Distance is King
The beauty of flight or distance archery is that you don’t have to be a good shot to compete in this sport, or even to be the best.
Distance Archery isn’t the reserve of experienced archers as demonstrated by 14 year old Zak Crawford from Corby, who shot an arrow to a distance of 484.29 meters, which is nearly 13 meters further than the previous record. Read the full story on the BBC website.
As you can see in the above image the optimum angle for the bow is 45 degrees. You can read more about the mechanics here.
In order to keep the previous post at a reasonable length I decided to write this one about Distance Archery as a follow up.
Let’s get to it
In the following sections I am going to be talking about the individual parts that make up flight / distance archery.
It goes without saying the arrows you use need to be as light as possible and cause as little friction as possible. Weight reduction can be achieved with the type of material used for the shaft and also the size of the fletches. However bear in mind that the fletches need to be large enough to aid the stability and direction of the arrow once it is in flight. You can see the difference in size in the image below. Remember that target arrows must be used.
The fletchings are smaller but still have a job to do, so there is a fine balance between size and effectiveness.
Dedicated Flight Arrows.
Unlike target arrows you cannot go out and buy arrows specifically made for distance archery. They have to be custom made and are normally constructed from 3 – 4mm carbon fiber rods. A distance arrow is barreled with the center of gravity just in front of the center point of the shaft. The fletches are small, no more than 6-8mm in any direction. The business ends (point and knock) are aluminum, usually parts of knitting needle shafts. Unlike traditional fletches the fletches used in distance archery are made from either razor blades, (these have been largely replaced), by sections cut from music or game discs which are then attached with strong glue.
This is of the utmost importance in distance archery for when the arrow leaves the bow it is traveling at maximum velocity and the slightest deviation from its course will have a huge negative impact on the overall distance achieved. Arrows must be correctly spined and then tuned to the bow. Don’t forget that you can tune any stabilisers as well.
Good Shooting Form
It doesn’t matter how good the equipment is if you don’t release the arrow correctly and accurately. Unlike target archery you haven’t got the larger fletches helping to re-align and stabilise the arrow so a poorly aimed arrow will remain poor and devastate your distance.
The other problem, no not problem, the other challenge that distance archers face is their release has to be from the hand. Unlike other forms of archery they are not allowed to use any type of release aid.
Get a Good Assistant
Distance archers are allowed to use an assistant. They will advise on whether the bow is at the correct angle before release and whether the archers aim is true. Some use a tri-square or a spirit level and even a plumb bob when there is no horizon.
Technically distance archers don’t have to aim at a target but in reality they do. In competitions all archers shoot along a line, (preferably with a following wind), and the furthest arrow wins. Failing to keep the arrow online reduces the distance achieved quite drastically.
Much like tournament bowls UK archers shoot four ends of six arrows with the best arrow counting on each end.
I talked about flight angles in my previous post so I won’t go over it again, you can simply read it here.
A Sport for All
Distance archers can use dedicated Flight bows but can also use target recurve bows, longbows and compounds. Competitions have separate classes for men, women, boys and girls; it really is a sport for all comers.