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The Silver Cord Lies on the Ground

So I pedalled out to the archery butts again yesterday. Absolutely beautiful day. 22C, clear skies, wind at my back, etc. Much pulling of the bow over the past couple of weeks has changed my right hand's anatomy noticeably. My index, middle, and ring fingers do not curl as tightly anymore, and the muscles underneath are puffy and building-up. There are calluses on the pads of all three now, and a noticeable line, like a dent, running next to the calluses. When I put that hand into the drawing position, naturally, all the calluses and the dent line up.

So... The three-finger grip is still working out. I reached the point where I was grouping fairly reliably for me, which is pretty pathetic for most archers, but if I get about 75% of my shots within six inches of each other at 20 yards, I'm feeling pretty good about the session.

One session, I worked on anchor point, and settled on one that works fairly well for me. It's with the three fingers 1/4 inch under the nock, with the nock set right under the nock ring, and with a steady draw, the nock fits right into the cleft of the chin.

The next session, it was aiming. I sight with the dominant eye, so that the string's left side is running parallel to the left side of the bow's outer edge. That puts the bullseye at the radius of the inner curve of the rest. Keeping all that aiming straight and unwavering is still difficult, but MUCH more steady than three weeks or so ago.

The last session was release. I'm trying to work on breathing. When I was firing pellet guns all those thirty years ago, I'd always fire on the exhale, so that the slight recoil would be matched by the descent of my torso. Not the same here. So I found myself playing with combinations of bow-arm grip and (foolish me) different draw methods. Which spilled into another one of the gnat-cloud like systems of variables, because changes to the grip throw off all the other factors. I'd brought three arrows with me. After three hours, I'd managed to lose two arrows to the bog (Damn!) and the head off my third arrow.

And left myself with more questions. For one thing, I've got the finger-strength now to use the Mediterranean release if I choose to (it adds 10 pounds to the pull, since the anchor point is two inches further back on my chin), but I find it interferes with the arrow too much, and introduces finger-friction (pluckier) and string-torsion (from the string rolling further across the fingertips) factors that make the lateral flight much more unstable (hence all the arrow-attrition). But I'm not sure if that's because I'm used to drawing from the first knuckle, not from the fingertip. I couldn't test this yesterday since my fingertips were too sore after a couple of hours to try Mediterranean draw off the fingertips, see. Also, on a lighter bow, my bowhand grip is best completely loose, so that it introduces no sideways shift. But on this new bow, keeping my fingertips very lightly on the back (i.e. the business end) seems to dampen some of the release vibrations, and make for a more predictable result. Trick is to not stiffen up the bow hand, or the shot goes wildly high (and over the target, and... *splash* damn...)

I think of introducing changes to style like a top being struck while spinning. The new factor throws the whole system off in a major way, with the top wavering wildly for a while, but it eventually returns to a new equilibrium. My coach (who favours the very modern methods of sighted, clickers, mechanically milled composites, etc. to reach a very high degree of precision) said that this is a big problem with adolescents learning to shoot. Their growth comes in spurts, so as soon as they've settled into a form, they have to start all over again. Same thing with changing style.

At class, the youth are doing "canbow" which is a program that allows coaches to reward achievement with badges at certain scores on a standard target. Canbow is at 10M, while adult competition is at a minimum of 18M, but the logistics of doing both measurements in the class are too hairy, so I shoot at 10M in class. This gives me an artificially high score, but it's useful to measure how my style is firming up. So I scored last time and got 172/300. So, 172 is the score for me to beat later tonight.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
archery envy here. 'nuff said.
Jun. 17th, 2011 11:12 am (UTC)
Have you done some archery before?
Jun. 17th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
weapon of choice as a girl on old-fashioned bows. I've wanted to pick it up again for years, esp. now with the modern bows. But yes, junior archery achievement medal at camp. my father used to set targets up for my oldest sister in our back yard and I think that set me off as a toddler into want. They never show enough of the archery competitions in the summer Olympics as far as I'm concerned.
Jun. 17th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
No, they certainly do not. Except in Korea, or so it is said.

For me, it was something I wanted to get into ever since seventh grade, where we had a three-day archery stint. So when I learned about the local club from a small ad in the paper, I jumped and got hooked.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )