Don’t Be a Tough Guy

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Commandment #3 is one that guys, in particular, can be prone to. Women, for some reason, are a little smarter when it comes to this sort of thing, but that doesn’t leave them out—Commandment #3 is something everybody should be aware of, and it’s called TOUGH GUY SYNDROME.

What is TOUGH GUY SYNDROME? Basically, it’s when someone does something stupid to appear tough.

Typical tough guys include:

  • The guy at the bar who starts a fight with the bouncer after having two beers;
  • The woman who says “SAY IT TO MY FACE!” when you politely ask her not to cut in line at Great Adventure; and
  • The guy who wants to start a mosh pit even though you’re at a Paul Simon concert.

Those are some general types of people who suffer from TOUGH GUY SYNDROME (TGS). You’ve seen them; you might even know a few of them.

Luckily, most people don’t suffer from TGS.

That said…

There are Some Archers Who Suffer from TGS

As much as I wish we were, the archer community is not perfect. We make mistakes! And if you know someone prone to TGS, these are the things he/she may do…

Tough Guys Overdo It With Draw Weight

This is actually a totally forgivable sin, and many, many people who are new to archery make it. If I’m being honest, I made this mistake when I purchase my first bow: using a bow with too much draw weight.

Just as a refresher—draw weight is the amount of energy you are able to store in the bow before releasing the bow string and shooting an arrow. A bow with a heavier draw weight—say, 60 pounds—will shoot an arrow with more speed and a flatter trajectory than a bow with a lighter draw weight of, say, 20 pounds. People who are new to archery often “bite off more than they can chew,” and go for a bow that is a little too “heavy” for them.

Very often, people who are new to the art of archery are a little overzealous when it comes to draw weight, and that can be a bad thing, for a number of reasons. A bow with a too-heavy draw weight…

  • Will tucker you out pretty quickly. If you’re really have to work when pulling the bow string back, you’re going to expend a lot of energy, and your session won’t last too long.
  • Will leave you more prone to injury. If you’re having to exert yourself just to draw, the muscles in your arms and back—your deltoids, lats, traps, biceps, and triceps, and even the muscles in your fingers and your bow hand—are more likely to strain or tear. To build the proper musculature, you need to start at a low poundage and work your work up to a heavier bow. But that’s not even the main reason why having a too-heavy bow is a bad idea; a too-heavy bow…
  • Makes it difficult to improve! A heavy bow is really difficult to train on. Archery is ALL about technique, and it’s almost impossible to learn correct form and posture when you have to wrestle with your bow.

So, confession time: while I’ve never started a fight with a bouncer and never tried to start a mosh pit at a Paul Simon concert, I am (slightly) guilty of being “over bowed.” I’m about 5’10” and 185 pounds, and my first bow had a 30-pound draw. That was juuuuuuust slightly more than I needed. I could have probably started out with a 25-pound bow and been fine.

The lesson is: use a bow with a draw weight that suits you, and build up over time.

Here’s the next thing you’ll see a Tough Guy do:

Tough Guys Forego Proper Protective Gear

By protective gear, I’m talking about finger tabs or gloves or a release aid, and I’m talking about an arm guard. They seem like they don’t do much, but wow, are they important.

I’m going to post a picture of an archery injury, where a guy got a very, very bad bruise on his forearm because he didn’t use protective gear. If you don’t like gruesome photos, you should quickly scroll past the next images and not look at the screen, because these next two photos are grody.

Are you ready?

I’m giving you some more warning because it’s pretty grody.

For real.

Scroll down.

Here it is:

But, wait—

It gets worse:

Look at it from another angle:

Ooooooooooooooooooh, man! Look at the lump on that guy! The worst part is—that hasn’t even bruised yet. He is going to be black and blue for a WHILE, and then he’s going to have a banana bruise (brown and yellow) for a long time after that.

(Just for the record, too—that’s not me; that’s this guy, who was shooting a compound bow in a store. I have to give it to this guy—he did the rest of us a service by recounting his tale, even though it’s a little embarrassing, and I truly appreciate that. That’s a good guy for you.)

So, the lesson is: don’t forego proper protective wear. Use a glove or finger tab. Use an arm guard. I’ve been an archer for a while, and I still get an occasional welt on my inner arm when a shot goes awry.

(Before I get to the next section, there’s one other thing I want to mention about that guy in the link above—if you watch the video, he’s wearing a sweatshirt, and he STILL gets that humongous bruise. If he had been wearing a leather arm guard, he might be a lot better off.)

Now, for the next thing…

A Tough Guy Doesn’t Use a Bow Stringer

If you’re using a recurve bow, use a bow stringer. Yes, it takes a little while, but it’s the RIGHT WAY to do things, and it protects your bow—and you.

I talk more about this in Commandment #4, so I’ll leave that one be for now.

Finally, one of the last things a Tough Guy will do:

A Tough Guy Will Practice Waaaay Too Long

This one is a little counter-intuitive, because for most sports, the more you practice, the better off you’ll be. You never saw a montage of Rocky working out and saying, sometime around mid-morning, “That’s it for me; I’m getting a little sleepy.” Rocky made his life about training—but for archery, “less is more.

Why is that?

Archery is ALL about form. No matter if you’re out in the woods bow hunting, or you’re making your way to the next Olympic Games, archery is about form—the perfect repetition of perfect form. The only way you get that form is by practice, and when you’re fresh and rested, your form is more likely to be spot-on. When you’re tired, your form is likely to suffer—and if you repeat bad form, it’s more likely to become habit.

So, skip your urges to overdo it (and this is another one that’s hard for me—maybe I actually do suffer from TGS!). Try to remember that it’s better to practice five days a week for a half-hour at a time, than it is to practice three days a week for an hour-and-a-half at a time.

What Did We Learn?

Well, I realized that I’m guilty of the things I’m warning people about! How embarrassing. As for you, I hope you are wise enough to not follow my example 😉

Next up: bow stringers!

This article is written by:

Gregory Johnson

Gregory Johnson

With almost 20 years of archery experience under his belt, Gregory founded the Complete Guide to Archery website in 2017. His purpose has been to spread knowledge about the hobby and sport to anyone willing to learn.
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