Book Reviews

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Archery is a “doing” sport. You only get better by doing it and its very hard to get better simply by watching youtube or reading about it. That said personal coaching can be expensive and getting a framework in which to structure your practice and motivation can be difficult if you have no experience in a non-team sport. That’s where books come in. A good archery book can give you structure to your practice, tips, mental guidance, physical conditioning exercises and even ‘tricks’ to fool you into shooting better. So without faffing around ... Let’s take a look at a few tomes of wisdom:

Archery (steps to success) ............ Heywood and Lewis                       Beginner             approx £9.25

A well regarded book aimed at those entering archery and bewildered by just how confusing it is. Chapters include form, technique, analysis of performance, mental skills, competition, tuning bows and even how to get the best fit for your kit.  This book doesn’t concentrate on any specific style and as such will give you information on more than just recurve should you be unsure just where your archery career is heading. The lesson plans and activities are easy to understand and very useful in guiding the archer into good practices and explaining why things happen. The chapter on spotting and curing typical faults will be useful for longer than you suspect. This book is often recommended for entry level archers with more questions than an inquisitive 4 year old.
However as noted above it is a generalist’s book ... it moves from compound bow to bare bow to recurve bow page to page. It does lack a depth of instruction or illustration in any one specific style so the intermediate archer already specializing will not gain much from this book. It doesn’t have anything on traditional archery so long/horsebow archers beware. The illustrations are a little basic and the chapter on hunting should be ignored in the UK as bow hunting is illegal.

Stocked by The Book Depository, Waterstones and Amazon

Archery                                         USA Archery                                    Intermediate     approx £11.50

Much loved by Geo. This is not a book written by one author but each chapter is written by a specialist (8 in total) from within the US archery coaching team and edited into the book. Both recurve and compound are covered individually with regards to style/form but the majority of the book is “beneficial to all archers” chapters on nutrition, exercise, mental preparation and preparing for competitions. This book is absolutely aimed at the competitive archer aiming to get better, win medals and be the best they can be or coaches looking to support their archers on and off the shooting line. We believe Geo sleeps with this book under his pillow.

This book will not be much use to the beginner as many of the concepts, practices and perhaps commitment (re exercise, nutrition and life style) will be beyond you for at least a year into your archery career or at least till the obsession hits. Something for the future rather than the now.  The pictures are in black and white and not particularly detailed but do not detract from the information being imparted. Occasionally it tries to do too much but it’s hard to fault the effort.

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The Competitive Archer                   Simon Needham                              Advanced            approx £18.00

New book written by Simon and including input from thirty-five top international and Olympic archers about their methods for success. This is not a book for the faint hearted, casual or even intermediate archer. This book is not about form and technique but more about everything an archer needs for success EXCEPT actually shooting. It assumes you can already do that. It’s all about targeting practical advice to archers showing them a path to success in their competition performance, taking them from keen weekend competitors to top athletes in the world arena. Sort of help you’ll find here is how to set goals and then prioritize those goals, planning training and competition schedules, incorporating mental practices into your training, fine-tuning of archery equipment, advanced training, shooting practices and techniques to evaluate progress. You need to be a full on obsessive archer with megalomaniac dreams of medal success to benefit from this ... Geo has this book and was last seen singing to it. (still not sure what good he thinks its going to do! Ed)

On the down side, this is a very high level book. Some of the techniques are applicable to us mere mortal archers but you really do have to be absolutely focused on archery to get the best out of this book.

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Why You Suck at Archery .................. Steve Ruis                                Intermediate               approx £7

Geo's latest book and its a doozy. Section 1 lists 28 carefully described flaws in many archers form and technique then makes suggestions about how to go about stopping being so sucky. While section 2 puts together a mental approach to shooting and given that archery is such a psychologically intensive sport, this is no bad thing.
At just a 100 pages (including adverts for other books) with negligible pictures or diagrams and no advice on the the magical "right" way to do things its a bit light in the thickness department. However the tone is entertainingly lighthearted and there's lots to consider. Now when we say "consider" we mean there's lots about your archery form and the methodology in the way you go about your craft that you really need to give careful thought to after reading this book.
At £7 its not massively expensive and we think worth a minor splurge of the same amount of money you would spend on a big pack of fletches. If even one flaw in your game is corrected by this, then its a well spent 7 squid. Geo got his moneys worth ... he had 27 of the 28 noted flaws.

The book is available at Amazon and you can look inside the book with the appropriately named "look inside" function within Amazon.

Archery Fundamentals .................... Douglas Engh                             Beginner             approx £8.50

This is all about the fundamentals of archery. It will help you with maintenance, choosing kit, shooting both recurve and compounds, tuning and repair. Seems to be pretty accessible with no obfuscation (woah, good word! ed) or attempt to mystify the shooting process.

Not a lengthy book but it is well regarded. Absolutely focused on getting the noob shooting better and as such it doesn’t really focus on anything outside getting the arrow into the boss as efficiently as possible. Touching on competition is good but it could have done with being a little longer & broader scoped. Still, having said that, readers do seem to believe it delivers exactly what it says on the cover “a better way to learn the basics”.

Stocked by The Book Depository, Waterstones and Amazon



Beginners Guide to Traditional Archery             Brian Sorrells                              Traditional          Approx £7

While this book does have a heavy US influence and a bias towards hunting, it does have quite a bit on target practice and a great section to help you improve your instinctive shooting skills. Topics include choosing the right equipment, tuning your bow, shooting form, basic and advanced accuracy exercises.

As most traditional archery books printed in the USA will likely head down the hunting path, you might need to buy with a view to ignoring much of your purchase. Still, it’s quite well regarded with much to recommend to the archer interested in a more traditional style.

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The Ultimate Guide to Traditional Archery          Rick Sapp             Traditional          approx £11

A comparatively new book, Sapp’s book attempts to encapsulate traditional archery in a single 251 page book. Certainly there are chapters on arrow heads and hunting and traditional arrows and the mechanics of shooting but whither he actually produces the ultimate guide ... well the jury is decidedly pensive. It’s a good general book on traditional archery and is written with a definite style which makes occasionally dry material come more alive but for someone actually wanting to improve their instinctive shooting ... I’m not so sure.
If you are looking for something more of an overview to broaden your understanding of the field and that’s a reasonable read then this might be the book for you. For helping your form? Perhaps look elsewhere.

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Shooting The English Longbow                         Pip Bickerstaffe         Longbow             approx £18

Not knowing much about longbows, I did find a review of the book online. It says this ... “if you are a new-comer to this engrossing field sport, you could do a lot worse than make "Shooting the English Longbow" your introduction to the art. No book, of course, can ever be a complete substitute for careful, personal coaching, but all the basics are covered here: choice of equipment, basic shooting techniques, the various types of longbow archery (target, field, clout, heavy bow), a selective and discerning bibliography of other texts described as "worth reading" - oh how many are not - and some very interesting pages drawn by Mrs. Bickerstaffe from the coaching notes of the National Field Archery Society, something every teacher in the land could peruse with advantage.
If there are lacunae
(wow, awesome word – means gaps. Ed), they would be a paucity (this dude is on a roll! means lack) of diagrams to illustrate some of the sections on aiming etc., though the monochrome photos are helpful, and something on the kind of fitness training and strength-building that can usefully enhance a bowman's performance.”

Stocked by Quicks archery store