Long-Distance Practice in the Basement

Long-Distance Practice in the Basement

One archery problem that’s hampered me is how to get enough practice repetitions at the long outdoor competition distances?  I have great endurance at the short distance because my loving wife generously allowed me to build a practice range in the basement.  But our basement can’t quite manage to fit a 70 meter practice hall…

Inspired by (and relying on the math from) this excellent article by Tilman Bremer from sichtkraft.com, I have a new toy to try to get all the reps I can possibly want.

The basics from Tilman Bremer’s article on Sichtkraft are that you can practice your exact 70m arm angle with a high target set 3m-5m away from you, if you’re clever about where to put an aiming point.  It’s based on your eyeball height and arrow speed, but it really appealed to me, so I gave it a try.


From Bremer’s math, and since I’m around 167cm tall, so my eyes are around 157cm high.  I should put a scaled-down target at around 156cm (printing out his scaled targets will be my next step).  With target that is at least 8″ higher than that, I can carefully shoot at 3m and get my arm angles.  So I would need to build a bale that is at least 6’2″ (188cm) off the ground.

It was time to replace my SpyderWeb 2’x2′ box target that has lasted my for about 9 seasons.  It worked really nicely, but it was finally developing dead spots.  I wanted a larger bale surface this time, so that newer archers could play in the basement with me without worrying too much about hitting the wall (circumstances that led to the safety curtain and rubber mat wall rigged up there already).  I found that the American Whitetail Range Beast kit seemed to fit my parameters for size, maintenance, and can be assembled by one person. But that was going to be too short for a 6′ target.  However, my local indoor range uses similar targets, and an enterprising carpenter built wheeled stands to lift them up to competition heights.  I consulted him for some safety advice on how to stabilize the higher mass and prevent injuries from tipping.

The target is 16″ deep, and the stand I built is 24″ deep for extra stability, with tension straps suspending the top to the posts on the front and back.

Planning on a 48″ target and a ~27″ base (to reach World Archery competition heights), that would still be too short for my 70 meter plans.  I had a complicated second stage lift block to add another 12″ of height, and I was trying to devise an elegant (and safe) way to add and remove that spacer block without it taking an hour to disassemble and rebuild the target.  But American Whitetail was very generous with the amount of foam they sent, so the bale is significantly more than 48″ high, even when compressed down.  (In fact, I still have 4-6″ additional foam that I cannot fit into the stand and still engage the compression rods.  Definitely not stingy with the foam!)  This means the target is hugely tall, and eliminates the need for the complicated spacer block.  That’s far simpler and far safer.  Thanks, American Whitetail!

Test arrows at 3m, 4m, and 5m, with 70m arm angle (aimed at green tape spots, on the line-of-sight to the 70m target height).

After a long weekend of measuring and power tools, binge-watching the World Cup and the Gold Cup, the monster is assembled in the basement, and I’m still in one piece*.  And I have a new appreciation for the awesomeness of a simple speed square.  So now I have a target that is up to 7′ (213cm) from the floor!  This should meet Bremer’s 6’2″ (188cm) requirement.  In theory.  If I did the math right, and if Bremer did his math right.  (But he’s been using this method for almost a decade, so it’s been proven out pretty well).

I added Bremer’s math to the Archery Distance Angle Equivalencies Google worksheet where I put my other target angle math notes from the previous post.

How does that compare to reality? After today’s first test session, here’s what I’m seeing. My target is great — it’s tall enough to shoot from 5m with my 70m arm angle.  My arrows are landing about 6′ high (184cm).  That is 11″ (28cm) over the aiming point with my 42# recurve.  The bale is great, there’s no hint of a bounce-back.  After a zillion test arrows, that to section of the target might wear out faster than the rest.  But re-stacking the foam is pretty easy (without fiber dust or re-stuffing a bag target), so that won’t break my heart when it’s time to rebuild it.

For my workout, I can absolutely feel the difference.  I was tired after 72 arrows, and exhausted after 108.  I can really feel how much endurance work I need to put in to get really comfortable.  The final test will be seeing how my 70m shooting improves when I get time to go to the range.  This will eliminate hurdles between me and effective practices.

So far, I really like this new training tool.  Thanks to everyone who shared ideas, shared math, and manufactured quality equipment to make this possible.  (And especially to Mrs. Tony, who puts up with my experiments.)



* I highly recommend self-drilling screws.  Those were an amazing improvement over needing to measure, pre-drill, etc for every screw.  I tried some SPAX for this project, and the point-and-shoot speed I could use for these was pretty cool.  I’m proud that this was a successful birdie in Hardware Store Golf**

** Hardware Store Golf is a game I play when I’m doing a capital-P house Project.  Your score is the number of additional trips to the store you have to take to finish the Project (after your initial trip).  Par is usually 1 additional trip.  If you can do the Project without an extra trip to get things you forgot, that’s a birdie.  If you finish the Project with supplies & tools you already have on-hand, that’s an eagle.***

*** I suppose this makes more sense if is Par is just set at 2 trips, and I count every trip…  (I’m not a golfer, so it’s taken me this long to realize that this is how it should be scored…)


UPDATE: One Week Progress Report

I’ve gotten to a printer to print out Tilman’s scaled targets, instead of using chunks of tape.  That really helps settle my brain to aim comfortably and subconsciously, and to notice when my string picture is sliding out of the right zone.  I’ve been able to alternate between basement practice and real long-range practice this week, and the transitions have been far more comfortable with this setup than ever before.

I expect that it will continue to become more comfortable as my endurance gets better at this body angle.  Usually in a summer I can only shoot 70 meters perhaps a dozen sessions.  I’ve already had a half-dozen sessions in a week using this basement construction.  I anticipate being able to use this setup to get enough repetitions to improve real, repeatable form for distance shooting, something I’ve not been able to reliable achieve before.


Leave a reply