1. Is archery a dangerous sport?
Contrary to popular belief surrounding ‘projectile’ based sports, organised archery is officially one of the safest sports practiced by human beings. This is because there are simple but fundamental rules followed by all club archers regarding personal conduct, minimum standard of knowledge, setting up targets and shooting environments.
All active club archers are required to be registered with GNAS, the UK archery governing body which ensures a minimum level of knowledge, skill and competence not only in the use of equipment, but in ensuring the safety of others. Rules include never pointing a bow (loaded or otherwise) at any living being or animals, only draw a loaded bow at the shooting line towards a target as well as taking personal responsibility for not using damaged or poorly maintained bows and arrows. All lost arrows must be retrieved at the end of a shooting session to prevent injury through negligence.
You are at greater risk of hurting yourself (and others) pulling arrows out of a target than anything else! Visit the SafeSport website for further information.
2. What is a ‘jelly bow’?
‘Jelly bow’ is the affectionate name for one-piece fibreglass bows used in beginner’s courses, new archer try-outs and Come ‘n’ Try events. They are cheap, light, very forgiving and require virtually no maintenance. At the same time, they present the same mastery challenge as our own regular bows. We also use them for our Christmas and Easter indoor fun competitions where they can bring an expert archer down to the same level as the rest of us!
3. What is draw length?
Draw length is the distance an archer can pull the bowstring from the ‘at ease’ position to the ‘ready to shoot’ (full draw) position. This is different for each archer due to physical length of their arms. Minimum safe arrow length is determined by the archer’s draw length.
4. What is draw weight?
Draw weight is the amount of force needed to pull the bowstring to a certain draw length. The industry standard (from which bows and limbs are compared) is measured in pounds at 28 inch draw length. If a bow is rated at 34lbs draw weight, your fingers will be holding the equivalent of 34lbs of weight at 28" draw. ‘Heavier’ bows offer faster arrow speed, but will fatigue an archer more quickly, affecting ‘form’ and accuracy.
5. What is ‘form’?
Form refers to the stance of an archer when they shoot. In simplistic terms, the ideal ‘form’ is for an outstretched, but slightly flexed bow arm and a horizontal and flexed bowstring arm at full draw. The archer at full draw will resemble the letter ‘T’. Deviations, particularly when fatigue sets in, will reduce accuracy.
6. What is eye dominance and why does it matter?
Most people are either naturally left eye dominant or right eye dominant, but some people are neither. When a person has both eyes open, the brain will subconsciously prefer the sight of one eye over the other when focussing on something - eye dominance. This is independent of whether they are left handed or right handed.
In archery and other target based sports e.g. clay pidgeon shooting, this allows you to aim the sight at a target and hit it. From eye dominance, we can ensure that you shoot with either a left-handed bow (sight and technique aligned to your left) or a right-handed bow (sight and technique aligned to your right). People with neither preference can choose either bow type for comfort while some competition archers will wear an eye patch to assist with aiming.
Sometimes it takes time for the person and Club to determine the true eye dominance of the brain. It usually manifests itself with the archer hitting another target from the one they were aiming at!
7. Why are arrows made of different materials?
Traditional arrows are made of wood (cedar or pine), a flexible and resilient material still used today. Aircraft grade aluminium arrows are lighter (and therefore faster and more accurate) as well as cheap to buy. ‘Carbon’ arrows (composed of carbon fibre and aluminium) are thinner and lighter still but possess the same strength and travel the fastest with a flatter trajectory. They can cost up to six times more than aluminium arrows.
8. Why are bows made of different materials?
It is not so much about the material used in the bow riser (handle), but about the material used in the limbs. Limbs can be made of fibreglass, laminated wood, carbon fibre or a composite of these materials. While limbs made from each material may have a rating of 34lb at 28” draw length (i.e. the same force exerted on your fingers at full draw), it is how the material stores and returns this energy that is important (energy profile). Carbon limbs are more energy efficient and impart greater speed to the arrow (snaps back quicker from full draw) than wood limbs, and does so consistently over a range of environmental conditions. Carbon limbs are very expensive.
9. How fast can an arrow travel?
The speed of arrows depends on the draw weight of the bow, your draw length, limb material, energy profile of the bow, bowstring material, the weight of the arrow, type of fletching on the arrow and the prevailing wind conditions. Humidity and rain also slows arrow flight. The faster an arrow travels, the flatter the flight trajectory and less deviation from wind.
Recurve bow arrows can travel up to 225 feet per second (fps) or 150mph while compound bow arrows can travel up to 300fps (200mph). Longbow arrows travel slower due to the weight of the arrows. Even at 300fps, it takes around a second to reach a 90 metre target. You hear your release first followed by the thud of the arrow hitting the target a second later (you can’t see it unless you use a telescopic sight). If you didn’t hear the thud, you’ve missed the target!
Arrows don't fly in a straight line towards the target, but 'fishtail' through the air. Watch high speed videos of arrow flight here.
10. What is a ‘Robin Hood’?
A ‘Robin Hood’ is a coveted but expensive trophy for any archer. This is where one arrow strikes the back of another arrow already embedded in the target. This tends to happen indoors where the targets are much closer to the archer. It is expensive because the first arrow is destroyed (obviously!), but the incoming second arrow is also damaged and unsafe to use. At up to £25 an arrow, it is a unique and expensive sound!
In fact, the incoming arrow still scores along with the wrecked arrow!
11. What do stabilisers on a bow do?
Archers use stabilisers to assist with aiming. A 30 inch long rod at the front reduces fine bow hand tremors by dampening any movements. V-bars either side of the bow assist with vertical stability and overall balance, counteracting the front-heaviness of the long rod. Stabilisers increases the overall weight of the bow, but improves the accuracy of aiming at long distances.
12. What is a novice archer?
A novice is defined as an adult archer ‘new’ to the sport and in their first year of registration with GNAS, the governing body of archery in the UK. Novices compete in their own category in competitions. There is no novice category within Junior archery.
There can be discrepancies in this. All club active archers must be registered with GNAS, but non-club/competitive archers do not. People who have learned archery outwith a club or from another country and subsequently join a UK archery club/GNAS for the first time will be classed as a novice, even if they can shoot an indoor score of 599 out of 600! Previous GNAS registered archers returning to the sport after a period of time do not re-enter a novice period.
13. Why do archers shout ‘FAST’ to indicate danger?
Each shooting session has one person in overall charge of procedure and safety. Called the ‘field captain’, they use a whistle to start and stop shooting. If a potentially dangerous situation is spotted (stray animals, uncontrolled children, potential disturbances, etc. either in front of the shooting line or behind), they will shout ‘FAST’ to warn all archers to stop shooting and return from full draw to the at ease position. In fact, any archer who spots something unsafe can shout fast. Fast is short for ‘hold fast’ – to stop.
14. How much does it cost?
The annual club membership fee is composed of two parts; the GNAS affiliation fee and the Club subscription. Reductions in the basic GNAS fee are available to a wide range of people, so its difficult to quote a definitive price. Contact us for more information. Club membership fees are available for both Senior and Junior members, again please contact us. All fees are payable by the 30th September of each year.
In addition, there is a shooting fee (currently £3 for adults and £1.50 for juniors) for each evening of indoor or outdoor shooting you participate in. Non-Bannockburn Bowmen club members who are GNAS or FITA registered are welcome at our evening sessions and cost £5.
Scottish Archery Association competition entry fees are variable and can be found within their respective entry application forms (typically £10). Beginner courses, new archer try-out sessions and archery Come ‘n’ Try events are dependent on availability. Please contact the Club secretary for further details, prices and bookings.
The world is your oyster regarding archery equipment, but the Club recommends that new members do not buy their own equipment in the first 3-6 months of shooting as your strength and technique will still be evolving during this time. There is risk that any shooting equipment purchased will become unsuitable after this initial development phase. Club shooting equipment is available with a refundable deposit during this time. Please consult an experienced Club member before purchasing any archery equipment.