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Archery update 20110714

Bastille day! Today marks nine years since I became a landed immigrant...

Well, the postal strike finally came to an end, and among the things that was eventually delivered was my new bowstring. The original one (I can only guess it was about thirty years old) had gotten frayed to the point that I thought it would be dangerous to try using. But in the three weeks or so that I was not shooting, the calluses on my fingertips eventually sloughed away.

The new string was handmade and of surprisingly good quality. It has 16 strands of Dacron and a tightly-wound serving of the same, well waxed, and incredibly strong. If you've never seen a "flemish" string, it's a handmade cord made of several strands of stretch-less fibre, traditionally linen, aka flax, twisted into two or three main bundles. There's an excellent primer on the process online.

I hope it will last me a year or two. I took the nock guide (a brass crimp to allow you to put the arrow on the exact same place every time) off the old one and also moved the silencers that came with the old bow.

The silencers that came with the bow, BTW, are thin strips of albino mink hide, about 1/2 cm. in width. They muffle the high shrieking note of the string when it's released; the idea being that the arrow travels slower than sound, so the shriek of the string will reach the target animal first, and may cause it to start, so the silencers reduce the sound of the release to a dull thunk, like plucking a ruler.

This is not just to be stealthy; it's less cruel on the animals, since a deer for example, that starts is not so much likely to get away as to shift to the point where the arrow goes through a less-than-ideal spot on the animal, leading to unnecessary pain and bleeding. For the executioner, kindness is a sharp axe.

Not that I plan on hunting with the bow, and as such the silencers are unnecessary, but I like the quieter bow, and the funny little tufts are interesting to look at, kind of a barbaric aesthetic, with high guard hairs poking out of the mat of insulation hairs.

They are mounted on a Flemish string by unravelling the strands, tucking in the end of one of the strips, then wrapping it tightly around the string in a close spiral, then tucking the other end through the strands as well. Then, when you re-string the bow, the twists you put in the string to make it tighten will also tighten the strips closer to the string, to the point where there is no chance they will be thrashed off in shooting.

So I took the bow out to the range to try out the new string and also to try out some cheaper arrows. These ones are plain aluminum, 9mm in diameter, with heavy (125 grain) field points. I wanted to see if these would be better for target practice than the carbon ones, and they seem to work out well. For one thing, they are heavy enough that they tend not to go all the way into the bog, but get stopped by the grass and tree-litter at the edge of the swamp. Also, because the heads are larger and blunter, they do less damage to wooden slats, such as hold the targets in place, and don't get stuck so deeply in the wood.

So I think I'm going to move to cheap aluminum arrows for field practice, and save the carbon arrows for the indoor (winter) range.