Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of bow should I buy?
We recommend that beginning archers hold off from buying a bow until they have had some lessons or at least an introductory class. Improper handling of a bow can lead to serious injury. Additionally, arrows must be the correct match for the type of bow. And often the bow has much higher draw weight than a beginner can handle. Proper technique is really important and has gotten much more specific than years ago, and trying to use proper technique with a too-heavy bow just doesn’t work; it only makes the archer struggle just to hold the string back.
That is why we offer ultra light-weight limbs. With these, a person can really work on shooting properly without struggling with too much weight, building good technique and good strength at the same time.
Should I purchase a bow on the Internet or a sporting goods store?
Only if you know exactly what you need. This includes size, weight, type of bow, correct arrows and attachments as well as other pieces. If you are not certain of any of these things, then you should get the advice of an experienced archer or trainer. Even “starter kits” that include “everything you need to begin shooting” might be inappropriate or even dangerous.
Why is using a stretch band or tubing needed? Can’t a person learn using the bow?
These stretch materials are used for recurve when starting out. A person can learn with the bow, but learning proper technique is much more difficult just because of the draw weight. No one has the strength in the specific muscles used for shooting properly. Here, the word properly is important, as a person can shoot any way they want or can. But if the person is looking to perform well and get serious about competition, then learning the correct way to shoot the bow becomes really important, and the stretch materials allow a person to build proper technique, then see if he/she can do it the same way with the bow.
It is so, so important to be able to learn correct body positioning from the beginning. One of the important things about learning proper technique is that specific muscles are used in a specific way, and the body is in a specific position. For almost everyone starting, the correct muscles needed for archery are not strong; they must be built. So it is better to start out with very, very light weight so the person can focus on proper positioning and muscle use. Stretch bands and stretch tubing allow that.
Using a bow with any substantial weight at the beginning usually means the person has to strain and fight just to hold the string back any which way he/she can. This does not promote correct technique and has the possibility of injury.
And when making changes in technique, the archer is using to use different muscles than he/she has before. These are not nearly as strong as the ones presently being used, so it is difficult to make a change and do it correctly at the full weight the archer has been using. What often happens is that the person can do the new technique for just a short time, if at all, then is too fatigued to maintain it, and the muscles that have been used in the past take over, so the person is back to where he/she was. That means no change in technique, or at best, requiring a much longer period of time to make the change.
Why not have a beginner start with a bow and begin shooting immediately?
A couple reasons. First, working with very light weight, as discussed in answering the previous question is very important to help them learn proper technique. For recurve, there are no ILF bow limbs readily available that are light enough to learn. At times, even using the Quintessential 10# limbs on a bolt riser can initially be too much for younger kids.
Working with stretch bands or tubing for recurve and a strap for compound in the beginning allows the person to focus on learning what he/she is doing – learn the correct positioning, muscle use, and feel of the shot. This is what determines where the arrow hits on the target. Consistency of technique is primary, and consistent proper technique makes a champion. So learning it correctly from the beginning is much better than just shooting; patterns are being set with every shot, and the focus needs to be on what the person is doing with the body to attain the correct pattern.
Second, what the person is doing with the body in an integral part of the shot, and is the primary part of success getting tight groups the target. Everyone, but kids in particular, are more concerned with where the arrow hit on the target rather than what he/she is doing to put it there. There is a direct Cause-Effect here (or better put, Cause-Result when shooting). The arrow in the target is the Result, what the archer is doing on the line is the Cause. So allowing a person to shoot immediately usually means that the emphasis is on where the arrow landed instead of working for consistency in the way the body is used.
Argument – 10lb. limbs are way too light. They aren’t necessary; a standard lightweight bow works fine.
To really learn proper technique, they aren’t too light. Strong men, possibly, but most everybody else finds that after a short period of time, they are really tired and cannot do what is needed for a good shot. That can happen even from the beginning. With strong men, possibly 18#-20# at most, but not much more than that for the same reasons given for using stretch bands and tubing. It allows the person to focus on what he/she is doing, not just trying to hold the string back.
Learning proper technique takes repetition over a long period of time, and the more a person can repeat good technique without undue fatigue, the better.
Also, the ultra light-weight limbs allow a kid to continue shooting for a much longer period of time without exhaustion. That means they can keep learning and enjoying the sport without coming away with the thought that it is a whole lot of physical work.
Why use a strap, especially with recurve? The strap forces a fixed draw length, which a recurve does not have, so that does not realistically represent what the archer needs to do.
With recurve, yes, the strap has a fixed length; that is the purpose of it. When working with NTS, for those starting to learn the correct string shoulder motion, this can be a real help, as it keeps the person from pulling with the arm (lower arm and hand moving directly away from the target) instead of just the shoulder joint and upper arm moving straight back along the shooting line. Because the strap does not stretch, the archer can practice that last motion until it is a familiar part of the shot.
With compound, the strap is ideal. It simulates the bow – stopping at full draw – without the mass weight. This is great for initial learning, and the person can repeat shot after shot without the pressure a cord would put on the bow hand. The archer can set the body correctly, generate the push-pull as he/she would with the bow, then execute the release.
Why have different length slings?
The bow hand should be relaxed, which means that the bow would fall on the shot. That is the purpose of the sling – keeping the bow in the hand. How far the bow travels before it hits the sling is important. Too short, the hand cannot be relaxed; too long, the bow travels unnecessarily and may flop in odd directions.
Also, the size of the grip and the size of the hand determine the sling length needed. Wooden recurve risers generally have a much larger grip area, which means that the sling needs to be longer than otherwise would be needed if the bow is to leave the hand on the shot. Compound grips are usually so small that a short sling works best. Smaller hands need a longer sling, as the sling has to go around the grip more than it would if the hand were larger.
All of these play into the selection of sling length. With a recurve, the bow needs to mostly go beyond the hand, so longer slings are usually preferred. Again, compounds don’t need as long a sling because of the very small grip area, and are generally set up to keep the bow from moving much.
NTS is weird. It’s not intuitive or natural. It’s not what archers have been doing for eons, so why now?
Actually, the core elements of NTS have been used for eons, as the bows used in the past were so heavy that if you didn’t have solid alignment and use most of the muscles on the string side of the body, you wouldn’t be able to shoot the 100#+ bows used back then. And to start using the muscles on the string side of the rib cage as soon as possible, there had to be the same kind of setup and shoulder motion NTS uses.
Those have just been refined to be used for the precision shooting now required in recurve competition. It does not seen intuitive or natural, partly because the weights used in competition do not absolutely require correct alignment and engagement of muscles on the rib cage like they did back then, simply because the weights are lighter.
What is NTS?
The US National Training System developed by US National Coach Kisik Lee.