It’s been a while since my last Things I’ve Learned article. If you’ve read my tournament recap from last year’s AZ Cup, then you already know the “secrets” I’m going to share with you today. However, with today being official practice day for this year’s AZ Cup, I figured it was the perfect time to write this next edition in series.
Now a little background before continuing. In past years I always just changed nocks when I broke them, however, it seemed all the top archers were changing all their nocks at each tournament. So last year I decided to “smartly” follow their lead. I purposely saved the nocks I wanted to use in competition and did not use them in practice. Because I had a couple packs of each color, I used the translucent orange nocks in practice, saving the solid orange for competition. The night before qualification, I sat in my hotel room and made sure to switch them all out.
The compound women got to shoot in the morning, so the wind was pretty calm. We started scoring and from the get go something didn’t seem right. My good shots were not landing well, and when I made a bad shot, many times I got lucky and it was an X! I started walking through all my equipment and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was getting a diagonal line instead of groups, so it seemed like my bow was untuned, even though everything was still spot on from practice day.
I headed to the practice range after lunch, and R and I tried to talk through everything and discover what was going on. He knows my shot well enough that he could tell (at least in practice range) that everything looked good, yet I still wasn’t grouping like I had previously. All of a sudden, he asked me, which nocks I had been shooting in practice. I told him, and he proceeded to tell me that the solid colored beiter nocks were a different material then the translucent colors. This was something I had NO idea about, nor would I have ever thought of on my own. He asked if I had the “practice” nocks on me, which I did, so we immediately switched the nocks back over.
Amazingly, my bow started to act like it was tuned again, and I actually knew where my arrows were going to hit. I shot how I expected to shoot that afternoon during the mixed team round with Reo, and I couldn’t have been happier. Saturday during head to head eliminations, I shot well enough to not only advance, but have one of the highest scores on the field in the first round and continued shooting top scores the rest of the day. In fact, I ended up with the highest arrow average for the day!
We’ve all been told to test everything you are going to use in a tournament in practice, but I never would have thought this applied to different colored nocks. It was a tough lesson to learn, but I was lucky enough that R figured it out before it cost me too much. I had one negative qualification because of it, but it could have affected my entire season.
Nocks aren’t the only piece of equipment where things like this can happen. I know from R being a recurve shooter that spinwings have a different stiffness depending on the color vane. For this reason, colors are not interchangeable. The same thing applies to string material. Different colors have a slightly different wax content and can actually change the thickness of your string, requiring different strand counts or different serving material.
So needless to say, I learned from this experience to NEVER shoot with ANYTHING I haven’t previously tried in practice.