28 Pounds at a 27-Inch Draw

So up until a month or so ago, I hadn't been out practicing archery in probably about ten years. I used to go out to the range fairly often, with either my longbow or with my compound bow; but as I got busier with work, and fatter and less able to walk any real distances -- much less while carrying a heavy bow case -- I had put aside my archery equipment and kind of forgotten about it. In fact, I had lost track of where my compound bow was after I had brought it in to show during one of my speech classes, and had thought it gone for good. About a month ago, however, I ran across it as we were cleaning up our place, and the urge hit me once again.

This brings us to now. Because I haven't shot my compound bow in so long, I'm a bit concerned about its safety and reliability; the string is incredibly waxed and seems to be in surprisingly good condition, but I'm not so sure about everything else. So, I have my Pearson Flame compound bow -- made around 1993, last shot around 2003 -- professionally tuned up at a "nearby" archery place (I use quotation marks because while there used to be 4 different archery places in San Jose, they've all since closed up shop and the closest two options are in Gilroy or in Newark; and I actually end up using a place in Clovis that I went to the last time we went to Fresno) so it's reset back to the factory specs with regards to draw weight, and adjusted so the arrows fly straight, and the cables and wheels verified to be all in good condition. I also have the arrow rest replaced with a more current model, which provides a more secure and safe resting place for the arrows so they're less likely to slip. Plus, the new arrow rest is called a "whisker biscuit", which is a funny name, so that's definitely a plus.

Excitedly, I get my refreshed bow back and take it out to an indoor range in Palo Alto (not an archery shop, but an indoor range, and the closest one to us) to get the sights dialed in to the new arrow rest. I take a few shots, adjust the sight a little bit, and take another few shots.

The sight falls off the bow.

I work on it some more, a little embarrassed because this is happening in front of a bunch of other folks, and try again. I tighten the hex bolts as tight as I can, and take a few shots.

The sight falls off the bow again, and gets damaged when it hits the floor. Apparently, the metal fatigued or something during its hibernation period, because it's not securing like it should -- and now some of the pins are bent so they can't be adjusted at all. Frustrated, I stop for the night and cheer on my wife as she shoots a recurve bow for the first time. She's very, very impressive for a newb. Better than I was, in fact; but hopefully I'll give a better showing once I replace my sight.

So we head back down to Gilroy and I buy a replacement bow sight -- very nice one, not too expensive, but with enclosed pins so they're better protected than the one I had before, with a level so I can make sure the bow is being held straight, and with fiber optic lighting for better viewing (I love technology.) At the same time, we buy Lucie her first bow, an Olympic style take-down recurve, very attractive style and setup, and something which we feel is worthy of being her tax return splurge purchase.

A few days later we go back to the Palo Alto range after work, Lucie shoots her new bow, and I work on dialing in my new bow sights. Lucie shoots even better than she did before, which is both extremely impressive and possibly just a little tiny bit demoralizing to a guy who used to shoot a lot and who didn't pick it up nearly as quickly as she is.

I take a few shots, and suddenly the mechanical release I'm using practically explodes; the body of the release can't handle that much stress after ten years to slumber, and pieces of plastic -- or resin, or polycarbonate, or whatever kind of nonorganic shrapnel it is -- go flying everywhere. I feel a chunk mash into my face, and I'm positive it's cut me open and I'm now bleeding. Once again, I have to cut my shooting short and once again cheer on my wife as she impresses everyone but herself ("I'm only shooting at a target five yards away" she says, and "You're hitting bulls-eyes consistently, and it's only your third time shooting a recurve ever!" I reply.) Good news: my cheek is only mildly scratched; bad news: I've now had bad experiences with this bow twice in a row, and I can see that the string needs replacing or it might snap where the serving is becoming weak, and I'm actually more than a little intimidated about shooting the Flame again until I take a break from it and calm the heck down.

So we go down to Gilroy, again, and I use my tax return splurge purchase to get a recurve of my own. I figure, after ten years of not shooting, I need to work on my fundamentals first to get my form back to where it needs to be; and with a more simple bow I can focus on my stance, draw point, foot positioning, and everything else that Lucie has come close to mastering in such a short time.

I end up getting a similar bow to Lucie's only with a slightly stronger draw weight, right handed body, stiffer arrows, and silver limbs instead of her white ones. At my full draw length of 27 inches, it's pulling 28 pounds; a good weight, not so much that I can't hold the draw long enough to aim properly, but enough that I can come somewhat close to the feel I had with the Flame.

I've only gone shooting with it twice so far, but it feels good. My grouping isn't as good as Lucie's, but I'm realizing that I had developed some really bad shooting habits with the Flame and I'm having some trouble reprogramming myself. It'll come, in time. In the meantime, we have something new to do together that's at least a little more active than sitting on the couch, which takes us outside on weekends, and which once again lets me live my childhood fantasies of being the Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye... or maybe Wolverine with a bow. He went to Japan, right? They like archery there....

Anyway, until such time as I feel brave enough (not "Merida" brave, because I think she rocked a longbow) enough to pick up the Flame again, I have a newer, safer, and simpler setup. Because the riser is a nice glossy black, and the limbs are silver, I have named my bow Jackson.

Go Raiders!


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