Target Panic Breakthrough Cure!

Written by Peter Laffin

Target Panic is something most archers encounter at some point in their archery career. It appears to be one of the ramifications of living in a culture where a person’s worth is measured by the results they produce.

How many points did you score? How much money do you make? What kind of a car do you drive? Did you get the promotion? Did he call you and ask you out again? How many units did you produce today? Did you make the team? And many, many others you can probably think of.

It begins with us as children. We get rewarded for accomplishments. That dynamic continues all the way to the other end of our life. It never lets up. It’s no wonder that we are very focused on producing “good” results. In archery that translates to the conscious and subconscious desire to hit the center of the target. This desire is incredibly deep and strong. To varying degrees the fear of not hitting the bull’s eye is also incredibly deep and strong.

It is well known amongst phycologists that fear may well be the most powerful motivator of behavior. Another way of saying that an archer has Target Panic is saying that an archer suffers from the fear of not hitting the bull’s eye. This is the simple definition of Target Panic…fear of missing the target.

One solution to Target Panic is to stop caring where the arrow lands on the target.

Simple to say, hard to do.

It’s not easy to sidestep a lifetime of conditioning, however, it is possible. Following are a few suggestions on ways to begin.

Focus only on your form

Focus only on one aspect of your form at a time

Look at shooting your bow purely as a form of exercise

Be surprised by wherever the arrow lands-do not expect a particular impact point

Practice being unaffected by the arrow’s impact point

Practice not thinking one impact point is better than another

You can even make jokes about each shot. Do whatever you come up with to lighten up the situation. The point is to begin to remove the weight of having your performance measured. The goal is to develop a way of shooting that is enjoyable and is not contingent on where the arrows land on the target. If you really take this on you will discover just how attached you are to hitting the bull’s eye. You are actually panicked by the target, hence the phrase, Target Panic.

When/if you explore this approach further you will find that it can expand in many areas of your arching. Take anchor points for example. Depending on where we go for information, who we listen to and what we align with we will come up with some sort of belief about anchor points and what we should and shouldn’t do relative to them. Over the course of our archery career we will probably try out many different anchor points and we will change our beliefs about them accordingly. Ultimately there may be no “right” way, only the way that works for us. For some of us it takes a long time to realize that we are unique and that there is no “one size fits all right way” for everybody. We each have the opportunity to experiment and to find what works for us. When/if you come to this point and are able to free yourself of the beliefs that you’ve held, a whole new world opens up for you. Now there are no rules. Now you are free to try anything out, no matter how outrageous it may seem. For example, what about the idea of not having any anchor point? Who says you have to have one? What about just drawing your bow however you do when you’re not thinking or trying to do it a particular way and shooting? Maybe your body will figure out what is most comfortable for it. Maybe your body will do that same thing over and over. Maybe your body will be consistent without your having to manage it. Maybe it’ll just do it naturally. Wow! That’d be a load off the ole mind, wouldn’t it?

There’s another approach to shooting instinctively that dovetails with this. It has to do with trusting your mind/body/brain to figure out the “how to” and you just focus on the “what”. Another way of say it is that there are many things, some of them complex, that our bodies do without us having to consciously manage them. Like walking upstairs, throwing a ball, playing a piano or guitar…things that we learned and then, eventually, they became second nature. Shooting a bow can be like that. When we throw a ball (after we’ve thrown one for a while) ideally it goes where we intend it to go. We don’t focus on how each muscle needs to flex and in what sequence. It all just happens subconsciously. The same can happen in archery, however it requires that we are conscious that this is possible and that we can find some trust in ourselves that this can work for us and that we are willing to put in the time to allow our “team (mind/body/brain)” to train enough to become proficient. What most of us do is try to do it mainly with our mind. We try to figure out what we have to do. We try to “understand” what’s required. We try to “make” it happen. We don’t trust that our “team (mind/body/brain)” is capable of doing it on its own.

In order to develop that trust it requires us to cease trying to manage the process and for us to become able to relax and just shoot for the fun of it. Having shooting sessions that are relaxing and enjoyable is the most fertile ground for growing an expert “team (mind/body/brain)”. Very different than trying to become accomplished. Trying is mostly wasted effort. It’s hard, urgent, frustrating…all things that are not really that enjoyable, and it doesn’t really produce good results. If you enjoy shooting you will shoot more. If you shoot more you will become a better archer. If you become a better archer you will enjoy shooting more. If you shoot more…and so on.

After this long rambling discussion one simple way to cure Target Panic is to stop caring where the arrow lands. Give it up! It’s that simple. If you were to just completely give it up and keep shooting eventually your arrows will be landing in the bull’s eye…simply because that’s what there is to look at when you shoot.

You can’t make this happen, you can only allow this to happen. You naturally want to be an incredibly accurate archer, now just get out of the way and let it happen.

Animal Energy Radar

Written By Peter Laffin

    A cold, still day in the deep woods of northern Maine. Home to some exceptionally large bodied whitetail deer. Snow wafting slowly, landing silently. A wide quiet…no movement…no movement but for the snow settling slowly down, and beginning to collect on its back and butt, which is all that could be seen. Hollow whitetail hair becoming layered with a silent snow.

    50 yards away it stood stock still, head out of sight behind a spruce tree. No wind, no sound, no movement. Eons of time passed…buck or doe? Don’t know. Toes cold…don’t move a muscle…might be a “Christer!”(a local term for a monster buck). Toes colder…breath shallow…suspense, anticipation…imagination running wild with dreams of Boone and Crocket. Can’t take the frozen toes, the not knowing, the painful waiting, the slow burn of the adrenalin…the excitement continuing to build for 45 minutes. KaBoom! An explosion of snow and uncoiled muscle and the crashing of brush…gone! In a heartbeat…gone! Still don’t know…buck or doe?

    What triggered that deer? Not sound, not scent, not movement…what?

    In the next few years more instances of inexplicable explosions of escape. Makes one wonder just exactly what kind of radar prey have. It certainly appeared as though there was some sense besides the five we’re familiar with.

    This thought was the catalyst for a whole new way of hunting. Maybe prey can pick up on intention. Maybe they are telepathic. Maybe they feel the presence of predation. Maybe they have a sixth sense.

    How would one change his or her tactics if that were the case?

    One of the most obvious changes would be not to think predator thoughts. Don’t be in pursuit mode. Don’t be intense. Don’t be focused on hunting. Maybe be casual…just out for a walk in the woods. Relax. Notice the day. See all the different ways that you are enjoying your surroundings. Become part of where you are. Ease into being in the present moment. Let go of any agenda. You have no schedule. You have no place you have to be. You are in the best possible location. Become part of it. Just let go and notice everything.

    When you move don’t worry about being silent. Animals make noise when they move…usually very slight, local noise. It’s okay if you do too. Notice how the deer move…a few steps, look and listen. A pause, then a few more steps. Notice how a lot of humans walk. They have some place to get to. They have a consistent cadence. The sound of the consistent cadence is not the sound an animal makes when it moves.

    Notice when you see game. Is it predominately when you’re moving or when you’re still? When you see game is it moving or is it still? You can see that the one moving is at a disadvantage.

    Compare this way of being in the woods to a more common approach. Many hunters have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep the night before opening day. They are excited and full of anticipation. They may have spent hours and hours preparing for the hunt. They’ve researched equipment and gathered what they think they need. They’ve read books and watched videos and had endless discussions about a huge array of hunting topics. They’ve read the latest secret tips in hunting magazines. They’re primed and ready.


    What kind of energy field are they broadcasting as they step into the woods? How loud is that broadcast? Loud enough for a deer to pick it up?

    These kinds of thoughts can lead to a whole new way of being in the woods.

    As an experiment let’s say that we’re going to make up a reality where prey have…let’s call it energy radar. In this reality animals’ and humans’ thoughts consist of, among other things, electrical energy. Their thoughts actually have specific frequencies. Certain kind of thought = specific frequency. Their bodies also give off other specific frequencies associated with heart functions, adrenal gland functions (fight or flight feelings generate specific frequencies), breathing functions. Their bodies are broadcasting all kinds of signals, each on specific frequencies. Think of it like the air being full of radio broadcasts and when we tune to a specific frequency we receive that broadcast on our radio (or device).

    In this reality hunting takes on a whole new dimension. It would behoove us to learn how to manage our broadcasts and how to tune into the broadcasts of animals.

    Learning how to manage our own broadcasts is not that difficult to do. It is a matter of managing our thoughts. Do think this, don’t think that. Picture your thoughts being broadcast from a radio tower. Anyone tuned to that frequency will pick up your thoughts. Tuning into the broadcasts of animals?…not so easy. Difficult enough so that it might not be worth pursuing here. It is an attribute that comes with a lot of intuition, practice and belief. We don’t’ know how animals think or process. We don’t know the language, so it’s hard to recognize without a lot of practice.

   If your thoughts are being broadcast and animals can pick them up how would you manage your thinking? What kind of thoughts would you censor? What kind of thoughts would you present?

    Maybe now you can see the purpose and wisdom in being casual, relaxed and not intense. It’s not easy to manage oneself into a calm state, but it is a skill that can be acquired. Slipping through the woods in an easy going way, noticing everything, being still every few steps and using soft eyes (soft eyes are eyes that are not super focused or concentrated on anything in particular, but are more in scan mode and rest easy on things that bear a little extra assessment) can be a productive way to move into game.

    You can see how this approach is the opposite of the amped up “can’t wait to get into the woods first morning” mindset. Might be something worth checking out.

The Know Nothing Path to Instinctive Archery

Written by Peter Laffin

Just the idea of “Instinctive” should be a clue that maybe rational is not the way to go here. What, exactly, is “Instinctive Archery”? The phrase infers instinct as opposed to learned.

According to the dictionary instinct isa largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason.

Or: behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level.

One can glean from these definitions that they do not mean a rational, linear, logical approach.

How do most of us go about trying to learn how to be better instinctive archers? We read books and articles, we watch videos, we take classes, we talk with friends and people who seem to know. In short we adapt a rational, logical approach to acquiring this skill.

What about not doing that? Well, we’re all going to do that, at least initially because that is how we are conditioned. That is the way we normally approach learning. So , go ahead and read, and take classes, watch videos, talk to people…get all the advice you can. Try it all out. Experience all that you can and get to be as good as you can be. Progress as far as you can. Are you satisfied? Are you as good as you want to be? Has it worked out for you? Or do you imagine there is better to get (I know that’s grammatically awkward…it’s on purpose).

Are you open to another way? Can you imagine setting your mind aside? Can you find a nice way to tell it that it is not the appropriate tool for this job? Can you actually imagine telling your mind that you are going to develop a skill without it’s help or input? Be prepared to have it sputter a bit, because it will.

Is your body capable of walking up a flight of stairs without consciously thinking about every command to every muscle necessary in ascending the stairs? Can you chew gum without thinking about it? Does your body know to breathe?

We don’t care how all that works, we just notice that it works. How is a question the mind would ask. Noticing is just awareness.

We are embarking on an endeavor to be incredibly accurate instinctive archers. We’re not going to figure out how to do that. We are just going to become aware that it is happening.

We have an intention, a desire, something pulling us in the direction of accurate archery. We’ve progressed as far as we can using the rational time-tested learning approaches. We sense that we can be better than we are. We can feel there is a mysterious quality that is eluding us. We try every which way to Thursday to figure out what that quality is and how to acquire it…to no avail time after time after time, until we either become resigned to being just this good or give up on this endeavor all together.

At this point maybe we are ripe for a new approach. At this point maybe we know that we don’t know. At this point maybe we’re willing to cancel our contract with our mind and put it out to pasture while we engage in something wild and crazy.

What would you think about giving up our attachment to where the arrow lands on the target? That’s nuts! The whole point is to hit the bulls’ eye. Is it? Are you doing this to produce a socially acceptable result or are you doing this for the fun of it? Think about it.

In our culture we are measured by our appearance and what we produce. How many runs did you score? How much money do you make? What kind of car do you drive? How many square feet of flooring did you put down today? What was your score on your performance review? Did he ask you out on another date? It’s all about how you stack up. It’s all about performance and competition.

In most cases our enjoyment is affected by our perception of how we stack up in our particular social circumstance of the moment. That’s why it matters to us where the arrow lands on the target. What matters to our mind is its perception of how we compare to others or to our previous performances.

To let go of the mind is to let go of that concern. Who cares where the arrow lands on the target? What difference does it make really?

Let’s shift criteria for assessing our experience. Let’s replace the results we produce and what we, and others think about them with how the experience feels to us. No attention on anyone else. Just how does this feel to us? Now that’s different!

Let’s get radical. Instead of focusing on our anchor point let’s just draw the bow in a way that feels good. Let’s just drop all the attention on trying to focus on back tension, push and pull, breathe in and hold, waiting until the bow hand is steady, smooth release and all the rest. Let it all go. Just draw the bow in any way that feels good, that feels natural, and see what happens. Relax. Don’t think. Don’t think about anything. Who cares where the arrow lands? Look at what you want to hit and then just do what feels good and take what you get and enjoy it. Don’t’ judge it. Who cares where the arrow goes? Let go of that. That is a concern coming from the mind, and we’ve sent the mind on vacation. That’s not what we’re doing now. No, we’re just enjoying shooting our bow in a way that feels relaxed and we’re enjoying it. Cool. What a relief not to care about where the arrow lands. That whole thing was stressful!

Now what about the part about being incredibly accurate? Do you still want that? Do you still have that as an intention? Do you think your body could align with that intention? What about your brain (not your mind)? (we are going to make the distinction here that “mind” is used to describe the part of us that thinks consciously…the part that has thoughts and tries to figure things out. “Brain” is used to describe the part of us that keeps things running without us having to consciously think about it i.e. that part of us that remembers to breathe or that part of us that can run up the stairs without thinking or tripping.) So, back to the intention. Do you think that your body could align with the intention to be an incredibly accurate instinctive archer? What about your brain? Could it align with that also?

If those answers are affirmative then you have discovered that you have a team; your body, your brain and your intention. Those three together are capable of enabling you to be an incredibly accurate instinctive archer…if, and it’s a big if, you can keep your mind out of the way. Your mind has no part in this partnership. It is a detriment. It must be kept out of the way so that your team (body, brain and intention) can do their job, which they are eminently capable of doing.

Your body can perform what needs to be performed. Your brain can sort through all the information, do all the calculations, and come up with the perfect set of instructions for your body. Your intention is the source of inspiration for the whole endeavor. It provides the desire, the juice, the energy and direction for this whole endeavor.

Your job is to trust your team. Look for evidence of success in everything that happens. Look at what you want to hit and then shoot. When arrows land below the bulls’ eye at a longer distance do not allow your mind to try and adjust, just keep looking at what you want to hit and keep shooting. Give your team the opportunity to adjust. Keep shooting and watch those arrows come up to the bulls’ eye as your team acclimates. Always look for evidence of how your team is accomplishing its intention. It is focused. Be patient. It may take some time for your team to work things out. Your job is to trust that your team is both capable and focused on your intention. It will happen. Your trust and consistent endeavor will insure that.

You are going to have to be on constant alert for your mind to try and sneak in there with suggestions and observations. Be ruthless. Don’t listen. Never give in and try to mentally adjust your shooting to fit your minds’ opinion of what needs to happen. You’ve already tried doing this with your mind and you got mediocre results. You’ve shifted gears and your mind has no part in this movie. Send it away and trust in your team.

Your results will be a direct reflection of your trust in your team. Your body, brain and intention are totally capable of fulfilling your desire to be an incredibly accurate instinctive archer. May you enjoy the adventure of experiencing the manifestation of your intention. The instinct to hit the target is alive deep inside you and you can call it forth. One of the challenging realities of this approach is that it is something that you can not make happen. It only comes when you allow it to happen.

What Is A Light Draw Speedbow?

Written By Peter Laffin

The Draw Weight of a bow is measured by how much muscle power it takes to pull the bow to full draw. The average person’s full draw length is the distance from the back of the bow (the surface facing the target) to where the string sits in the nock of the arrow when the archer has the bow pulled all the way back and is ready to shoot. The standard average draw length used by bow manufacturers is 28”. This varies from person to person as all of our bodies are not identical. Bow draw weight is expressed as how much muscle energy it takes to draw the bow to the average draw length of 28”.

In most archery circles bows with draw weights of 15# to 25# would be considered to be youth bows. Bows with draw weights of 25# to 40# would be considered to be light draw weights. Bows from 45# to 55# would be considered to be average draw weights and bows 60# and higher would be considered to be heavy draw weights.

For the purposes of this description we are going to define a Light Draw Bow as having a draw weight from 25# to 40#.

Most people believe that it is necessary to have a bow of average or above draw weight(45# – 70#) to hunt deer sized and larger game.

The use of draw weight to measure a bow’s function is a deeply entrenched belief that is inappropriate. Draw weight measures draw weight, it does not measure performance. Efficiency measures performance. Bow efficiency is measured by the speed of the arrow it launches.

Not all bows are created equal. Some bows, due to their design, are much more efficient than other bows and will launch arrows much faster than another bow of identical draw weight and less efficient design. The difference can be significant, enough so that one bow with a draw weight 20# less than another bow will out perform the heavier draw weight bow. In terms of comfort in the act of shooting, even a 5# difference in draw weight can make the difference between comfortable to shoot vs physically straining to shoot.

What is attractive about a Light Draw Speedbow is that it enables a person to target shoot (and hunt) with a bow that has a very flat trajectory, thus reducing the need to gauge distance as accurately. A Light Draw Speedbow also enables a person to hunt with a bow of lighter draw weight and still equal or exceed the performance of a much heavier draw weight bow.

Light Draw Weight Bows are more comfortable to shoot. They are easier on your body, allowing you to be more relaxed. An archer who is more relaxed shoots more. An archer who shoots more shoots better. An archer who shoots better enjoys it more.

There is no need to shoot a bow that requires you to strain. People who are straining to shoot  don’t shoot well.

Light Draw Speedbows are designed and built mostly by bowyers who are pushing the design envelope specifically in this direction. There are some commercial bows that are efficient and fast, however, it is not easy to discern which ones those are as there is no common rating inscribed on most bows. This is beginning to change. Some bowyers are now inscribing the ASR (Arrow Speed Rating) on their bows. This rating shows how fast that particular bow shoots an industry standard weight arrow for that bow. This rating also shows how fast that particular bow will shoot a 500 grain arrow (500 grain being an average hunting weight arrow). As the ASR being inscribed on bows becomes more common it will be easier for the consumer to compare bows’ performance.

In conclusion, Light Draw Speedbows are a new focus for some adventuresome bowyers who have a desire to make archery more enjoyable for a wider range of people. Archery can be a bit of a mysterious endeavor. It asks for physical skill, it asks for mental acuity, it asks for the ability to trust our intuition all rolled into one. It is something we can participate in from just a few years old well into our maturity. Light Draw Weight Speedbows are definitely an enhancement of the enjoyment available in this wonderful sport.

What is ASR?

Written By Peter Laffin

Arrow Speed Rating (aka ASR) is a measurement of a bow’s efficiency.

At some point it was realized that a standardized method for measuring a traditional bow’s performance was desired. A group of archery experts convened and developed a formula for measuring bow performance. It was decided that bows would be tested by shooting arrows through a chronograph ( a device that measures the velocity of arrows and/or bullets) and that the arrows tested would weigh 9 grains per pound of bow draw weight – abbreviated as 9GPP ( the formula for compound bows is 5GPP, which explains why their speed are so much faster…light arrows fly faster). That insured that comparisons between bows would be apples to apples in that each bow, no matter what its draw weight, was shooting an arrow with the same proportion of arrow weight to draw weight. Each pound of bow draw weight was propelling an arrow that weighed exactly the same (9GPP) per pound of bow draw weight. That way one could compare a 40# bow to a 60#.

The faster a bow propels an arrow, the more efficient the bow is.

When a person pulls a bow to full draw they are exerting a certain amount of muscle energy. When that energy is released it performs two basic functions. One is to propel the arrow, and the second is to return the bow’s limbs and string to “home”. The more efficient a bow is the more of that muscle energy ends up in arrow velocity and less of that energy is used to return the bow to its undrawn state.

Bow efficiency is affected by many factors; bow profile (how the bow appears from the side), limb shape (how the bow appears from the belly or the back), limb thickness, materials used in the construction of the bow, string material, string weight are a few of the factors affecting bow efficiency.

Humans have been experimenting with bow design for over 10,000 years. One would think that we would have it all figured out by not, however that is not the case. As is demonstrated by some adventurous bowyers, there is ongoing improvement happening as we speak.

Some innovative bowyers are beginning to include ASR testing results on their bows, along with draw weight and draw length to give the consumer more accurate information about this particular bow’s performance. These results are expressed as standard arrow (9GPP) speed and also how fast this bow shoots a 500grain arrow (500 grains considered to be an average hunting weight arrow). The 500 grain arrow speed is especially important to archery hunters.

Arrow Speed Rating aka ASR

Written By Peter Laffin

For Traditional style Longbows

Acceptable standard arrow speed of 165 fps (112.5 mph) could be considered “normal”

Arrow speed of 170fps (115.9 mph) considered “good”

Arrow speed of 175fps (119.3 mph) starting to be considered “quick”

Arrow speed of 180fps (122.7 mph) considered to be “fast”

Arrow speed of 185fps (126.1 mph) considered to be “incredibly fast”

Arrow speed of 190fps (129.5 mph) considered to be “nearly unattainable”

Arrow speed of 195fps (132.9 mph) demands you “check your chronograph”

Arrow speed in the 200fps (136.3 mph) considered to be “impossible”

Creating Your Perfect Personal Hunting Arrow

Written By Peter Laffin

If you’re willing to engage and endeavor a bit, you can design and build the perfect hunting arrow for the unique person that you are.

The process begins with assessing your wants and needs. What are you hunting? How long a shot are you willing to take? What are the qualities necessary in your arrow to have a clean harvest?

Arrow performance is measured in three areas. The first is velocity, that is how fasts the arrow is moving through space. The second is kinetic energy. That is energy that is built up due to the arrow’s velocity and weight. In everyday terms it can be looked at as the force with which an arrow impacts something. The third area is momentum. Momentum is the tendency of an arrow in motion to stay in motion.

The formula for calculating kinetic energy is: the weight of the arrow x the velocity of the arrow squared divided by 450800. The answer will be given in foot pounds of energy.

The formula for calculating momentum is: the weight of the arrow x the velocity of the arrow (not squared) divided by 225400.

We could say that the velocity and weight of the arrow determine both the kinetic energy of the arrow (how hard it hits) and the momentum of the arrow (how far it penetrates).

Velocity is determined by two factors, the draw weight of the bow and the efficiency of the bow. Together these determine how much of your muscle energy actually ends up in arrow velocity (an efficient bow will transform more of your muscle energy into arrow velocity).

Arrow velocity not only determines both kinetic energy and momentum, it also determines trajectory. Faster arrows provide gravity less time to pull them down, hence they have flatter trajectories than slower arrows, which are in the air longer and therefore give gravity more of an opportunity to pull them down. In general heavier arrows are slower, therefore they give gravity more time to work on them.

So now it’s time to look at one of the questions we asked initially…how long a shot are you willing to take? A part of the answer to this question has to do with how much of an arc in your arrow’s trajectory are you comfortable with? An even easier way to say this is, how slow an arrow are you comfortable with? Go out and shoot a variety of different weight arrows and you will quickly find out what is too slow for you.

Once you know what velocity you require you can now begin to design your arrow. Basically you want as heavy an arrow as possible within your velocity parameters. For example a person may be confident shooting at an animal at 40 yards with an arrow traveling at 170fps (fps = feet per second). A slower arrow affects their ability to judge elevation too much and hinders their accuracy. So their criteria is 170fps.

There are a number of shafts of various weights that will perform well out of their bow. Which ones should they choose? A suggestion is to choose the lightest shaft and choose it in a heavier spine than you would normally choose. Why the heavier spine? Because we want to put as much weight forward as possible to get a high FOC (forward of center). As we increase the weight forward it will tend to soften the spine. A good practice is to get half a dozen of a possible shaft (ultra light target shafts are excellent for this as they are both of a smaller OD (outside diameter, which enhance penetration) and they weigh less allowing for more weight to be put forward through the use of weighted inserts and heavier broadheads. A good FOC is something in excess of 15% (FOC is expressed as the percentage of shaft distance between the physical center of the shaft and the gravitational center in proportion to the entire length of the shaft). Some people may have misgivings about using an ultra light target shaft for a hunting arrow, but if they will go out and stump shoot with that shaft they will give up their misgiving.

So now we go out and bare shaft test our ultra light target shafts with various insert and broadhead combinations to see which are the proper spine and to test velocities of those properly spined shafts. We may have to go up a spine or down a spine. The point is to have the heaviest properly spined arrow you can at the velocity you have determined that you want to shoot. This is the arrow that will deliver the maximum kinetic energy and momentum at your required velocity.

In the process of creating your Perfect Personal Hunting Arrow you will come to know and appreciate all of the factors that make that arrow perfect for you and it will give you a kind of deep confidence in your arrow that will enhance your shooting and satisfaction. It’s a good feeling to hunt with the best possible arrow for your unique situation.

Note: There are many sources on the internet to learn about how to determine proper spine through bare shaft testing. There are also many sources to aid in calculating FOC, as well as kinetic energy and momentum. There are no standard values for energy or momentum recommended for hunting arrows. A person can do the calculations for these values on a number of different arrows and speeds and begin to get an idea of how weight change and velocity change affect the values. The bottom line is once you have determined your velocity desired, the heaviest arrow at that speed will have the most energy and momentum. It is also a general opinion that for lighter weight bows (under 45#) a hunting arrow weight ratio of 10 grains to 12 grains of arrow weight per pound of bow draw weight is ideal. Heavier than that tends to bog down the bow and not have it perform at its peak.


About the Fabrication of Efficient Bows

Written By Peter Laffin

Building efficient bows is a bit like taking a stock car and then setting it up for racing. Everything matters more when you move from everyday use to the track.

If one of the primary goals of the bow is speed, which is how bow efficiency is measured ( a faster bow is faster because it uses your muscle energy more efficiently) then every aspect of the bow’s design and how it is constructed will be looked at from the criteria of whether or not it is contributing to more speed. Weight is a most important factor. More weight in the bow’s limbs requires more energy to move that weight. That energy, then, is no longer available to propel the arrow, hence slower speeds. However, if the mass of the bow’s limbs are reduced too much strength is forfeited. When strength is forfeited the bow’s limbs may deform or simply lack the memory energy (power) to propel the arrow at high speeds. A balance is required between limb mass (remember mass = weight) and strength. That balance has many variables including; what kind of materials, how much of each kind of material, how the materials are configured relative to each other as well as the methods of construction. So we’re endeavoring to find the best materials, in the most efficient quantities and in the best relative sequence with each other fabricated with the most effective methods.

Overall bow design is a subject one could write an entire book about and much to broad to address here. Suffice to say that we will use the most efficient bow design we are familiar with.

The process of fabricating an efficient bow is most successful when approached as a delicate procedure. Precision is a key quality. Precision in layout, in material preparation, in the act of fabrication and in the forming and finishing of the bow will contribute enormously to the bow’s ultimate success.

Symmetry and balance are two more key qualities. Everything about the bow seems to work better if it is symmetrical and balanced. Bows exist is a delicate, precarious, dynamic balance of forces. It takes very little change in bow limb thickness to put a bow in or out of tiller (tiller is the energetic balance of one limb relative to the other). Tiller is checked by measuring the distance to the string  from each riser fade on the belly side of the bow. Tiller is usually tuned to within as little as 1/32”. Tiller can be changed with just a few strokes of a sanding block on the back side of the bow. It is a very delicate balance. Proper tiller insures that the energy of the bow is delivered symmetrically through the string to the arrow. Initially a bow may be out of tiller by as much as 3/4” and may require as many as 300 strokes with 80 grit sandpaper on the back of the strong limb to bring the bow into proper tiller. It is a good idea to learn approximately how much a particular number of strokes with a particular grit sandpaper changes the tiller in a particular bow design. The manipulation of draw weight may also be changed by sanding the back of the bow. Once the bow is in proper tiller and one is reducing draw weight by sanding the back of the bow it is essential that each limb be sanded the exact same number of strokes to maintain proper tiller. For example, it may require 350 strokes to each limb back to reduce the draw weight by 3.5#. In all these procedures there is constant attention on balance and symmetry. When shaping the limbs to final shape they need to be symmetrical to the center of the bow. This can be accomplished by applying masking tape to the piece of laminate that will be the back of the bow and laying out the bow shape precisely (to within + or – 1/64”). Then shaping the bow precisely to the layout lines. Symmetry is key to the bow delivering balanced, direct force to the arrow upon release. Accuracy in a bow is a function of consistency. Consistency is greatly enhanced by symmetry and balance. Symmetry and balance contribute to the bow performing the exact same way shot after shot.

The long and the short of it is that a mind set in the context of precision, symmetry and balance is a great asset to building highly efficient bows.

Measuring a Bow’s Hunt-Ability

By Peter Laffin

(Excerpted from The Lure Of The Light Draw Bow)

Three men walk into an Archery shop. The first man says, “ I want to go hunting with a bow and I know that I can pull 60# to full draw.” The second man says, “I want to go hunting with a bow, what would you recommend?” The third mans says, “I want to go hunting with a bow that’s comfortable to shoot.”

The first man walks out with a 60# bow. The second man walks out with a 50# bow. The third man walks out with a 35# bow. All three men are successful hunting that fall and all three men had complete pass through shots on deer. What does that say about using a bow’s draw weight as a criterion for measuring a bow’s hunt-ability?

In the general archery community there are certain ideas and beliefs that have become so common that they are accepted as fact. Examples of some of those ideas and beliefs are; you need a minimum of a 45# bow to hunt large game (as in deer, elk, etc), more draw weight = more power = more arrow velocity, more=bigger = better, you need heavy arrows with high FOC (forward of center balance point of the arrow), high tech materials and techniques are superior, you need to have the latest innovations or you’re actually under equipped. And there are more and more and more beliefs.

People have been hunting with bows and arrows successfully for over 10,000 years. For some of those 10,000 years they didn’t have carbon fibers in their interchangeable bow limbs and yet they were successful.

What does a bow, and a bow in combination with an arrow, actually have to do to have Hunt-Ability? It has to launch an arrow of sufficient weight and speed to penetrate an animal to the point of disrupting its vital functions. Now the question becomes what is sufficient weight and speed? In real life that is gleaned from actual experience. It probably became evident early on that some bows shot arrows faster than other bows and that was a good thing. Hence a centuries long endeavor to design and build faster bows. It probably also became evident that heavier arrows, if they could be launched fast enough, were more effective than very light arrows on larger game.

Today we have the luxury of a wide array of archery equipment design and development. Many people are actually a little lost in the wide array. They don’t have sufficient actual experience to know what is required to hunt with a bow and arrow. So they rely on what others tell them, what they can find through research from magazine articles and the internet, what their friends say and what the people at the archery shop advise. Most of their ideas and decisions come from sources outside themselves. They do their best to discern the information available and then they choose a perspective and go with it. This is how a consensus is formed, it is fortified by agreement with and of others, and soon becomes accepted as the way it is. This is how we got to the belief about a minimum of a 45# bow for hunting large game etc.

Just for a change of pace let’s look at what is actually required to hunt deer. A well placed shot on a deer will be through the rib cage and into the lungs and sometimes the heart. What does that arrow have to do? It has to penetrate about 1/8” of soft skin, then go through about ½” of muscle and then it’s into the lungs and maybe the heart. If it has enough momentum it will pass through the lungs, go through the ½” of muscle on the other side, then the 1/8” of soft skin and then fly off into the great unknown (and maybe stick in a tree if you’re lucky). Of course it could hit ribs. If it’s a two blade broadhead it will probably twist as it contacts the ribs with one side sliding up and the other side sliding down to pass between the ribs as it passes through. How much power does it take to do that?

Maybe there is a place in history that can help with that. Arthur Young and Saxton Pope were two avid archery hunters in the early 1900’s. So avid in fact that they started what is now the standard for measuring big game trophies shot with a bow. It’s called The Pope and Young Club. It is the archery equivalent of The Boone and Crocket Club. Pope and Young hunted all North American game with archery equipment, including bear, mountain lion, moose and elk. Saxton Pope wrote a book, Hunting with the Bow and Arrow. In this book he describes hunting at a scale few, if any of us, will ever attain. They have a huge quantity of hunting experiences to draw on. At one point Art Young stated that you could shoot any game on the North American continent with a 50# bow. In those days there were no fiberglass laminated bows, no compound bows, no bows with carbon fibers in their limbs. The bows they were using were bows they made themselves from single pieces of yew or osage orange wood. A good wood bow in those days (and still true today) will shoot a 500 grain arrow 150 feet per second. So, what Arthur Young was saying was that you could shoot any animal on the North American continent with a 500 grain arrow traveling 150 fps. That seems like a good place to start for testing the Hunt-Ability of a bow.

How heavy a draw weight must a bow be to shoot a 500 grain arrow 150 feet per second (fps)? Wait a minute. Who says arrow speed is dependent on a bow’s draw weight?

Draw weight measures draw weight. It does not measure speed. A chronograph measures speed. There is beginning to be an awareness that not all bows are created equal. Some bows are more efficient. Bow efficiency is measured with a chronograph. The higher the arrow speed, the more efficient the bow.

It was realized that an industry standard had to be adopted if bow speed comparisons were going to be apples to apples. A formula of arrow weight to bow draw weight was adopted, the thought being that what would be measured was a particular amount of weight of arrow for every increment of bow draw weight. Nine grains of arrow weight for every one pound of bow draw weight was agreed upon. Today that is the formula used for measuring arrow speed in traditional bows. Compound bows use the formula of 5 grains of arrow weight for every pound of bow draw weight, which helps explain the velocity differences between the two types of bows. Lighter arrows go faster.

Efficient bows produce higher arrow velocities. It is not uncommon for one 50# draw weight bow to shoot a 450 grain arrow (9 grains per pound of draw weight… 50# x 9gr = 450 gr arrow) at a speed of 165 feet per second (fps) and another 50# draw weight bow to shoot the exact same arrow 185 fps. The 20 fps difference is due to one bow being considerably more efficient.  

A more accurate way of judging a bow’s performance could be the arrow velocity that it produces. A more efficient bow translates more of your muscle energy into arrow speed than an inefficient bow, which uses more of your muscle energy just to move its limbs than is optimal.

Here is a chart of how many view arrow speed relative to a bow’s performance:

Arrow Speed Rating aka ASR

Acceptable standard arrow speed of 165 fps (112.5 mph) could be considered “normal”  

Arrow speed of 170fps (115.9 mph) considered “good”

Arrow speed of 175fps (119.3 mph) starting to be considered “quick”

Arrow speed of 180fps (122.7 mph) considered to be “fast”

Arrow speed of 185fps (126.1 mph) considered to be “incredibly fast”

Arrow speed of 190fps (129.5 mph) considered to be “nearly unattainable”

Arrow speed of 195fps (132.9 mph) demands you “check your chronograph”

Arrow speed in the 200fps (136.3 mph) considered to be “impossible”

Some bowyers are now putting the ASR on their bow’s limb along with the draw weight to help communicate more accurately how effective the bow is.

There are a few bowyers who are focused on designing and building super efficient bows. Some of these bowyers are shooting a 500 grain arrow in excess of 150 fps out of 30# bows (those same bows are shooting standard 9gpp arrows 195fps).

That flies in the face of the general archery world’s belief system of what it takes in a bow to hunt large game…remember one of the earlier stated beliefs is that it requires a 45# bow minimum to hunt large game.

It is becoming apparent to those bowhunters who are harvesting game and investigating the actual performance of arrows in the field that arrows weighing 400 – 500 grains are a good range for hunting deer and other large game. As this, and the difference in bow efficiency becomes more widely recognized we may see bowyers not only stating the ASR on their bows, but also how fast that bow shoots a 500 grain arrow. That is what the archer really needs to know.

The bottom line here could be stated that a bow’s Hunt-Ability can be determined by how fast it will shoot a 500 grain arrow. That takes it out of the realm of opinion and theory and puts it in the realm of specific performance. Of course one might want to verify that Art Young is qualified to make the statement he did.

As one’s attention turns in the direction of bow efficiency it becomes apparent that there are bows of much lighter draw weight that produce better results than some common bows of much heavier draw weight. Now a new option presents itself. An archer can have a bow that is easier to draw that will perform as well or better than a bow of say, 10# -20# heavier draw weight. No longer does a bow hunter have to buy a bow that is at or near his limit to pull to full draw. A bow that is a challenge to draw will not be conducive to practice sessions of 50 – 100 arrows per session. Muscle fatigue will not permit it. A bow that is easy to shoot will allow unlimited practice sessions and will not induce fatigue. An archer who can shoot more will enjoy it more and will become a better archer in the process. A better archer will be a more successful hunter. If an archer has only one bow, and uses it for everything, hunting, 3D competition, stump shooting, target practice and aerial shooting he or she will become much more proficient with their one, go to, favorite bow.

The Hunt-Ability of a bow is most dramatically affected by its efficiency. Find an efficient bow and find a friend. An efficient bow is likely to become a welcome companion in your archery world.

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