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Overcoming the Top 10 Traditional Archery Frustrations


I’m just getting really into Traditional Archery and I’m seeing that Traditional Archers are extremely passionate about their form of archery. With all that passion for the sport, there are some key frustrations that every Traditional Archer will come across.

I decided to ask around and find out what are the most frustrating things for Traditional Archers.

Here are the Top 13 Traditional Archery Frustrations (and quick solutions!):

  1. Trying to shoot vaned arrows off the shelf (use FEATHERS!)
  2. Having to build your own arrows (check out 3Rivers Archery)
  3. Not being able to find Trad equipment in your local pro shop (again, check out 3Rivers Archery)
  4. Not knowing exactly what Traditional Archery IS because everyone has an opinion (check out this article I wrote on the topic)
  5. Not having enough time to REALLY get into it (Consider joining a league and MAKE TIME)
  6. Dealing with compound archers’ criticisms (Let them try your bow! See how they do)
  7. Dealing with other Trad archers’ criticisms (Have more fun than them!)
  8. Breaking so many wood arrows (Consider carbon arrows)
  9. No Trad community near you (Start one! You’d be surprised how many people show up)
  10. Difficulty finding good info on learning Trad Archery (welcome to ArchersHub.com! Also, check out The Push)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. These are just the Top 13 that other real archers have shared with me. Let’s at each one in more detail.

#1 Trying to shoot vaned arrows off the shelf

The vast majority of ready-made arrows that you can buy come with polymer vanes for fletching. These vanes are semi-rigid and can bend or fold over but this doesn’t really help much if you’re shooting your arrows “off the shelf”.

Most modern archers will use an arrow rest. These can be as simple as a flipper rest or as complex as a fine-tuned drop-away rest. These rests make it so that the vanes can pass by without affecting the flight os the arrow.

Shooting off the shelf is very common with Traditional archery. With this method, the arrow rests directly on the shelf that is cut into the bow riser. It’s simple, clean, and uses no fancy technology.

But there’s a big downside to using vanes while shooting off the shelf: the vanes tend to get ripped off the arrow!

When the arrow launches off the string and passed the shelf, the vane gets caught on the shelf. The best case is that the arrow flight is slightly off and the worse case is that the vane gets completely torn right off the arrow.

Solution: Use arrows that have feathers instead of vanes.

Feathers naturally compress along the direction of the arrow shaft and do not fold the same way vanes do. When the arrow passes over the shelf the feathers will not get caught like vanes and you won’t ruin your arrows.

So it’s not just super Trad to use feathers; there’s an actual practical purpose for using feathers for fletching.

#2 Having to build your own arrows

Now, this one might not actually be a frustration for some Traditional archers. Some of them get a great deal of satisfaction from building custom arrows the way they want them.

However, very many Traditional archers just want wood arrows they can shoot for the enjoyment of it. These archers are not too picky about custom designs and stuff. To them, the more time shooting, the better!

Solution: Consider ordering some fine wooden arrows from 3Rivers Archery or, for a less expensive option, try these wooden arrows available from Amazon (complete with turkey feathers)

#3 Not being able to find Trad equipment in your local pro shop

If you just go to any archery store near you, it will quickly become obvious that Traditional Archery gear is sparse. The vast majority of archery equipment out there is for compound bows using all the latest technology.

There are a few archery shops out there that cater to Traditional Archery. But if you’re not one of the lucky people who live near them, you’re stuck having to order gear online.

This is not a bad thing! Most online businesses today can get your stuff to you really fast and cheaper than a brick and mortar store. Also, online stores open up literally the whole World of possibilities for gear.

Solution: Embrace the online world! Again, check out 3Rivers Archery. They are dedicated to Traditional Archery ONLY (and they ship pretty much anywhere in the world)!

#4 Not knowing exactly what Traditional Archery IS because everyone has an opinion

This is probably the MOST frustrating part of being a Traditional Archer.

If you ask 20 different people what traditional archery is, you will get 20 different answers.

Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. Next time you’re at the archery range ask some people what traditional archery is and see what their responses are.

Solution: In order to get some clarity on the subject, I did a bunch of research and wrote this article all about it. This gives the most comprehensive overview and defines it in such a way so as to be agreeable to most Traditional Archers.

#5 Not having enough time to REALLY get into it

To be fair, this frustration would probably apply to Archery in general. It’s only more frustrating for Trads because, in my opinion, they are more passionate than the average archer.

Everyone is busy doing things other than what they love (unless you’re extremely lucky to do what you love for a living. Hat’s off to you!).

Solution: Make more time for archery! That sounds simpler said than done. And it is! So here’s a tip: join an indoor archery league

Indoor archery can be done all year-round but especially in the winter months when it’s way too cold for outdoor. If you bowhunt, it is a known fact that competing in indoor archery makes you handle target panic better and helps increase your accuracy.

#6 Dealing with compound archers’ criticisms

Not all compound archers are this way. But some definitely are! You’ll get comments at the range like, “That’s a cute bow” and similar jabs to make fun.

If a person doesn’t keep their cool, it can very easily turn ugly.

Solution: Offer to let them try your bow for a few shots!

Archers are generally some of the best kinds of people out there. Give people the benefit of the doubt! If someone offered me the chance to try their gear, I’d definitely give it try.

And, if the other person is expecting you to get all defensive then offering to let them try your bow will throw them off.

You might even convert them to Trad!

#7 Dealing with other Trad archers’ criticisms

Sadly, this IS a thing.

It all has to do with #4 “Not knowing exactly what Traditional Archery IS because everyone has an opinion.”

Some of the people I’ll call Purists don’t accept anything that isn’t wood, sinew, or that you made yourself. They completely reject any kind of “technology” and go around policing other Traditional Archers to make sure you’re not tainting the true spirit of Traditional Archery.

Even about things like can you aim or not! (The ol’ Instinctive vs Gap Shooting debate)

Solution: Have more fun than them!

The whole reason anybody does any kind of archery is for the enjoyment of it all. You can’t make the Purists change their opinion and YOU are entitled to your own opinion too!

So don’t both trying to argue with anyone. Just have MORE fun than them and shoot more bullseyes too.

#8 Breaking so many wood arrows

If there’s any consistent thing among Traditional Archers can all agree on, it’s that wood arrows are the heart and soul of Traditional Archer.

Sure there might be different opinions about what is the best wood, what is the best fletching, etc, but the main thing is wood arrows are THE Traditional thing.

The problem is that it’s hard to find high-quality wood arrows that aren’t going to cost you an arm and a leg.

There many fletchers out there that will make you a custom set…for $200!

And then there’s the problem of wood being extremely breakable.

If you just paid $200 for a new set of arrows, a small part of you dies every time you hear that split-cracking sound of an arrow hitting that target just right so that it breaks.

What’s a Traditional Archer to do!?

Solution: use cheaper arrows for practice (try these wooden arrows available from Amazon, complete with turkey feathers) OR consider using carbon arrows.

Carbon arrows are everywhere these days. You can easily find carbon arrows with wood grain patterns on them so you keep the Traditional feel of things. This isn’t for everyone though (achen..Purists).

The main advantage of carbon arrows is that they can handle far more bending stress than wood arrows without breaking.

There are plenty of cheap options out there for wood arrows. You just have to be sure to inspect them so you don’t run the risk of splintering the arrow and injuring your hand.

The key is to look for the wood grain running continuously along the arrow shaft (looks like stripes running along the shaft).

If the wood grain runs out of the shaft it will look sort of like a band on one side of the arrow shaft. This is where the arrow is most likely to break and splinter. Try and angle the run-outs towards the sky and away from your hand or don’t shoot those arrows at all. Your choice.

#9 No Trad community near you

While it’s true that Traditional Archery is growing in interest each year, it is still difficult to find an established community that is regularly active.

Many people want to get into Traditional Archery but they don’t want to do it alone. Let’s face it: it’s generally more fun to have a group of people enjoying the same thing together.

Solution: Start a Traditional Archery group yourself!

It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. It might be a Facebook group for Traditional Archers in your area. You could plan to get together on certain dates and shoot a local 3D course or something.

A lot of Traditional Archers are just quietly doing their thing because they ASSUME there’s no one else out there. You might be surprised at how many people you get coming out!

#10 Difficulty finding good info on learning Traditional Archery

This is exactly why I started ArchersHub.com.

I watched this video called The Push and I was hooked.

Now what?

Where do I go to find out how to set up a recurve bow? How do I determine draw length? And the list goes on.

Solution: Definitely check out The Push for an excellent primer on getting started and inspired about Traditional Archery. And browse the articles on ArchersHub.com.

Peter Sontrop

I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy field archery and target shooting with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.

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