movements, which can be crucial when hunting. Although some will argue that a skilled archer using a back quiver can be quicker, the arrows in a bow quiver are always close at hand.

These quivers attach to the bow using a variety of methods such as straps; others will slide over the limbs, and some bolt to accessory bushings that manufactures install into the riser of their bows. Grippers hold the arrows in place and allow for easy access to removing an arrow. The hood shields the points and/or broadheads from the elements and keeps the archer safe. Some archers might find the limited capacity in the quantity of arrows these quivers hold to be a deciding factor.

One of the attributes of a bow quiver is that it can affect your shot. The extra weight on the side of the bow can cause changes in performance. Some archers find it easy to shoot with a quiver installed and prefer the weight, helping to stabilize their follow through after the shot. Others will opt for a model that can be removed easily once they get to where they are hunting, as they feel a bow quiver gives an unbalanced feel. To overcome this, they simply remove the bow quiver and set it to the side, or hang on a tree if hunting, until they are ready to leave. Depending on your preference, some bow quiver models are easier to remove than other styles.

The Final Decision:

Simply stated, it becomes a personal decision and there’s no right or wrong answer. Hopefully this sheds some light on the different options. If you still need help or advice, give us a call. We’re more than happy to discuss the different arrow quivers available to help narrow down your choices.

By R. Strong


Shooting Methods and Learning to Shoot Traditional Archery

Archer shooting 3 Under method of shooting

Whether you’re aiming for the gold or placing an arrow in the vitals of a whitetail, you need to learn the basic shooting methods for traditional archery. After learning the basics, you then need to decide on a style that best fits you. There are many different styles for shooting traditional bows and it can often be an overwhelming obstacle for the newcomer. Which one is the right one, or better yet, which one is the right one for you? In this segment, we’re going to discuss the different shooting methods. We’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each style to help you decide the best system for you.

Tab or glove:

Berlin Style Deerskin Glove
Berlin Style Deerskin Glove

Split Finger Cordovan Leather Tab
Split Finger Cordovan Leather Tab

The first question is usually deciding whether a glove or a tab is the best choice. For the most part, it’s a personal preference. One of the benefits to using a tab is that it keeps all three fingers together on one surface. This allows the string to clear the tab with minimal effect preventing errant shots.

A glove has more of a natural feel to it, almost like a part of the hand. During cold weather, it can be more beneficial to the bowhunter. A simple trick is to cut the ends off the fingers from a regular glove and place your shooting glove over the top for added warmth.

Shooting methods for traditional archery

Three Under vs Split Finger:

String Walking - note arrow location in relation to tab
String Walking – note arrow location in relation to tab

Split Finger
Split Finger

Three under is the practice of placing three fingers under the nock of the arrow. Split finger is placing the index finger above the nock, while the middle and ring fingers are below the nock. There are pros and cons to shooting three fingers under or split finger. However a good release can be accomplished with either manner.

Split finger is a preferred technique when long range shooting is involved, such as Olympic Shooting. Using this method places the back of the arrow lower than the point. This gives a more natural sight picture for the arc of the arrow. It takes a bit more practice when first learning as most beginners tend to pinch the nock when using split finger. A deeper hook and spreading the fingers apart will usually help resolve this problem.

Three under works well with traditional gear as the shot distances are often closer. It can be a good choice for string walking and fixed crawl shooting methods as it gets the arrow closer to the line of sight with close range targets. Most beginner archers will find this style a bit easier to learn.

 Instinctive Shooting:

Many of the purists in traditional archery feel the only true form of shooting is instinctive shooting. Instinctive shooting is the most natural of all shooting techniques. In essence, you simply look where you want to shoot and shoot where you are looking. Unfortunately, it can be the hardest of the shooting methods to learn, yet the most rewarding to the bowhunter.

The best way for me to describe it is to imagine throwing a baseball. Most likely the first time you picked up a baseball and tried to throw it you were inaccurate because you hadn’t learned the basic techniques. Yet in a few years, it becomes second nature after learning the mechanics.

Instinctive shooting is similar, it takes a lot of practice, but once learned, it becomes a deadly method. Shooting your bow over and over, learning the arc of the arrow at varied distances will become second nature. After a while, you can visualize the shot in your mind. Just like playing shortstop in a baseball game. The player catches the ball and throws to first base, never thinking about how hard they are throwing, the arc of the ball, or the distance. It just becomes a learned process where the mind can subconsciously determine the arc of the arrow, the distance, and how to hold in relation to the target.

Once learned the bowhunter can take advantage by never thinking about the distance of the shot and instead focusing on where he wants to place the arrow. The disadvantage is that it is nearly impossible to become as accurate as some of the other methods. Become the Arrow book by Byron Ferguson is a great source of information on the subject of Instinctive Shooting.

Gap Shooting:

One of the most efficient shooting methods (without installing a sight) is called Gap Shooting. This style uses the point of the arrow, as if it was a sight, and adjusting for different ranges. Most gap shooters start by learning the “point on distance.” The point on refers to finding the distance where the arrow point is on the intended target and after releasing, the arrow hits the target at the intended spot.

From there, the archer moves to different distances to learn how much lower (or how much higher) to place the point of the arrow on the target and still hit it. Gap shooters can be extremely accurate, but it doesn’t lend itself to bowhunting. It’s an unnatural feel to hold so much lower than the target, which is a live animal in a hunting situation. It takes a longer thought process when the moment of truth is suddenly in front of you.

For those that want to learn instinctive shooting, this method can often be the first step in learning the process. It’s a very effective system at known distances, but more suited for the target than the woods.

String Walking:

String Walking Shooting Methods- note arrow location in relation to tab
String Walking – note arrow location in relation to tab

Counting Strands for String Walking
Count the number of strands under the nock point.

Move tab to new location after counting strands for string walking
Move tab to new location

As in gap shooting, this method involves using the arrow point as a sight. The primary difference is that you will always place the point on your target no matter the distance. In order to achieve this, you place your fingers at different locations on the string, which changes the angle of the arrow. Where gap shooting is raising and lowering your front sight (arrow point), string walking is raising and lowering the rear sight to effect the imapact.

Once your point on distance is learned, you begin practicing at different distances. By moving your fingers up or down the string, you figure out the position for the arrow to still be point on. The string is then marked for each particular distance and the tab is placed there when drawing the bow. Some archers count the serving wraps, others will mark their tab for different yardages making it quick and accurate to find the right location on the string. The Bateman Cordovan Tabs are great for this style of shooting. At one point, target archers were able to become so accurate using this style that rules had to change and new classes evolved from it.

Chin Anchor Point
Chin Anchor Point

Three Under Anchor
Three Under Anchor

A variation of sting walking is called “Face Walking”. The concept is much the same, but the major difference is instead of placing your fingers on different areas of the string, you simply change your anchor point. It requires learning new anchor points that will raise or lower the arrow. For example, you may place your ring finger in the corner of your mouth for one shot and your index finger at the same location for a different shot. For extremely long shots, you may find anchoring beneath your chin to be effective.

The downside is that you still need to accurately judge distance and correspond it to the markings on the string or which anchor point to use.

Fixed Crawl:

The fixed crawl method is quickly gaining popularity and incorporates different parts from the Gap shooting and String Walking shooting methods listed above. It involves placing another nocking point below the nocking point of the arrow. You will want to get back from the target at approximately twenty five yards and find where you need to locate your hand on the string so that the arrow is point on at that distance.
Once you have achieved this, you place a nocking point at that location and practice with the point on with ranges less than twenty five yards. The idea is that most bowhunters rarely shoot beyond this distance, so effectively the arrow because a sight that needs little (if any) adjustment at ranges up to twenty five yards. Basically, you are just looking down the shaft and placing the point where you want to hit.

This shooting method is quickly becoming popular with traditional bowhunters. It gives a fast and easy reference without having to think much about the shot. But probably not a method for a true target shooter since the range is limited. It’s a great method for IBO with shorter distance like 35 yards and less. String walking is preferred for the 70 meter courses.

Fixed Sights:

Simplex Adjustable Sight
Simplex Adjustable Sight

While not as popular in the world of traditional archery, fixed sights have been around for a long time. However, it is a probably the most accurate of all shooting methods and very common in target and field archery. Most bows can be setup with some sort of sighting mechanism, the most common being a pin sight. Usually there will be several pins set at different yardages and located above the arrow point.

The archer keeps his eye in line with the string while placing the pin on the target. This is a highly accurate process that is usually fairly easy to learn. There isn’t much downside to the target archer, but in low light conditions it can be problematic for the bowhunter.

The important thing to remember is that you need to find which of the shooting methods work best for you. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. Try the different methods and see what you like and don’t like about them. Eventually, you will most likely settle on one and then it becomes a matter of practice. The one thing they all have in common is that each method requires consistency with a solid anchor point. The Masters of the Barebow DVD series is an excellent resource for learning different methods from the top shooters in the country.

By R. Strong


Learn the Basics of Shooting Traditional Longbows and Recurves

Shooting Traditional Archery

Trying to focus on the target, I could hear the voices in the background, some were encouraging, but the loudest were intended to rattle my nerves with the hope that I would miss the shot.  We were shooting traditional bows and the stakes were high adding pressure to the shot. I did my best to concentrate and recall the shot sequence I had developed and practiced all summer. As I did, everything slowly disappeared, except for the aspirin sized target I was focusing upon. The string slipped from my fingers and in an instant the feathered shaft streaked towards the target.

People gravitate toward archery for different reasons, but many find traditional archery a relaxing and therapeutic sport since it’s one of the simplest forms of archery. While shooting traditional archery can be addicting, it can also be frustrating at the same time. If you have trouble hitting your target, the enjoyment you first had when picking up a bow can quickly turn to discouragement. However, learning the basic steps will put you on track to developing consistent accuracy.

Consistency sums up most everything in archery. There are many methods and variations all designed to make you a better archer. Just keep in mind the most important thing to remember, regardless of the style or method is to remain consistent shot after shot. Without consistency, it will be difficult to gain the precision needed to master the sport. Above all things in archery; stay consistent.

While there are books and videos dedicated to becoming more efficient, I’ve condensed it into seven basic steps. These steps are for starting purposes only. In time, you most likely will tweak and/or change as you feel necessary. Following these steps will get you started in the right direction when shooting  traditional equipment.

Learn to shoot traditional archery
Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Archery Book

Masters of the Barebow DVD Set
Masters of the Barebow DVD Set

Steps for Learning How to Shoot a Traditional Bow

Note: These steps are for a right handed shooter, a left hand shooter would mirror the process. Illustrations by D. Echterling

Proper Archery StanceStance: Start by facing 90° to the target with your feet set and spaced shoulder width apart. Keep your head centered while standing upright and your weight evenly distributed. I prefer to open the stance by rotating the left foot slightly towards the target.

Proper Archery GripGrip: Hold the bow with your left hand by placing the dished part of the handle on the webbing that is between your thumb and index finger. Using a light grip, rest your palm, section right below your thumb, on the bow and lightly wrap your fingers around the handle. Keep your knuckles at an approximate 45°. You never want to grip the bow too tightly as this can cause torquing and throw off the shot.

Archery Finger PlacementNocking the Arrow and Finger Placement: Hold the bow in your left hand in front of you and approximately at waist level. With your right hand, hold the arrow about eight inches from the nock end. Rotate the shaft so that the cock feather is pointing out and away from the riser. Snap the throat of the nock on the string under the brass string nock locator. Position the three fingers of your shooting hand on the string with the index finger above the nock and the middle and ring fingers below the nock. Keep the fingers located on the string just in front of the first joint approximately 90° to the string.

Archer AlignmentDraw Sequence: Raise the bow so that it is in a vertical location. Keep your bow arm elbow rotated so it’s pointing straight down during the draw sequence. With the drawing arm parallel to the arrow shaft and your head in an upright position begin the draw sequence. There are two thoughts on drawing, one is keeping everything in line while drawing back, and the other is the rotational draw. The rotational method uses more of the back muscles as the drawing arm and elbow rotates around while keeping the elbow more or less at the same height and is the recommended method. Keep light tension on the draw fingers to help prevent any torque during the shot.

Archer's Anchor PointAnchor: The anchor point is a position of reference where the draw sequence ends at a specific location. There are many different versions of anchor points and what works best, but it comes down to personal preference. The most common is the side anchor, where the index finger is tucked into the corner of the mouth. The problem with this method is that the corner of the mouth is soft tissue that moves.

The best anchor is to have a minimum of two reference points (preferably hard bone) for repeatability. For example, use the ‘eye tooth’ (tooth right below the eye), then thumb base knuckle behind the jaw bone. This hard bone two point reference system gives the same sight picture every time. It can’t be  over emphasize the importance of an exact point of reference.  Being off by the smallest amount will have a drastic effect on where you hit the target.

Cartel Plate Magnetic Clicker

Clikety-Klicker Draw Check

Some archers will also use the aid of a draw check device letting them know they have reached full draw. These devices are very useful and can help in many ways. One of the most common uses is to help overcome tragic panic.

Release: Once you have reached anchor, you want to focus on the spot you wish to hit by using your sighting method. There are many different sighting methods which will be explained in other articles coming soon. Whatever method you choose, you should only focus on the target for a couple of seconds, anymore and your concentration will probably be broken before releasing.

The release is probably the easiest of all steps to understand, yet probably the most difficult to master. Unfortunately, archers work a lifetime perfecting their release. Simply stated, the release means to relax the fingers to let go of the string, known as the ‘dead release’. Today, more shooters are using back tension and getting better results. This form of release is an action where you expand during the shot by pushing the elbow back further using back tension until the shot goes off. If you do this properly, the string merely rolls off the finger tips without any conscious effort and your hand continues back touching the shoulder.

Archer Follow ThroughFollow Through: The best way to describe follow through is to prevent any unnatural movements. After the release, the hand continues to the shoulder, but you want to prevent any unnecessary movements. It is so important not to move after the release. Most people will have a tendency to “peek” at the arrow to see where it hits. Preferably, you want to remain as still as possible. I always recommend that you wait until you hear the arrow hit before looking to see the results. Any bit of movement at the release can throw the arrow off course.

Shot Trainer to learn how to shoot traditional bowsThe Shot Trainer is a great device that helps you maintain proper form and release with or without an arrow.

There you have it, seven steps to get you started shooting traditional archery. The most important thing is to practice and then practice some more. Keep these seven steps in mind and work on them individually while practicing. In our follow up series, we will get more in depth about the different shooting styles, like Instinctive, Gap Shooting, String Walking, Fixed Crawl, and many others. Oh… and about that bet at the beginning, that was back when I was a young teenager and the bet was between me and one of my buddies. I made the shot and he still owes me a Pepsi today…

By: Sam Strong

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