Here's the latest archery news from this quadrant.
I'm pleased to say that the new orientation of my target backstop, now itself being backstopped by the garage, is working out swimmingly. I can shoot from a variety of angles and distances, up to about 22 yards, with no problems, and without putting any innocent bystanders in danger.
As a bonus, the change puts the backstop on the east end of the backyard, which allows for late afternoon shooting without facing the sun. Also, this is the "light" end of the yard at night, with some residual illumination from a nearby street lamp. Thus, my night gallery* hi jinx are easier to pull off. I just put my little battery powered lamp on the patio table, and I have all the light I could need, even on a cloudy night. It's pretty swell, considering that, at least two days per week, it's dark by the time I come home from work, and I might still need to scratch "that itch".
I read more about arrow weight vs. draw weight in the various nooks and crannies of the Internet, and found that my arrows were not necessarily overly heavy for the draw weight/length of my recurve, the sweet 'lil PSE Blackhawk. To test, I tried using a heavy (nearly 600 grain) Easton 2317 aluminum arrow at @30 overall length. Now, this is a bit short and a lot too stiff for the bow in question, but I wanted to feel what the difference would be in terms of shooting dynamics. The structure of the Blackhawk recurve's arrow shelf is such that it gives you about two inches of effective overdraw, as the hollow of the handle is well forward of the back of the arrow shelf. This allowed me, with care, to shoot the 2317s, which had been prepared for a compound bow.
I found out a few things. One, a heavier arrow does, indeed make a recurve shoot somewhat more smoothly. While the arrows I normally use, which are a few hundred grains lighter, don't produce any untoward hand shock or loud noise, the heavier arrows made the release nearly "dead in the hand" and quieted the bow even further. Downside? The big Eastons shoot way to the left, as they've got too much spine stiffness.
My second experiment, and the goofier one, was to fill one of my Gold Tip carbons, which are more or less correctly spined for the bow, with sand, to see how that turned out. I did. According to the rough accuracy of a food scale, the weight went from 30 grams (around 460 grains) to 64 grams (around 1,000 grains). The arrow shot fine, hit the target with a heck of a wallop, but moved pretty darned slowly. Obviously, the elevation aiming point changed.
In the end, I shot the weighted and unweighted arrows cheek by jowel, and found that there wasn't enough difference to fiddle with all of them, trying to get the right amount of sand in each one. Anyway, I wonder how healthy that would have been for the arrows, over the long haul.
Because I'm still interested in a little more weight, I've ordered 145 grain bullet points for the Gold Tip arrows, just to see how that goes. It would add 45 grains to the front of the arrow, and it's possible that it will push them close to being underspined for the recurve, but we'll see. On the other hand, they might be the very thing for the longbow that I have on order (more on that in a moment).
Lean Angles, Draw Hand and Alternate Shooting Stances:
I noticed that, for a few shooting sessions with my Blackhawk, I was having some problems with shooting to the right, which was a new one. It turned out that I was canting the bow too much, a bleed-over from the best angle for the Snake, which is more over-spined with the Cabela's Stalker Extreme arrows I'm using. I straightened up, and hey, the arrows flew a true course. Wonder of wonders.
I've gone back to a split finger draw with the Blackhawk. After a few light hearted shots without any draw hand protection one day, I found that the split finger felt more natural with that bow. I've been using it since, and find it to cause less asymmetrical force on the string, as well as being comfortable and repeatable. I'm not closing the book on three-fingers-under, but for my recurves, split fingers seems to be the very thing.
Shooting from alternate stances has been something that I've been interested in of late. I have tried, in small measure, a variety of different ways of shooting. These include stooping or squatting, kneeling, and even sitting down. I can do all of these with pretty decent results with the Snake, but I've practiced less with the Blackhawk.
I did quite a bit of practice yesterday. Here are my findings. From a double-knee kneeling posture, I'm possibly more accurate than standing up. It's very natural. I don't really have to change anything, and I'm still far enough from the ground to use my normal bow lean without worrying about hitting the ground (with a 60 inch bow). Kneeling with one knee (left) up, is not too bad, but not quite as natural as double knee. I think it might "open" my effective stance a little more than I'm used to. Still, it's certainly not bad. Seated position makes me lean the Blackhawk too far, and the aim point is such that I have to aim several inches to the left of my target. Offset aiming in two vectors is tough for my little brain to work out sometimes, so I feel like that one's sort of a no-go. As to stooping, as long as the shot isn't really long, it works just fine.
Going Lefty and Snap Shooting:
I've been having great fun shooting the Snake bow left handed. I find that, if I'm deliberate, I can get really good results. Due to the change in flight dynamics (something of a mystery to me), I can hold the bow nearly straight up and down, and get good flight from the left handed stance. Go figure. Anyway, that takes one thing out of the loop in terms of things to remember. I may, at some point, get a bow with now arrow shelf, so that I can trade back and forth with a heavier bow than the Snake. As it stands, it's my trick bow.
I read about short bows and snap shooting online, and was interested to see if I could do it. I'd been trying snap shooting (not pulling the string back all the way, using a floating aiming point and just "eyeballing" where the arrow will go) while pretending a milk jug was a fish, but I hadn't tried it while shooting at a standard target.
Well, I tried it with the Blackhawk last night. From ten yards away, I'm pretty darned good at it, it turns out. The thing that really surprised me is the power retained while not pulling the bow back more than about 20 or 22 inches (a guess). It still thuds into the target with pretty good power. I would venture a guess that, with practice, one could get nearly as good from 7 to 10 yards at snap shooting as they are when shooting conventionally. Great fun, and lets you know what the cultures whose bows wouldn't pull back to the chin/mouth/ear anchor had to contend with. I should mention that, to my knowledge, most archaic cultures that used shorter bows had this constraint. It's do-able, though. Just like anything, it takes practice with the bow in question. If you're to be a real archery student, I think you'll find it worth a go.
Waiting for My Longbow:
I purchased a PSE Sequoia longbow (55#) a few weeks ago from Cabela's "Bargain Cave", after having been smitten and altogether put beyond the reach of reason by its beauty and sweet shooting. However, someone had obviously mistreated the bow before I took possession of it, as it began to de-laminate upon the first test draw when I got it home. I took the bow back, and though they didn't have to, as it was an "as is" purchase, Cabela's did allow me to return the bow for a refund.
I was so bummed out. In reality, I was in the dumps about the whole thing. I had liked that bow, big time. Should I trust the make/model again, or should I look for my entertainment elsewhere? On the night of Labor Day, I made up my mind. I would order another one, this time from PSE directly. So I did. I am still waiting for the bow, as there was an inventory issue, it seems. There were no 55# bows available, so I ordered a 50# instead. I just got confirmation that it shipped today, so I hope that it will appear at my house by Friday or Saturday. Expect a detailed report. Man, I hope this one holds together and shoots like the other one. I've got a Flemish Twist string (nock point installed and everything), a bow case, a stringer, some string silencers, and a Bear Hair rest for this bow. It had better do me right. I think it will, though, because my experience with my other two PSE bows has been so positive.
All right, that's enough for now. Hope everyone's well.
* Note: Night Gallery is what my cousin Bob dubbed my archery practice in the dark.