Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Comments To Top Shot Episode 3

I have been getting questions regarding the archery episode, being that I am a quasi-archery pro.

Here is what I observed:
1) The arrows they used were fletched with plastic vanes instead of feathers. Shooting arrows with vanes from a longbow will throw off the arrow's flight due to the vanes unforgiving nature when it comes in contact with the bow's riser and shelf. Feathers are traditionally used with traditional bows because they yield to the contact with the riser and shelf and not cause much arrow deflection from its target downrange. This was the main reason that the contestants could shoot consistently.

2) Having addressed the issue of vanes vs. feathers above, shooting arrows fletched with feathers should have the "cock feather" oriented perpendicular to the riser, i.e.: cock feather out. The cock feather is usually a feather of a different color than the other two "hen feathers." The contestants were shooting their arrows with the cock vane either up or down, which means that the arrow's nocks were not oriented correctly to the bow. This incorrectly oriented vane would have had the lover right hen vane deflecting against the riser and shelf. Right-handed shooters will have the arrows hit high left; left-handed shooter will have arrows hit high right.

3) Some of the contestants also weren't nocking the arrows correctly on the bowstring - some were nocking them too low. If you notice on the bowstring, there is a piece of brass wrapped around the string. This is called the "string nock" and sets the location to where the arrow's nock clips onto the bowstring. Nocking an arrow too low from the string nock will cause the arrow to come off the bow at an upward angle and hit somewhere beyond the target.

4) Plucking the bowstring: a lot of the contestants were plucking the bowstring, which means that they were physically using muscles to open up their fingers when they fired their bow. This plucks the string and will cause inconsistent shooting. What should have been taught by their archery "expert" was to simple relax the fingers of the string hand when it reaches the face, while continuing the rearward motion of the string hand. Relaxing the fingers would have allowed the bowstring to naturally leave the fingers straight and without eccentric movement (plucking) of the string. Kelly and JJ demostrated the best shooting form in this episode.

If the contestant were given the proper equipment during the archery part of the competition, the shots would have probably been a lot closer than what happened in this episode. Whether this was intentional or not, that's something only the producer and/or equipment purchaser would know.


  1. I didn't catch this episode, but the explanation is informative nonetheless. My sons and I enjoy archery, but we're all at the "pointy end that way" stage. This is a big help -- much appreciated. As my dad used to say, "Thanks 'til you're better paid." :-)

  2. Kewl! I remember not-plucking but relaxing from the ear-hold from taking PE archery in HS, but we didn't have brass wound on the string for knocking, just a different colored string wrapping.

  3. It was sometimes almost painful to watch, wasn't it?

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