In many parts of the US and Canada, winter is not exactly the ideal time for shooting outside. Where I live, most outdoor archery ranges are closed due to snow accumulation and my backyard range is filled with rock-hard frozen bag targets that are not exactly easy on an arrow.
But, for the most part, outside practice has taken a back seat to preparing more arrows, shooting at a bag target in the basement from three feet for form, and reading books and watching DVDs about the sport. Oh, and the odd visit to an indoors range, if you are lucky enough to have one nearby. (I am not.)
One of the more interesting books I’ve read recently is Traditional Archery, Second Edition by Sam Fadala.
This is a well-written reference book for anyone who shoots a recurve or longbow — one that I’ll go back several times, I’m sure.
Fadala, a longtime and well-known outdoors writer, seems to be a no-nonsense type of guy and his views on traditional archery bear that out. Throughout the book he dispenses sound advice on everything from draw weight to silencing your gear. For the new archer especially, there's a wealth of good, basic information on just about every aspect of the gear required and shooting. There's even a chapter dedicated to bows for kids.
Even old hands at the sport, can pick up a pointer or two. I especially liked the chapter on arrow construction.
The true value of a book like this is that it reminds you of the little things that make a bow and shooter loose arrows more accurately. If you have issues with arrow flight, for instance, there's good information to improve it. Wondering whether to use a tab or gloves? He discusses the strengths and weakness of each too.
I know of several books cover these basics, but Fadala has done it in a very comprehensive and entertaining way, adding personal anecdotes that illustrate the topic throughout. In short, it's a worthwhile book for anyone who shoots a longbow or recurve.
The book is published by Stackpole and retails for $24.95 in the US. It is 264 pages of good, well-organized information.
Whether this is the book for you or not, winter is a great time to read a little more about our sport and perhaps incorporate some of the things you've learned into your set up and shooting sessions for next season. Nothing can replace shooting outside with your bow, but reading about it helps.