Archery Individual Lessons and Personal Coaches

Archery is not really a team sport.  You shoot on a team, but those people are generally competing against you.  And unlike a team sport, shooting with your team isn’t much different than shooting with anyone else.  In a team sport, it will different playing a pick up game and playing with your dedicated team.  Unlike head to head sports like tennis (reacting to the other person’s shot) or soccer (moving without the ball, playing defense in a team), archery has no real lessons to learn from the team.  In archery, when you are with your team, you are practicing your shot sequence.  When you practice alone in archery, you are practicing your shot sequence.  As such, archery is one of those sports where coaching is usually done on a 1:1 basis.  You may join a team, but more than likely you will pay for lessons separately.  In private/personal lessons the coach works directly with you, possibly over a very long time.

A high ranking coach in USA Volleyball once told me, “The game teaches the game.”  This is why the USA Volleyball team plays game after game in practice.  Isolated drills have value, but they can only approximate the game.  In archery, there are only a limited number of drills a shooter can do that aren’t a full shot sequence.  So the archery equivalent is “Shooting teaches shooting.”  You can certainly hear echoes of this sentiment when you listen to Steve “Big Cat” Anderson.  For those people who need more feedback on the process of shooting, you have a personal coach.  You see this in other sports that have teams, but focus on the individual – track and field, wrestling, etc.

With the return of indoor season, we are also back on track with personal lessons.  Her coach participates in the fairly crazy summer outdoor season and is traveling at least 7-10 days every month without an ‘r’.

No Limits Archery Range in Welby Colorado

Indoor Archery Range

As a parent, you have a lot of down time with archery lessons.  A lot of ranges are working on razor thin margins anyways, so amenities are few and WiFi is rare.  Here’s a pretty typical Monday at her home range.  After 6:30 or 7:00 PM, there will probably be a league, but maybe not…it is hunting season and that will tie up a lot of the compound shooters.

In this picture, the 4:00 student is packing up, the 5:00 student is still working on something, and the 6:00 student is getting personal coaching and feedback.  This is not unusual.

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Finger Tabs With Too Many Options

From what I can tell, the FIVICS “Saker” has become one of the most popular and imitated finger tabs.  Originally released as the Soma, the Saker comes in at least three models (Saker 1, Saker 2, and Saker3) and at least three materials (Aluminum, Brass, Carbon Fiber).

saker-fivics

The Saker 1 is on top (blue), the Saker 2 is on the bottom left (green), and the Saker 3 is on the bottom right (red).  Which one is right for you?  This is especially important in the age of online shopping and limited selection in retail.  Importantly, it’s not just the color (more on that later).

They are not named by “quality” either, the Saker 1 isn’t better than the Saker 2 or the Saker 3.  It’s more about the design.  The Saker 1 has more metal and sits back into your hand.  That triangle on the end may not be very comfortable for many shooters. There also appears to be some other accessory that can be added to the back triangle. The Saker 2 has less metal and the Saker 3 has even less metal.  It comes down to how much you like the extra metal and this other fact (that isn’t published on many retailer sites but is available on the FIVICS site ) — what is your preferred positioning of your fingers on the string regarding the load of drawing?

saker-angles

Model Index Finger Middle Finger Ring Finger
Saker 1 30 50 20
Saker 2 30 55 15
Saker 3 40 50 10

Besides the fit in your hand, this other bit of data may be an important decision making point. Kisik Lee in his book says the right distribution is 40, 50, and 10. That would make a good choice the Saker 3, particularly if the Saker 1 is uncomfortable.

Now, what color? Surprise, you don’t pick a color. You pick a size. But most of you are shopping online. What size do you need? FIVICS has put out this guide (PDF), but again, it’s not easy to find. My copy surfaced on a Slovakian site.

fivics-guide

You’ll note Dark Blue is XL and at the other end, Green is XXS. The guide may not be flawless, so I found this extra information.

fivics-saker-1-finger-tab-4-579-p

(From Online Archery Equipment in the UK)

Finally, there are three materials. The aluminum model is by far the most prevalent. It’s also the only one with color selections. The brass model is three times heavier than the aluminum model and that may be important for some shooters. The carbon fiber model is lighter and probably stiff than the aluminum model with less chance of deforming.

We ordered the Saker 3 and soon, she’ll be able to tell me how it is to shoot with it.

From the Archives

 These are from her first day shooting at the original No Limits.  She is wearing her Wonder Woman “Girl Power” shirt.


Probably trip two to No Limits.


Trying out practice at Bear Creek.  Confusing times with those early days of JOAD.


A Saturday in April 2014 at Bear Creek

Too Much Gear

The younger one is doing pretty well shooting with her (left) hand me down kit (Hoyt Grand Prix Horizon Pro 25″ – still available even with model year turn over) and with a splash of black accessories, the bow doesn’t look like it used to when the older one used it for a palette of ocean colors.

But wait, who is that in the background?  Have we found a home for her right handed bow?

Switching It Up

After a little coaching and encouragement, the younger one tried the left handed practice bow and her groupings changed.  Yes, another left eye dominant daughter, as feared.  What to do? It means another riser, quiver, finger tab, and possibly new fletchings.  Then, there is the buy nice or buy twice dilemma, but almost in reverse.  Did I want another JOAD starting bow?

I decided to go another route.  I would upgrade the older kid’s riser and do a hand me down program.  The younger kid would get the electric teal Hoyt. It was after the ATA trade show and that means the official roll over of models of bows.  Just like cars, bows have a model year and retailers may want to get rid of them for a discount.  I found the Hoyt Prodigy XT 25 and it was 26% off.  Now to think about limbs…

Another Left Eye Dominant?

Eye dominance is an important part of archery.  With your head slightly tilted or even straight up and down, the dominant eye should be closest to the string.  After dozens of checks, we felt mostly confident that little one was right eye dominant.   Big one is left eye dominant and we found out after shooting a while.

After working with her coach at practice about her groupings always being left of center, he thinks she might be left eyed dominant.

Ugh.  Could mean new equipment, a lot of it – quiver, finger tab, riser, sight.

More JOAD Pins

Big one is now a Recurve shooter which sets her out on a different task for pin collection.  Little one started in Recurve by a sign up mistake.  I didn’t pay attention when registering and her first meet was Recurve and not barebow.  So, now they have matching ribbons although big one is accumulating hers pretty quickly.

Big tip: super glue the pin to the ribbon and the clasp to the pin.  These hang on quivers and get banged around with high frequency and replacing them is expensive.

Here is my definitive look at all of the JOAD pins.

First Meet



This was the young one’s first rotational. Although I know more than I did with the older one’s first rotational, there’s still a bunch I don’t know.  She sat next to the best shooter in the state.  He helped her remember to mark arrows on the target even in practice because you might have a bounce out. He also helped her with her stand so it was out of the way.

During the shoot, she was doing some of her drawings. She made a graphic design with arrows of different kinds and then wrote “Be Brave”.  She gave it to Matt about round 14.

Matt went on to win his gold pin in the second round.  I went to congratulate him and tell him thanks for helping her out. He asked if I was the parent of the No Limits girl. I said yes. He told me, ~”even though I got my gold pin today, that drawing from your daughter was the best thing that happened today.”

Recurve Clicker

A clicker is an addition to a recurve archery bow. It’s most likely a springy piece of metal attached to the riser. The clicker hangs past the arrow rest/shelf.

An arrow fits under the clicker. As the archer reaches full draw, the arrow point will slip under the springy clicker and the archer hears the onomatopoeic sound of “click”. This signifies the archer has reached the right point to release. The clicker provides a high level of consistency. Many archers train around the “click” and integrate it into their shot sequence.

clicker

From Abbey Archery in Australia.

The clicker is also used as a draw length check. The position of the clicker is adjusted so that when the archer reaches full draw, the clicker just begins to slide down the arrow tip. When he is satisfied the shot is set up, he increases back tension. As back tension increases, the draw hand moves the bowstring and the arrow back, so that eventually the arrow slides out from under the clicker. The clicker slaps the riser and makes a noise, hence its name. Archers generally watch the clicker to see that the length of the draw is sufficient to place the clicker on the start of the slope of the arrow tip. After that, visual focus switches to aiming. The clicker facilitates the use of back tension, plus it discourages anticipation of the release because the archer is never quite sure when back tension will have increased enough to slide the arrow from under the clicker. For finger shooters, these are important advantages in setting up consistent and well executed shots. Most Olympic style shooters use one, but finger shooters in bowhunter class often are not allowed to use clickers.

More info in this video: