Beginner’s Guide to Compound Archery Releases

Using a mechanical release aid to draw and shoot a compound bow is critical to consistent shooting. Look at a full selection of releases in a pro shop and you’re going to see a variety of styles. What’s the difference? And what’s right for me?

There are four main types of mechanical releases today. Let’s look at each type and what they’re commonly used for.

INDEX FINGER

Arguably the most popular release style on the market today is the index finger release. It’s like a gun trigger for your bow, since it’s activated by squeezing a trigger with your index finger.

Index finger releases typically are attached to wrist straps that assist the archer in drawing the bow. The weight of the bowstring is held by your entire arm, as compared to other releases held in your hand.

These are great releases for bowhunters and recreational and target archers who want the most control of when the bowstring is released. Bowhunters especially like them because, once they strap the release to their wrist, it’s always at the ready when the moment of truth arrives.

Scott Ghost

On the negative side, these releases are the easiest to anticipate, which can lead to flinching at the shot. Rather than slowly squeeze through a shot by pulling back with the release arm, archers will simply slam their index finger on the trigger when they want the release to fire.

When using an index finger release, try hooking your finger around the trigger and pull back with your whole arm to activate the release. This helps reduce anticipation.

THUMB BUTTON

The other most common release with a defined trigger is the thumb button. This is a release you hold in your hand, which has a trigger activated by your thumb. Thumb buttons are very commonly used by bowhunters and by target archers.

With a thumb button, it’s very easy to shoot it totally on command. That is, you squeeze your thumb on the trigger when you want it to fire. But they’re also easy to shoot by surprise.

The surprise shot eliminates flinching caused by anticipation, because the archer doesn’t know exactly when the release will fire. You simply keep pulling back on the string with your hand locked in place on the release. Keep aiming and the release fires when enough pressure has been put on the trigger by your continued pull.

TRU Ball Blade

You can find thumb button releases that you use with two fingers on the release, three fingers and four fingers.

HINGE or BACK TENSION

Hinge releases often are also called back-tension releases, because a common way to activate them is to use your back muscles to push your shoulder blades together, which drives your bow arm away from your release arm. When your arms expand, the head on a hinge release connected to the bowstring will rotate. That rotation releases the string hook and the bow fires.

Hinge releases are a favorite among target archers, and some bowhunters use them. These releases allow for a smooth, continuous-pull shot process that ends in a surprise shot. There is no trigger, so getting them to fire on command is much more difficult that index-finger or thumb button releases.

UltraView The Hinge

There is a steeper learning curve using a hinge than with trigger releases. Archers have to learn how to draw the bow without rotating the head of the release, causing it to fire prematurely.

Learning to draw with a hinge release takes some practice.

TENSION ACTIVATED

Tension-activated releases are the true “back-tension” releases because the only way they fire is by coming to full draw and then continuing to pull. When the tension increases to a certain level, the release fires. Most of these are hand-held releases, although a couple new wrist-strap versions have come on the market in recent years.

STAN Element

Archers set that firing tension to their specific bows. These releases have a safety that the archer holds to get past the peak draw weight. They are then set to fire at a weight above the bow’s holding weight.  The idea is that the archer continues aiming once full draw is achieved, and then they’ll just keep pulling until the release fires.

There is no trigger on these releases, so they also produce surprise shots. These are commonly used by target archers for training, although some will use them in competition. They’re great for getting over target panic and for learning to expand through a shot. Very few bowhunters use them for hunting.

Scope Size: What’s right for me?

A quick look through Lancaster Archery Supply’s lineup of 3-D and target scope offerings for compound bows shows scopes measuring 29, 30, 35, 39 and 41 mm, among some other sizes.

Recognizing there are different sizes of scope housings available begs the obvious question, “Which size is right for me?”

And the answer is, “That depends on what you want to see.”

Scopes and lenses are married to provide a certain view of the target. Some archers like to really zero in on the arrow’s exact point of impact, while others prefer a more distant view, so they can relax while aiming.

The smaller the scope housing, the smaller your field of view. That field shrinks even further the more you magnify it with a lens.

So let’s say you are shooting at a typical Vegas 3-spot target face for an 18-meter, indoor shoot. A small scope housing will enable you to really focus on each individual spot, while minimizing your view of everything surrounding each spot.

X-Spot 29mm scope

Some archers find it distracting to see much surrounding the intended aiming point. So maybe you start with a 29mm scope housing and then choose a magnifying lens that blows up the target enough to all but completely fill your view of it through the scope when you’re at full draw.

On the other hand, some archers feel “claustrophobic” when they can’t see anything but the target face in their scope. They like a little extra room around the bull’s-eye, which allows them to settle down and hold the bow steadier. So maybe a 35mm scope is a better choice for that archer.

Bowfinger 20/20 35mm scope

Moving outdoors, you’ll have to address the same issues for field archery, 50-meter rounds and other bull’s-eye target rounds. How much area around the target do you want to see? Find a scope and magnifying lens to create that view.

For 3-D, the larger scopes dominate because most archers want to see the whole target in the scope. And those targets might range from a tiny skunk to a life-size bull elk. Being able to see the whole target allows you to find reference spots to aim when scoring rings are not readily visible. Also, for those archers who shoot unknown distance, seeing the whole target allows them to better judge the distance to it. As a result, many archers choose the 40- and 41-mm scopes for their 3-D setups.

Shrewd Nomad 42mm scope

Lighting is another factor to consider for an outdoor scope. The smaller the scope, the less light will get through it to your eye. In an open field, that’s probably not a problem. But if you’re going to be shooting in the woods with a dense canopy, then going with a bigger scope to allow more light in might be the best choice.

Prime Black 9 2020 Compound Target Bow

Prime Archery for 2020 launched the Prime Black 9 compound bow, which is built mainly for target archers.

Watch Lancaster Archery Supply TechXpert Dustin Cimato as he walks through the features and technologies built into this 39-inch-long bow.

Arguably, the most noted feature of this bow is the Roto cam, which includes a rotating module for changing draw length. In the past, Prime bows employed draw-length-specific cams, which required changing the cams in order to change draw lengths.

With the Black 9, the draw length can be changed simply by rotating a module.

AMATEUR CORNER: Anthony Young

At the 2019 Winter Can Am Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., March 8-10, Anthony Young was about as amateur as you can get.

“This is the first serious tournament I’ve ever done,” said the 23-year-old from Lewistown, Pa.

Yet when the tournament ended, Young, who works as a CNC machine operator for an ultrasound company, took home the top prize in the Amateur Men’s Open Known 40 division.

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He finished the qualification rounds in second place with a 412 – four points behind leader Cody McDonald.

He then won one elimination match, which earned him a spot in the final shootdown.

No one was more surprised by that result than Young himself.

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An avid bowhunter, Young only started shooting an open-style target rig about two years ago. He said he’s “dabbled in spot shooting,” but his true passion is 3-D archery, since that helps him practice for bowhunting season.

“We got a good group of guys back home that I shoot with,” he said. “We just do the local 3-D shoots and stuff like that for fun.”

Young traveled to the Winter Can Am with some of those friends, who had shot the tournament before. A novice to the big-time tournament setting, Young said he set a simple goal for himself.

“I just wanted to come in here and shoot what I thought was a good score,” he said. “Apparently, it was pretty good.”

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Young said he wasn’t too pleased with his first-day score of a 202. But by the second day, he felt on track, shooting a 210.

The Winter Can Am shootdown format is nearly identical to a typical ASA pressure point shootdown. The top five finishers carry their qualification scores into the final, where they shoot up to six more arrows to determine the podium winners.

At the Winter Can Am, shootdown archers shot from elevated platforms, and they shot one at a time, rather than all at the same time, like a normal ASA competition.

Young said he definitely felt the pressure of being on the main stage.

“I’m telling you, I don’t think I’ve ever shook anywhere like that in my life,” he said. “It was crazy.”

Crazier than drawing down on a big buck?

“Not even close,” he said. “I was way more nervous.”

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Young shot pretty steady, scoring a couple of 12s through the shootdown. For the last arrow, he and McDonald were tied for the lead. McDonald shot an 8, and Young hit the 10.

So did Young get bitten by the tournament bug with a win in his first “serious tournament?”

“I definitely want to do this more,” he said. “I had such fun here. It was a long weekend, but I had a ball.”

AMATEUR CORNER: Savannah Vanderwier

Like a lot of young, talented archers, Savannah Baye Vanderwier now finds herself at a crossroads.

The 19-year-old from Sheffield, Texas, recently graduated from high school. On Jan. 26, she won the Women’s Open division title at the Lancaster Archery Classic, which is one of the biggest indoor archery tournaments in the world.

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Savannah Vanderwier, right, takes aim as she competes against Jamilee Moore in the Women’s Open division finals at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic.

So her archery game is strong in the amateur field. Which begs the question, “Will she go pro?”

“If I go to school and I’m trying to be pro, I don’t think that would work,” Vanderwier said. “So should I hold off on going pro until I’m done with school? Or do I take time off of archery completely?

“Anyway, it’s a lot. There are too many options.”

Shooting for PSE, Vanderwier had about as good a showing at the Classic as any amateur could hope for.

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She shot a 643 in qualification. That was best in her division. It also would have been good enough to qualify her in the top 10 among the Women’s Open Pro archers.

In her first elimination match, Vanderwier dropped just one point for a 131. (Dusti Batsch was the only one of 16 Women’s Open Pro archers to shoot a 131 in the first elimination match.)

In her next match, Vanderwier dropped four points, but ultimately won on the second arrow of a shoot-off. She easily won her final match after dropping just two points.

Her qualifying and match-play scores were good enough to seed Vanderwier first for the Jan. 26 finals in Women’s Open.

In that match, Vanderwier shot ends of 32, 33, 31 and 33 to take the title.

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Big-time competition certainly is nothing new to Vanderwier, who won an individual silver medal in the Compound Junior Division at the 2016 World Archery Field Championships in Ireland, a team silver in the Compound Cadet Division at the 2017 World Archery Youth Championships in Argentina, and an individual gold in the Compound Junior Division at the 2018 World Archery Field Championships in Italy.

But this year’s Lancaster Archery Classic was the first she’s ever competed in.

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Head judge Larry Wise gives Savannah Vanderwier the green light to shoot at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic.

“We’ve been wanting to come for several years, but it just hasn’t worked out with other things my siblings had going on,” she said. “Finally we were able to make it this year. It was a birthday present for me and my dad.”

Vanderwier’s dad, Andy, has been her coach since Savannah first picked up a bow at age 10. He was in the coach’s box behind her when she shot for the Classic title, and was the first to give her a big hug after her final arrow hit the center 11.

Ironically, Dad’s path to coaching his daughter started nine years ago, when the local 4-H roped him into coaching their program.

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Women’s Open podium, Savannah Vanderwier, first; Jamilee Moore, second; Sachi Keane, third.

“My sister and I tagged along, and I just fell in love with it,” Vanderwier said.

When it comes to tournament archery, Vanderwier shoots just about everything, but she does have a favorite style.

“My favorite is field, but I love all of it,” she said. “This year I went to my first ASA, and I loved it. I also love target.

“I love field. I love target. I love indoor. I love 3D. I love it all!”

And she expects that love of the game to influence her decision making as she weighs getting a job, continuing her education and turning pro.

“I have a few options, and so deciding where archery fits into that is a big part of deciding what to do next,” she said. “Archery is something that’s really important to me and I want to keep doing it as long as I can.”

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AMATEUR CORNER: Tim “The CEO” Hanley

Tim Hanley entered the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pa., Sunday morning, and walked over to a small group of Lancaster Archery Supply employees.

“Do you mind if I set my bow down here for a minute?” he asked politely.

Hanley was wearing a light blue, pin-striped dress shirt, a neat pair of jeans and a respectable pair of cowboy boots. With eyeglasses, a trimmed beard and short-cut, gelled hair, he looked like an accountant.

“No problem,” an employee responded, thinking Hanley was carrying the bow for a buddy or relative who might have been competing in one of the big final matches of the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic.

Fast forward a couple hours later, and there’s Hanley standing on the finals stage, shooting that bow himself in the Men’s Open championship, buzzing through the field like a power saw.

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While every other archer who came up against him wore a logoed hat and flashy shooter jersey emblazoned with the colorful name of an archery company, Hanley looked like he just left a church service.

“I like to look presentable when I’m in public, so I wear a nice shirt when I’m competing,” he said. “I was dressed like this all weekend, and no one said anything about it.”

As viewers at home watching the livestream of the Classic on YouTube saw Hanley knock off one archer after another, his attire quickly earned him the nickname, “The CEO.”

A 32-year-old electrician from New Jersey, Hanley at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic became the first archer ever in the Men’s Open class to work his way from the No. 8 seed all the way to the title. That’s a monumental accomplishment, given the fact that the Men’s Open division is always the largest at the Classic – 317 archers this year. And he had to shoot 84 solid arrows over seven matches against some of the stiffest amateur competition in the U.S.

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Social media was buzzing for hours after Hanley’s big win with hails to “The CEO.”

“Watching the CEO was epic,” one commenter wrote on YouTube. “Great story, coverage and event.”

Not a household name before the Classic, Tim Hanley most certainly was the talk of the target archery world after the tournament’s conclusion.

So who is this guy? And how the heck did he show up at the East Coast’s largest indoor archery tournament for the first time in three years and capture the attention and adulation of archers all over the world?

A bachelor resident of Juliustown, N.J., Hanley got started in target archery when he took a job at the former Sportsmen’s Center in Bordentown, N.J., at 17 or 18. He worked there for 10 years with well-known target archer Vinnie Mancini.

“I mainly went there because of hunting, but I showed an interest in target archery and Vinnie just started coaching me,” Hanley said.

He shot competitively throughout those 10 years – including several trips to the Classic – but then took about four years off, when he started a job as an electrician installing solar panels.

“I just got busy with work and everything, but then I got back into it maybe about a year ago,” he said.

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Hanley credits his training with Mancini and the excellent target archers he competes against in New Jersey with helping him sharpen his skill.

“I try to shoot every day,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good archers in New Jersey and you can’t really get lax. You have to work at it to stay with those guys.”

While he does shoot outdoor target archery, “indoors is home for me,” he said. “That’s where I feel comfortable.”

Hanley is not connected with any archery companies. If he has a sponsor, it’s Cheyenne Mountain Outdoors in Bordentown, N.J., he said.

Realistically though, he buys his own gear and he pays his own way to and from tournaments.

Consider this. For the 2019 Classic, Hanley drove two hours from home on Friday to shoot his qualification round at 4 p.m. He then drove back to New Jersey to spend the night after finishing around 8 p.m.

He returned to Lancaster County from New Jersey by 7 a.m. Saturday for the 8 a.m. elimination matches, and then drove back home in the afternoon.

“I had my mom with me, so I had to drop her off,” he said.

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Hanley drove two hours back again that evening to stay at a hotel with some friends near Spooky Nook, so he’d be as fresh as possible for the Sunday finals.

“It’s a pretty straight drive, so I didn’t mind,” he said.

Hanley’s road to the Classic finals was anything but straight and easy.

After shooting a respectable 640 in qualifications on Friday, Hanley was seeded 46th among the 64 archers who advanced to Saturday’s elimination matches.  He then beat the No. 19 qualifier, the No. 14 qualifier and the No. 30 qualifier in head-to-head competition to claim the No. 8 seed for the finals on Sunday.

The No. 8 seed is the lowest for the Men’s Open finals. But ask any archer and they’ll say that all they want is a chance. If they can get in the game, they at least have a chance.

Hanley took that chance and ran with it. He defeated Blake Ballou in his first match 125-124. Next up was Caleb Eby, whom Hanley dispatched 130-126.

The third match was a nail-biter for Hanley, but he came out on top of Brenden Woelmer 129-128. By now, Hanley was “The CEO” to online viewers, and a crowd favorite in the finals arena.

In his fourth match, Hanley beat Brady Hempen 128-122, then took down Jason Goedken 129-124 and Brad Baker Jr. 127-126.

By the time Hanley entered the final match against top qualifier Doug Williams, the crowd at home and online was desperate to see him take the title. He did, by a score of 130-127, with a perfect 33 in his last end.

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Hanley said he could feel himself getting tired toward the end of his run, but he tried to focus on one arrow at a time and trust his shot.

So what’s next for The CEO? He said he hadn’t registered to compete in The Vegas Shoot Feb. 8-10, “but this experience (winning the Classic) might change that.”

Winning the Men’s Open championship at the Classic earned Hanley $4,000, plus a couple hundred dollars in contingency checks, which he could use to pay his way to Las Vegas. Whether he competes in Vegas or not, Hanley said he hears the pro class calling.

“Going pro – I would love to do that,” he said. “I always told myself I wanted to win something on a national level before I went pro, and I guess this counts. So maybe not right away, but I eventually will be on the pro line.”

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.

peep

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.

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.

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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.

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

Mathews 2018 TRX 38

A year after Mathews unveiled the TRX-7 and TRX-8 target bows, they’ve come out with the TRX 38 for 2018.

As its name suggests, the TRX 38 is a 38-inch-long bow, down from the 40-inch TRX bows released in 2017. Mathews believes the 38-inch length will fit more shooters, some of whom balked at the 40-inch bow.

The TRX 38 features a 7.5-inch brace height, and it comes in maximum draw weights of 50, 60 and 70 pounds. The IBO speed rating is 328 feet per second.

The cam is the same mini crosscentric cam employed by the TRX, and it is mod based for draw lengths, which are available in half-inch increments from 23-30 inches. Archers can choose between the standard 80-percent let-off mod and the new, “70-Valley mod.”

The new mod features 70 percent let-off, and it has just a little deeper valley than normal, so the bow doesn’t feel like it wants to lurch forward when you come to anchor at full draw.

Overall, the TRX 38 is a very nice shooting bow with virtually no recoil. It’s sure to be as successful on the competition line as its predecessor.

The 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic Registration is open

Registration is now open for the 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic, scheduled for Jan. 26-28 at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pa.

And while it might not seem possible for the East Coast’s largest indoor archery tournament to get even bigger, the 2018 event promises just that. The 2017 Classic was the first at the massive Spooky Nook complex, which features 17 acres under roof, and it drew a record 1,100 archers from 13 countries. But there’s plenty of room for many more archers.

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The 1,500-plus archers expected to enter the 2018 Classic will compete in 15 divisions for over $300,000 in prize and contingency money, including the top payout of $15,000 for the Men’s Open Pro champion. Payouts have doubled or drastically increased over previous levels in three recurve divisions, which is sure to attract more archers.

And there’s a brand new competition within the Classic aimed at young archers. The Youth Trophy Tournament offers the chance for archers under 21 to experience the Classic for a fraction of the normal cost and time commitment. Learn more about this new event here.

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The LAS Classic continues to grow at a steady pace. Not just in competing archers, but in the number of people who watch from home. We started live streaming basic video of competition back in 2011. After the tournament, the competition recording was split up into multiple videos, which all were uploaded to the LAS YouTube channel. That process held through the 2015 Classic.

In 2016, we improved the live broadcast of qualification and elimination rounds, and launched a professional-grade production of the finals shoot-ups, to include live commentary and multiple camera angles. The world at large has responded positively to the increased quality of our broadcast production. From 2011 through 2016, YouTube views of all Classic videos totaled about 750,000 combined. The 2017 Classic videos alone drew more than 540,000 views.

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And while all of the 2017 videos have been viewed heavily, there was a clear favorite among the viewing public. It might not be the video you’d think. The Men’s Open Pro finals results in the largest payout of the tournament, with $15,000 going to the winner. And that division, plus Women’s Open Pro, feature the biggest names in professional archery. Reo Wilde, Jesse Broadwater, Braden Gellenthien, Mike Schloesser, Erika Jones, Sarah Lance and Sarah Sönnichsen are just a few of the famous pros who are regulars in our finals shoot ups.

But if you combine the total 2017 Classic YouTube views of both of the finals videos from those divisions – 129,663 – that number falls short of the single-most watched video posted from the tournament. The Barebow Recurve Finals video has drawn 129,999 views since it was posted, and that number keeps climbing every week. The viewing public loves Barebow above all other divisions.

“Fantastic shooting,” Jake Bullit wrote in the comment section beneath the video. “That’s where the skill is at in archery.”

“This is pure archery – love it,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.

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Bobby Worthington, right, takes aim in the 2017 Barebow Recurve gold medal match, as eventual winner John Demmer waits for his turn to shoot.

For the 2018 Classic, big changes are coming to the Barebow division. Many YouTube commenters expressed displeasure in seeing barebow archers using stabilizers and draw checks, which help archers release arrows from a consistent point in their draw cycle.

At the 2018 Classic, the rules for Barebow are changing to match World Archery mandates. Allowed will be recurve or longbows fitted with a rest and plunger. String walking is permitted. No bow mounted clickers or draw checks will be allowed, and no stabilizers will be allowed. Riser mounted weights will be permitted, as long as the bow -with all accessories attached – fits through a 12.2 cm ring.

In hopes of drawing more recurve archers to the 2018 Classic, we’re increasing payouts to the winners. In the Men’s Recurve division, LAS plans to pay $5,000 to the winner, $2,000 to the runner up, $1,000 for third place, $500 for fourth place, $300 each to the fifth through eighth place finishers, and $200 for ninth through 16th place. At the 2017 tournament, those payouts were $2,000 for the winner, $1,050 for second, $750 for third, $400 for fourth, $250 for fifth through eighth and $100 for ninth through 16th.

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Brady Ellison won his first Men’s Recurve division title at the 2017 LAS Classic.

The Women’s Recurve payouts for 2018 will be $2,500 for first place, $1,250 for second, $700 for third, $400 for fourth and $200 for fifth through eighth. Those numbers are up from the 2017 payouts of $1,000 for first, $550 for second, $350 for third and $250 for fourth.

In the Barebow division, the 2018 payouts will be $2,000 for the winner, $1,000 for second place, $600 for third, $400 for fourth and $250 for fifth through eighth. In 2017, the payouts were $1,200 for first place, $600 for second, $400 for third, $250 for fourth and $200 for fifth.

Aside from these changes, improvements and additions, archers can count on the usual, world-renowned, top-shelf Classic experience at the 2018 event. You’ll be treated like royalty from the moment you walk through the front doors of Spooky Nook. The entire LAS crew on site is there to serve you.

We’ve got an on-site practice facility, which will be available for an additional fee of $10. Or, you can practice for free at the LAS Pro Shop, which is 15 minutes away from Spooky Nook. A shuttle will ferry people from Spooky Nook to the Pro Shop regularly during the tournament.

When you’re shooting your qualification round, you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with the best archers in the world. Archers and archery fans can meet a selection of the top pros and Olympians for photos and autographs during a “meet and greet” event scheduled for Saturday. Our sponsoring equipment manufacturers will have over 40 booths set up to show you the latest and greatest target archery gear.

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U.S. Olympic archers, from left, Zach Garrett, Mackenzie Brown, Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski meet fans at the 2017 Classic.

And of course, there’s the unique, Classic competition format. Imperfection does not necessarily mean you’re out of the Classic. All you have to do is shoot well enough in the qualifying round to make the cut to advance to eliminations. In that part of the competition, you’ll shoot a 12-arrow, head-to-head matches against another qualifier. Win, and you advance.

If you can win enough matches to make it past the finals cut-off for your division, you can shoot your way to victory. Let’s say you finish the qualification round and elimination matches ranked eighth in your division. And let’s say that division takes the top eight archers for the finals shoot ups.

As the No. 8 archer, you would start the finals by shooting a head-to-head match against the No. 7 archer. The winner of that match takes on the No. 6 archer. This process continues until someone shoots a match against the No. 1 archer for the division championship title, lots of cash and a well-deserved place in LAS Classic history.

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So in a division that advances 64 archers to elimination matches, it is entirely possible for the archer that shot the 64th best qualification score to win his or her division. As American author H. Jackson Brown Jr. once famously said, “Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.”

Don’t miss the 2018 LAS Classic!