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APPtitune Takes the Mystery Out of Tuning

APPtitune Takes the Mystery Out of Tuning

Serious tuning, beyond just checking center shot, has been a pretty big mystery to me for the last year. Everybody seemed to know how to do it, except me. And while my state’s archery association provided some great information, it was still incomplete information. Especially when it came to stabilizers. I wanted a way to configure the best possible stabiliser configuration and I just couldn’t figure it out.

Months ago Stacy had recommended an app called APPtitune to me. But it cost $15.00, and I just wasn’t willing to shell out that much for an app at the time. But when I ran into stabiliser questions this week I revisited the app. I went to its website, realized it might have everything I was looking for and took the plunge. I am so glad I did!


Bow Tuning App on Apple and Android

Not only does it have in depth stabiliser weighting information all in one place, it walks you through step by step tuning almost every aspect of your bow. The only thing it didn’t really have was a really in-depth discussion on plunger tuning. But it does have a great way to start tuning your plunger without spending an entire day doing just that one  thing. And it’s simple enough that even I can follow the steps.

There are Pro Tips in each section written by Jake Kaminski, silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. And these tips are not just fluff. They are, I feel, really useful pieces of advice written for the beginner wanting to get more serious and the intermediate archer who may be on their own when trying to find their bow.

All the mystical “stuff” was de-mystified and made, if not easy, then at least easy enough to follow that I can work on tuning my bow myself. And I’m not getting information piecemeal. I can read about how each system will affect the bow’s performance and the arrow characteristics (stiff or weak), see how they are interconnected and know how to go back and forth between them while getting an ever finer tune.

If you have a great grasp of bow dynamics, you probably don’t need this app. But if you don’t, and your tired of trying to sift through the internet to find esoteric information like how to figure out the optimal weighting of your stabilizer system, then pay the money for this app. It’s worth it!


2nd Annual Texas Cup

Another weekend, another tournament. I don’t usually do tournaments back to back, but they just worked out that way this month. The Texas Cup was held in Plano, so I didn’t have to travel for if, which made doing both the Texas Cup and the Winter Games so close together much more possible. No time off work needed for either!

This was a full Star FITA, 120 arrows over two days, and a lot larger participation. The men’s senior recurve line was actually pretty large. And though the women’s senior recurve line was smaller, and we were all outnumbered by the compounds, it was great to see so many Olympic recurves and barebows all in one place!


The senior men's Olympic Recurve medalists and me!

I was a little concerned about how I would hold up, since I’ve only recently gone up in draw weight, but I think the proof that I can turn my limbs up is that I had no fatigue even at the end of the 2nd day. So they’ll get turned up on Tuesday.

Saturday morning I grouped really well. I was happy with how I was shooting, but would have liked to not be quite so left. I feel like I just got the “left” problem fixed, and now its back. So while I had nice fight groups the scores would have been better if I could have nudged them a little more center. I did shoot the most 10’s I’ve ever shot in a tournament, though!

Today I don’t feel I shot as well.  The line felt more cramped. I didn’t feel like I could set up the way I wanted to. But I had a better score over all. I’m firmly in the averaging 20 points per end, which is such a huge jump for me!!

831/1200 was my final score. I walked away from my previous double FITA a full 200 points lower. And after a year of work I’m finally breaking past the 50% mark. I consistently shoot more than 50% of a perfect score.

All that aside. I learned a really important lesson. And that is…scores matter less than walking into your arrows. Yup. I walked straight into the nocks of my own arrows because I was talking to (and looking at) someone down the line as we walked down to score. I was that girl, the one who caused the entire line to be held because she needed a bandaid. I was going to continue on, but didn’t realize how bad it was bleeding. Ashley, who took first and was scoring with me, was over to the judges before I could even set my clip board down.


The buckle helped soothe my hurt pride a bit

Team Fulcrum had four people shooting the Texas Cup, and two of us placed. Dacota took first in senior men’s compound and I took 2nd in senior women’s recurve.


Team Fulcrum brings home some hardware

It was a great weekend! But I’m really looking forward to the next three weeks of practice and tuning.

From FanGirl to Team Girl

During the Texas Winter Games last weekend I had a really nice chat with Troy Albert from Fulcrum Archery. I knew he had started an archery team, but had assumed that his was focused only on compound shooters. It made me a little sad, his team seemed to have great cohesion and vision, but I understood that in pragmatic terms there is a wider audience for compound shooters and a deeper market. So it made sense that his team would be compound focused.

Boy was I wrong! I did ask him point blank if the Fulcrum Archery team was just for compound shooters. And he set me straight quickly. They wanted recurvists! Apparently we are just hard to find. True, you don’t see many of us at NFAA, IBO, or ASA tournaments. Be it barebow, traditional, or Olympic, but especially Olympic, recurvists are hard to find in large numbers unless you are at a National level FITA shoot. Even state level FITA shoots have a small number of recurvists compared to compound. Or maybe I just live in the wrong state. Anyway. Troy wanted us on his team, but we were never in the same place to talk. Until the Texas Winter Games, that is, when I blatantly walked up to him and basically asked him outright if his team was just for compounds.

We talked about his team and his goals for it. We talked about his business. And in the end our vision seemed to line up pretty well. I had long wanted, and had even tried to get off the  ground via Urban Shooters, a competitive adult recurve team. But that small numbers thing made it hard. He already had a competitive team and a great vision for it, and wanted recurves to join. It gave him something, another venue where he could promote his business, and it gave me a prepaved path to promote a competitive team.

This week we exchanged a few emails, and on Thursday I became the first Oly on the Fulcrum Archery team. Thursday night was the first team practice. I was nervous. No really. I was nervous. I know heart only counts for so much. All those nerves translated directly into my shooting. So I didn’t shoot 50 meters with them. Impossible,  really, because I have no sight settings for long distance because of going up in draw weight recently. I barely have sight settings for 18 meters. But I did enjoy the easy way everyone came in and just did their thing. They were either just working on shooting, or getting some specific stuff done for a tournament this weekend, or hanging out together. Everyone said hi, shook my hand, welcomed me on. They were really nice! I am a textbook introvert, so Troy had to literally drag me off the range to meet people. But it was a good night!

I think the Fulcrum team is split across several different tournaments this weekend. A few of us, including me, will be shooting the Texas Cup double FITA in Plano. Several more are headed to an ASA tournament in College Station. Who knows, maybe these guys will eventually get me out into the field archery world.

No, I don’t have to be on a team to shoot. But it makes a difference when other people are encouraging you to shoot and get better.

Girl Got Group

Girl Got Group


Training tonight at the range, working on the anchor point drill that I did with Tony on Sunday. I think it works.

Training with Tony

Training with Tony

Tony is one of the best coaches I know. He usually coaches kids. He only coaches people who are serious and willing to learn. And in the last six months or so he’s been so busy even his regular students don’t see him much. I hadn’t seen him at all.

I went to the range yesterday to sort myself out after the discombobulation of Saturday’s Winter Games. I hadn’t put in the performance I had hoped to. Not even close. And…Tony’s there. Like magic. I was not going to ask him for help. But he always asks me what I’m working on, and I always tell him the truth. When I explained to him that my old anchor point was wrong and I didn’t know where the new one was yet he was like “those things don’t occur naturally, you have to force it”. And promptly took me to ” the wall ” and watched me shoot.

Then he put an 8 pound bow in my hand and proceeded to fix me. Some things were the same that he’d fixed six months ago (elbow too close to the body). Some were problems I’d noticed more recently but hadn’t been able to fix (not getting completely into my back. Guess what, your torso is supposed to move!) And yes, he fixed the anchor point, too. And then started working on my release.

I have a huge mental block when it comes to release and follow through. I keep thinking that I should be frozen in place, not moving, after the shot goes off. So I refuse to allow my elbow to continue going around the imaginary circle. I freeze all the muscles instead. So that I have almost no follow through motion. I think we wound up spending more time on this than anything else, and he was literally re-mapping what the follow through is supposed to be in my brain. And we made progress! My performance journal is filled with all kinds of excited hand  writing and exclamation marks!!

And he’ll let me send him video to look at, and help out when he has time. I feel like the last two weeks or so have been huge jumps for me in a lot of different areas of the sport. Things that I’m really excited about. Tony gave me enough to work on for probably the next six months. But I could already see and feel an improvement in my shooting. I felt like this was the first time I really understood exactly what each movement he asked for was supposed to do and feel like. Before, I’m sure most of what he said just went right over my head. But last night I got it. I really got it. I’m looking forward to shooting tomorrow night and training each movement a little more.


I have to

Coaching J, Episode 2

Coaching J, Episode 2

Last week, there was a brief moment where I was afraid J was going over to the dark side. The side of “I only want to do what’s fun! Does it matter if that messes up my ability to do the fun thing correctly?” And by correctly I don’t mean my way or the highway, but just in a way that won’t lead to injury after a while.

I’m no Obi-wan. I couldn’t just cut him down with my lightsaber of still growing Archery knowledge and leave him behind. I would still support him in his sport, still want to shoot on the line with him. I would just always be inwardly cringing that one day, after the fun, he’d be in the doctor’s office needing steroid shots, or have to put his bow back down to have shoulder or back surgery. Or that it would wind up being too uncomfortable or painful and he’d make the choice to give up archery.

I didn’t want any of that to happen.  I’d just had a friend miss his chance of shooting at the Olympic Trials this summer due to tendonitis in his shoulder. And that  drove home for me how stupidly important good form is. Not just consistent form, but form that does not make us more injury prone than participating in an extremely repetitive movement sport already makes us. We are like baseball pitchers, except we pitch only a fast ball, and only at the exact same speed and in the same way every time. Good form is the only thing saving us from Tommy John (or in our case, rotator cuff) surgery.

I’m lucky, because where my own concerns blinded me into not being able to communicate well with J that one night (my active listening skills were turned off), the Jedi council came in behind me and made my point for me.

And Sunday we resumed right where we left off. I thought long and hard about making a resolution to just be supportive and not criticize. But I knew that if I was being a bone head about something, I’d want other archers to call me on it even if I couldn’t immediately heed their advice. So I trashed that resolution. I decided to be me.

And we went back to feet. I’d already learned from training horses that every move is a process of refinement. So Sunday we refined J’s stance a bit more to give him the most stable base possible.


J's stance, version 2

This is an improvement over the week before, when his back foot would wind up more parallel to the line and his front foot a tad more open to the target, which I think contributed to his hips twisting during draw. They at least made it easier for him to twist, and since we don’t want the hips to move, making it harder for them to do so was on the top of the agenda.

But really, what causes us to twist when we draw the bow in the first place? Not having the back muscles to draw with just the back
Or not knowing how to draw. But J knew how to draw.

10 months off is a long time to keep the back muscles in shape, though. They had a) forgotten how to do their job without being told and b) had lost the strength to do their job for an extended period of time.

We stood on the line together. Every time his hips would twist I would say “no” and he would let down. Every time he was still he got the shot off.

For now, he has to think about things that used to come naturally, like grounding and “tucking the tail feathers”. But it will come naturally again with time and practice.

I’m sure there will be more times where I worry about the dark side, and where we disagree. But I’m sure we’ll make it past those, too.



I started out shooting barebow with a traditional anchor. I shot barebow from February 2014 all the way through January of 2015. That is almost a year of using a traditional anchor at the corner of the mouth.

To understand how strong the muscle memories are that we develop, know that in February of 2015 I switched to Olympic Recurve precisely because I thought the form was more efficient. I made the switch mentally. I made the switch materially, with all new equipment. I’ve been making the switch physically for the entire 2015 year.

My anchor never completely made the switch. It moved lower, yes. But it moved to the side of my jaw, not under my jaw. Which caused (or was facilitated by) my draw wrist breaking inward, which caused my draw arm to not quite get into alignment, which caused my elbow to be in front of the arrow, which caused me to shoot very left almost all summer 2015 and also caused my arrows to go low, because there was less energy in the shot because I was not drawing as far back because my elbow was in front of the arrow.

WHEW! Could you follow all that?

WHY was I anchoring on the side of my jaw for so long, you might ask? I can hear it now: why didn’t your coach fix this?!?!? OMG that was such a huge thing you should have fixed it sooner!

No. I’ve spent the majority of 2015 getting straight. First I had to get vertically straight, from feet to head. Then I had to get horizontally straight, through my shoulders. That took months. Months of ab workouts and focusing on my posture at work and almost a year of carrying my purse on the left side instead of the right. Months and months of fine tuning my posture. Months that a lot of men, who don’t carry purses and haven’t had babies, don’t have to lose to correcting posture. I envy them.

Without the large blocks, the front end (bow arm) and the back end (draw arm), the connecting piece (anchor) didn’t matter. Now, neither can be fully aligned without the connection in between them being correct, but both could be badly aligned even if the connection was correct. So we fixed the front end. We fixed the back end. We fixed the front end again. They became stable but not perfect. That’s been my September through December focus.

Only the last two weeks were the large blocks of my form good enough to even address that connecting piece, the anchor. It was now the thing most obviously affecting my form.

So my anchor has changed. A lot. It’s not consistent yet because hey, I only started working on it yesterday. It’s such a small change, but such a huge change. Shooting with this different anchor feels lighter, freer, and more stable.


Elbow comparison

On the left is all the progress I had made up until yesterday. But I was getting stressed, the tension was showing and my elbow was still in front of the arrow. On the right, after a short break and some breathing and stretching is the progress I made yesterday. It’s not perfect, but I’m more behind the arrow than I used to be.

It will take a lot of time to overcome the old muscle memory developed during barebow to get the new anchor consistent. There is lots of blank baling in my future. And then sight settings to change, because wow have they changed.

I am so excited. Yesterday felt like the missing link had been discovered and my archery had taken a revolutionary turn!

I can already see from these photos what I’ll be working on after the anchor. That chest lift will get ironed out eventually. But I’m comforted by the thought that it’s not as bad as it used to be.

So what does blank baling look like when you’re working on changing anchors?


It looks like this