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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.

Tag Archives: Tips

How to Make a Ghillie Suit Fit

The ghillie suit is an excellent addition to the traditional bowhunter’s bag of tricks. The textured camouflage clothing of a ghillie suit is designed to break up your outline to help you blend into your environment. Ghillie suits are also called sniper suits as they are used by military sniper units all over the world.

Wearing a ghillie when bowhunting can offer more opportunities to get you closer to big game and out of the treestand. The challenge for the traditional bowhunter is customizing the ghillie suit to not interfere when you are shooting your bow. Getting your ghillie suit ready for hunting season only requires time and a good pair of scissors. We are using the Rancho Safari Shaggie® longcoat. If you use a different brand of ghillie suit, it may require more trimming.

Ghillie suits are made to travel easilyUnrolling the ghillie suit

Ghillie suits are hot. Adding strips of material, such as jute burlap and cotton, helps to break up an outline, but it also reflects your body heat back on you. So when wearing a ghillie suit you have to take into consideration that it will not be comfortable to walk around in. Many hunters will carry them to where they intend to hunt, then put them on.

Open your ghillie suit up outside Shake your ghillie suit to get loose strips off

When you first get your ghillie it is best to open it up outside in case of any loose material. We recommend giving it a good shake into the wind to force anything not sewn down to come off.

Size your ghillie suit for a close fit. Not loose. Ghillie suit cinch straps keep it closer to your body

Cinch down all straps on your ghillie suit for maximum mobility Ghillie suits use velcro straps to keep them in place

When first fitting a ghillie suit be aware of all straps, ties, and Velcro® strips. You want your suit to fit tight against you so as not to be cumbersome, get in the way when shooting, or get snagged on brush. The Shaggie longcoat has a waist level cinch cord, zippered front, forearm straps, and a Velcro® collar strip.

Ghillie suit sized and adjusted

Now with the ghillie suit situated, do some walking around. Try some stretches, stalking (crouched slow walking), and just anything to confirm the ghillie fits properly to your body.

The Shaggie Cat-Guard Arm Guard is a great accessory for the ghillie suit

One great accessory to have is an extra long armguard. Rancho Safari offers the Cat-Guard Armguard and fits nicely on most arms and is made to bend with your arm for great comfort.

TECH TIP: When putting on your armguard, turn your arm so your palm faces up and the straps point downward. This will get more of the camo strips to the outside of your arm and away from the bow string.

Watch for ghillie suit threads getting in the way of the bow string Ghillie suits normally catch the bow string in the chest area

Now, it is time to practice shooting your bow and arrow with a ghillie suit on. This is best done with a friend to watch where the ghillie suit is interfering with the bow string. You can do this step alone, either by setting up a camera to record yourself, or by pulling to full draw and holding while inspecting. Pay close attention to your upper chest nearest to the bow. Depending upon your form, this is the area that will require the most trimming.

Use scissors to trim your ghillie suit Cut all ghillie suit fabric that will interfer with the bow string

Using a pair of good scissors, trim down any strip that comes in contact with the bow string when at full draw. How much that will be cut is up to you, but you don’t want to miss the shot of a lifetime, or wound an animal, because your bow string got caught on a strand. This process can be quick, or it can take an hour(s). It really depends on how much the string is being interfered with and how many different shooting positions you are trimming for.

The ghillie suit carrying strap can do more than carry the suit Using the ghillie suit carry strap for keeping the chest area tight to the body

TECH TIP: Wear a chest guard, or the included carry strap, to cinch down material across your chest.

Trim the ghillie suit boonie hat Be sure to shoot with the ghillie suit boonie hat on during practice

Most ghillie suits will include something for your head; a facemask and/or a hat. These help break up your outline, and may require trimming as well to make sure they do not interfere with your anchor.

The Shaggie longcoat comes with a boonie hat. It is best to trim all that you can in front of your face so as not to have any strands in your peripheral vision that may distract you during the shot.

Wear the ghillie suit boonie hat behind the left ear for a right handed archer Wear the ghillie suit boonie hat in front of the right ear for the right handed archer

TECH TIP: For the right handed shooter, put the straps of the boonie hat behind your LEFT ear and in front of your RIGHT ear. This will help keep the hat in place when you go to draw your bow.

Practive shooting your bow and arrow with your ghillie suit on Practice different shooting stances while wearing your ghillie suit

With all of your trimming done it is time to practice, practice, practice. Shoot your bow with your ghillie suit on any chance you get. You want to be 100% comfortable shooting with it on by the time you are using it during a hunt. Be sure to shoot standing, sitting, kneeling, and any and all positions you can safely shoot a bow from. Always be willing to trim unneeded pieces to make sure your shot is not interfered with.

Bowhunting with a ghillie suit is an exciting undertaking. Once you get your ghillie suit fitted to your body and shooting style you will be on your way to an exciting new chapter in your hunting career. Best of luck, and be sure to share with us your hunting successes at our online trophy room here.

By: Johnathan Karch

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How to: Arrow Cresting

James' Crested Arrow

The other day James, one of our traditional archery technical experts, came up to me to show me his newly crested arrow. They’re pretty sweet, if I do say so myself, and after James told me how easy it was I decided to write a short “how to” post about it.

The short and sweet.

After appling carbon/aluminum prep put your arrow on a crester then, using a cresting brush, lay down your cresting paint. James put his cresting on a cap wrap, so he didn’t need to worry about using primer. He finished with a clear coat to keep his work looking great for a long, long time.

James' Crested Arrow

It sounds too easy, but it really is that simple. As long as you can hold your hand steady, with the appropriate tools just about anyone can crest an arrow – and make it look awesome.

Let’s get into the weeds a little bit.

The art of cresting dates back (at least) hundreds of years, as a means of arrow identification. In the days when everything was made by hand and each arrow was a work of art, the very idea that someone else might walk off with your arrow was likely appalling.

Recently, however, cresting has become a way of personal expression. Many archers choose to forgo cresting entirely, but few can deny the appeal of an arrow with a crisp crest.

The most important thing to remember when cresting an arrow is to take your time. The easiest way to mess-up an arrow is to try and hurry through the cresting. As with every part of traditional archery, quality takes time.

Your crest can be as simple or as complex as you want. If this is your first time cresting an arrow it might be a good idea to practice on an old “throw-away” shaft. This way you can get a feel for what you’re doing. You could also just apply the crest to a cap warp, as they’re pretty easy to take off.

Before you apply your first coat of paint, you should remember to wipe down the shaft with the arrow prep. (Note: If you’re not going to use a cap wrap, then you should apply two coats of finish to your bare shaft. Wait until each coat of clear finish has dried, then gently rub the shaft with #0000 steel wool until it’s smooth.)

Next, put down a strip of blue painters tape on your crester and mark your cresting pattern (it might be a good idea to make each mark on the tape the color you want on your arrow – this way you can see if you like the color combination or not).

Next, if you plan to use any bright or metallic colors you should first lay down a base coat of white. This will save you some time later and will limit the number of coats. Remember, it’s better to have good prep work, than it is to just glob on the paint. It’s better to have several thin layers than it is to have one thick coat.

As you move forward to your first coat of color remember to clean your brush often. Clean your brush between each arrow and between every color. When you put your brush in your paint remember to try and get an even amount every time – otherwise you won’t have a consistent finish. As you apply the paint, try not to leave the brush on the shaft for an extended period of time, especially with fast-drying paints, because this can lead to a rough-looking finish.

After your base layer, begin applying your cresting pattern; start with your wider bands and move down to your thinner bands.

It’s a good idea to add a thin line to separate colors; this will give your crest a clean finished look. To do this, you’ll need a very fine pointed brush and a steady hand.

After the shaft has had plenty of time to dry, apply a clear coat over the crested areas. (Note: if you’re cresting a wood arrow you should apply a clear dip to the entire shaft.)

You’re done. Cresting is a simple way to make your arrows look great and to showcase your pride as a traditional archer.

James' Crested Arrow

By Jason Mills

How to Layer Hunting Clothes for All-Day Comfort

When you layer hunting clothes you control your core temperature in any weather

This story has been re-published with the permission of Core4Element. The link to the original story is no longer available.

One of the most important things a hunter must consider before going out into the field is choosing the best hunting clothing for the conditions. But even the best gear is useless without knowing the best way to wear it. The Core4Element line of hunting clothes is designed to be used as a system of three layers: a base layer, a mid-layer, and an outer layer. Dressing in layers like this allows you to control your core temperature in any weather, which helps you stay focused on the hunt instead of your clothes.

Layering allows you to prepare for all weather extremes, but there is a right way to do it. The first thing you need to keep in mind when creating your layering system is to abandon the thought of wearing cotton on your hunt. Cotton is a light fabric, yes, but it also traps moisture and chafes after wearing it for a long time. These are not ideal conditions for anyone, especially hunters competing with the elements for long periods of time.

Merino Wool Base Layers

Begin your layering system with a base layer. This layer will have direct contact with your skin, so you’ll want to choose something relatively lightweight, breathable and comfortable against your skin. At Core4, we create our base layers with 100% Merino wool, which is soft to the touch, anti-microbial, and has moisture wicking capabilities. Base layers should fit snuggly to make the most use of the wicking technology and allow for other layers to be put on top without bunching up. Depending on the climate of your preferred hunting area, you may want to consider heavier (thicker) or lighter base layers. Since base layers are pretty much impossible to remove once you’re out in the field, do your best to anticipate the weather conditions of your hunting grounds so you can choose the appropriate weight.

Versatile Mid-Layers

Mid-layer hunting clothes allow for a little more versatility than base layers because you can either wear one or several, depending on your comfort level. Mid-layers tend to be looser than base layers, but they do not need to be baggy by any means. The mid-layers are where you really control the body temperature. Adding multiple mid-weight layers for colder temperatures will better protect your from the cold than a heavy, bulky outer layer. Core4Element hunting apparel is tailored to an “athletic fit” to maintain contact with the base layer in order to optimize wicking capabilities. This will keep you warm while still being moisture and odor free. Mid-layers typically have special features to provide maximum comfort and breathability. Core4Element mid-layers often have underarm zippered vents and extra long front zippers for superior ventilation on all-day hunts. Layer the Mid Mountain Vest over the Selway Zip for extra warmth or use the Pivot Shirt as your mid-layer on warmer hunting days.

Protective Outer Layers

The outer layer of a system is going to be the most important layer in terms of protecting against the elements. Whether hunting in rain, wind or snow, Core4 has the high-performance, high-quality gear you need for creating the best final layer to your system. The key to the most effective outer layer is durability. Your pants and jacket need to be able to stand up against tree branches, rocks and whatever else you may encounter in the woods or backcountry. All of our pants and jackets are treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) to provide maximum protection against the elements. This is exactly what you want in an outer layer. Pay attention to the weights of the pants and jackets, as some are made for colder conditions than others. Pay close attention to the moisture in the weather. An outer layer protected by a DWR treatment will keep the rain and snow out for a while but if heavy rain or wet snow is in your future you’ll want a fully waterproof outer layer like the C4E Torrent jacket and pants. Torrent is waterproof, breathable, and just as important on the hunt, quiet.

When building your layering system, be sure not to neglect your head, hands and feet. Core4 offers Merino wool or synthetic options to keep you as comfortable as possible on your hunt. Be sure to keep your head covered on bitter hunts, as heat leaves most quickly through the head. Keep extra pairs of wool socks in your pack in case your boots do not protect your feet from water, as they should. Nothing ruins a hunt faster than suffering from soggy socks. Choose a pair of gloves that provides warmth, grip and mobility.

Layering is one of the smartest choices you can make on a hunt. Using the right method, you won’t have to worry about your clothing and comfort for the rest of your hunt, and that’s how it should be. Stay dry, warm and odor free when hunting with the Core4Element layering system. Ready to turn your hunting clothing into a system of specialized gear? Build your system now.

But How do I Bowfish?

Bowfishing from a boat

By Jason D. Mills

You know what bowfishing is, and you’re interested in trying, but you’re still not quite sure how or where to start. Bowfishing is unique in the world of archery in that it can be practiced day or night, on land, while wading in the water, or on a boat.

To get started you’ll need a bow, a recurve is best simply because smaller bows are a bit easier to manage while bowfishing. There is no need for sites because of refraction and because they can’t account for depth. You’ll probably want a bow that shoots 45 pounds or greater in order to have sufficient force.

Bowfishing rig

You will also need a reel and special bowfishing arrows; typically, bowfishing arrows are heavier, use barbed broadhead, don’t have fletchings, and are longer than traditional arrows. They are also attached to a fishing line. On that note, never tie a line to the back of an arrow, it should always be attached to the slide near the front of the arrow. If tied to the back, the line could get tangled in the bowstring, causing the arrow to snap back at you, resulting in facial injuries and even death.

You might also want to bring a pair of hip waders, some gloves, sunglasses (if you’re fishing during the day), sunblock, and a hat. If you’re fishing at night you’ll probably want to bring a decent flashlight or spotlight.

If you have the option, and if you’re shooting from a boat, you’ll probably want to use a flat-bottom vessel, so you can take it into shallower water. Like sport fishing and hunting, individual states regulate bowfishing, so you will probably have to pickup a fishing license.

When you’re bowfishing on fresh water you’ll be looking for fish like carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, gars, or even alligators. If you’re saltwater bowfishing you’ll probably target fish like dogfish, sharks, and stingrays. The exact type of fish that you’re allowed to bowhunt legally is regulated by the state, so check on your local regulations.

Something that seems obvious, but should also be mentioned about bowfishing. there is no catch-and-release in this sport. Bowfishing kills the fish.

If you decide to give bowfishing a try, but you don’t have access to a boat, then you’ll be limited to wading or bank bowfishing. You’ll want to do this kind of bowfishing in the spring, while the fish are spawning, before and after the spawn the fish can be harder to find. If you’ll be bowfishing from a bank, you’ll want to target lakes, rivers, and ponds with shore access. If you’ll be wading, you have the option of heading to a marsh with tall grass, where the fish feel safe.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down a good spot for your first bowfishing trip, just give your local DNR fisheries biologist a call and tell them you are looking for heavy concentrations of carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, or gars.

If you’ve got a few places in mind, but you’re still not sure about the perfect spot, the most important thing you should consider is the consistency of water depth and overall water clarity – clear water that is between 3-4’ deep is ideal for bowfishing.

Now, if you’re like me you don’t hunt what you won’t eat. That said, many of the fish that you’ll be after (such as carp) can contain contaminants, so it’s a smart idea to contact your local DNR office and ask about fish advisories before heading out.

Refraction

When you finally do get to your fishing spot, the main difficulty that most new bowfishers have is refraction. When light waves pass through water they are deflected, which makes things look like they are where they are not. This is most easily demonstrated using a straw and a glass of water.

Refraction

To compensate for this, you’ll want to aim about 10” below the fish you’re aiming at; keep in mind this is just a general rule of thumb and you should be prepare to miss quite a bit your first time out.

Tales From the Rut: Spur of The Moment Bowhunting Success

By Patrick Kelly

This story has been republished with the permission of Patrick Kelly, who, at the time of writing this article, was preparing to go on a bear hunt.

I was planning on leaving for my bear hunt early Friday (June 12) morning, but I decided to leave Thursday (June 11) instead, so I could make a stop on the way. I cleared it with my hunting partner, and got off of work around 7:30 p.m. on the 11th, and headed home. After dosing a sick horse with some medicine, I decided to go grab a battery from a light by a feeder, so that I could charge it and put it out tomorrow morning before I left, so that, hopefully, it would last through my bear trip.

“No sense in not taking a bow,” I thought to myself. So, I grabbed my Silvertip recurve, and one arrow tipped with a 175 VPA 3-blade broadhead and a lit nock and began the 1/2 mile walk to the feeder.

I got there around 8:30 p.m. and, wouldn’t you know it, there was a hog under the feeder who spotted me and took off – with a raccoon hot on his heels.

“Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I thought.

I decided to back off into a small cluster of trees around 90 yards from the feeder and see what happened in the short time until dark. I promised my wife that I would head home by 9:45 p.m. to eat the steak she was cooking.

A little before 9:30 p.m. came around, and I was just getting ready to head out, and I saw a hog sneak out of the drainage to my east and make it’s way to the feeder. I figured it to be around 100 pounds or so.

I was wearing very faded jeans that seemed to glow in the low light, so waited a few minutes for it to get a little darker to make my move. I slowly moved to the west to put the light (a slow glow light, which was already in position) between me and him, and then headed toward the feeder.

The stalk was a little complicated, because between me putting on some weight and my jeans having shrunk some, they actually were squeaking when I walked, and the wind was dead still. I was also wearing a pair of hard sole Wellingtons and the ground had dried out considerable in the last two weeks in which we haven’t had any rain. I actually covered the distances sidestepping as quietly as I could, while holding my pants to keep from squeaking, all the while bearing in mind that a light wind could swirl at any minute and bust me.

I quickly covered the distance, and as I approached the light, I could see the hog, which now looked more like 175 pounds, under the feeder, and a raccoon feeding between him and the light. The light is not even 10 yards from the feeder.

Just before I made it to the light, the raccoon heard my slight noise, which the hog didn’t hear with his corn munching, and stood on it’s hind legs. He couldn’t smell me, and the light was blinding him, but he knew something wasn’t right. He decided to head for the drainage, and I moved a couple steps closer to the light, now only around 8-10 yards from the hog.

I could see him bending at the knees to get under the feeder, and I could see his front leg clearly, but waited a few moments to see if I would get a better shot. He was facing to my right, and he decided to back up to my left and step just away from the feeder. When I saw his front leg clear the feeder, I quickly came to draw and release. The nock lit up, but the hog took off toward the west (my left), banging the arrow off of the feeder legs and breaking the nock. I heard him circle into the brush toward the south and it sounded like thrashing. I thought that he probably was dead, but I texted my wife to tell her I was on my way to get flashlight, and that I had shot a 150-175 pound hog.

I headed home, ate some steak, and went back out with my wife and the dog to make a quick track and get started. Poor blood on the dry ground, but the dog found the hog in a couple of minutes, and I was pleasantly surprised with my very quick glance that the hog would go 225 pounds. I marked the spot, drove my wife back to the house, headed in to town to pick up a couple bags of ice, then came back to start the field dressing. When I got a good look, I was very happy. I didn’t weigh him, but I am sure that he would go 275 pounds. What a chore it was getting him into the truck. I really had to be creative.

I double lunged him, and he went around 50 or 60 yards, but no more. The arrow stopped on the far side of the shield and broke off when he dropped. Dropping this hog off at the butcher for my mother-in-law, but I’m going to really be needing another freezer if my luck holds up on this bear hunt.

DIY Traditional Archery Targets

Yellow Jacket Supreme 3 Field Point Archery Target

For the traditional archer, high quality archery targets are awesome, but they can get expensive quick. Personally, I love my Yellow Jacket Supreme, but there are many people who love traditional archery because of the DIY aspect, which seems to accompany the sport. It’s for those reasons that I’ve decided to do a DIY traditional archery target blog.

Note: These DIY projects are meant as traditional archery targets; although they may work, they are not meant for compound or crossbow shooters.

All supplies are not created equal, for this reason I recommend taking a few practice shots at close range at half draw to make sure the target is stopping your arrows. Slowly increase your draw until you’re at full draw at close range. If the target is still doing its job, then feel free to enjoy your new DIY traditional archery target.

The Dressed-Up Bag of Mulch

Difficulty level: 1/10

Cost: Less than $15

Time: About 5 minutes

Morrell Polypropylene Target FacesThe name of the game for this project is “Cheap.” We’re keeping costs down while maintaining functionality. For this project you’ll need a Polypropylene Target Face and a bag of tightly packed mulch or peat moss from your local hardware store. You want the bag of mulch or moss to be at least 12” thick and VERY TIGHTLY PACKED. I prefer moss because it’s less likely to mess-up your arrows. This target is great because any mess that’s created will benefit your lawn, so there’s really no impact on the environment when the target starts to fall apart.

After you’ve got your supplies, simply affix your burlap target face onto the front of the bag of mulch or moss (unopened). You’re done. What’s bad about this target? It’s not going to stand the test of time. So, although it is cheap and easy to make, be prepare for it to break down quickly.

For a more lasting target, you might consider putting your mulch or moss inside of the U-Fill It bag target or, for an even better (self-healing) target, put your bag of moss inside of the Replacement Cover for the Yellow Jacket Supreme. You’ve just made a long-term, outdoor target that is good for your lawn for less than $25.

The Saran Wrap Filled Box

Difficulty level: 1/10

Cost: Less than $10

Time: About 10 minutes

Peel & Stick RealGame® Target Face

If you saw the Dressed-Up Bag of Mulch and thought that the price was still a bit much, then this is the project for you. You’ll need an empty box, a bunch of used plastic wrap (enough to fill the box), some duct tape, and a Peel and Stick Target Face.

Note: If you ask a local business (try a superstore or hardware store) you might be able to get the box and plastic wrap for free, which would really keep the cost down. You could also try factories, as they have a ton of excess plastic wrap from shipments.

The bigger the box, the bigger the target – however, the bigger the box, the more plastic wrap you’ll need.

After you have all of your supplies, stuff the box with the plastic wrap. Stuff it in until it’s impossible to fill it anymore. Just like the Dressed-Up Bag of Mulch, you want this target very tightly packed. After you’re sure it’s packed, close it up and tape it shut with the duct tape. Finally, stick your target face on the box and voila – you’re done.

This project is not only easy, but it can be nearly free for those traditional archers who can easily come by the supplies. However, cardboard will not hold up in the rain (or in any wet conditions) and it will break down quickly if you use it often (as it is not self-healing).

The Compressed Carpet Target

Difficulty level: 3/10

Cost: Less than $50

Time: About 2 hours

Whitetail Deer Paper Archery Target

If you’re a bit more adventurous and you’re not afraid to spend a few extra bucks then this is the target for you. For this project you’ll need to visit your local hardware store and pick up a pressure treated 2x12x8 (should be about $12), four 36” x 5/8” standard threaded rods (about $6 each), eight 5/8” x 1-3/4” zinc-plated standard flat washers (less than $0.20 each), and eight 5/8”- 11 zinc-plated standard hex nuts (less than $0.20 each). You’ll also need a decent target face and some target face pins. Finally, you’re going to need a whole lot of scrap carpet. This is really the biggest variable in price for this whole project. If you’ve got the scrap laying around then you’re going to save yourself a lot of money. However, if you have to buy it, try and find the extra carpet from you local big-box hardware store, you should be able to buy a lot of it for not a lot of money.

For tools, it would be best if you had at least two pipe clamps or some ratchet straps, but if not, then your elbow grease will have to do. You will also need a knife, saw, measuring tape, drill with a 5/8” drill bit, and a 5/8” wrench.

You’ll want to cut your 2x12x8 in half, which will give you two 2x12x4s. Drill a hole in each of the four corners of both boards. You’ll want to make sure each hole is 1” away from the end and side of the board. After you’ve threaded one side of each of your standard rods with a washer and hex nut push each rod through one of the holes on one of your boards (use your measuring tape to make sure the same amount of rod is sticking through each nut).

Now, you will want to cut your carpet in 12”x3’ 10” sections (you’re not cutting them 4’ long because your holes are 1” deep on both sides, which effectively makes your target 2” smaller). After you’ve cut your carpet, start stacking it on top of the board that has the rods threaded through it. Stack it as high as you can – ideally until it’s almost at the top of your rods.

Next, you’re going to put your second board on top of your pile of carpet. Thread the screws through the holes you drilled earlier. Put on the washer and the hex nut – make sure the hex nuts are all finger tight. Gently lay the target on its side and pack it down with your feet to make sure the carpet on one side of the target is flush. Stand the target back up and tighten the boards down with your pipe clamps or ratchet straps. Get them as tight as you can and then re-tighten your hex nuts. If you don’t have pipe clamps or ratchet straps, then you’ll have to tighten the hex nuts with your wrench as much as you can. If needed, you can sit on the target, or apply pressure with your knee to aid in compressing the carpet. After you’ve gotten the hex nuts as tight as they’ll get, use your measuring tape to make sure an equal amount of the rod is coming out of each hole.

Now you’re ready to apply your target face and send some arrows down range. This target is great for those traditional archers who want a target that will last a long time and are determined to make their target themselves.

Clear as mud, right? If you’re having trouble visualizing it, then the below video might help

The Sandbox Archery Target (great for broadheads)

Difficulty level: 5/10

Cost: From $110 (if you use only plywood instead of 2x6s) to $150 (if you use 2x6s)

Time: About 4 hours

Rinehart Woodland Series 3D Targets

So, you want a high-quality target, something that’s going to last a long time AND you want to be able to shoot broadheads into it, but you still want to build it your self –because you’re a masochist.

Although I’m not a masochist, I do love DIY projects and this is one that I think just about anyone can do. What makes it cool is the fact that you can shoot just about anything into it. Yes, that means you can shoot this target with broadheads. However, this is a sand target, which means it can make your broadheads blunt – no problem if you have a few that are for practice anyway or if you know how to sharpen them.

For this project you’ll need a saw, measuring tape, and a drill. You’ll also need to visit your local hardware store and buy six 2x6x8s (about $6 each), one 5 lb. box of 3” screws (about $23), two 4x4x8s (about $10 each), one sheet of 3/4″ pressure treated plywood (about $35), 10 50 lb. bags of all purpose sand (about $3 each).

As this build is a bit more complicated, I’ve made a graphic (above) to help out.

First, cut a 4’x2’ section out of your piece of plywood – this will act as the floor for your new Sandbox Archery Target. If you want to keep costs down, you can cut your plywood into four 4’x2’ sections and use it for the floor and three walls – otherwise, use the remainder of your plywood as a backstop behind your target.

Then, cut one of your 4x4x8s into four sections and screw them onto the bottom of your 4’x2’ piece of plywood 1’ apart from each other. Cut your other 4x4x8 in half and attach it to the other side of your plywood (as shown above).

Next, cut four of your 2x6x8s in half. Cut your remaining two 2x6x8s into four 2’ sections.

If it were me, at this point I would cut two holes in the ply wood, so that you could slide a 2x6x2 down into it – helping hold the sand. Affix the 2x6s together as shown above. Next, simply fill with sand and get shooting.

A good idea would be to staple a rugged outdoor target face to the front of your new Sandbox Archery Target, so you have something to shoot at.

The below video shows what a Sandbox Archery Target should look like after it’s completed:

DIY 3D Style Target

Difficulty level: 8/10

Cost: Less than $20

Time: A weekend

That’s right; I’ve saved the best for last – a DIY 3D style target for less than $20. However, this one is the most time consuming and can be the most technically difficult. Expect this project to take at least one full day if not a weekend. If you value your time, you might want to stick to a traditional 3D archery target. However, if your times not worth that much, or your pretty budget conscious and don’t mind tedious work, this is the project for you.

You’re going to need a sheet of plywood (about $15, but if you want to go all-out get pressure treated plywood for $35), a pencil, tracing paper, a ruler, a computer with a printer, and a jigsaw (if you want it to look a bit more lifelike, then get some paint as well). An old school projector would also be a huge help with this.

First, find a picture of an animal that you would like to turn into a 3D target online. Print the picture, make  sure that it will fit in a 4”x8” box (if you don’t have a printer, use the tracing paper to trace the image one the screen – don’t press too hard, you don’t want to puncture your monitor). Next, use your ruler (or measuring tape) to measure out a 4”x8” box on your tracing paper. Next, make 1” squares in that box, making a grid pattern. Next, lay that tracing paper on top of the picture you printed out earlier. Trace the outline of the animal onto the paper. If you have an old school overhead projector, now would be the time to put your outlined image onto it and project it onto your plywood. If you don’t have a projector, then lightly (using pencil) draw your grid pattern (except instead of 1”x1” squares they will be 1’x1’ squares) onto your plywood and transfer the image onto the plywood that way. After you’ve traced your image onto the plywood it’s time to cut it out using your jigsaw.

Be sure to cut out the vital area of your new target. Place a box target behind the vital area of your target and you’re good to go!

If you opted to buy paint, now would be a good time to paint the target to your liking.

Here is a video that might help explain it:

 For even more great DIY ideas and toturials, check out the book “Bow Accessories” by Volkmar Hubschmann.

By Jason D. Mills

How to Make and Use Eric Krewson’s Tillering Gizmo

Some time ago I wrote an in-depth build-along entitled the “Beginner’s Guide to Building a Hickory Longbow.” Well, in researching how to build a selfbow it is impossible not to hear about Eric Krewson’s tillering gizmo. As such, I felt it would be natural for me to reach out to Eric and see if he’d be okay with me sharing some of his secrets. Not only was he happy to share the information, he generously sent me a tillering gizmo as well.

Tillering Gizmo

This information has been republished with the permission of Mr. Eric Krewson.

By Eric Krewson

Since I made my initial tillering gizmo there has been an input of ideas to make it work better from other bow makers. Consequently, it has evolved into a differently made tool than my original design.

Here is how to make the latest version. I use a drill press, bandsaw, and belt sander (because I have them). This tool can be made out of any scrap wood, holes drilled by hand, out of square and work just fine.

I cut a large downed cedar looking for a bow stave. I may or may not have found a stave, but I definitely found a bunch of beautifully grained gizmo material.

I start by cutting a piece of wood 1″ square and 6″ long. You can make the gizmo longer if you want to, but I have tried a bunch of lengths and always come back to 6″.

Tillering Gizmo

A little sanding to get rid of the saw marks.

Tillering Gizmo

Mark the center of the block lengthwise and center.

Tillering Gizmo

Drill a 5/16″ hole on the center mark.

Tillering Gizmo

Use a 1/2″ Forstner bit to cut a 1/2′ deep hole over the 5/16′ hole you just cut. The Forstner bit cuts a clean hole, but any 1/2″ bit will work just fine.

Tillering Gizmo

Next, mark the ends of the block with a 45-degree angle to shorten side opposite the pencil of the gizmo. This allows one to run the gizmo closer to the tips while tillering.

Tillering Gizmo

Here is and update for a slimmer shape for your gizmo that will go further up the limbs without string interference.

I tap a 5/16″ nut into the 1/2″ hole and seat it all the way down with a piece of dowel.

Tillering Gizmo

Screw a pencil into the nut(I put the pencil in a vise and screw the gizmo on it) and you are ready to tiller. I sand the pencil a little after I cut thread on it so it will screw in and out easily. It only took me 10 minutes to make this tool, start to finish.

With a little Tru-Oil this will be a beautiful little tool, it has a wonderful grain pattern.

Older version:

Tillering Gizmo

Newest version:

USING THE TILLERING GIZMO

After floor tillering your bow, bend the bow slightly on your tillering tree or tillering stick using the long string. Retract the pencil in the Gizmo and run the wood block up the bow’s belly and find the widest gap. Screw the pencil in the block to a point it is almost touching the bow’s belly at the point where you found the widest gap. I change the angle the pencil has been sharpened to a very short angle and sand the tip of the pencil flat for the best results in marking the limb. This lets you work very slight bends.

Tillering Gizmo

Initially, I set my gizmo pencil about 1/8” off the limb for the first few corrections. This course setting will mark only the stiffest spots. If you set the pencil too closely for your first few passes it will mark the whole limb.

Run the Gizmo up the belly making sure it is centered on the limb. The pencil will mark non-bending areas, which need wood removed. Always check the entire limb with the gizmo every time you use it and scrape wood from all the stiff spots at the same time, not one stiff spot at a time. Start on the long string, continue at brace and up to about 20” of draw. You do need to have a way to hold your bow string while you mark the limbs with the Gizmo.

I often set my gizmo for one limb and use this setting on the opposite limb as well. This way you will end up with two closely matched limbs.

I have holes in my tillering tree and insert a 3” piece of dowel in one of the holes to hold the string with the limbs slightly bent while I mark the limbs with the gizmo.

Tillering Gizmo

Go slowly, no more than ten scrapes on the marked areas of the limb, flex the limb 30 times and recheck. I have found it usually takes five or more check, scrape and check sessions to get a stiff spot moving, so be patient. You can get the limb bending perfectly this way. You will still have to eyeball bending in the fades, but the rest of the limb will be perfectly tillered. Hinges will be a thing of the past.

Tillering Gizmo

Make a few passes with the gizmo on your limb and the areas that need attention will be perfectly obvious. You can fine tune the tillering by closing the gap between the pencil and limb to almost nothing. At this point, I like to use a cheap orbital sander to remove both wood and any tool marks that are left. With course sand paper, the sander will leave tiny swirls in the wood so I like 220 grit for my final tillering work with the sander and follow with a light hand sanding.

The gizmo doesn’t work in the fade out area of the riser so you will have to eyeball the bend in this area or put a flat board across the back of the bow in your tillering tree and watch the gap between the back of the bow and the board to see where the limb is bending.

Tillering that once took me hours to get close takes me about 45 minutes with the Gizmo and the end result is close to perfect.

The key thing to remember for proper tillering is using a scraper or sandpaper and work slowly, only scrape off your pencil marks, flex the bow and recheck. I often make a zig-zag pencil mark from one side of the limb to the other over the gizmo’s pencil mark to make sure I remove equally from one edge of the limb to the other.

If you ever get the urge to grab a course rasp or use a belt sander to speed things up even more, take a coffee break and come back when these thoughts have passed.

Question

What about using this with character bows, especially yew that has rollercoasters rather than snakes?

Answer

The gizmo won’t work with a stave with a lot roller coaster (a limb with a lot of dips and humps). I almost always take the roller coaster out of my osage before I start a bow, because it is such a pain to tiller. If the roller coaster is only in one place in the limb I eyeball that section and use the gizmo on the rest.

Question

Eric, are you sanding down the nut side once things are finished so it’s sitting flush? or is it still recessed in the finished gizmo?

Answer

I drill the big hole deep enough to tap the nut about 1/4″ below the surface of the wood. I drilled a shallower hole on the earlier version and sanded the wood and nut flush but often lost too many threads of the nut in the process. The new version with the recessed nut works much better.

This nut is in a little over 1/4″ deep.

Tillering Gizmo

Introduction to 3D Archery

What is 3D archery? Generally, when an archer talks about 3D, they’re referring to shooting at three-dimensional life-like targets – normally made from foam and situated in such a way as to simulate a true-to-life hunting experience. At its inception, 3D was focused mainly on hunting practice, as such most of the targets were shaped like game animals, but 3D quickly evolved into a sport of its own, with rules, scoring, and a nearly limitless cornucopia of targets.

What is 3D archery? Generally, when an archer talks about 3D, they’re referring to shooting at three-dimensional life-like targets – normally made from foam and situated in such a way as to simulate a true-to-life hunting experience. At its inception, 3D was focused mainly on hunting practice, as such most of the targets were shaped like game animals, but 3D quickly evolved into a sport of its own, with rules, scoring, and a nearly limitless cornucopia of targets.

3D archery can be a family affair.
3D archery can make for a fun family outing.

As such, 3D is a great way to get ready for an upcoming hunt, or to just have some fun. It can be practiced alone, with friends, or family. In fact, it’s common for young children to participate in 3D. It’s a great way to experience the outdoors (if shooting at an outdoor range) and gain experience in shooting your bow in a realistic situation.

Before you head out to the range, there is some basic equipment you should bring with you. That said, there’s no special 3D bow that you’ll need; just shoot the bow you’re most comfortable with or the bow you plan to hunt with. You should used field points (don’t shoot broadheads at 3D targets!), it’s a good idea to have a pair of sunglasses handy, some sunscreen, an arrow removal tool (just in case you hit a tree, a cheap arrow puller and target arrow release fluid are good ideas too), a decent quiver, a towel for your hands and gear, and some arrows. Many outdoor shoots can be a mile or more in length, so it’s a good idea to bring something to snack on as well as some bottled water, but please don’t litter.

Six arrows should be plenty, but feel free to carry as many as you need. There are many archers who will bring an extra dozen and leave it in their vehicle just in case they need them. If you plan on shooting for score, you’ll want to bring something to write with and on (sometimes that’s not needed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry). Misses do happen and arrows will be lost (arrows are a lot easier to find with lighted nocks). When you do miss the target, don’t take too much time looking for the lost arrow, as it will slow down the whole event.

Most ranges will charge a small fee for shooting, whether you’re competing or not. This money covers normal wear and tear on the targets and on the range.

On how 3D is scored; typically, the high score shots will be in the vital section of the animal you’re shooting at. There are two primary scoring formats used: ASA and IBO. The ASA, or the Archery Shooters Association, uses 14-12-10-8-5-0 scoring areas. The IBO, or the International Bowhunting Organization, uses 11- 10-8-5-0 scoring areas.

When shooting for score, one arrow is shot at each target; the score is determined by where the arrow enters the target. Below is an example of what the ASA and IBO scoring rings look like.

ASA IBO 3D Scoring
(I can hear you asking, “why is the 14 score in such a weird spot?” While it’s true, you wouldn’t want to shoot a deer there in a real world situation it has to do with risk and reward for those trying to get the highest score possible. The ring is pretty small, and if the shooter misses in any direction they’ll end up with either an 8 or a 5.)

However, this scoring system does pose a problem in some situations. What if the animal is at an angle facing away from the shooter? Under normal circumstances a hunter would shoot the deer so that their arrow would hit midway between the front and rear legs, which would be a lethal, clean harvest. Despite being the most lethal shot in a real-world application, this shot would result in a score of 5 at a 3D shoot. Instead, the archer would need to aim as if they were trying to pass through the outer shoulder, which would result in a much higher score. Further, some targets will have multiple scoring areas marked. In which case, just ask which one is being shot at – if you’re shooting alone just use your best judgment.

Now, what happens if your arrow is on the 10 and the 12 mark? In most situations you get the higher score, if your arrow is touching it, then that’s your score. If you can’t see the scoring rings from the shooting stake, just aim for what would be the most natural lethal area. Some shooters opt to bring a good set of binoculars, but if you choose to bring binoculars remember to be courteous of other shooters and not take too long. There are also some archers who will bring reference cards of each target, so they know where to aim for the highest score.

Although many 3D courses are set outdoors, there are just as many indoor 3D ranges, which is nice when the weather gets too nasty for outdoor shooting. Most shoots will have between 20 and 30 targets arranged at different distances and positions. Usually traditional shooters will have a maximum distance stake at around 30 yards, but not always. If you’re participating in a tournament there will normally be club rules that you’ll have to obey in order to qualify (it might be a multiple day shoot or there might be different classes). During outdoor shoots be prepared to shoot off of elevated platforms, down hillsides and through brush. Some areas might be highly wooded and other areas might be in wide-open fields. Most targets will not have any indicator of what the distance to the target is, which gives the instinctive shooter a real advantage.

Indoor 3D Range

Indoor 3D ranges usually have a single line where all archers shoot from. Generally, archers are grouped by class and skill level. Targets can be as close as 2 yards or as far as 50 yards, normally distance is only limited by the venue.

Outdoor 3D range

Outdoor ranges, in my opinion, can be a lot more fun as they are usually a walk-through course (just like mini-golf). Normally, there will be three or four archers per lane – your group will finish one target and then move on to the next. Be aware if you or your group is moving slowly – it’s courteous to let faster archers pass you. Each class and skill level will have a designated stake to shoot from – most shoots are operated via the honor system, so no cheating. The shooter is normally required to touch the stake with at least one part of their body (i.e. foot or a knee) when shooting.

Obey the rules

Although each club will have its own rules and restrictions, here are some basics to remember:

  1. Although archery is generally a safe sport, it can be dangerous, so stay smart and stay safe. Know what you’re shooting at. Know what’s behind your target. Make sure there are no children about to dart out in front of you or behind your target. Be aware of other shooters at all times.
  2. Try not to talk or be disruptive while others are shooting. If you’ve brought children, make sure they’re not making too much of a ruckus.
  3. Take your time, but don’t stall other shooters. Some people like to really take their time, others love to move quickly – be courteous either way. If you’re a slower shooter, then let the faster archers “shoot through.”
  4. Avoid foul language. These are often family activities and no one wants their children exposed to that.
  5. Feel free to bring something to snack on and some water to drink (in fact, I’d encourage it), but don’t litter.
  6. When you miss a target, don’t take all day looking for it, as it will slow down the entire event. Misses will happen (so be prepared) and arrows will be lost.
  7. You might want to bring a ‘throw away’ arrow for novelty targets, such as steel or iron elks.
  8. Have fun!

By Jason D. Mills

Spring Gobbler Hunting for Beginners

Jared Grewing displays the turkey he took with his Great Plains Long Curve and Zwickey Broadhead, 2013.
Jared Grewing displays the turkey he took with his Great Plains Long Curve and Zwickey Broadhead, 2013.

For the spring season, if you want to bag a turkey, you’re going have to scout, scout, and then scout some more. Expect this to take a good bit of time and effort. You’re scouting to find where the turkeys are roosting and where they feed or strut in the morning. Usually, they’ll keep to the same patterns in good weather.

When you’re scouting, you’re looking and listening for where the birds are, where are the hens going after they pitch down, what are the Toms doing, which Toms run together and where do they feed.

Go out at dusk the evening before your hunt and listen to where they are gobbling at sunset, use a call to get e response gobble letting you pin the roost tree. When you call and finally do get a gobble in response, do not keep calling.

Dusk Hunt

Turkeys do not call as much as you think. Yes, there are times when a hen will just crank away, but not all the time, in fact, she only does that in specific situations. Until you know why she’s doing that, your best tools are patience and knowing your land.

Get there about an hour before sunrise the next morning and set up your decoys in a spot about 100 yards away from the roost tree. You want to be roughly 15 yards from your decoys (or whatever distance you feel comfortable taking that shot), positioned so your back is against a tree or some brush. Remember to stay still; you don’t want all the work you’ve put in to go to waste just because you can’t sit still. That said, look at where you’re going to sit before you put your butt down on an ant hill.

Five minutes to light, make a tree yelp – resist the temptation to continue calling. Wait for about 10 minutes and see if the birds fly to your setup from the roost. When the turkeys fly down and head to your decoy, it’s time to bag your bird. If you have a bird come in, you wait until he is in full strut. As soon as he turns around and his fan is blocking all view of you, get in position and get ready to draw back on that bird as soon as he turns around again. This may take 5 minutes or an hour, be prepared to be able to hold your bow in an odd or uncomfortable position for a very long time.

However, if you don’t hear anything for another 10 minutes, make a couple more yelps.

Turkey Hunt

If they fly down, but not to you, try a few more periodic calls, but it’s probably not going to work out. If they flew down, but you’re not sure where they went and you’re not getting responses to calls stay where you’re at for at least an hour. About 80% of the time this won’t work; you, however, are hoping it’s the 20% that does work.

If, after an hour, you’re still coming up short it’s time to start hiking your hunting area. Remember, if you’re on public land it’s a good idea (and in many states it’s the law) to wear some orange while hiking; just remember to put it away when you find your next spot. Periodically you’ll want to stop and call to see if you can strike a gobble. If you don’t hear anything then keep moving. If you get a response, it’s time to quickly setup again (just like at the beginning of your hunt). After you get settled in, call again and listen to see if the Tom is coming your way.

If you think that everything is going well and the birds are getting close and then they go silent, be ready for them to show up in stealth mode. If, however, you’re pretty sure they’re gone wait 20 minutes after the last time you called before you either call again or leave. There is nothing more heartbreaking than thinking you’re done for the day, standing up and hearing the familiar sound of a turkey taking flight.

Remember, turkeys have nowhere to be and all day to get there. The hunting shows on TV cut hours of waiting to fit into their 30 minute show. Be patient and most importantly, have fun.

For some great shot placement tips, check out this video on turkey anatomy and proper arrow placement from Hoyt. It’s geared toward compound shooters, but the skills are pretty easily transferable to traditional archery.

By Jason D. Mills

BBC Discovers Flying Penguins

BBC Film maker and writer Terry Jones discovered a colony of new, very rare penguins, which have developed the ability to fly. This incredible feat is made possible by their enlarged pectoral muscles and high stamina – effectively nullifying their small wings. These penguins sustain themselves with a high fat, high carbohydrate diet, which gives them the energy they need for long distance flight. Their wings, as it turns out, are aerodynamically perfect to cruise at high altitudes and dive bomb their prey beneath the ocean surface. Scientists believe there will be a sustainable, huntable population of these penguins within the next decade and we could expect to see them in North America before 2020. Watch the video for more information.

One more thing, April Fools.

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