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A New Journey
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:04 PM
Nelsdou Nelsdou is offline
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Default A New Journey

It’s been nearly twenty years since I had last drawn a bow. A bunch of stuff had taken my time and priorities back then – a new job, relocation, supporting children’s’ extracurricular activities, etc. But now in this phase of my life I was ready to pick back up this particular pursuit that I had laid aside and missed dearly.


Most of my previous hunting had been with my weapon of choice, a custom 65 lb. Bighorn takedown recurve. Obviously since having twenty years of absence and age, I knew it would be difficult or unlikely that I could pull that heavy of a bow proficiently and accurately again. No matter what the path is to get back in the saddle I realized it was going to take work and patience to regain strength and muscle memory to shoot a bow again; I just didn’t know what level that I could re-attain, being now in my mid-60’s. So I started looking at options.


I drug out my Jennings Arrowstar compound bow out of its case. While being a premium compound in its day, it is a dinosaur by modern comparisons. This particular model was configured in a 25% let off with 70 lb. peak weight and shot with the standard three finger release. In excess of being six pounds carrying weight and of stout construction I would not hesitate in using it as a club if the need arose. My options in respect to this bow could be to back off the limb bolts and bring the peak pulling weight down to approximately 55 lbs., but this would result in becoming relatively inefficient to fling arrows and it was just too darn heavy (in my opinion) to lug around.


I contacted a friend of mine that was a dealer for Bear Archery and got re-educated on the current compound bow technology. Wow, now days, it is not enough to acquire a bow to go hunting, it’s a bow plus a mechanical release, plus a sight mechanism plus a unique arrow rest. And don’t forget the carbon arrows. I love tinkering with gadgets, but this was just too many new gizmos for me. I know the archery industry is trying to make these bows look as good as they are fast, but they still look too much like a robot that ate a couple of Ferris wheels.
Back to more simple options. My draw length is 29 inches. The energy put into the arrow is a function of the stroke and the force imparted by the string into the arrow, and the force is derived from the energy one puts into the bow limbs by pulling the string. For a traditional stick and string bow, if one had to make due with a given peak force input (weight of draw in lbs.), could one compensate by increasing the stroke (draw length)?


Yes, but I found out with conditions. By practicing and repetition I can extend my standard three finger draw length to 30 inches and get accustomed to a new draw anchor point. However, depending on the type of traditional bow, including both longbow and recurves, that additional draw length is not the same. I only have one longbow and the draw weight increases dramatically beyond industry standard 28 inches. For me, longbows that “stack” at longer draws is a no-go. Depending on the particular recurve design and construction, some can “stack” and some not. I have a 52 inch Red Wing Hunter recurve that is a short snappy fast shooter but hits the wall at 28 inches of draw. On the other hand I have a couple of Bear recurves that pull past 28 inches to 30 inches with moderate effort, increasing in force by approximately 3 lbs/inch.


Another factor is bow limb construction. I picked up a 58 inch recurve that has bamboo core wood with back and belly fiberglass, warranted draw to 32 inches. My experience is that it pulls well to 30 inches and can go further but the draw weight starts to increase significantly beyond 30 inches.


(58 inch Bodnik recurve - bamboo limbs, 30 inch draw)


So to sum up my progress to date, I have been able to work up to drawing approximately 55 lbs at 30 inches of draw using a 58 inch Bodnik recurve bow rated 50 lbs @28 inches. From a physical perspective with a three finger draw my best extended draw is 30 inches. Would it be possible to extend the draw further still?


See my next upcoming chapter on Horsebows and thumb draw.


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Last edited by Nelsdou; 11-06-2019 at 09:45 PM..
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:31 AM
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Default Re: A New Journey

Good on ya. Now you need about $100 worth of special shampoo, body and clothes wash for scent killing and don't forget the body harness for when you fall asleep!!
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:41 AM
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Default Re: A New Journey

Felt like I was proof-reading my autobiography, except that I didn't end up going down the recurve path. Briefly, I developed a large spur on my acromium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acromion), that made drawing a bow very painful. At the time, (early '80s), I had one of the early-technology compound bows - a Bear Whitetail. It too weighed about half the mass of the earth. Let-off at 35% was better than Nels' 25, but not much. I had taken several deer and a big bull caribou with it, but it was getting too painful to draw. What many people that don't hunt with compounds don't know is that regardless of the let-off percentage, you still have to draw THROUGH the max draw weight of the bow. In other words, if the max draw weight is 65# with a 50% let-off, then you have to draw 65# at some point in the draw, but you only have to hold 32.5# when at full draw. With that Bear Whitetail, the point in the draw that I had to 'pull through' that 65# was right at the "wrong" place for that bone spur.

Both my daughters were competing in archery at that time, and while at one of their meets, I was whining to the guy that owned the archery shop and range, that I was probably going to have to give up bow hunting because of the spur. (His name was Jerry FLETCHER. What a perfect name for a guy that owns an archery business. ) Jerry said, "Have you tried one of the new Matthews bows?" I said, "No." He got one off the rack and told me to try it out. (I think it was set for 60# draw weight with 60% let-off.) It was absolutely 'love at first draw'! First, unlike the bear, the draw was SMOOTH! Second, the max draw weight point was NOT at the "bad" place with respect to my bone spur. Third, it didn't weigh half the mass of the earth. I bought the bow right then. That fall I took a moose with it.

I also went through a "technology" phase with my archery, getting mechanical releases and sophisticated sights. However, I learned to bow hunt at 10 years old, using a fiberglass recurve without ANY sights or release aids. Therefore, I learned to shoot in a manner called "instinctive". I found all the gadgets to be too distracting, and ultimately went back to fairly simple, even if on a 'high-tech', compound bow: Single pin sight fixed to be "dead on" at 35 yd, a "peep-hole" on the string, and a 3-finger tab release. I've never felt at a disadvantage (quite the contrary actually), and I've never ULTIMATELY missed my target - the chest cavity of a big game animal. (I did "air-ball" a caribou FOUR TIMES at 80+ yards once. Once I had him 'dialed in', the fifth hit him in the liver - I guess that's not the chest cavity - and he died within 100 yd.)

I apologize for inserting myself in your thread, Nels, but our stories were similar enough, and I felt the need to add my voice to the merits of the "keep it simple" philosophy of recurves and minimal technology. I love the imagery of:
Quote:
they still look too much like a robot that ate a couple of Ferris wheels.




I would probably use a recurve were it not for the bone spur in my shoulder. That said, were it not for the modern technology of compound bows, I most certainly would not be bow hunting any more.

Paul

PS - While not associated with a "spur", I note this comment in the above link:
Quote:
This feature was common in skeletons recovered from the Mary Rose shipwreck: it is thought that in those men, much archery practice from childhood with the mediaeval war bow (which needs a pull three times as strong as the modern standard Olympic bow) pulled at the acromion so much that it prevented bony fusion of the acromion with the scapula.
Paul
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:44 PM
Nelsdou Nelsdou is offline
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Default Re: A New Journey

Gitano-


Yes, the simplest of injuries can certainly take you out of the game. One of the things I neglected to mentioned in "My Journey" that back in time just before I hung the bow up, I strained my left rotator cuff. It took more than a year for that rotator cuff soreness to subside. Looking back on that injury, I believe that it occurred by letting my left shoulder "roll in" when pulling to full draw.



So what I do now religiously before shooting is a lot of stretching and flexing. One exercise involves pulling elastic surgical tubing (three coils bound together) both left and right.



This commitment to stretching comes from someone I know who suffers from a calcium deposit issue in their shoulder; it may be that same bone spur but I believe his case had hard bone on bone contact. He told me his choices were 1-surgery or 2- drugs and physical therapy. The surgery risk was that he likely would never again be able to draw much of any weight thereafter, so for the time being he is undergoing option 2. This fella admitted that he never warmed up or stretched prior to shooting and warned me not to follow his example.


Rick-


Ha!, I remember when your choices were doe urine or just stay "clean". Now I see that there is all kinds of "stuff" to wash and scent yourself with these days! My go to has always been baking soda powder.
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:01 PM
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Default Re: A New Journey

In my case, the spur impinges on one of the heads of my bicep. The pain was so bad the first time I did it, it made me nauseous. I haven't explored all the medical options, but at that first instance, I got a cortisone shot. Unfortunately, I was told at the time that it was a once in a lifetime shot. Anyway, I look forward to hearing about your 'journey'.

Paul
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"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." ~ C.S. Lewis.

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Re: A New Journey
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Old 11-12-2019, 04:58 PM
Nelsdou Nelsdou is offline
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Default Re: A New Journey

Horsebows and thumb draw.

Now that I was on my way, the intent of the journey is to proceed without inflicting needless injury and learn better methods and habits, including unlearning some old bad habits. I now religiously stretch and warm up thoroughly before pulling any of my bows. One of the bad habits I consciously think about is not to permit my left (bow) shoulder to “roll in” or some people say “collapse” as I draw the bow, and focus on the back muscles doing the work.

Being able to fling arrows drawn to 30 inches at 55 lbs. is a modest success but I believe there is room to improve further. The use of bamboo laminates in the Bodnik recurve impressed me that bows of similar construction could likely be drawn further. When I compared alternative methods to draw and hold the string the three finger hold is the strongest but also the shortest, considering draw length. The Asian thumb draw could enable a gain two inches of additional draw based on the configuration of my hand. The angle on my hand would also be rotated approximately 90 degrees from the traditional three finger hold and this could permit a slightly greater draw based on the muscle alignment through my arm and shoulder.

Investigating into Asian thumb draw techniques launched me into a general review of the history of concerning archery and warfare back to the beginnings of civilization. These old traditional methods are no longer widely in use today, so one has to seek out the few individuals and groups that still exercise horsebow archery and practice the old Asian archery methods. From the literature and the internet I found that the thumb draw techniques and bows vary as much as the cultures do around the world. I stumbled across a thread that led me to the British Museum and its Assyrian Wall Panel exhibition. Dated to 800~600BC these stone cuts depict Assyrian kings and soldiers shooting triangular bows using a variety of hand holds including three finger and numerous thumb release styles. Bows are drawn back past the archers’ face and the drawn arrows are depicted on both the right and left sides of the bows. The Assyrian bows have been generally confirmed as composite horn/wood/sinew bows.







A point of discussion about these stone reliefs is the accuracy regarding the drawn bows. Are the long draws an artistic touch to provide a heroic pose or simply not have the string hand block the archers’ face? After examining YouTube videos of recent Korean traditional archers drawing their composite bows well past their face, I say neither of these points apply assuming that the Korean composite bows bear similar characteristics to those of the ancient Assyrians. My limited experience with sinew on bows is that is it amazingly elastic.





Bracing and Drawing a triangular composite bow




ABOVE - Ref:Experimental Approaches to Ancient near Eastern Archery Author(s): R. Miller, E. McEwen, C. Bergman

An interesting read that I obtained online was from The Journal of Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume XXVI, 1897, in which Henry Balfour describes the acquisition of a bow and arrows from an Egyptian tomb and provides an analysis that the items were of Assyrian origin based on the bow horn/wood/sinew construction and the type of accompanying arrows. The bow’s unstrung shape is sharply reflexed and very likely would appear triangular when braced, approximately 53 inches in length.






So one way to achieve greater draw length would be to obtain a horn/wood/sinew composite bow in a triangular configuration and learn to shoot the thumb release technique. However, there are some cons concerning the practical use (hunting) with composite bows. To make a composite bow is very difficult and to purchase one is very expensive. Surprisingly they exist and are custom made in Korea and eastern Europe. The markets for these appear to be more for collectors, re-enactors and individuals practicing traditional archery, not general use like hunting. Although leather wrapped or bound with some as exotic as snake skin, the risk of sinew degradation from moisture induced weather make them impractical in my opinion. Furthermore, the Koreans consider composite bows as “living weapons” due to their unique quirks and the constant exercising and adjustment that the bows require as they are being used.


Modern materials such as carbon fiber, improved glues, better fiberglass and use of bamboo as core woods have advanced the application of laminated bow design and construction. Could a modern laminated bow provide similar long draw performance to the composites?
One condition (or obstacle) that exists that the domestic archery industry in general has focused on the 28 inch draw length as a standard for manufacturing, and the typical bow limb design reflects that for optimum performance. But not all markets have that 28 inch condition, so when one looks more globally, some interesting laminated bows appear. The laminated versions of the Hun bows of eastern Europe and the Manchu bows of China are examples of long draw bows but are designed long in length and make the use of chunky siyahs (extended non-working bow tips or ears). These I would rather avoid.



What about the design of those ancient triangular bows from the Assyrians? Can a laminated version of those exist that provide a similar long draw to the composite version? Well yes, they do somewhat. Several custom bowyers make a short longbow with reflexed limbs and are called “hybrids”. The degree of reflex and overall length varies from my findings. Unfortunately custom made typically means expensive and long lead time from point of order to receipt. My desire was to find more of a “beater” bow much like the Assyrian type that I could experiment with and be subjected to field abuse. I found one from AF Archery that certainly looks the part; triangular configuration, short 56 inch length, bamboo and fiberglass laminates, arrow passes on both sides to allow either right and left side shooting, relatively inexpensive and available to ship quickly. Advertised draw length is up to 34 inches.




My limited research on this particular bow found that some customers complained that the bows received were under weight by five or more pounds from that ordered. To that end, I ordered my bow to be 55 lbs. draw weight to assure I received one equal to or greater than 50 lbs. As my luck would have it, the received bow came in at exactly 55 lbs.

Right now I am limited to 31 inch wood arrows, but it is a start. To eliminate possible variance by arrow spine and dimensional tolerances, I have ordered some carbon shafts to take me beyond 31 inches.

Next Chapter-Preliminary Results
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:44 PM
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My normal draw length is 29.5" and I have never liked having to conform to the 'standard' 28" DL. That said, I am comfortable with my 3-finger anchor (right thumb knuckle in the "dent" behind my jaw and under my ear), and have been using it for all of my life except the relatively brief few years I used a mechanical release. As I said before, I seriously doubt I could use a non-compound bow these days, so max draw weight is almost a non-issue for my hunting archery.

That is a beautiful bow, and I look forward to hearing of your hunting and preparing-for-hunting adventures.

Paul
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 12-13-2019, 09:33 PM
Nelsdou Nelsdou is offline
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Alas, a bit of a setback. Promptly after a prescription change I developed "tennis elbow" in both arms and some other odd muscle cramping. D*** doctors! But I am recovering now after dropping that medication. Soon I will resume but start again back at 45lbs on the old Bear Super Kodiak and work my way up.

In the meantime I couldn't help passing up on a laminated Scythian style horsebow from Hungary. End of the year sale and the favorable Euro/dollar ratio makes this the cheapest bow I've ever bought, even including overseas shipping. It is also another bow that I can shoot off either the left or right side. Pics forthcoming.

Another minor issue revealed is arrow spine when attempting to shoot longer draws. The longer the arrow shaft the stiffer the spine needs to be to bend properly around the bow riser upon launch. My experience has been a given spine for arrows around the 28" to 29" for a given draw weight works pretty well, but when you push those same spine shafts past 29" to 30" or 31" in addition to slightly more draw weight, the shaft flexing significantly increases. So far my limited work with the triangular bow results in the arrow nock ends slapping the bow on pass through. Not every shot but enough times to know that it is a problem. It's not easy to get heavy spine wood shafts longer than 30-31". Some carbon shafting in 34" length is on order and should be the remedy.
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Re: A New Journey
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Old 01-03-2020, 06:38 PM
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Next Chapter-Preliminary Results

In starting over at 45 lbs I began experimenting with a modified Asian thumb hold on the string as opposed to the traditional three finger Mediterranean release. In the second Assyrian panel photo above, the Assyrian archer has his right hand index finger curled back on top the arrow nock. Hidden from view is his thumb hook below the arrow nock (my interpretation). Now I make this interpretation by the fact the archer is shooting from an unsteady horseback or chariot position so that his left hand thumb holds the arrow shaft against the bow handle and his right hand grip to hold the arrow nock on the string must make use of the thumb in addition to his index finger to secure the arrow to the string. The other three fingers are not shown as being used at all. If the thumb is hooked below the arrow nock, it makes sense to me that the index finger is securing the arrow nock in place from jumping up the string before releasing the shot.


I used my archery three finger glove to protect my index finger but my thumb naked as shown below:





Since my thumb is on the left side of the string and the index finger is on the right side, I experimented shooting off both right and left sides of the bow. Surprisingly, after I got the hang of it, it works very well either way. In fact shooting a traditional right handed recurve bow with a cut to center shelf rest works very well. This modified thumb release appears to be snappier and more accurate than shooting with three fingers. Eventually I will put this to the test by shooting over a chronograph and confirm my impressions. There may be two reasons for this impression of greater arrow speed and accuracy; 1) my draw length is longer with my thumb hook “fist” hold, and 2) my brain “triggers” a more instantaneous relaxation of my thumb/index finger than the other fingers that are used in a three finger release.

In order to protect my thumb, I crafted a DIY leather thumb wrap. The leather strip is folded back through the wrap to cover the thumb pad and the slit in the wrap where the strip pulls through makes a natural place to hold the bowstring.








As I mentioned earlier, the longer wood shafted arrows shot at higher poundage start to whip/deflect more upon arrow launch and often strike the bow riser as the fletching and nocks pass. Heavier spine in the wood arrows did not seem to help much, including some heavy longbow shafts I have in 23/64 inch diameter. Promising results are appearing in the use of 400 spine carbon shafts that I have recently tried. I believe this is due to the carbon shafts having a faster “recovery” rate than wood. One caution with the use of carbon shafts with laminated bows is that the shaft needs mass to properly load the bow and absorb the energy from the bow. Arrow weights equal to or greater than 8 to10 grains/lb of draw weight are the general rule to avoid shock similar to that caused by “dry-firing”. In my case, adding mass to carbon shafts to be in the 400 to 600 grain regime shouldn’t be a problem.

In the next few weeks hopefully I will be in shape to shoot my 56 lb @28 inches Scythian style bow from Hungary. Ash riser, leather grip, black popular veneers under clear glass. I am not sure what the core limb wood is but I suspect it is bamboo. It is light as a feather.

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Re: A New Journey
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:33 PM
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Default Re: A New Journey

That's some great info, Nels, as usual!

Paul
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Do not confuse technical skill for wisdom and do not confuse strength for skill. Paul Skvorc
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