Two videos of this archery target, from GC Archery
Last one is done by the people of Bearpaw
Shooting the Stickbow, 2nd Edition
by Anthony Camera
A big problem with books about shooting traditional equipment is no one volume seems to answer every question and problem a hunter may encounter when trying to learn to shoot a traditional bow without sights. So in manic bid to get better, you end up buying every book on the subject—trying a little of this and a little of that—and in the process go cat-kicking mad wondering why your bookshelves are bowing and you still can’t hit the broadside of a barn even if you were standing in it. Then one day a hefty package arrives and inside is a 390 page tome that promises to set you free—and it does.
Camera doesn’t waste space on Zen-master, “arch of the arrow” musings. If you want to know how to properly tune a bare bow—he tells you straight. You want to know why your arrows keep grouping high, low, or left, and right? Why does the bow string keep slapping your forearm and, more important, how do you fix it? The chapter on “Common Error and How to Correct Them” is sheer mana from The Gods. The volume and scope of information here makes you wonder if Camera does anything with his time outside of hunting and shooting—lucky him and also lucky for the rest of us that he also took a little time to write it all down.
Close your eyes and what do you see?
Are you still reading this? Go to www.shootingthestickbow.com and buy the book and change your life for only$19.99.
Another reason I don’t like the static anchor (holding at full draw) is that this is the time when your mind starts playing tricks on you. If your going to have negative thoughts, this is when it happens. A lot of archers will begin their aiming procedure once they are at full draw. This is OK on targets, but with live game in front of you, the tendency it to mentally hit your “GO” button before you have really picked a spot to aim at. This is when the arrow flies two feet over the back of a bull elk at 15 yards (sound familiar?). In my opinion, this is the result of your eyes moving to see the arrow (in flight) rather than that intense, burning concentration on the spot you are going to hit. I have observed archers who seem obsessed with getting to full anchor. You know the type- They are the ones who push their lips out as far as they will go in order to meet the string, or the ones who push their whole head forward to meet the string. Who are they kidding? Sure, their index finger and anchor point finally meet, but it still might be 1-2 inches short of what they perceive their full draw to be. When they push their lips or head forward, they consequently loose that important back tension. When this is lost, a poor release and poor arrow flight will follow. When one aspect of your aiming, drawing or release procedure goes wrong, several other aspects will follow suit.
Let me tell you a little secret about the necessity to reach full draw. It’s not all that critical. I can just see Fred Asbell grinding his teeth on that statement. But, hear me out. If you are shooting at 15 to 20 yards with a 65 pound bow and your bow arm is set and your eyes burning a hole in the spot your going to hit; what will happen if you short draw by 2 inches? I’ll tell you what will happen: You will slam your broadhead into that spot with 61 pounds of force rather than 65 (assuming you have maintained proper back tension). Mind you, I am not advocating this short draw scenario. I’m only trying to point out that the really critical parts of your shooting sequence is- Rock steady bow arm that never moves until the animal is hit; Absolute burning concentration on the spot your going to hit; And a smooth, crisp release that is a result of proper back tension all the way into your follow through. So, if your really boil it all down- Your grip and extended bow arm with canted bow is set before you ever shoot; Your release is an automatic reaction that comes from good practice (unconscious act). That only leaves one thing for your brain to be concerned about: That burning concentration on the spot you are going to hit. Why make it all so complicated?
There is also a side benefit from snap shooting- You will be able to shoot a heavier bow (if you wish). For big boned, heavy skinned animals (Cape Buffalo, Water Buffalo, Giraffe, Moose) I routinely shoot an 80# bow. Not that I feel the heavier weight is mandatory; but that allows me to shoot a “balanced” system with 800-900 grain arrows, which I do consider a necessity. I can do this without any appreciable strain or pain since my mussels are only holding that weight for one second (time lapsed from ¼ draw to follow through). If your experiencing shoulder pain when holding at full draw, or after release, you might want to try snap shooting before going to lighter and lighter equipment.
Using this system, let’s revisit the elk scenario at the being of this article: You see the bull coming your way. You slowly extend your bow arm and lock your elbow, while canting the bow, and come to ¼ draw. The bull stops with his head behind the tree. You are motionless and all set for him to make the next move, with just enough tension in your back mussels to hold the bow at ¼ draw. The bull finally makes that one set forward. You complete your draw and touch off your “GO” button as your index finger passes your anchor point. The bull sees that small movement, but by the time it registers your broadhead only has 6 yards and 1/10 th of a second (180 fps divided into 18 feet) to impact.
On a personal note- I switched to this method of shooting in 1988 after 28 years of shooting a bow the “classic” way. I switched because I was having the dreaded “target panic” or what ever you call it. All I know is I was missing targets and more importantly I was missing game. Since my conversion, my confidence has grown 100 fold. Since July 12, 1988 (my birthday) I have collected 19 species of big game animals, including African lion, Leopard, and Cape Buffalo. I honestly don’t believe I would have hunted dangerous game without that new confidence. And the confidence was a direct result of developing the snap shooting technique. In addition to my hunting successes, there are those who will say that I can hold my own on the 3D range as well. Even if you are shooting “lights out” with your classic shooting style, I submit that snap shooting will result in more game collected. So, try it for a few weeks during the off season and see how it feels. I think you will find it very relaxing.
Second part about snap shooting by Dennis Kamstra. First one can be found in this link, Snap Shooting I.
Let me break down these three simple functions and explain the reasoning for each:
1- Pre-aim : We have all heard and read about the great archers who advocate the smooth “push/pull” method of bringing your bow into shooting position with the elbow slightly bent. Although this method sets you up admirably, it also requires motion. This motion does not go unnoticed by the sharp eyed animal (I’m including hogs, bear, and rhrino who are supposed to have poor eye sight. They may have poor sight, but they sure can detect movement!). I am advocating a rigid, extended bow arm pointed at the game before he has the chance to see your movement. Why the locked elbow? Guess I could ask a related question- Why the slightly bent elbow? I advocate the locked elbow because it emphasizes to your brain that the bow arm is nothing more than a solid connection between the bow and your body. This bow arm should never move until after the arrow has made contact with the animal. With a bent elbow, one has a tendency to wave your bow around is space. This arm must be rock solid. I can’t stress this enough! Steve Gore, my hunting buddy and shooting coach, has drummed this into my head until I do it in my sleep ( incidentally for those who may not recognize the name, Steve won the PAA in Los Vegas on his first attempt and has drilled more game animals than most of us will see in 10 years afield). While the bow arm is locked and extended, I like to have some tension on the string. In fact I’m advocating coming to a quarter or third draw while in that arm extended position. The reason for this is to precondition your back muscles to the coming demand. It also assists in steadying that rigid bow arm.
2- Burning eye concentration: Nothing earth shaking here as we all agree the necessity of picking the spot. But, I’m talking about more than just picking the spot. I’m saying you should intensely burn a visual hole into the area in which you are going to place that broadhead. Notice, I didn’t say “arrow”, I said “broadhead”. The arrow is simply a tool to get the broadhead to the animal. Personally, I don’t even see that arrow. I know people will question that statement (as Gene Wensel would say- “How can you not see the arrow, it’s there”. All I can say is that I honestly don’t see it; and I don’t want to confuse myself about all this “secondary vision” crap because if I do, I’ll start thinking about it). At this point the whole world should be a blank to you. From this moment on, it is a mind game. Train yourself to think of absolutely nothing but that one square inch of hair. Your “Go” or “NO GO” button will tell you when to finish the draw you have already started.
3- Drawing and releasing: Now we’re getting to the essence of snap shooting. Simply complete your draw and touch it off as soon as the drawing fingers pass your anchor point. I have underscored the word “pass” because the drawing arm does not stop! Before you nuts on me, follow the logic- For a good crisp release the mussels between your shoulder blades must be taut. What better way to keep them taut than to make them think they are still pulling? This will produce a “fly away” release that should place your index finger tip at your ear lobe on the follow through. There was a great book authored by a Col. Elliott back in the 60’s, called “Why We Miss”. The Colonel ran an archery training camp for serious target shooters and Olympic hopefuls. He goes into great detail on the “fly away” release that he felt was mandatory for proper string drop on the break away. I keep reading about this “dead release” where nothing moves following release.
How can you have a dead release with proper tension on those mussels between the shoulder blades? Try this experiment: Tie a piece of cord to a stationary object (post) at shoulder level. Wrap the other end of the cord around your three shooting fingers. Assume your shooting stance and pull on the cord with 50 pounds of tension, with your eyes closed. Have you someone cut the cord at mid point (using a scissors) without your knowledge. Notice where your drawing elbow and index fingers end up. That is the exact position desired following the release of an arrow. If your back mussels are used to create that 50 pounds of tension (which they should be ), I guarantee you that you will not end up with a dead release (one where your drawing fingers remain at your anchor point).
I am convinced that more poor shooting occurs while one is at a static full draw position. If you do get to full draw, which a lot of traditional shooters never do, the tendency is to lock up at that point, which causes the back mussels to relax. Once the back mussels begin to relax, one of two things will happen ;
1) Your shoulder mussels will take over , or
2) Your full draw will begin to collapse. The result of either of these two produces the following: A “hay hook” release; a “dead release”, or a “forward release” (where the release fingers actually end up somewhere in front of your anchor point). All of these maladies result in poor arrow flight, missing to one side or below target, all denoted by a “noisy” release. Steve Gore can tell if I have a good release by turning his back to me and listening to the sound of the string when released. If the travel direction of the string is directly toward the center shot location on your bow riser, there will be no vibration or oscillation of the bow string, which makes the noise.
Pics from Dennis and Stotlerarchery