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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How far can you shoot an arrow?

In 2010 Zak Crawford, only 14 years old at the time, set a world record in the "under 35 lbs recurve" category of flight archery.

The previous record was approx. 350 meters, but Zak smashed that record when he shot a little over 500 meters with his bow in 2010.

However that was with a 35 lb bow - which he likely overpulled to approx 37 - 40 lbs in order to give it some extra umph during the release.

Overpulling a bow to give it extra distance capacity is pretty standard when doing flight archery. That extra couple of lbs of force behind the arrow can make a huge difference when you are trying to smash a world record.

However Zak's feat is minor when you consider that 500 years ago British longbow archers were reputed to be able to shoot over 1500 yards away (over 1370 meters). And still hit a large target, like an enemy ship. Shooting burning arrows at enemy ships from long distances was the height of British naval warfare before cannons became popular and eventually erased the need for archers.

British longbowmen at the time were pulling bows with 150 lbs or more - so approx. 4.3 times the power of the bow Zak Crawford used in 2010.

And their arrows were heavier. Therefore it makes sense that a modern archer with great physical strength - pulling a 200 lb bow and using super lightweight arrows - could shoot arrows significantly further.

Arrow fletching also makes a difference. For flight arrows you want the fletching to be very small.

Wind conditions also make a big difference when doing flight archery. A headwind (coming towards you) will slow your arrow down. A tail wind could help or hinder it.

Another factor is elevation. Shooting on a high plateau gives you an advantage because of the thinner air. Shooting at sea level however, the air is thicker and slows your arrows down more.

But what is weird is how modern flight archery competitions all have weight categories for the bows. Limitations effectively on how far people can shoot using a much weaker bow.

For example Dennis Riley in 1981 shot a 72.8 lb conventional flight bow 975.36 meters.

Why was his bow 72.8 lbs??? Because that was the weight limitation for the category he was shooting in.

In contrast Don Brown in 1987 shot a conventional flight bow in an "unlimited category" and shot it 1222.01 meters. But how many lbs was his bow? I cannot tell you. I cannot find a record of the poundage.

In 1979 Harry Drake shot a foot bow (another category that is unlimited) 1410.87 meters. Again, no record for the poundage of his bow.

See for other weight categories for men's flight archery.

So how far can YOU shoot?

Depends on the poundage of your bow, the weight of your arrows, the length of your draw (overpulling), the wind conditions and how close to sea level you are.

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