Learning the hard way [LONG]


Hi all

here is a collection of six momentary lapse of reason I suffered during the past years. Some of them are pretty common among us, but it seems that someone likes to follow already traced paths and learn the hard way.

Enjoy the reading!!!

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i) The wrong approach (not archery related, but nearly...)

During a cold, gray and boring winter day a friend of mine (call him M.) told me he got a 150lbs crossbow. To try and shoot it, I (G.), M. and another close friend of us (P.) went to a secluded field open in the wood and started shoooting. It was a really nice field: wide and surrounded with steep ridges of soft terrain (we were around 24, grown up, mature and concerned about safety). We put some cardboad boxes and started shooting. But we got bored very soon: the devil's instrument was way too accurate, or the field not enough big to make the shooting challenge our skills. So one of us (it was me, probably...) came out with the wonderful idea of the day:

G: "hey! let us see how high can the bolt climb"

The other two bought the idea with sudden passion so we set up the scene: the smartest of us (It was me, for sure...), claiming the right to shoot, settled to the center of the fiels and asked the other two to check the verticality of the crossbow. Done that, I shooted...

G.) TWANG! There it is! can you see it?
P.) No...
M.) Nope...

G.) ...
P.) ...
M.) ...

Then the light hit us with a sudden flash of knowledge and making it the day of the dumbest thing I did during my entire life...

G.) Hey pals, you know, the thing is supposed to come back!!!
P.) !!! OH S**T !!!

So there we were: in the middle of a HUGE field (it was growing bigger and bigger...), no cover available, M. running like h**l, I and P. clueless staring each other, and a bolt, fully aware of Newton laws and willing to abide by them, climbing somewhere high over our heads. In the "debriefing" after the fact we realised we were frozen thinking to the uncertainty of the shoot, there was no wind to give us a preferential direction to run, we were not sure whether the crossbow was really along the vertical and so on.

I decided to exploit the situation: I stood still, got out my heavy wool coat (I somewhat remembered that middle age soldiers were using wool coats to protect themselves against arrows) and kept it high over my head. Yes I was feeling safe! P. managed himself under and between my legs and we waited...

The bolt landed around 10 - 15 meters from our position. We found it more than half buried in the hard ground.

We called it a day, I came back home with the bolt, to write one hundred time on my lab log book "What goes up comes down" and to calculate time of flight and maximum height of that bolt when shot by a 150lbs crossbow at different angles, using different approximations, trying to demonstrate that staying still was the better (in statistical sense) strategy...

ii) Discovering the wheels:

Years ago my soon to be brother in law came home with a 60lbs hunting compound. None of us had any previous experience with bows of any kind, so we went to the usual secluded field (where we knew we would find lot of straw bales) with the bow, its manual, an old book about archery, a 40cm FITA target, and a set of 12 shiny new camo field arrows that came with the bow. We took our time to set the field, pile up the heavy bales, fix the target, measure distances, learning how to draw the bow, setting the rules. We put our bets, smoked a cigarette admiring our hard work and started shooting our first round of 6 arrows each. We made our best but, you can imagine, ALL the camo arrows went in the green during the first round...

...and 12 years later they are still there...

The day after we bought another set of red fluorescent orange and purple arrows.

...That summer we spent more than one afternoon trying to find those new shiny camo field arrows...

Lesson learned: They are called camo for a reason...

But then it was too late: I was hooked: My brother in law discovered he was ?kind of? left handed, and gave me the bow.

iii) Mind your hand.

That bow was set for him (he draws 29", I draw 27") so I decided to spend an afternoon to adapt the bow to my draw length. I went to my backyard with an arrow and a set of allen keys and started fiddling with the bow. After a good while I had the "wall" at my draw length, I nocked the arrow to see if it was too long, draw, anchor, BANG! The arrow went straight to the concrete wall 3 meters in front of me, shattering and throwing back metal shrapnels against me. Well... I did not hit my car, the window or the garage door, and I was lucky enough that the arrow did not fly over the wall toward the town center ot through my neighbours' gardens...

The bow was immediately exchanged with two Samick Progress-I 30lbs bows (right and left handed for the two of us) and a wooden 20lbs bow for my sister.

iv) Remember the rules...

These two olimpic bows brought another couple of years of self-learning and fun shooting. Sometimes we used to go out and shoot to decide who was the one to pay for dinner. One day I was particularly nervous, I was not consistent and of course I lost. when I came back home decided to check what I was doing wrong trying some blank boss shooting in the backyard; the boss was at 8 meters, with the dreaded concrete wall behind it and my sight at 15m...

But no, I hit the boss :cheerful: just aiming at the bottom, easy trick! Thinking about what I did wrong that afternoon I was concentrating on my bow hand. I decided to adjust the sight to be more confortable, aimed toward the center and I found that the arrows were going on the top half of the boss. Another small adjustment: hmm DANGEROUSLY near the top of the boss, my form is going bad, I do not want to destroy an arrow, better be careful... big adjustment... BANG!!! The concrete wall survived again...

Lesson learned: "Follow the arrow!"... I do not really know why, but I moved the pin the wrong way... :faint:

v) See point iii)

It was time to have proper shooting teaching: there was a club just between home and the Uni where I started working, and I signed up for lessons. I decided to sell my old 30lbs Progress-I (that was measured to be more than 34lbs...) and bought a second hand old hoyt GM riser with 28lbs limbs. Sadly I got it during a weekend when I had no possibility to go to the field... The bow was set at its maximum, with wrong tiller and no rest, so again there I was, in the backyard, with the boss, my new toy, a magnetic rest, a button, and a set of allen keys. Bad combination of course. After a number of iterations of "string the bow, measure the tiller, draw, look at the pin, feel the bow hand, unstring the bow", I found the best setting. The bow was easy to draw, no strange movements of the pin, good bow hand feeling, nice and easy to anchor, yes perfect... BANG!!! S**T!!!! DRY RELEASE!!!

...No damage to limbs and riser, the new, unused string had to be changed.

vi) A relaxed bow hand

I forgot to use my wrist sling... Once I grabbed the bow from the upper limb after a single bounce on the field, but it keeps happening...

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New member
i laughed the whole way through.

Reminds me of when i helped set my dad up with his first bow (50 pound recurve). It was a wooden onepiece bow, and along with it he bought a comparable amount of shiny new camo arrows. Of course, like with any new bow bought in-store, he wanted to try it out there. At the 18 yard indoor range, theres a block of targets about 2m tall and about the same amount of a concrete wall covered in 1/8th inch steel plating (you see it coming). His first shot was a little high.... He was at half distance, too. With about 58 pounds on his fingers, the arrow was shattered to halfway down the shaft, and it left a right big dent in the steel plates. Gosh the sparks were cool!

Like many other archers, i started very young with a children's archery set. My first one was a compound bow, probably rated around 10 pounds. This thing was the definition of shoddy workmanship. 4 years later, (me being 12) i began my recurve adventure with a compound handle splitting in my hand under flexion. FUN!!!

A few years after i got my first recurve (very basic), i upgraded to a 25 pound PSE wooden takedown bow. Expectably, i was thrilled to have the thing for a very long time (in fact, i only recently ordered a new one. Still hasnt come in the mail. Maybe tomorrow!). Having my first target sight on this bow, i fiddled with it at 30 yards, thought i was comfortable with it and moved to 50 yards. Concentrating on my form, doing the best i could, i shot about a meter high. "Oh, that shot is high, my pin needs to go down!" i thought... I adjusted it down a few mm, and never saw one of my easton X7's ever again. Fortunately i bought 7 of them :fight:

If nothing else, your foolery is the pleasure of many other archers.

I enjoyed the post, see you around.

The Enigma

New member
Well we have a few new beginners but one bought a bow and bought it off a person through ebay i think he said, anyway this person is on his 3-4 week of beginers course and comes to club and goes, i bought a bow but he then came to the club, and said i bought this bow seen it set up, got home and had a look at it and tried setting it up and he went the limbs are loose so h
e tigtened it up and said it looked weird anyway he took his bow to club and we thought he was just having a bad day we looked at it and sorta laughed. (reason being he has been using a TD1 bow the basic screw in limbs and riser and get his new bow) anyway we look at it and go the reason they wont tighten is because their now a takedown bow its internatnol fitting limbs, so his tiller was out and he then asked what tighted the limbs we went the string does that. he then asked how long iy would take to set it up properly, we looked at him and went we dont have enough time

but we have heard beginners in the area sorta do the same

Mad Archer

New member
I sympathise with the last one. Some years ago as a fairly new archer, I went to a coaching session (that I had spent good money on) and rather nervously put the bow together. Shot the first arrow and realised when the whole lot hit the ground that I'd forgotten the sling. I had the old AGF long rod that had a plastic piece that was designed to break off and save the carbon bit, and this duly did its job and snapped. Had to do the rest of the session using the V-bar rods as twins instead and to buy a new base piece for the long rod as soon as possible.


I just stumbled upon this post of mine I forgot about...!

May I rightly claim my well deserved Fonz Award after 14 years? :p