Traditional Archery Gear – Over-Bowed

Source: Stick & String Adventures Podcast – Episode 27 – Archers Roundtable

The Continuing Conversation between


Jason Albert – My biggest thing with the bows; and pretty much everybody else I’ve ever talked to that was starting off, is being over-bowed.  Your bow weight is way more than you can handle.  I’m guilty of it myself.  In high school I was on the power lifting team and in the military I was on the power lifting team.  So, I’m a pretty strong guy.  I thought that I could handle those big bows.  And I could for thirty, forty shots a day. But what you’re not figuring into the equation is the frequency and the repetition that you’re going to be using there.  The weight on that bow and the effects it’s going to have on your body.

Nick Viau – I totally agree and I would echo Jason in that.  I played football all my life. In college and everything else.  I’m a lineman, a big guy. I think that I am going to take Jason one step further here.  I don’t think people understand that not only are the muscles different.  Your pulling a lot with your back and everything like that, but I don’t think anybody really considers their fingers. I mean, the majority of your string is on your fingers.  And I don’t care if you’re wearing a glove or not, if you start out over-bowed, you are not going to want to pull that bow back.

Over a period of time, eventually it’s going to hurt. I mean, I was taping my fingers up. I was supposed to have a forty-five pound bow, but they didn’t put it on the bow scale for me.  My particular first bow was a Ragim Impala.  It was one of the earlier models and that one was known to stack.  At my thirty-one inch draw at the time, it was pulling sixty pounds. I was way over-bowed.  I was taping my fingers up with athletic tape so I could keep shooting.  I just figured that I was week and needed to grow into the bow.  I totally agree with Jason.

That’s another thing too, is that poundage.  I see this with transitioning compound shooters too. They think that they hold however much poundage in a compound with let-off and their going to be able to move to a traditional bow that pulls…  Maybe even a little bit off, so if they shot seventy pounds or sixty-five pounds in a compound, they think that they can go to a fifty or a fifty-five and their going to be okay.  Well that’s not necessarily the case.  I don’t think they’re going to get that kind of attention  at a sporting goods store either.  They just might want to sell you on something.  They might not have anything in stock but a higher poundage bow.  That’s what they are going to sell you.

“If they have a bad experience up front, they might not even try to continue with it.”

Ned Miller – Absolutely.  The fingers are a really good point.  I use a glove and I can tell when that glove is wearing down.  If I just pick up a bow when I’m in the shop building bows and just doing some test shots and testing things out.  I can tell after just a couple of shots.  My fingers start to get that way. The one thing that this could cause is…  This could possibly be some of the worst stuff it could cause is…  This could take somebody right out of  the perspective of even wanting to stay in traditional archery.  If they have a bad experience up front, they might not even try to continue with it.  They might not tape up their fingers and keep shooting.  They might just put this down and say, “Ah, This isn’t for me.”  When it really could be for them.

Jason Albert – Very good point.

Nick Viau – They’re also not going to understand that their body is going to adapt.  Eventually their fingers are going to callous.  It doesn’t take long.  A couple of weeks with whacking the ole’ forearm and the arm guard and what not.  Putting the strain on the fingers and cutting your fingers up to say, “What am I doing this for?  There’s got to be an easier way to do this.”  Especially if they’re not seeing results right away on the target.

Jason Albert – If I had to, I would recommend that when buying your first bow,  under-bow yourself.  Because you’re spending so much time worrying about your form that the last thing you need to worry about is fatigue and the bow weight.  Your draw weight.

Nick Viau – I agree.  Anybody should master one weight at a time.  If you don’t master a weight, you shouldn’t be shooting that weight, you shouldn’t move up until you’ve mastered that weight.  It should be an effortless thing.  You should be able to pull it back, control it, and hold it for a few seconds.  If you can’t do that, not even once or twice, then you’re not ever going to hit that anchor.

Jason Albert – Right.  Because when you first start shooting, that’s all you do is shoot. I’m talking your shooting anywhere from one-hundred to two-hundred arrows a day.

“My fingers were bleeding by the time I was done after the first three days.”

Nick Viau – Exactly. My mentor told me that too.  Twenty arrows a day, don’t go over that. Who’s going to stop at twenty arrows a day when you get started?  I shot all day.  My fingers were bleeding by the time I was done after the first three days.  You just can’t get enough of it.

Ned Miller – I can see this too, just from a having kids perspective.  Everything we’ve talked about so far, I’ve seen up-close and personal with both my son (who is getting ready to turn five) and my daughter (who’s three).  They both have experienced all the things we are talking about.  It’s not really the fingers so much.  But when I was making little tiny bows for them.  If it was too heavy, you would notice right away.  If they had any type of little wince at all when they pulled it back, they only shot one or two.  They would put it down and they would stop.

Now I would take that same bow down to the shop and rework it.  Drop the weight on it.  Then give it back to them a couple of days later when they were ready to do it again.  He’d pick it up, he’d shoot, and because it didn’t pull hard, he just kept doing it.  So even there, with very naive to what’s going on, it’s very mental and physical.



About rasherquivers

Owner/Operator of Rasher Quivers
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