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Shooting Stars - Championship archery techniques - 1989

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  • Shooting Stars - Championship archery techniques - 1989

    If you look at archery books regularly, you'll see the common ones that continuously come up.
    I've been looking for years, so I can scroll through a list pretty quickly as they're all very familiar by now.

    Last month, I spotted this on ebay for $13 dollars and having never seen it before, decided to lash out the big dollars. I didn't actually pay too much attention to what it had in the description.

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    It used to be in Cornwall.

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    It arrived a few days ago and is basically a rundown on the techniques of three successful UK archers of the late 80's.
    Mark Blenkarne, Steve Hallard and Philip van Buren.

    All names I'd never heard of before.
    I bought my first compound in 1985, so if there had been an internet then, I'd possibly have heard of them.

    The front cover talks about how few archers ever achieve master bowman status and for the vast majority, a 1000 Fita or 900 York is a dream that never comes true.
    They were even looking for the secret technique to better shooting back then. How about that? Nothing much has changed.

    The preface starts off "Only a tiny minority of tournament archers succeed in breaking the 1250 FITA barrier." Then it talks about how the average archer believes that they get free arrows and won't talk about what they do. Then introduces the two top UK recurvers and the fact that they're happy to explain exactly what they do.

    Mark Blenkarne then has a section where he introduces himself, gives a quick history of his training and achievements and then they hop right in to showing how he puts it all together.

    It seems reasonably consistent with what you'll see today at most clubs. Nothing much out of the ordinary.

    At least, what you can detect from a series of pictures.

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    Pretty much everything else other than equipment, looks very familiar to what you'd see today. Even what they describe as their training routine isn't outlandish or old hat.

    Then Steve Hallard has his technique documented and he explains what he does and why. Once again, it all looks pretty conventional with the exception of his rather low draw.
    After that, you'd be left thinking that not a lot has happened since the late 80's other than the modern music is just totally rubbish.

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    I was getting the feeling that I wasn't going to find anything super unusual, but then the last bit covered Philip van Buren, a user of the "still controversial" compound.
    Once again, I saw mostly similar stuff, except for the lower back brace due to Philip having done some serious spinal damage.

    Check out that PSE round wheel steel cable goodness.

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    And that's when I turned the page to this one.

    Hmm. Doesn't look like a magnifying sight, but it's a 0.5 diopter which he identifies as a 2x. This is likely to be the first and only time you'll ever see someone describing a 0.5 diopter lens even close to being correct. Maybe they didn't have fully developed egos back then?

    Is that a regulation fencing nail Fletchmatic?

    Multiple nocks appeared to be in fashion and WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ANCHOR DOING BACK THERE?

    It appears that I have made a mistake and will now need to order a 30 inch bow. I can't imagine how much extra speed I'll get, but I reckon another 20 fps isn't out of the question.

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    This deserves another look.

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    I'm still marvelling over how relaxed he looks.

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    So maybe convention has moved along a bit after all?

    What can't be denied is that this guy was cleaning up for quite some years and was dominant in the UK. Other than what most people might think is a level draw with a low elbow, this is the majority of what is different. Almost every other aspect of what he describes about what he does and what he seeks to achieve is very similar to books which are a lot more modern.

    The other difference is the preferred bow hand position which looks considerably more vertical than most that you'll see these days.
    Philip strives to achieve attention to detail and consistency.
    He talks about achieving a "surprise release" and the importance of mental training with complete mental rehearsals which he can do anytime and anywhere.

    He talks about attitudes and I'll quote one bit that I like:

    "You should never mind being beaten by a better archer so long as you shot well, similarly, it is a hollow victory if you win against competitors who are not in your league. This is why I set myself a score standard and don't consider what the rest are doing, It may sound blasé, but it works. "

    He talks about equipment and describes playing with compounds in 1977 and PSE giving him formal training with the bows in 1980.
    He waited until 1983 before shooting them seriously and decided that 46lb was just not enough, so cranked his bow up to 58lb and "Put 150 points on my FITA's straight away".

    He was one of three male archers to qualify for the newly introduced Compound Master Bowmen award in 1984.
    He's shooting a PSE Laser Magnum Elite at 54lb with the draw set to 30'
    His strings are Dacron with mono served centres.

    He's shooting 2014 X7's and doesn't glue the nocks on so that he can change them if someone else is shooting the same on his target.
    Apparently, when he started shooting 11 years previously, he copped some flack for doing this, and now says that it's common. ( Neatly demonstrating that archers have been bitchy about pedantic crap for decades.)

    Most interesting is the very limited part about tuning.
    Another quote: "Be guided by the Easton Matrix which allows for compounds of various let-offs. I must stress, though, that the charts are only a guide, and that the majority of compounds will shot a variety of shafts if they are tuned accordingly."

    So it appears that someone was paying attention back then..

    The very last paragraph rings particularly true:

    " Go for gold. Be positive, but don't expect miracles overnight. Be prepared to work long and hard."

    I'm still a bit disappointed by that. I was hoping another 3 inches of draw was going to do the trick.
    Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
    Performance cannot be purchased.

    "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

  • #2
    Mark Blenkarne won Commonwealth Gold, was a member of my club and is a honorary lifetime member of it. Philip van Buren was GB Team Manager for several years, in the late 90's I think. Steve Hallard was one of the best recurve archers this country has produced, some would say THE best.
    Still not too old to kick arse


    • #3
      Originally posted by Adam UK View Post
      Steve Hallard was one of the best recurve archers this country has produced, some would say THE best.
      and an Olympic bronze medalist ('92 team)


      • #4
        Thanks guys. It is quite interesting to have the rest filled in between then and now. I finished writing pretty late and was going to get around to seeing their history today.

        These guys obviously had the work ethic to get to the point where their form and technique would be the summary of a detailed book. It's the subtle details of attitudes of other archer around them which is fascinating, although I could be reading too much into it.

        Here's some of Steve Hallard at Barcelona.
        Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
        Performance cannot be purchased.

        "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.