How to Match Limbs and Risers for Your Takedown Recurve Bow

Takedown recurve bows are favorites among hunters, target archers and backyard archers alike. They break down and pack easily. You can often get different weight limbs for different applications. They’re the Swiss Army knives of recurve bows.

But not all takedown recurve bows are built the same. That is, you need to know what kind you have if you want to get multiple sets of limbs for the different games you play with your bow.

ILF

Arguably the takedown recurve bow with the most options for limbs is an ILF bow. The ILF stands for International Limb Fitting. It’s a uniform attachment system that allows limbs from many manufacturers to be matched with risers from many manufacturers.

ILF riser and limb

As long as you have an ILF-compatible riser, you can use any ILF-style limbs. Hoyt makes a series of ILF-compatible risers and limbs under their Grand Prix name.

On an ILF riser, you will see a limb bolt and a dovetail receiver. ILF limbs will have a U-shaped end that fits under the riser’s limb bolt, and a detent assembly that fits into the dovetail receiver.

FORMULA

Formula limbs and risers look similar to the ILF versions. They are not compatible with each other, however, since the distance is longer between the limb end and the detent on Formula limbs. 

At left is a Formula limb, while at right is an ILF limb.
Notice the difference in distance from the limb bolt to the dovetail between the Formula riser at top, compared to ILF riser below.

BRAND SPECIFIC

There are several manufacturers that make their own risers and limbs, which are only compatible with one another.

The Galaxy Sage, for example, is one of the best-selling takedown recurve bows on the market. It employs a screw-in bolt to connect the limbs to the riser. Only Galaxy Sage limbs will work with Galaxy Sage risers.

Galaxy Sage limb, riser and connection bolt

Cartel is another manufacturer that employs a unique limb-bolt connection system. Only certain Cartel limbs will work with certain Cartel risers.

Manufacturers of takedown bows with unique limb-connection systems will tell you which limbs work with which risers. Stick to their information to be sure you’re getting the right gear.

TradTech brings home the Hardware at 2018 World Archery Field Championships

TradTech Archery had a great showing recently at the 2018 World Archery Field Championships in Cortina, Italy, with the Tradtech RC Carbon Wood limbs helping archers bring home two silver medals.

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The World Archery Field Championships is a prestigious tournament that’s only held every two years, and is only open to a limited number of the best field archers in the world.

Competing in her first international field archery tournament, American Fawn Girard won the silver medal in Women’s Barebow, using her RC Carbon Wood limbs.

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Fawn Girard with her silver medal

Girard was the top-ranked American woman heading into the competition. Her qualification score at the championships also was tops among American women, and seeded her sixth overall for the elimination matches.

As the No. 6 seed, Girard automatically advanced to the fourth round, where she won in a shoot off against Italian Eleonore Strobbe – a four-time medalist and 2010 World Field champion. She then beat Stine Asell from Sweden in the quarterfinals, followed by Italian Cinzia Noziglia in the semifinals, which earned Girard a spot in the gold medal match.

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Fawn Girard, left, competes in Cortina, Italy.

In that final match, Girard and Lina Bjorklund – the 2012 and 2014 champion and 2016 bronze medalist – finished in a tie, before Bjorklund won the gold medal in a shoot off, earning Girard the silver medal.

Jenifer Stoner was the second-highest finishing American woman in Cortina, and she also competed with TradTech RC Extreme limbs.

John Demmer III entered the championships as the top-ranked American in Men’s Barebow. After qualifications using his RC Carbon Wood limbs, he was the top-seeded American and was seeded third overall. That seeding earned him an automatic advance to the fourth round of elimination matches, where he defeated fellow American John Dillinger. Demmer then was knocked out of the competition in the quarterfinals by Sweden’s Lundmark Fredrik, who eventually won the bronze medal.

Demmer won a silver medal, however, as a member of the American Men’s Team. The Team round features the top compound, Olympic recurve and barebow archers from each nation. Demmer was the American barebow archer teamed with compound archer Steve Anderson and recurve archer Brady Ellison.

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John Demmer competes in the team round

The American team beat Slovenia in the first round and Italy in the semifinals, before losing to Germany in the gold medal match, which earned the team members silver medals.

A division of Lancaster Archery Supply, TradTech Archery produces a series of traditional archery products for bowhunting, competitive shooting and recreation.

What’s the difference between a target bow and a hunting bow?

What’s the difference between a hunting bow and a target bow?

Maybe you’ve wondered this on a recent trip to your local archery pro shop when you eyed up the selection of hunting recurve and compound bows in one area and those labeled for target archery in another.

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Except for the muted colors or camo that dominates the hunting selection, versus the bright colors of the target bows, they sure look the same, right?

They are, to a certain extent. But there also are some very calculated differences. Let’s start with compound bows.

Target compounds are going to be longer than hunting compounds. Target bows commonly measure 38-40 inches from axle to axle, while hunting bows usually fall in the 28-34-inch range.

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This target compound bow measures 38 inches long.

The longer bows offer an archer a better chance at precision shooting, because the string angle at full draw is not as severe as it is on a shorter bow, brace heights are often bigger 7-8 inches – and the bows tend to be very “forgiving.” A forgiving bow is one that allows an archer to make tiny mistakes in form, but keeps the arrow going where the archer wants it.

Hunting bows are built shorter so bowhunters can navigate through thick brush or hunt in the tight quarters of a ground blind or tree stand. Maneuverability and portability are the main features of hunting bows. Also, short brace heights of 5-6 inches – which are not very forgiving – help generate lots of arrow speed. Fast-shooting bows can minimize poor hits caused by animals moving before an arrow gets to them.

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Hunting compound bows need to be maneuverable.

Though not always, most target compounds offer the archer the option to reduce the amount of let-off – to 60-75 percent – which increases holding weight at full draw. Many target archers like that increased holding weight because it gives them more control of their bows and it makes it easier for them to activate their release aids.

Bowhunters, on the other hand, often prefer a lot of let-off – 80-90 percent – to minimize the holding weight. A bowhunter might have to hold a bow at full draw for an extended period waiting for a game animal to offer the perfect shot opportunity. The less weight they’re holding for that period, the longer they can hold it and stay still.

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Target compound bows are built for precision accuracy.

With recurve bows, you’re also likely to see target bows generally being longer than hunting models. Full target recurve bows used by adult men tend to run 66-72 inches long; women will shoot target bows 64-70 inches. Hunting recurves usually are anywhere from 50-64 inches.

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A recurve bow built for target archery is long and forgiving.

Again, the difference is precision accuracy versus mobility and arrow speed. The target archer wants a long, forgiving bow with an open string angle. For recurve archers, the open string angle is more conducive to a clean release of the string drawn with fingers. The sharper string angle of a hunting recurve makes it more difficult to get a clean release, because the drawing fingers can get squeezed by the string.

But the hunter only needs to hit an area the size of a pie plate from 20 yards away or less to score a quick killing shot. The target archer might be trying to hit a 10-ring the size of a coffee can lid at 70 meters.

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A recurve bow built for hunting is short, maneuverable and is very powerful.

Adult men shooting target recurves generally have bows with draw weights in the 35-50-pound range, although top competition archers will pull a little bit more. Competitive women general draw 30-45 pounds. Their sole purpose is precision accuracy in shooting at paper or 3-D targets.

Bowhunters typically use bows with 45-55 pound draw weights. Depending on the game, some states require bowhunters to use bows that draw no less than 45 pounds. The hunter’s goal is to shoot a heavy arrow with enough force to pierce hides and break bones.

PODCAST: Joel Turner & Tom Clum Sr., Traditional Archery Coaching and Curing Target Panic

What do 2016 Olympic bronze-medal-winning archer Brady Ellison and traditional archer Tom Clum Sr. have in common?

They both shoot their bows according to the techniques taught by Kisik Lee – head coach of the U.S. National Archery Team. Ellison, of course, shoots a fully-rigged Olympic recurve bow, while Clum shoots a traditional, barebow recurve.

A certified, USA Archery Level 3 coach, Clum takes the shooting process taught at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and delivers it to traditional archers across the country. Frequently, he teams up with fellow traditional archer Joel Turner, who specializes in teaching mental control of the shot process. Specifically, Turner focuses on how to beat target panic.

Together, they coach the body and the mind – the primary drivers of the archery shot process. That’s pretty standard for coaching target archery, regardless of whether it’s with a compound or a recurve bow.

But it’s basically unheard of in traditional archery, which is what makes the instructional programs these two put on so unique.

We caught up with Turner and Clum in July 2017 at the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous in northcentral Pennsylvania, where they spent several days teaching groups and coaching individuals.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • How the shooting form taught to Olympic recurve archers applies to traditional archery and bowhunting.
  • Why archers get target panic.
  • How to beat target panic.
  • Why proper body alignment is important no matter what kind of bow you shoot.
  • What it was like for a shy, small-town guy like Clum to find himself among 6,000 traditional archers.
  • How Turner shoots a bow with a right-handed grip, but a left-handed shelf.

“What I found was, holy mackerel, we can put our shot into biomechanics that we can take under a bush with us. We can use (a recurve bow) the exact same way as an Olympic archer does, but under a bush.”

On social media, check out:

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Traditional archery aiming techniques

In true traditional archery, the bow – recurve or longbow – doesn’t have a sight for aiming. But the archer still has to hit what he or she is aiming at. So how do you do that?

In this video, Matt Zirnsak – a die-hard traditional archer who produced a series of films and does a podcast all under the name “The Push Archery” – demonstrates three common techniques for aiming a traditional bow.

He runs through instinctive shooting, which involves staring at the spot you want to hit and then adjusting your bow to make the arrow hit that spot. This technique requires lots of practice so you can learn how to hold the bow to get the arrow to hit your aiming point at a variety of distances.

Then he talks about “split vision aiming.” Using this technique, Zirnsak is aware of where his arrow tip is in relation to the target, but he doesn’t focus solely on it. He uses his instincts to guide him in aiming, while making sure his alignment is correct, based on the location of his arrow point – thus splitting his vision between the target and his arrow point.

Finally, Zirnsak talks about “hard dedicated aiming,” which is the technique he uses. Zirnsak focus on his arrow tip, placing it directly on the target spot he wants to hit. Then, depending on the distance to the target, he moves his tab down the bowstring before drawing.

Moving the tab up and down the string is called “string walking.” This changes the pitch of the arrow for shooting. Generally, the farther below the arrow an archer moves the tab, the closer the target is. But his arrow tip is always on the aiming spot.

That’s Zirnsak’s technique for target shooting, When he’s hunting, he has a spot marked on his string that indicates where he should place his tab to shoot 25 yards. He anchors his tab there no matter what distance a game animal might be, but he adjusts his arrow tip up or down, depending on the distance. By having a fixed reference point, he doesn’t have to fumble around – possibly in poor light – trying to string walk to the exact spot that matches the target distance.

The basics of bow-mounted quivers for bowhunting

You’ve seen the pictures of Robin Hood and his merry men running through the woods with quivers of arrows strapped to their backs.

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Errol Flynn as Robin Hood

That’s a nice look for Hollywood, and it’s cool for traditional archers shooting targets. But it’s not very practical for today’s bowhunters. Broadheads and back quivers aren’t a good combination.

Whoever invented the bow-mounted quiver deserves a medal. I mean, you have to carry your bow, and you have to carry arrows in a fashion so they don’t interfere with your shooting or staking. But yet, the arrows need to be handy for loading.

The bow-mounted quiver addresses all these issues.

TRADITIONAL

For traditional archers, there are four basic types of bow-mounted quivers. There are two-piece quivers that slide over the limbs, two-piece quivers that strap to the limbs, two-piece quivers that attach via limb bolts and one-piece quivers that attach to special mounting holes.

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Slide-on traditional quiver

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Strap-on traditional quiver

The latter quiver can only be used with bows that have the appropriate mounting bushings or threaded holes. The strap-on and slide-on quivers can be used with any traditional bow, while the quivers that attach via limb bolts can only be used on non-ILF, takedown bows.

The one-piece quivers typically attach to the riser, which means an archer can remove the limbs from a takedown bow without having to remove the quiver. Any limb-mounted quiver must be removed to disassemble a takedown bow.

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This traditional quiver mounts to the riser by bolts at the top and bottom.

COMPOUND BOW

All compound bows will have accessory holes for mounting quivers. Or, the sights mounted to these bows will have threaded holes for the quivers.

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Many compound bow quivers are designed to remain affixed to the bow at all times, and can only be removed using a screwdriver or Allen wrench. But there are some that give the archer the option to remove the quiver in the field.

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This Hoyt quiver cannot be detached in the field.

These are often favored by tree stand or ground blind hunters, who like the convenience of a bow-mounted quiver for carrying their arrows afield, but want to remove the quiver for taking a shot. Unless you shoot your compound bow with the quiver always attached, the addition of the quiver will change the balance of your bow.

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Quick-detach quiver

Whether you hunt with traditional gear or with a compound bow, there are a few aspects of a bow-mounted quiver you’ll want to consider.

  1. How many arrows does it hold? There are quivers that hold anywhere from two to eight arrows. Think about how many arrows you want to have with you when you’re out hunting. Remember, the more you have, the more weight you have to carry.
  2. How does it keep the broadheads in place? There’s a variety of material used in quiver hoods to secure the business ends of your arrows. Some are sturdier than others. Take a look at what’s in the hood of the quiver you’re thinking about and imagine inserting and removing broadheads. Will the material hold your arrows firmly?
  3. Is the quiver made for your arrows? Small diameter arrows are becoming increasingly popular among bowhunters. Not all quivers are made to hold these tiny shafts. And the ones that are, don’t work well with normal shafts. Make sure the quiver you’re looking at is made for the shafts you shoot.
  4. Does it make the bow loud? The only way to figure this out is to shoot your bow with the quiver attached. Some will increase the bow noise at the shot. Is it too much for your taste?
  5. Can the quiver be removed in the field? As noted, only some offer this option. It’s up to you to determine if that’s a desirable feature.

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Rubber in the hood of a quiver is durable and quiet.

PODCAST: Matt Zirnsak and Tim Nebel of The Push Archery

Matt Zirnsak is a longtime, barebow target archer. He admits to “geeking out” on the technical side of traditional archery – bow tuning, arrow tuning, aiming techniques, torsional stability and on and on.

While these are facets of archery that most often are associated with compound archery and Olympic recurve, Zirnsak believes they absolutely have a place in traditional archery.

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Tim Nebel, left, and Matt Zirnsak

So he and his friend Tim Nebel – a traditional archer with a passion for videography – last year decided to make a film about the technical side of traditional archery, which they titled, “The Push – A Traditional Archery Film.”

Available to anyone on YouTube, the video has been a smash hit, with nearly 200,000 views in just over 12 months. The video was so successful, Zirnsak and Nebel have made three more films under “The Push” name, and they’ve launched a podcast. They’ve done all of this with a single goal in mind.

“To expedite the traditional archery learning curve,” Zirnsak said.

We sat down with Zirnsak and Nebel at the 2017 Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous in northcentral Pennsylvania – the largest, annual gathering of traditional archers in the United States – to talk about the evolution of The Push and about the growing interest in traditional archery across the country.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • Why traditional archery is experiencing a rush of new participants.
  • Why Zirnsak and Nebel settled on the name, “The Push.”
  • How The Push is helping people get involved in traditional archery.
  • How bona fide target archery practices and principles can and should play a role in traditional archery.
  • How competition can make anyone a better bowhunter.
  • What it’s like to be a rock star in the world of traditional archery.

“Traditional archery is not a hobby. It’s not a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It kind of grabs your primordial essence.”

Archery Podcasts You’ve Got to Check Out

Lancaster Archery Supply earlier this year launched a podcast with the goal of exploring any and all topics pertaining to archery in all of its forms – traditional, bowhunting, target, 3-D, recreational, etc.

If it relates in any way to the use of a bow and arrow, we want to talk about it.

But a podcast dedicated to archery is hardly unbroken ground. There are many podcasts covering a broad range of territory from tournament archery to traditional bowhunting to shooting form. And we love them.

Here’s a list of our favorite archery podcasts – in no particular order – and what we love about them.

1. Lancaster Archery Podcast with P.J. Reilly

Hey, we’re allowed to be biased and start with our own podcast here. @Lancasterarchery already has sat down with some of the biggest names in archery, including Levi Morgan, Jesse Broadwater, George “GRIV” Ryals IV, Dan and Emily McCarthy and Mackenzie Brown. The plan moving forward is to talk to archers, manufacturers, engineers, coaches, sales reps and anyone else we think might have something interesting to say about their involvement in our favorite sport.

2. Nock On with John Dudley

@NockOnTV is one of our favorite archers. He’s an avid bowhunter with a solid background in competitive archery. He coaches all over the world, and is always eager to share his views, techniques, training information, etc. with his podcast listeners.

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3. Bowjunky with Greg Poole

This podcast has been around the target archery industry for a long time. @4biggp knows the players and he knows the games – all of them. We always learn something new from each Bowjunky podcast.

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4. Easton Target Archery with George Tekmitchov and Steve “Big Cat” Anderson

No question, the best thing about this podcast is the co-hosts. One of the best compound target archers in the U.S. @steveanderson88, and Easton product manager and senior engineer – as well as an archery announcer at the last seven Olympics – George Tekmitchov. Their Q&A exchanges with listeners are unrivaled.

5. The Push: A Traditional Archery Podcast with Matt Zirnsak and Tim Nebel

“Traditional archery” and “podcast” might seem like strange bedfellows, but these co-hosts @thepusharchery and @tnebel make it work. It turns out you can use an ultra-modern medium to discuss the ways and means of        archery’s simplest side – the stick and string.

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6. Petersen’s Bowhunting Radio with Christian Berg

In the podcast, the editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting magazine @cbergbowhunt explores the tactics and equipment of modern bowhunting, and he talks to the most accomplished bowhunters of our generation.

7. Tradgeeks with Matt Kephart and Kevin Merrow

A unique approach to discussing all things traditional. Two guys @MattKephart and @Kevin_Merrow who use today’s equipment, music, dialogue, etc. to bring traditional archery to the modern generation.

8. Archery Maniacs with Zach Herold

You might hear about bowhunting for elk, an interview with a well-known tournament pro about a specific aspect of their game, details about quality camping gear for DIY bowhunts or details on the latest and greatest equipment from a particular company. Nothing is off the table for @ZachHerold1 Archery Maniacs.

9. Gritty Bowmen with Brian Call and Aron Snyder

We know podcasts are supposed to be about the audio, but @grittybowmen and @aron_snyder this podcast is a video too, so you can see them talking with their guests. And sometimes, they are out on location in the mountains – maybe with an animal Call or Snyder just shot. It’s a cool twist to a great podcast that focuses mainly on bowhunting and proper archery shooting form.

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10. Traditional Bowhunting and Wildernesswith Jason Samkowiak

Some podcast hosts sound like polished and rehearsed speaking professionals. And then there are people like Jason (tbwpodcast: YouTube). He knows his subjects and his delivery is clean and clear, but he sounds like a guy who’s talking to you at the bar about traditional archery, bowhunting, the importance of public land and lots of related topics. His podcast is always a great listen.

Guide to Traditional Archery Arrow Rests

Traditional archers are known for their simplicity. Everything about their gear is uncomplicated.

The rests they choose for their bows are no different. They’re simple, but functional.

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Before you start to pick a rest, take a look at your bow’s riser. If it’s bare above the shelf, with no holes in it, your rest choices are more limited than if it is drilled and tapped.

Here’s your guide to traditional archery rests.

SHELF RESTS – These are perhaps the simplest of the traditional bow rests, and are widely favored by traditional bowhunters. They are designed for archers who shoot their arrows off the shelf. That is, their arrows simply rest on the riser shelf, above the handle.

Shelf rests commonly are made of felt, leather, feathers or hair. Some are flat pieces of material that simply cover the shelf wood, while others are slightly raised to hold the arrow a little above the shelf.

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Shelf rests are intended for archers who shoot arrows fletched with feathers. The down feather folds flat as the arrow slides across the shelf rest. A plastic vane would jump when it hits the shelf, causing erratic arrow flight.

STICK-ON RESTS – Any traditional bow can receive these rests. Like their name implies, they stick to the riser above the shelf, usually by way of double-sided tape.

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These rests will have an arm built into them, which is meant to support the arrow. Arrows bearing vanes or feathers can be shot from these rests.

SCREW-IN RESTS – These rests are limited to those bows drilled and tapped to accept them. They have arms to support arrows, and they bolt into place through the riser mount. They function just like the stick-on rests, but they are more secure.

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REST-PLUNGER COMBO – This is the most advanced of the traditional rests, and it’s not as widely used as the others. It’s primarily favored by traditional archers who shoot competitively. It can only be used with bows that have the threaded plunger hole mounts above the shelf on the riser.

The rest employs a wire arm, and it’s used in concert with a cushion plunger, which sits against the arrow. The plunger cushions the flexing of an arrow as it leaves the bow to promote consistent arrow flight.

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Podcast: TradTech director John Wert

John Wert is a nearly-lifelong traditional archer and the director of TradTech Archery. He’d rather hunt and target shoot with a stick and string than any other weapon, and is well-known around the country as an expert in setting up traditional bows.

To help mark the 10th anniversary of TradTech – a division of Lancaster Archery Supply – Wert sat down with LAS podcast host P.J. Reilly to discuss the allure of traditional archery.

In this podcast, you will learn:

– How Wert got involved in traditional archery, and how he came to TradTech Archery in 2010.

– What a traditional archery rendezvous is all about.

– What role TradTech archery plays in the world of traditional archery, and what’s new from TradTech in 2017.

– How the YouTube film “The Push” is garnering a lot of attention for traditional archery today.

– That traditional archers march to their own drum, and have their own unique look.

“You can walk around with a dead coyote on your head, a 14-inch Bowie knife, no shoes and no shirt and nobody will give you a second look,” Wert said. “But you wear a shooter jersey…and the music screeches to a halt as soon as you walk in the door.”

If you have any questions or comments for Lancaster Archery about this podcast, please email us at [email protected]