2015-04-18 Practicing Archery with Friends in Brooklyn

Posted on April 19, 2015


Among the many downsides of living in a cramped apartment is the difficulty of practicing with my Mathews Z7. While I can credibly claim that I can hit a target the size of deer’s vitals at 25 yards at a range every single time, as anyone who has ever tried bowhunting can tell you, hunting ≠ target shooting. Target movement, steep angles, distance uncertainty, wind, imperfect animal profiles, loss of sensation from cold weather, etc. all add up. An old pistol adage was: take your average group size on a good day at a static range, then in a “practical” situation, double or triple it. So if you can barely hit a 8.5″x11″ piece of paper at 15 yards on a good day, on a bad day, some of your shots will miss the target entirely.

Taking this back to archery… the bowhunter’s rule of thumb is usually 1-inch per ten yards, i.e. if you are shooting 5-shot groups at 50 yards that measure under 5″, you are doing pretty well. At this accuracy standard, if you are shooting 2.5″ groups at 25 yards on a good day, then you are shooting 7.5″ groups on the worst day, which is still inside the vital area of a normal sized whitetail deer. Given my setup, that should be entirely doable for me.

Three of my goals for 2015 are:
1) To eliminate any flyers from my 5-shot groups.

2) To raise my Bows draw weight to 60# to marginally raise my arrow velocity.

3) To shoot the 3D archery course at Blue Mountain with no “mikes.”

To do those three tasks, I will need more practice and more frequent use of my “Bow Trainer.” Towards the former, yesterday my wife (D), J, and I went to Gotham Archery, which as far as I’m concerned, is the nicest bow range in the City. I’ve met one of the co-owners Ken Hsu, and he’s a great guy. Very nice, very welcoming of novices, and yet still professional. I had a bitter experience with another bow range in the city last year, that essentially felt that if you weren’t a FITA-ranked competitor, you weren’t worth their time, not so at Gotham.

Gotham has an “Intro to Archery” class for which they charge $35 (or $30) if you register online. The class is about an hour and comes with bow rental, instruction, and a little shoot-off at the end. If you are a more experienced archer with your own bow, they will let you test out of the class, which I did my first time there.

Since D and J were new to the sport, they took the class while I practiced on the 20 yard line.

The two pros in between strings

The two pros in between strings

Look at that form

Look at that form

J chose the Compound bow while D shot a nice Recurve. After going through safety, stance, and technique they began practicing. The student-teacher ratio was pretty decent for an intro class. After they finished shooting Bullseye targets, the class ended with a shoot-off. Essentially, the entire class divided into two lines (segregated by instructor). When the signal was given, a pair of students would try to break a specified color of balloon, tied to a board of many colored balloons. The first participant to break the correct color would advance to the next round. After many iterations, J was crowned the winner of the class, which was pretty cool considering the fact that he hadn’t handled a bow since he was a kid.

J dominating the shoot-off

J dominating the shoot-off

Once D and J finished their class, they came and joined me on the 20-yard line in the “intermediate/advanced” area. I gave J a brief intro to my Z7 and let him fire a few practice shots. In retrospect, I forgot to give him any warning about arm position and string slap, but he didn’t hyperextend his elbow and so came out unscathed. Thank goodness.

J testing out the Z7

J testing out the Z7

He's hooked

He’s hooked

I spent the day shooting at an NFAA Indoor 5 spot target. I shot mostly 5’s and a few X’s. Had I stopped after around 20 arrows, I would have been pretty happy with my scores. Towards the end of the afternoon, on one of my last rounds I had a shot land about 1″ outside the 4-ring… ouch! As I said, need more practice.

Nothing but X

This bow is completely flattering

On the bright side: it’s nice to have an archery range that is relatively close; D enjoyed it, so we will have another hobby we share in common; and J discovered a new talent, so hopefully I can get him to join me for Whitetail.


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Posted in: Training