What is F.O.C.? And how does it affect my arrows?

F.O.C. is a hot topic in arrow-building discussions today.

What is F.O.C.?

It’s the acronym for “front of center.” What it refers to is the percentage of an arrow’s total weight – including the point – that is concentrated forward of the center of the arrow.

F.O.C. is something that mainly bowhunters are concerned with, and there’s no question that having a solid F.O.C. number is key to getting good arrow penetration on a big game animal.

But some bowhunters think F.O.C. is the only factor they should be concerned with in preparing hunting arrows, and they don’t understand the consequences of simply beefing up the front end of their arrows.

Let’s start with a minimum. Easton Archery recommends arrows have a minimum F.O.C. of 10-15 percent. That’s going to allow an arrow to fly accurately, especially at longer distances. If you go less than 10 percent, the arrow’s trajectory will be flatter, but its flight will be more erratic.

That 10-15 percent is what Easton recommends for target arrows and for hunting arrows. The amount of weight needed up front to hit that range will be sufficient for hunting, according to Easton.

A lot of bowhunters today try to get their F.O.C. to 20 percent and even a little higher. They can do that by adding weight to their inserts. A standard aluminum insert might weigh about 16 grains, where there are brass inserts that can weigh 100 grains. Also, some insert manufacturers allow weights to be screwed into the backs of their inserts, which is another way to add weight to the inserts.

Gold Tip 100-grain brass insert

Bowhunters also can add weight by shooting heavier broadheads. A standard broadhead weighs 100 grains. But there are common options for 125 and 150 grains. And there are special broadheads aimed primarily at the heavy F.O.C. fans that weigh 200 grains.

Strickland’s Archery 200-grain broadhead

So if a bowhunter swaps out that 16-grain aluminum insert for a 100-grain brass insert, and trades a 100-grain broadhead for a 150-grain model, that hunter just increased the front-end weight of that arrow by 134 grains. That’s sure to boost the arrow’s F.O.C. considerably.

No question that arrow now will have improved penetration capabilities. But it also could cause problems for the bowhunter.

For starters, with all that weight added to the front of the arrow, the arrow’s spine is considerably weakened, and accuracy problems are likely. According to Easton’s hunting arrow shaft selection chart, an archer shooting a 29-inch arrow from a 62-pound bow should choose an arrow with a 340 spine while using a 100-grain broadhead. If the archer only increases point weight by 50 grains, that archer should be shooting a 300-spine arrow. The more weight you add to the front of an arrow, the stiffer that arrow needs to be to support that extra weight.

A second issue could be trajectory. When you add weight to an arrow, you slow it down, which adds more curve to its trajectory arc. For the Eastern tree stand hunter who expects most shots to be under 20 yards, that’s probably not an issue. But it could be for the Western hunter who is spotting and stalking and might have to shoot out to 60 yards. With that much weight added, a 2-yard miscalculation in shooting distance could easily result in a miss.

No question there are benefits to boosting an arrow’s F.O.C. to increase its capability of punching through an animal. Some animal hides are notoriously tough, and if the arrow hits a bone, it would be nice if the arrow could punch through that bone.

But as with many things in archery, balance is important. Kinetic energy is the amount of energy a body has in motion. It’s calculated by a formula that relies on the weight and speed of a moving object.

To calculate KE in foot pounds you would take the arrow weight and multiple it by the velocity squared, and divide that number by 450,800. For hunting game animals like antelope and deer, Easton recommends an arrow have KE values of 25-41 foot pounds. For elk, black bear and boar, Easton recommends 42-65 foot pounds.

To illustrate what an arrow build would be to meet those minimums, let’s look at the popular Easton Axis 5mm. A 29-inch, 340-spine arrow weighing 9.5 grains per inch, with a standard insert and fletchings would weigh about 315 grains. Add a 100-grain point and you get a 415-grain arrow. Shoot that arrow from a 70-pound bow drawn to 29 inches, and a speed of about 290 feet-per-second is likely.

The KE value for that arrow is 77 foot pounds. That’s well above Easton’s recommendation for any of those animals. So it’s safe to say that arrow is sufficient for bowhunting all of them.

The F.O.C. for that arrow is 12 percent, which is also within Easton’s recommended range. If I add a bunch of weight to the front of that arrow to try to get to 20 percent F.O.C., I am increasing the penetration capability of an arrow that already is capable to killing a deer, elk or black bear.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But remember to consider arrow spine and performance, along with your hunting expectations as you are building arrows with an eye toward boosting F.O.C.

A simple, inexpensive way to test arrow performance with different F.O.C. values is to get screw-in field points of varying weights. Saunders makes field points as heavy as 250 grains. Shoot several arrows with points of different weights at whatever you consider to be your maximum effective range. By doing this, you should be able to determine what gives you the tightest, most consistent groups.

Saunders 250-grain field point

Don’t just look for the tightest groups. You also want to consider forgiveness. That is, which arrows hit closest to your aiming point when you make a bad shot. If you have an arrow setup that produces 2-inch groups at 50 yards, but a slight bobble on your part throws the arrow off 8 inches, versus an arrow setup that produces 4-inch groups, with imperfect shots only missing by 3 inches, you should consider going with the latter setup.

String alignment for consistent archery shots

Aligning the bowstring in your sight picture is critical to consistent shooting. How archers do that varies – especially among the different archery disciplines.

Let’s get compound archers out of the way first, because their alignment process is the simplest. Almost all compound archers use a peep sight.

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A compound archer takes aim through a peep sight.

This is a small circle or tube that is set into the middle of the bowstring, between the strands. The height of the peep is set based on the archer’s anchor. Most archers will draw to anchor, touch their nose to the string, and then have someone slide the peep up or down so that it matches their eye height.

Look through the peep and line up the sight so it’s in the center. Ideally, the edges of the peep will perfectly match the edges of your scope housing. If it doesn’t, just make sure the sight is in the middle of the peep, and you’ll know you’re aiming the same way for every shot.

Some bowhunters opt not to use peep sights for various reasons – one of them being hunters fear not being able to see through the peep in low light conditions. These archers might use a bow sight with optical alignment built in, or they use the string in some fashion to line up their sight pins in order to achieve a consistent aim. Perhaps they make sure the string aligns against the riser side of their scope housing, or the bow riser itself.

(Using a peep sight is much simpler, and it’s going to be way more accurate. The time you might sacrifice in failing light is more than offset by the huge gains in accuracy.)

Olympic recurve archers – those who put sights on their recurve bows – usually have a three-point system for string alignment to ensure they’re looking through their sight the same way for each shot.

These archers hook the string with one finger above the arrow nock and two below. With this grip, they will then anchor the top of their index finger under the jaw at full draw. Doing this sets their eye height at a consistent spot in relation to the bowstring.

Next, they will touch the tip of their nose to the string and then move their head until their view of the string and sight is set. That string will be in a consistent spot time and again – often along the vertical edge of the riser’s sight window or on the right edge of the sight housing for right-handed archers and the left edge for lefties.

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This Olympic recurve archer establishes the same relationship between his bowstring and his sight for each shot.

Regardless of where an archer aligns the string, if the string drifts from that spot, the archer will notice the alignment has moved, and correct it by simply turning his or her head slightly.

Barebow archers, who shoot without sights, often refer to “string blur.” It’s the blurry image of the bowstring right in front of their eye, which they see while aiming or focusing down range. Some pay attention to string blur during shot alignment, often lining it up in relation to the arrow or riser.

Others, like world champion John Demmer III, count on the string blur to be set properly based on their anchor. Demmer said if he notices his string blur, then he knows he’s out of alignment, because it should be “attached” to the riser from his perspective.

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Champion barebow archer John Demmer III wants his bowstring to be aligned with his riser for each shot, which means he shouldn’t see his “string blur.”

Also, barebow archers who are string-walking as they shoot different distances, like on a 3-D shoot or field course, will move the string blur left and right to move their point of impact left or right, depending on the distance.

Whether you shoot Olympic recurve or barebow, it takes a lot of practice to get consistent string alignment because there is no definitive object – like a peep sight – to give you a precise reference point.

Four Products that make arrow pulling easier

As winter turns to spring, and the weather starts getting nice, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor archery games – 3D, field archery, 50 meters for compounds, 70 meters for recurves, etc. And while it can be a problem on some indoor ranges, difficulty in removing arrows from targets and target butts really seems prevalent in the outdoor games.

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The foam, compressed cardboard and/or bales that catch arrows outside often don’t want to give them up without a fight. Changing weather conditions, construction for durability and other factors combine forces to make them really arrow grabbers. But don’t worry, there are some products out there that can make arrow removal easier.

ARROW PULLER – Every archer shooting arrows into targets should have an arrow puller. These inexpensive rubber devices wrap around the shaft and give you a better grip as you pull your arrow out of a target. Your bare hand can easily slip on an arrow shaft as you try to remove an arrow – especially if it’s cold or your hands are sweaty. With an arrow puller, you can get a good grip on it, while it is firmly holding on to your arrow.

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In the event you stick an arrow in a target, and there just seems to be no chance of budging it by hand, Hamskea makes a device called the AroJack that is designed for just this situation. It grips the arrow, while employing a lever that pushes on the target while pulling back on the shaft. It’s a great tool for removing those arrows that sail a bit wide of the target, and stick into wooden frames.

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ARROW LUBE – Several companies make special lubrications that you can rub on about the last quarter of your shafts at the point end. This will make it much easier to pull your arrows out of targets, and will protect the shafts from getting coated with target material.

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The compressed cardboard butts commonly found on field archery courses are notorious for leaving cardboard residue on untreated arrow shafts. This residue can add a fair amount of weight to your shafts, so you’ve got to scrape it off every time you remove an arrow. Treat your shafts with some arrow lube, and you can minimize that problem – if not eliminate it altogether.

With arrow lube, you’ve got to reapply it fairly regularly during the course of a shooting round, because the material will rub off as the arrows are shot into, and pulled out of, the targets.

ARROW TREATMENTS – Along the same line as arrow lubes are arrow treatments. This is a longer-lasting arrow coating designed to ease arrow removal from targets. Dyna-Tek makes a pair of products called Dyna-Slick and Dyna-Slick Shield. Dyna-Slick Shield is a clear coating that you put on the bottom third of your arrow, and then allow it to harden and cure. Once it’s properly cured, arrow removal should be easy for hundreds of shots.

If you start to see signs of the Dyna-Slick Shield coating beginning to wear off, you can refresh it with Dyna-Slick. This material is wiped on to restore the coating.

For those archers concerned about arrow weight, Dyna-Tek estimates its coating adds no more than 1 grain in weight per treated shaft.

BULGED POINTS – Some manufacturers offer points that are bulged so that at least part of the point is fatter than the arrow shaft. The bulge cuts a path into the target that’s larger than the shaft, so the target material won’t grip the arrow as tightly.

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What archers need to know about cam timing

Cam timing is one of those critical aspects of compound bow tuning that every archer should know. It could be the evil demon that’s responsible for those seemingly unexplained fliers you’re seeing from time to time while shooting your bow.

Cams are the workforce regulators of your bow. They control the string and cable(s), which all combine to get you to your bow’s peak draw weight at some point early in the draw cycle, and then drastically reduce that weight by 60-90 percent by the time you reach full draw.

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2018 Lancaster Archery Classic Men’s Open Pro champ Paul Tedford

If you have a two-cam bow, it’s critical that both cams roll over in sync with one another. If one reaches full rotation before the other, then your pull at full draw will be uneven. Cams have stops built into them, which are designed to hit a cable or limb when the cam reaches its full rotation. They “stop” the draw cycle at the appropriate point.

Imagine one cam reaching the draw stop before the other. Releasing from that point, one cam would rotate more than the other in sending the arrow down range. That’s going to affect the string’s interface with the arrow.

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The draw stop on this cam is short of the cable at full draw.

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Here is a draw stop touching the cable, meaning the cam has reached full rotation.

When you paper tune your bow, cams that are out of sync can cause tears that are unfixable by adjusting the arrow rest or nocking point. Fix the cam timing, and those holes should become perfect – assuming the arrow spine is correct for a given bow, and assuming the archer’s shooting form is solid.

Same goes for single-cam bows. It’s a myth that cam timing isn’t important on these bows. Manufacturers intend for their single cams to rotate a certain amount, from a specific starting point. If that rotation is off, then the cam’s performance will be off.

Single-cam bows usually have a timing mark that will let you see if the cam is properly timed. Often, it’s a hole in the cam. When the cam is timed properly, you should be able to look through the hole in the cam and see the cable perfectly centered in it.

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Here is a piece of orange D-loop material stretched between two timing holes in the cam of this single-cam bow, and then extended straight out from those holes. You can tell the cam’s timing is right because the orange rope is parallel to the bowstring.

So how can you check the timing on your dual-cam bows? An easy way is to have a friend watch you draw and play close attention to the draw stops to see when they hit. This is somewhat imprecise, however, and it could be difficult to detect small differences in timing.

A better way to check is to use a draw board. This is a mechanical device that you set your bow on, so you can draw with a mechanical crank. With a draw board, you can slow the draw rate at full draw to closely inspect exactly when each draw stop hits home.

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A compound bow on a draw board.

How do you fix timing issues? On a single-cam bow, you twist or untwist the cable on the cam until the cable sits properly in relation to the timing mark.

On dual cam bows, put twists in to the cable connected to the cam that hits the draw stop first. You can put in half twists or full twists to adjust the timing. Start out with small adjustments to figure out exactly what’s needed. Go back to the draw board after each adjustment to check your progress.

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Twisting the cable of the cam that reaches full draw first on a dual-cam bow will fix timing problems.

Choosing scope size for a compound target sight with David Houser and Alex Wifler

Choosing the right scope housing for your compound bow target sight can make a big difference in your competition scores.

What you see when you look through your scope – and what you can’t see – plays a role in how well you aim and how well you focus. And with scope housings varying greatly in size, your field of view can change dramatically from scope to scope.

scope size

Compound scopes come in the following common sizes – 14, 25, 29, 31, 35 and 42mm, or 1.25, 1.375, 1.625, 1.66 and 1.75 inches.

The variations range even wider when you factor in magnifying lenses of different powers. For example, the field of view through a 25mm scope is going to be much different with a 6-power lens than with a 2-power lens.

You can rest assured that professional archers have played with any and all scope-lens combinations in trying to figure out what works best for them. Granted, what works for one pro might not work for you. But hearing their thought process might help you find your winning combination.

So we asked two pros – David Houser and Alex Wifler – what scopes they use for various competitions, and why they picked those sizes. Both archers compete regularly in indoor target, outdoor target and 3-D tournaments.

DH: I use a 29mm Shrewd Essential for indoor and outdoor target archery, and a Shrewd Nomad 42mm for 3-D.

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David Houser

AW: I use a 29mm Shrewd Essential for indoor and outdoor target archery, and a 35mm scope for 3-D.

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Alex Wifler

LAS: What do you want to see when you look through an indoor scope, outdoor scope and 3-D scope?

AW: When I’m looking through my indoor scope, I see just outside the scoring rings on the three-spot target. For outdoor, it’s about the same – just outside the scoring rings. Please note, I shoot a 2mm blue dot outdoor and a 4mm blue dot indoor. (The dot is his aiming spot, and he uses a larger dot at the closer distance, and a smaller one at the farther targets. From his perspective, however, both dots look similar when aiming at the different targets.)

DH: For 3-D, I like to be able to see the entire target in my scope – or most of it at close distances. When we have a 25-yard target first thing in the morning, and it is a very dark target, I want to be able to see a lot of the animal in order to “silhouette shoot” the target. What I mean is to be able to reference off of the animal’s back, front leg, etc., to be able to make the best shot I can. This is where individuals run into issues when shooting a really high power lens, or small housing for 3-D.

Coyote

As for indoor, I want the target face to be the majority of my sight picture. This is something that will be different from archer to archer, in figuring out what they like to see in their sight picture.

LAS: What problems do you have when you go larger than the size you like best?

DH: For outdoor events, such as field archery, OPA or Redding – the latter two are 3-D tournaments that require long-range shooting – a larger diameter scope doesn’t allow me to shoot as far because I run into clearance issues with my vanes hitting the scope at the longer distances.

AW: Lining up my peep becomes more difficult, because there is more to line up with a bigger scope.

LAS: What problems do you encounter when you go smaller than the size you like best?

AW: Dark, dark, dark! Especially indoor, when light is compromised anyway.

DH: I am not able to see as much of the target as I would like in certain situations.

LAS: How does lens magnification play a role in your scope housing selection?

DH: Lens magnification doesn’t really play a role in my scope housing selection, mainly because I shoot a 4-power lens for all types of archery.  However, if you are an archer who shoots different power lenses for different types of archery, then I would say that scope housing size would play a factor. Or if you are an archer who wants to see less or more of the target when aiming, you would need to take lens magnification into play when selecting a scope housing, because if you put a four-power in a 28mm scope and a four-power in a 42mm scope, you have a wider field of view with the 42mm, so you will see more of the target/around the target.

AW: Not hugely. I started using a two-power lens, and in the last three years changed to a four-power, and my scope size didn’t change.

LAS:  If someone wanted to have only one scope housing for all target competition, what do you think would be best?

AW: My personal recommendation based off of what I use is a 29mm scope with a 4-power lens, and dot for target and a fiber for 3-D.

DH: I would recommend a Shrewd 42mm housing with the “stepped” sunshade kit. This would allow you to shoot a 42mm scope to be able to have the light gathering capabilities, while the stepped kit allows you to screw a sunshade on the front side of the scope (closest to your eye) to decrease the perceived size of the scope. An archer could simply get separate stepped sunshades that correspond to the type of archery that they will be shooting.

shrewd shade

The 1-step, 2-step and 3-step sunshades in 42mm from Shrewd.

How to Build a Hunting Arrow

Have you been searching for the perfect hunting arrow? One that’s perfectly matched to your bow, is the right length, has the fletchings you like and flies flawlessly?

Why not build your own?

We put together a four-part video series that walks you through the process of building an arrow, from picking the right shaft, to determining the proper length, to cutting it down and installing components to deciding how to fletch it and ultimately installing the fletchings.

Part One covers figuring out the right spine for your bow, deciding on the appropriate shaft weight and then figuring out how short to cut it down.

In Part Two, we review how to properly cut the shaft, and then demonstrate prepping it for installing components, before we actually install those inserts and nocks.

Part three covers arrow indexing. This involves shooting a bare shaft into a target to figure out which way arrows want to spin as they leave your bow, before fletchings are installed. This information is key in determining how to install fletchings to promote that natural spin.

Part Four, which is the last in the series, covers fletching selection, fletching jigs and a demonstration of installing wraps and fletchings on an arrow shaft.

Flying With Bows – What You Need to Know

So you’re taking your compound bow on an airplane, and you want to know how to pack it, what’s allowed and what to expect at the airport? Here’s what you need to know.

GET A GOOD CASE

Airlines are rough on baggage, and your bow is a precision instrument. You need a good, quality, airline-grade case if you want to take your bow on an airplane, and have it arrive at your destination in good condition.

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If a case is suitable for airline travel, the manufacturer will say so in the description of the product. If they don’t mention airline travel, then that’s not the case you need. The plastic cases that are not rated for airline travel usually are made of a material that’s fine for transporting your bow in your vehicle, but which likely won’t stand up to the distress and wear of airline travel.

There are hard and soft cases suitable for airline travel. Just be aware that if you go for a soft case, it’s a good idea to pack clothing beneath and on top of your bow for added padding protection. It’s not a bad idea to do that in your hard case, too, but it’s most important when using a soft case. Soft cases often have an “airline cover” made for them, which insures your bow case doesn’t accidentally open.

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Airline grade soft case

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Airline cover for soft case

Get a case with locks labeled as “TSA approved.” These are locks which federal Transportation Security Administration officials can open on their own with special keys. If you use combination locks or non-TSA locks, be prepared for TSA officials to call your name over the airport public address system to go open your case when they want to inspect it. And count on them inspecting a bow case.

PROTECT WHAT’S INSIDE

Think about how you’d want to protect what’s inside your bow case if you were to drop it from 5 feet, kick it, pile stuff on top of it, etc. We’re not saying airline baggage handlers will do any of these things to your case, but we’ve retrieved ours at our final destination looking pretty beat up.

Make sure your bow is secured within the case. Look for a case that has tie-downs to hold the bow in place, so it can’t bounce around during travel. Or, pack items around it to hold it secure. Protect your sight. Get a separate case for it, or find a way to secure it inside some clothing or other padding. Some cases have special compartments just for bow sights.

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Pack clothing all around your bow to keep it from bouncing around, and to provide extra padding.

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Add a little padding around your bow sight.

Arrows are pretty sturdy, but if you’re worried about yours getting damaged, you can always use an arrow tube to keep them secure. You might be able to fit this tube inside your bow case, or you might have to put it in another piece of checked baggage. Also, many bow cases have built-in arrow holders.

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If you’re going hunting, be sure to secure your broadheads. Do not put them uncovered in your bow case – and that includes traveling with them attached to your arrows. Secure them in a separate container of some kind so they can’t do any damage.

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Some archers like to travel with gear such as their sight and release in carry-on baggage so they can be sure they’re safe. Keep in mind, though, that hand-held releases can look like weapons. Some brass hinge releases look almost exactly like a set of brass knuckles. It’s OK to carry these things with you, but be prepared to answer questions about them. To avoid any hassles, just stow them in your bow case or other checked baggage.

AT THE AIRPORT

Generally speaking, bows in cases are not considered to be any different than any other piece of checked airline baggage. They generally do not require any special declarations, like firearms do. Bows can only be taken onboard planes as checked baggage – not as carry-on items.

We’re not aware of any airline restrictions regarding archery equipment, but always check with your airline ahead of time to see if they have any special rules you need to know about.

And when you’re at the airport terminal, be prepared for anything. You might be asked what’s in the case. You might be asked to open the case for inspection. Airline employees unfamiliar with archery equipment can sometimes be overly cautious when they encounter it.

For U.S. residents traveling outside the country, it’s a good idea to pre-register your bow(s) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Take this form – Form 4457 – and your bow(s) to a Customs office before you leave the country, and have an officer stamp your form. That form will be good for as long as you have that bow(s), so you only have to do this registration once. The form certifies that you did not buy the equipment abroad, and so you cannot be charged any duty when you return to the U.S.

Your Guide to NASP Archery Equipment

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) employs a very specific, limited set of equipment. There’s one bow and one arrow that every NASP archer uses, and a short list of other NASP-approved gear.

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By standardizing the allowed equipment, NASP is able to make archery affordable for just about anyone, and the competition field is leveled.

Lancaster Archery Supply Technical Writer P.J. Reilly interviews NASP Arizona coordinator Kelsey Gerchar in this video as she runs through all of the NASP-approved gear.

Gerchar discusses why the Genesis bow is a good fit for the program and why the Easton Genesis arrow is the official arrow of NASP. She also explains the purpose of the other gear schools use as they run their individual NASP programs.

That gear list includes targets, a backstop curtain, tool kit and bow rack.

If you’d like more information on how NASP works and why it’s a great program, be sure to listen to our podcast with NASP general manager Tommy Floyd here.

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David Houser on stabilizers for indoor archery

On a 40 cm Vegas target face, the X-ring is the size of a penny. The indoor, compound target archer who most consistently hits that tiny ring from 18 meters away, undoubtedly will win the day.

To do that over the course of a 30- or 60-arrow round requires a steady hand. And that’s where bow stabilizers are critical.

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Stabilizers – front and side – allow indoor target archers to hold their compound bows rock steady through the shot process. That’s assuming the stabilizers are set up properly. And that involves choosing the proper bar lengths and then fitting those bars with the right amount of weights.

All of that is an individual task. What works for your favorite archer might not work for you.

David Houser has been winning indoor archery tournaments for years, even though he’s only in his early 20s. In 2017, his name became a household one in the indoor archery world when he finished third in the prestigious Vegas Shoot.

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There’s arguably no other shoot in the world that places such a high emphasis on perfect shooting in one of the most pressure-packed venues on Earth.

Houser was like a statue throughout the tournament, which propelled him past dozens of the world’s best indoor archers.

So we figured we’d pick his brain about choosing stabilizers for indoor archery.

LAS: What is your total stabilizer setup for indoors?

DH: Thirty-inch B-Stinger Premier Plus front bar carrying 6 1/3 oz of weight, and mounted on a 10-degree downward quick disconnect; 12-inch B-Stinger Premier Plus back bar carrying 19 oz.

(David mounts his side rod using the front stabilizer bushing.)

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LAS: Does your setup result in your bow being perfectly balanced in your hand?

DH: My setup results in my bow being relatively balanced in my hand. It slightly leans forward, favoring the left side. I like it to sit this way because it is where it aims the best, and keeps my bow level in my hand when at full draw.

LAS: Why do you use a 10-degree downward offset for your front bar vs. having it straight out the front? And why do you have your side rod angled the way you have it?

DH: I feel that the 10-degree disconnect reacts better to weight and seems to settle down faster when I draw back. Also, using the 10-degree disconnect I can rotate the mount to get the end of the stabilizer to be directly out in front of my riser at full draw.  Sometimes if you have a side rod kicked way out to one side it can cause the bow to torque in your hand. That can result in a straight front stabilizer pointing one way or the other. The 10-degree can be adjusted to counteract this and keep the stabilizer pointing straight at the target.

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10-degree down stabilizer mount.

My side rod is angled the way it is because it aims the best there.  Adjusting the bar angle of your side rod adjusts the aim of the bow.

When you angle the side bar downwards it will make the bow aim, or “point” higher, which helps to correct a low hold if you are experiencing one. The opposite affect is true when angling the side rod upwards

LAS: Front and side rods come in many different lengths. How did you settle on the ones you use?

DH: I decided on the lengths that I use mainly through trial and error. During my testing using different lengths, I found that the length of the stabilizer is very important to what your sight picture will look like.

For example, if you shoot a very long front and back stabilizer, your weights are going to be very far apart which will result in a very slow moving sight picture. With shorter stabilizers, your weights are closer together and your sight picture will be a lot faster.

What I mean by the speed of your sight picture is how fast (or slow) your dot or pin is moving around while aiming at the center of the target, because there will always be some sort of movement – even if it’s faint.

That is why I settled on the 30-inch and 12-inch bar combination. For me, it’s a perfect mix of recovery time and relatively slow pin movement that I really like.

LAS: How did you settle on the amount of weight you put on each bar?

DH: I settled on my weight I put on my bars mainly through extensive trial and error. What I found is a total mass weight that I can comfortably handle. So, for example if I feel like having an overall bow weight of around nine pounds, I will choose the amount of weight to add to my stabilizers to achieve that mass weight at a 1:3 ratio. For every ounce I add to the front, I add three ounces to the back.

Getting a bow to aim well is one of the most important factors to shooting a good score. If you can’t aim the bow in the center, then it’s going to be difficult to hit there consistently.

For instance, I might notice I am getting a low hold, where my pin wants to stay on the bottom side of the dot, and I can’t move it higher. This tells me I either need to add weight to my back stabilizer, or remove weight from my front stabilizer.  The opposite happens if your pin is wanting to float to the high side.

stabilizer3

Front bar weights = 7 ounces.

stabilizer2

Rear bar weight = 20 ounces.

Also, I will add weight if I’m moving left to right on the spot I’m trying to hit.  If I am having that left to right movement, I will usually add one or two ounces to my front bar, which will usually settle the bow. If I do that, I might need to add weight to the back stabilizer to counteract the weight I added to the front.

LAS: Do you find that the pressure of live competition creates any changes that you make to your stabilizer setup over your practice setup?

DH: Absolutely! Everything is easy in the comfort of your home range without any pressure or high stakes. Many things react differently when you get nervous.

For example, in practice I would always run a 1:4 weight ratio on my stabilizers. Under pressure, I tend to see more movement in my sight picture, and in order to slow down that movement, I adjusted my stabilizer weight set up to 1:3. I use my findings from tournaments to make small adjustments to make my bow perform as well as possible under pressure.

LAS: What’s the most common mistake you see new archers make when they choose their indoor target stabilizers?

DH: They either choose lengths too long or too short. I recommend everyone start out with a 30-inch front bar and 12-inch back bar, and then experiment from there.

LAS: What’s the most common mistake you see new archers make when they choose the weights for their stabilizers?

DH: They add weights in the wrong places to increase their mass weight hoping that their bow will aim better. It takes the archer testing different weight combinations to see what will work best for them.  Many times new archers put weight on their bows without knowing how it will react or what it will affect.

I would recommend new archers start with four ounces on the front bar and 12 on the back, and then test and adjust from there.

Bowhunting Tech Tip: How to Quiet Your Bow

If you’re using a compound bow for hunting, then you need to make sure it’s performing as quietly as possible. A loud bow can cause game animals to turn inside out with freight if they hear a loud crack at the shot. And their reaction to that freight can cause your arrow to miss its intended mark.

In this video, Lancaster Archery TechXpert P.J. Reilly runs through a series of tips for making your compound bow as quiet as possible.

Those tips include shooting heavier arrows, and adding vibration dampeners and string silencers. Reilly’s tips include demonstration of how to tie on “cat whiskers” – one of the most popular types of string silencers.