A STICK AND A STRING: Becoming An Archer

Hunting and fishing has always been a major part of my life, for as long as I can remember – my Dad and grandfather spending days out on the boat, fishing for perch and bass, or my Dad getting his gear ready, testing calls, sorting decoys and reloading shells for duck hunting. As a teenager, my brother also got involved in the hunting world and joined the other men in my family for their annual, weeklong deer hunt in northern Ontario.

I fondly remember watching my Dad reloading shells, and not so fondly listening to duck calls at 3 a.m., or watching him spend all summer putting together a duck blind. He used to blast clay pigeons in the back yard, and shot pesky muskrats in the pond by leaning out the kitchen window.

Despite having grown up around hunting, my first real exposure to archery was this past winter at the Edmonton Boat and Sportsmen’s Show. I knew, as soon as I touched the “trigger” on the mechanical release and saw that arrow smack into the target in front of me, that I was hooked.

True, I almost took the salesman’s eye out when I first drew it back, and I was, mildly, afraid of whatever was going to potentially happen when I released the arrow (an innocent passerby with an arrow in his arm, perhaps?) but I knew I had to give this sport a real try.

I suppose my only insight into archery was whatever I have seen in the movies and the articles I have read since joining Western Sportsman only peaked my interest further. When I was a child, my Dad let us use his shotgun to practice shooting and I can clearly remember thinking I broke every bone in my shoulder. So shooting wasn’t really my “thing” after that. But my interest in the hunting industry never went away.

On Friday, May 31, I was measured up and fitted with my very own bow – the PSE Chaos, in camo of course. With sights, a stabilizer, a mechanical release and all of the other gears and gadgets that come with a compound bow, it looked a bit intimidating at first. But Bob Lait, an archery guru and past competitor in the sport, showed me the ropes.

Today, I’ll tell you a bit about the compound bow and all of the fanciness that it comes equipped with.

The minimum draw weight required for hunting is 40 pounds. The draw weight is how much strength it takes to pull the arrow back, and how much force is used to fire the arrow forward. Those that are new to the sport and have not used a bow before typically start with a lighter draw weight and work their way up. My new bow is set at 30 pounds and will max out at 40 pounds. (One day, eventually, I’ll get there!)

The most important measurement when being fit for your new bow is the draw length, which is how long the string is when you pull it back. An incorrect draw length can be detrimental to accuracy, and then no one is having fun anymore.

The draw length and draw weight are adjustable on compound bows and should be set to your needs, regardless of whether your bow is brand new or previously loved by another archer. Any reputable archery shop can do this for you.

Although today, as I’m writing this, my knowledge in archery is quite limited, the mechanical release is by far my favourite gadget on this bow.

The mechanical release is a small trigger, of sorts, which wraps around the wrist on your draw hand and the trigger rests up by your fingers. You attach the end claw piece to a loop on the string and use this to pull the string back. When you touch the trigger, the claw opens up, releasing the string, and you fire the arrow.

Bob explained the mechanical release ensures a more accurate shot, as you don’t have to worry about uneven finger pressure when releasing the string, which would make the arrow fly off wonky. All I know is, it is very difficult to pull the arrow back with your fingers and I’ll gladly hook up a mechanical release all day long.

But always, always remember: never let the string go if there’s no arrow – you’ll break the string doing this.

This bow also has a rubber stabilizer on the front. The more rubber you can add to a bow, the quieter it becomes, which is better for hunting. And for better accuracy, there are sights located on the front. Three different sights are set up for short, medium and longer distance shots.

Now that we have the mechanics down, somewhat, the next step is firing an arrow.

 

Until next time!

Michaela Ludwig, assistant editor

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