2 pounds of growth at a time

Posted: 2015/03/21 in From the perspective of an Archery Coach.

I’ve watched it many times; in fact I’m guilty of it myself. It was awhile back now, but when I first started in archery I didn’t know any better, and right out of an archery school I purchased a bow 15# heavier in draw weight than I had been using. If, I had only realized the amount of damage that I could have done to my body in regard to strains and tears, these are injuries that could have ended a passion before it ever really had a chance to get started.

So, this brings forth the argument…

“What is a good rate of increase in poundage or is there one at all, and is it personal to the individual?” (whew what a mouthful)

Like most people that teach, I try to use bows that are around 20# for beginners and usually a longbow or recurve. The reason for this option, in regard to style, is one of transferrable skills. It is far easier to utilize what has been learned, going from Traditional to Olympic or Compound than vice versa. Most students will grow into a 20# bow quickly, strengthening their bodies where necessary to maintain a “hold” while learning the individual aspects and subtleties of an archery shot.

“And there in, lies the secret… “Hold.”

So, to answer the above question. Yes, there is an appropriate rate of increase. Yes, there is a certain “personal” need that must be observed to maintain safety. I usually go shopping with students to be certain that what is purchased is what will suit their rate of advancement. What I’m looking for, in regard to draw weight, is a slight shaking of the draw arm elbow but no shaking on the bow side of the body at full draw. Other than this slight shake, the draw must be solid and fairly comfortably held for 10 to 12 seconds with only a slight increase in shaking. Why the shake? This is the visually measurable indicator that the bow is about 2 to 4# over what the student is comfortable in pulling, which often is about 4 to 6# more than the 20# they started learning with.

By using this method, we are creating another stage of development by building strength in a slow, controlled and carefully monitored set of circumstances that can be altered as needed.

So, what happened to me? I jumped from a 25 to 40# bow right away, figuring that I would eventually grow into it. I did eventually do exactly that but not without paying the price through injuries that prolonged the process of learning. That dramatic of an increase forced me to practice with improper techniques, it took 6 months just to build strength enough to pull and hold without shaking, and then came the process of correcting form errors. After 18 months, I was able to shoot with reasonable accuracy. Here’s the scary part…

“If, you expect an average 2# of increase every 4 to 6 weeks, it will work out to, pretty much, the same time frame. So, why try to turn it into a race?”

The trick here is to realize that the higher you go in poundage the slower and more controlled the increases should become. Your physical safety may depend on this way of thinking.

Be safe.

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