Drawing an epiphany on bow shooting from the old master
An epiphany can be a sudden, striking realization – you know, when the lights suddenly come on in your head and something important dawns and clears your fogbound thinking.
I had an archery epiphany the other day and it has made all the difference in my shooting form. It was so good, I just have to share:
Readers of my regular column in Ohio Outdoor News may recall my return to my native bowshooting and bowhunting roots this fall – back to barebow (no sights) shooting with a recurve bow. I started out that way in the early 1960s, became a fairly good shot, good enough to be a successful deer hunter. But I followed the siren call to compound bows and then crossbows wired with all the whistles and bells.
My recurves gathered dust, waiting for me to return.
It took a while to recondition the old bowbending muscles and rediscover my form. Again I was finding that my arrow groups on target were fair to good – enough to kill deer at 20 yards like before. I knew I could shoot better. But how?
So I rummaged through the outdoor library and found Byron Ferguson’s wonderful little book, Become the Arrow. Ferguson is a barebow master with the longbow and a fabulous trick archer. I met him once, interviewed him, at an outdoors show in Toledo. Along with being an accomplished showman and a pleasant gentleman, Ferguson is the real deal when it comes to knowing whereof he speaks on target and afield.
I re-read especially his chapters on form and noted a passage in which he recommended anchoring your draw with your middle finger, the one just beneath the arrow nock in the classic two-under/one over, three-finger drawing style. The master noted that the advantage of so doing is that it puts the arrow that much closer to your eye. For years I anchored with the index finger, the one above the arrow nock.
This little change made all the difference in the world. An epiphany. Suddenly I was shooting nocks off arrows in the bull’s-eye instead of just struggling to keep them somewhere close to the bull. Suddenly I could “see” the target like never before and my performance showed it. Now I on targets I shoot each arrow at separate bull’s-eyes as my supply of replacement nocks is running low – a high-class problem.
I am no different than anyone else. Before I finally paid attention to the master’s advice, I even got around to blaming the fact that I was training up with a short, 52-inch, 47-pound Bear Kodiak Magnum. I blamed the short, punchy limbs, etc., etc. You know the drill. Couldn’t be something in my form. Uh huh. Wrong, Potlicker.
So, depending on how well I do during the slug-gun season, I may well find myself a late-season deer archer again. Luckily in Ohio, we have till February. I can hardly wait, even when I’ll hardly be able to stand the cold.
I still want to work up to my stouter Kodiak Hunter, a so-smooth 60-inch recurve. But I know now not to blame a shorter bow or any good bow for unacceptable performance on my part. So thank you, Byron.
Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.