I have a stick with a string on it. It's a useful tool for launching sharpened sticks at something you want to poke holes in. It sounds pretty easy but that's a slight oversimplification. The truth about my stick and string is that it's a modern engineering marvel. It consists of carefully designed and machined risers. It has two little pulley wheels at each end that they like to call cams. It's got high tech laminated limbs all designed to launch my pointy stick with a velocity and consistency not possible 20 years ago. All this in a lightweight four pound package.
I have to admit my pointy sticks are also a long way from feathers and sharpened wood. Engineered from carbon they are designed to withstand the rigours of being hurled at high velocities and then smashing into objects of varying solidity. The feathers are gone in favour of coloured plastic and if I'm after something flesh and bone I can trade the simple points in for razor sharp blades of doom.
There is some truth in my first statement. It's in my attitude. I have never put a lot of thought into my shooting beyond basic form and hit the target. The shop where I got my bow simply handed me some arrows. The discussion didn't get much past cost. I was told that I could buy a better quality arrow but that these would serve me fine. In truth they did. I practiced until my groupings were pretty close. It might not be Olympic calibre but certainly good enough to double lung any deer I was going to come across. I practiced regularly at 20 yards and a little at some farther yardages. It did the trick as can be illustrated by the venison in my freezer.
My attitude started to changed a few weeks ago as two things happened. The first thing that happened was that I started to consider the idea of shooting in some 3D tournaments this year. The other, and more important, was learned during a day at a proper outdoor range with some greater distances. I knocked my first arrow, drew to my anchor point and let fly. I knocked a second arrow and as this one travelled downrange I noticed one curious thing. It didn't fly even remotely straight. I wasn't even sure how I managed to get them into the same general grouping but they did. Not brilliant but certainly good enough to double lung something. The problem is that I'm not satisfied with just good enough. I want to hit that little x in the middle of the target that I aim at. Every single time.
So the questions began. I don't have all the answers yet but I think I'm on the correct path. I spotted a cool little gadget that uses a laser to centre your string and arrow. It's supposed to eliminate the need for long and complex paper tuning processes. The reviews I've read say that you can do a better job in only a few minutes with this gadget. So far I can't find a source here in Canada and I'm not ready to surrender and call Cabella's. The Toronto Sportsmen's Show starts this week so I'm hopeful that I'll find one there. I really want to check it out.
The next cool thing I found was software. In my case I bought Pinwheel's "Software For Archers". It was all HunterDave's fault from the bulletin board on Ontario Out of Doors website. He is way more technosavvy than I am and he suggested to look into some of these software packages that are available. I grabbed a copy of "Software for Archers" and almost immediately I was overloaded with information and my head exploded. There it was. Splattered all over my computer screen as I tried to cram all of it back into some sort of intelligible mass. Like a newborn child trying to process the world around him I finally had to stop and recollect my thoughts. It was great.
I think the idea of getting software was a good one. My head didn't explode because it was complicated. The problem was that I had never thought about any of this stuff and suddenly I had to think about it all. It's forced me to start thinking about my set up beyond point and shoot. How much does that peep weigh? What do I do with the Fuse String Shox? Is it a weight that slows the string down or does it really speed it up like Hoyt claims? Is it in the correct spot? What about those shafts? Maybe the fletching should be changed. So many questions.
The first thing it told me was that the arrows I was shooting weren't even close. Couldn't see it so much at twenty yards but beyond thirty it really showed up. The moment I pushed the spine tab the program showed me the shafts were far to flexible for what I was shooting. I started to tinker. I could pull up any shaft available and see what I would have to change to make it optimum. Some of the heavily advertised shafts wouldn't shoot properly until I either changed the weight on the front of the shaft or change the fletching. I'm still fiddling with it and look forward to doing some browsing at the Sportsmen's Show. It should be interesting comparing what's available to what the system says will work well.
It has some other cool features I'm fiddling with. One is for making site tapes but I think that's for single pin target sites. I haven't bothered with that. It has some excellent shot simulation features too. Want to know what to hold for when you're 15 feet up with a deer 32 yards from the tree? Want to look at the ballistics of your arrow foot by foot? How about where to hold on 3D targets for varying distances and cross winds? All of this is there. There's a system that you can learn that uses parts of your bow to gage distance. That's there too. All in all I think I would recommend something like this to anyone who ventures out with stick and string. Just keep a rag close in case your head explodes.