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Some Changes At The Archer is a Girl

Some big changes are coming to The Archer is a Girl.  The more I talk with people, the more I realize there is a gaping hole in information for archers, especially recurve archers, when it comes to books, gear, apps, and general training and coaching information.  When we decide to buy our next book or our next car, most of us tend to hit the internet these days and look for reviews and other people’s experiences with that item before we purchase it ourselves.

And yet, for a lot of archery gear, those reviews, especially trusted reviews, don’t exist.  Want to buy a book on archery to learn more about technique and form?  Which one do you buy and is the information in it any good?  What if you’re looking for your next riser, or plunger, or sight?  You can occasionally find reviews of the product on a website where you could purchase it, but you don’t find anything in depth, from someone whose used it and put it through its paces.  What about that cool scoring app you found on Google Play? Does it really work? Is it worth your time?

These are some of the frustrations I’ve run in to as I go to buy gear, or consider paying for an app.  And the more archers I talk with, the more I realize they experience the same frustration.  So I have decided that I will take on this challenge, that instead of bemoaning the lack of information I will provide that information for you guys as well as continuing to blog about my own archery journey.

What can you expect from the new The Archer is a Girl?  The first thing you can expect is a new layout.  Coming soon we’ll have a smoother interface design so that the front page features the most recent articles, but also categorizes them by type.  Looking for app reviews? They’ll all be in one place.

The next thing you can expect is fewer, but more in depth, posts.  Right now I have scheduled one app review, one gear review, and one book review per month.  I feel it’s all my schedule can handle.  On top of that you’ll still find opinion pieces on what’s going on in archery now or what’s going on in my own archery journey as well as tournament updates.

What if there’s a piece of gear you’re considering buying and want to find a review on?  Drop me a line and let me know.  If someone in my circle has that piece of gear, we’ll get a review for you as soon as possible.  If not, then I’ll move it to the top of my priority list to get my hands on it and review it for you.

I’m not a super professional archer.  While that’s my goal, I’m just one of you guys, in the trenches, trying to make decisions about gear as my skill level increases and my ability to perform at larger tournaments catches up with my desire to attend them.  You won’t be hearing any manufacturer approved press, as I’m not sponsored by anyone.  I am part of Team Fulcrum, but they’re a bow shop, not a manufacturer.  So I may tell you that you can buy a piece of gear from Fulcrum Archery! But I’ll never tell you to buy a piece of gear just because the manufacturer sponsors me.

So that’s what’s new and upcoming at The Girl is an Archer.  I hope you’ll find that it fits the need I see within our archery community.  And if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll tell me that, too.






The Most Controversial Word in Archery…


The word is enough to make people start spitting insults and turning themselves into victims.  Or, rather, the lack of the word and the thing itself at World Archery tournaments across the globe.

From the World Archer rule book, Book 3: Target Archery

11.3.3. Athlete equipment shall not include camouflage colours of any kind.

From the USA Archery Dress Code

2. No camo or blue denim (jeans) may be worn at target events. Accessories such as trim on shirts, caps, quivers, armguards, footwear, etc., are permitted to be camo. At field events, denim may be worn but camo may not be worn.

The 2016 World Archery Indoor Championships are happening now, in Ankara Turkey.  The United States has sent a good field.  But perhaps, not all of our competitors were as well informed as they could have been.  BowJunky posted a video of a US Compound competitor having to spray paint his bow because he had shown up in Turkey with a camouflage colored bow.  BowJunky serves mostly the ASA crowd, and there was an almost immediate riot.  As if, somehow, we were being discriminated against, victimized even, because World Archery wouldn’t let the poor man shoot his camo colored bow.  There were screams of discrimination against hunters, or rules being enforced inconsistently.  But what they didn’t realize was, the rules in Vegas, put on by the NFAA with a small World Archer event on the side, are different than the rules for a World Archery event (if you participated in the Indoor Archery World Cup in Las Vegas, you would have had to follow the same rules, but if you participated only in the Vegas Shootout, you would have been under NFAA rules, which are slightly different). Our American 3D competitors were up in arms and hurling insults about how World Archery is stupid, that the rule is stupid, that there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to wield their camo bows across the globe if they want to…

Except there is a reason.  Crystal Gauvin, who went directly to World Archery officials to ask for the reasoning behind the no camouflage rule, eloquently relayed their reasoning in a Facebook post that I hope everyone will read.  Twice.

I feel the need to address the WA camo rule. Many of you, particularly in the US, are very against the rule and think it is anti US or anti hunting. I can honestly say I was right there with you until the reasoning behind the rule was explained to me.

I want you to stop for a moment and take off your US bias hat and think for a minute what camo can bring to mind in other countries in the world. For many around the globe, camo makes them think of genocide, children soldiers, and war, as it is worn by dictators, military generals and some truly truly evil people who do terrible things.

I know I’ve been lucky in life to never witness any of those things, nor have I ever had to fear me or my family would be subjected to these atrocities. I for one would NEVER want to be the cause of reminding someone of these crimes, causing them fear or panic. For this reason, I fully support the no camo rule, as I hope you do to

I was appalled by the hue and cry of victimization that rose up on the Bow Junky Facebook post.  That somehow these archers felt their gods-given rights were being infringed upon because they couldn’t shoot a camouflage colored bow at a very specific, top level target competition.  That they somehow felt impotently spewing hatred at World Archery on Facebook would accomplish ..well.. anything.

It is the personal responsibility of each archer to understand ALL of the rules of the tournament they plan to complete in well before they show up on tournament grounds.  Especially if that tournament involves using a passport and flying halfway across the globe.

It is the responsibility of each archer competing in a World Archery competition to understand that, literally, their world just got bigger.  They are not limited to the US culture, customs, and symbolism anymore.  And since World Archery must represent a multitude of nations and demonstrate respect towards each culture, they will err on the side of being conservative in matters of dress and equipment.

It is the responsibility of each archer competing in a World Archery competition to understand that this is the governing body that works with the International Olympic Committee to present archery to the world every 4 years in the Olympic Summer Games, and therefor World Archery standards may mirror standards set by the IOC. By necessity, they have to.

It is the responsibility of each archer to understand that there is a fundamental divide between 3-D (ASA) archery, and FITA / Olympic / WA archery.  Compound archers desperately want to be able to represent their countries in the Olympic games.  But the only way that’s going to happen is if compound archers follow all the rules of the World Archery governing body until such time as World Archery and the IOC can hash out what it looks like to host a compound competition at the Olympic Games. Target archery is different.  You can disparage it if you like. One of the members of my team, who shoots exclusively ASA, calls it “country club archery”.  You can say that 3-D is harder, or more realistic, or whatever.  And maybe, one day, 3-D archery will be an Olympic sport too.  But  until that time it is important to understand that the IOC and World Archery feel there is a tradition to uphold.  Especially with sports fighting over spots, and some very deserving sports losing their place in the Olympic Games, it is supremely important that World Archery present a professional face to the world, and its archers do the same.

There is an uproar that World Archery may be trying to draw a line of separation between hunting and target archery by not allowing camo bows on the line at WA events.  I think that logic is pretty faulty, to be honest with you.  Because World Archery doesn’t care one whit if its target archers go bow hunting on the weekend (where legal).  I think the people drawing the line are the ones who immediately scream they’re being victimized by World Archery because they aren’t allowed to bring their camouflage bow onto the line of a World Archery event.  And they do it every time they scream and gnash their teeth and demand that they get their own way (I’m speaking mostly of US citizens here) without respect to the fact that World Archery is a global association with global concerns.

It makes me sad, really, that we can get into such a screaming match over… the color of our equipment.

It makes me sad that people think it isn’t important to read and pay attention to the rules of the international governing body of my sport, especially when they compete at an international level.  I’d give a lot to be able to compete at that level.  If it took saving my pennies and begging and scraping to get a non-camo bow together to do it, I’d do it in a heart beat.  Because I consider representing my country on an international stage to be a privilege.  To be *that good*.  That’s my dream.  It’s why I drag my tired ass to the range every day I can.  It’s why I give up time with my family, and have given up anything that resembles a social life.  I think we forget that representing our country on an international stage is an honor. And that in doing so we should act honorably.  Which perhaps means gaining a complete understanding of the rules of the game before we show up, and not making a fuss if we made a mistake, but owning our  mistake gracefully and moving on.





How Hard is It?

How hard is it to be a competitive archer? How hard is it to be a female competitive archer?

Let’s just say don’t quit your day job. And winning the lottery couldn’t hurt.

On Equality in Archery

Getting Through the Clicker

I’m sharing this because I want to keep this drill for when I have my clicker back on

A Blog for Archery Coaches

This question came through as a “comment” on an older post. I have added a little to it and put it up here in the cue where people can find it. (You can sort through these posts by clicking on any category or tag in the “clouds” to the right. The posts that have those categories/tags applied to them will then burble to the top of the stack.) Also, when you send in questions, please indicate what style you shoot and any other particulars you think bear on your problem.

QandA logoHi Steve, have you got any advice on overcoming mental blocks? I often struggle to commit to squeezing the arrow through the clicker. I’ve worked on the mental program stuff from Lanny Bassham but I’m not quite there.

This is hard to answer without watching you shoot.

The whole purpose of the clicker is to remove the decision of when to…

View original post 609 more words

Coaching J – Episode 1

Coaching J – Episode 1

My dear friend, the one who first encouraged me to think about participating in competitive archery, had to take an almost 9 month break from the sport due to work and injury. Recently we got him back! I’ve been so excited to shoot with J again, and uplifted by his presence. I don’t think I realized just how much I missed him until he came back to the range.

A day or two ago he asked me to be his interim coach and get him back into the form be used to have. I’ve been Level 2 certified for almost a year now, but I didn’t think I had that much to offer him. He is well into being an intermediate to advanced archer himself. Didn’t he need someone more skilled than me? Of course I would help him! I just didn’t know how much help I would really be. Turns out, more than I thought.

J gave me permission to post before and after videos from our lesson today.

The first thing I wanted to do was just watch him shoot. Closely and from several angles. Then video the next end to confirm what I thought I was seeing and be able to show him the trouble spot I found that I thought we should work on first. Here is one of J’s before videos.

I used Coach’s Eye to draw some simple lines to detail the problem area I saw. At the start you can see that one hip is higher than the other, but spine is straight and shoulders are aligned. As the video progresses you can see his weight  shift, and instead of coiling around the spine and keeping the lower body still, he twists at the hips so that his whole body rotates. The shoulder blade winds up where the spine was, the hips twist, and his right shoulder to elbow line lifts upwards.

We worked on foot  placement, because the placement he was using was almost T like, back foot parallel to the line and front foot pointed at the target, which left his base unstable.

We also worked on isolating the right shoulder muscles for movement, allowing just the right shoulder blade to drive the draw process. In the video above the hips were driving the draw instead of the shoulder.

I like people to see what I see and for us to collaborate together to fix the problem. I’m partial to the Socratic method, so I tend to ask more questions and to also explain why I’m asking for a specific change. It’s my hope that in doing so the instruction and change sticks with the person longer. I know that the more collaborative I am with my own coach the more I get out of my lesson. So I showed this video to J and we talked about what changes to make.

This the result, after some practice.

See how his hips are much more even and how they stay still during the draw? Part of that is due to the change in foot placement, allowing a more stable base. Part of it is on focusing on allowing the right shoulder blade to drive the entire draw movement. There is still a bit of twist going on, but it has minimized drastically.

I am so proud of J! It’s extremely difficult to come back to a sport after extended time off. I couldn’t be happier with his decision to return and I’m grateful for his permission to share our experience here on my blog.  J’s last end for the night looked like this!


J's final end at 18 meters. Super group!

It’s Been a While

It’s Been a While

I’ll admit it. I lagged about blogging. Blew it off for a while. You see, there didn’t seem to be a lot to write about. After the Longhorn Invitational I was in a very transitional period. I had just made the switch from Barebow to Olympic Recurve, but I didn’t have any Olympic Recurve equipment.

Add to that the fact that the range close to my home shut down right before Christmas and I was in a big funk when it came to archery.

How would I practice? What would I practice with? How was I going to reach all those lofty goals I dreamed about?

I wanted my range back, with its form room with mirrors where I had managed to make so much progress. Where it wasn’t so insanely busy all the time that getting through a private lesson is sometimes difficult.

I wanted to pout about not being able to use my own bow anymore, because as much as I love my Samick Polaris, its just not made for all the sights and stabilizers and plungers and clickers an Olympic Recurve competition bow needs. Oh, its drilled for them. But the plungers and sight don’t fit because the wooden riser is thicker than the machined aluminum recurve risers. So the parts don’t play well together.

Then. It came. A dear friend of mine surprised me by buying me probably the best Olympic recurve riser on the market. And dear god is it beautiful. In a textured matte black with a grip that fits my (admittedly small) hand like a freaking dream.

The Man bought me everything else but limbs (we have to budget these things out, or not eat). The shiny silver plunger and the delicate shiny black arrow rest and the I-didn’t-know-they-made-strings-like-that string. And the bag to carry it all in. And more arrows.

Another good friend sauntered over to me at the range and said, basically, “use my awesome Samick limbs and these other awesome carbon wood limbs until yours come in. I’m not shooting anyway”. And my jaw dropped and I wanted to cry.

Because now I had a bow again.


He is named Raptor

There is still work to do. The tax refund check will buy a v-bar stabilizer system, a split finger tab, and a set of Hoyt 720 limbs.

My first outdoor competition is in a month, the Uno at University of Texas in Austin. And I am beyond excited!!! My coach is excited, too. Coach Holly kept me motivated enough while being sympathetic and understanding of my slump. I cannot say enough about her. I cannot rave enough about the kindness and generosity of the people I shoot with.

Archery peeps are just damn good people.

How to Select Arrows for Optimal Performance

How to Select Arrows for Optimal Performance

Choosing arrows can be difficult, especially if you’re a beginner. Erica goes beyond the confusing charts and blindingly small grids to explain the basics.

Erica Rascon

how to pick arrows for a bowMany beginners wonder how to pick the right arrows for a bow. I’m going to tell you the most mentally efficient method (simple + accurate) for selecting arrows, though there are much more precise methods like what you’ll find here.

The absolute easiest option is to walk into an archery supply store with your bow in hand and ask the pros. Let them know your target type, too. Then they can measure you, check out your equipment, and help you find arrows.

But for the self-sufficient types (and those who simply want to understand what they’re doing and why) I’ve done a bit of research that might help.

How to pick arrow length Roughly stated, arrows should be an inch longer than your draw length; when you place the arrow in your bow and draw back, the tip of the arrow should exceed your bow rest by 1″.

If your…

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