Source: Stick & String Adventures Podcast – Episode 28 – Archers Roundtable
The Continuing Conversation between
Ned Miller – Let’s talk about something that we haven’t touched on here yet. We talked about bows and arrows, but what about some advice, pitfalls, or anything that you’ve run into with the style of bow? Weather it be a recurve, longbow, short bow, horsebow, or any of the numerous types of bows that are out there. What experiences have you guys had, Good or bad, just starting out with styles of bows.
Jason Albert – Wow. I went through them all. I went through the longbows. I’m shooting a recurve now. But I have to say that the best bow that I ever bought was a hybrid reflex-deflex with the bamboo backing. I loved it but, the experience was just that. I had to go through every one of those bows to figure out what it is that I liked best.
Ned Miller– What about you Nick?
Nick Viau – I started out with a recurve. If anybody knows anything about my blog, it’s called Life & Longbows. So I guess you kind of know where I sit. When I moved to a longbow, everybody wondered what I was doing. They wondered why I didn’t get a reflex-deflex. You see, I just jumped in blind to a straight limb longbow. I didn’t know anything about longbows to tell you the truth. I just thought that all longbows were strait and that’s what you did.
The R-D (reflex-deflex) bows were fairly new for me. I knew several people who had them. I wasn’t crazy about they way they looked when they were strung. They had this kind of funky forward handle shaped form and a lot of them had really pronounced pistol shaped risers. I really wasn’t into that. I was a huge Howard Hill fan and I wanted to get into what Howard shot. The strait limb longbow spoke to me. So, that’s what I got. I’m a pretty tall guy and it shot well for me so that’s what I stuck with.
I really loved how quiet they were. To me, my bow has got to be quiet or I am not going to shoot it. That’s just the way I am. If something is loud, it bothers me and I don’t shoot it. For me, The R-D’s (reflex-deflex) have kind of weird thunk sound. I think it has a little something to do with the fast flights (bow-string) and stuff like that most people put on them. You can quiet them down, but that thump never really goes away and I never really liked that. That was a really big thing for me. When I started hunting and I started going the ranges with my longbow, the people would always say,”Why are you longbows super quiet?” I really liked that. I liked that really quiet bow.
On the other hand, I agree you have to go to shows. You have to shoot people’s stuff. Traditional vendors are great. You go to a show. They let you take the bow. They let you shoot with it. They let you take a round of 3-D’s (targets) with it. That right there, it get’s you shooting it. I was real nervous at first shooting other people’s stuff. I didn’t want to shoot in front of anybody. I didn’t want to shoot anybody’s gear that wasn’t mine. Now, when I go, I shoot as many bows as possible. If it’s a big show, I’ll shoot fifteen to twenty-five bows every show I go to. And as much as possible, I take notes on them. You have to. You have got to experience other things before you totally commit to that one thing.
Jason Albert – I noticed that when I first started shooting too. The traditional shooters are quick to say, “Here you go. Take my bow and take a shot. Modern shooters with the compound bows, you’ll never get that. But, with the traditional shooters I’ll be like, “Wow! That’s a nice bow.” and bam it’s in my hands. I’m like, “Really? I can shoot it?
Nick Viau – I will say something about the compound shooters though in their defense. One of the things with them is that their bows are so tuned to themselves that they are not exactly easy to adjust on the fly for somebody else. With a traditional bow, you can hand it to someone else and they can figure out their draw and their arrows and stuff like that. If they’re close to you in size, they can shoot your bow or they can adjust their form so they can shoot their own way.
Jason Albert – Not to mention the compound shooters are handing over a three or four thousand dollar piece of equipment.
Nick Viau – Exactly. For me, there is a lot more potential for things going wrong on a compound than there is on a traditional bow. You don’t need someone making a mistake with your bow and hurting themselves. That or damaging the bow.
Jason Albert – All you have to do it twist that string a little bit and the string comes right off the cams.
Ned Miller – There was one thing Nick was talking about that caught my ear. You had said that you wanted to shoot a longbow. That was what you wanted to do even before you started doing it. You already had it in your head that it’s what you wanted to do. Then, you kind of made that happen for yourself. I think that is interesting. I would imagine that some people would have a style they want to shoot just because that’s what they’ve seen. They’ve seen Robin Hood or what ever and they want to shoot that bow. But, maybe when they get it, it’s not the right bow for them. Or they’ve seen one that was shorter, maybe a horsebow style. They’ve seen the guys on horseback do it and they want to try it. But for them… That’s not the bow for them. It’s funny. This happened with me a little bit. I think the bow, kind of, finds you through the path that Jason was talking about. By shooting different things. And what you both were saying about trying out different bows. I think that is the essential key to this.
Jason Albert – Not all of us are lucky enough to find a bow right off the bat.
Nick Viau – It’s not like a got into a longbow and all of a sudden I was shooting twelves every time. My scores went down substantially. I’m not going to lie to you there. I shot a recurve better. I had a recurve for a while and I was doing really well with it. I was making headway. I was competing with people who were shooting a lot longer than me. I moved to a longbow and I had hunting success with it, but I didn’t do very well at the range with it. I’m still fighting along. I will probably be fighting along for the rest of my life, but it feels the best to me when I shoot it and it aligns with what I believe in.
“If you are going to move back and forth between bows then you are not going to experience instant success.”
Now, there’s a million different longbows to choose from so… I just finished building that U-Finish Hickory bow. I always wanted to do that. I love using that thing. My dad’s got a hickory bow too and he loves shooting that thing. Are they nearly as comfortable as my Bama’s are? Definitely not, but I love to shoot it. There’s just something about it. There’s something about saying, “Hey, we’re going to shoot selfbows today. Let’s go out on the range and take those with us. That’s something that if you want to do it, you’ll make it happen. Be prepared. If you are going to move back and forth between bows then you are not going to experience instant success. If it feels good, you’ll still have to learn how to shoot it well.
Jason Albert – That’s something else too. You have to figure out what you are going to be shooting. Me, while I have hunted in the past, I am not a hunter. I am a competition shooter. I compete. That’s all I do anymore. I don’t hunt. I would like to hunt again someday, but for now I am a competition shooter. So, my equipment is going to be very different for what I do because I’m not out in the woods trying to be quiet or trying to hunt for food.
Ned Miller – Here’s the funny thing. I can go along with what you both are saying from the perspective of I do hunt with the bows. I do some 3-D shooting at the same time. I also do some target shooting. For me, I kind of go towards picking the style first. Only from the perspective of, I build a lot of different bows. I shoot a lot of different bows. I’ve tried the long bow. I’ve tried the really short bows, the horsebows. I keep coming back to the shortbows every time. Sixty inch bows seems to be the ones I always gravitate to. For me, that’s just been my choice. I’ve struggled with it sometimes, but I finally found that the sixty inch bow, for me, with a little recurve in it is what seems to be working. We’ll see once I get into the woods.
Nick Viau – I’m moving into the sixty-nine inch flat as a pancake longbow.
Jason Albert – Nick, a sixty-nine inch to you is a 60 inch to the rest of the world.
Nick Viau – I’m not that tall, man.
Jason Albert – I go out and I buy a seventy-two inch longbow and everybody’s looking at me like I’m nuts because I’m not getting the full action of the limbs. I’m sitting here with a 24 inch draw on a seventy-two inch longbow. You should see the looks I get. The longbow is as big as I am.
Nick Viau – I will say that it looks pretty natural for me. I look pretty awkward with a little bow.