Tech Talk How-To

Determining your Dominant Eye

Be sure that you check your eye dominance before buying your first bow. This is an often overlooked but one of the most important discoveries for any person or athlete who is participating in any sport that requires physical movement to propel an object accurately to a target or position on a field.

A shooter should always have the bow string directly in front of the predominant eye as the arrow is attached to the bowstring and the back and front of the arrow must be in alignment for an accurate shot.

I have found the following method to be the easiest way of checking eye dominance for both adults and even very young children:

Extend both hands forward of your body and place the hands together making a small triangle (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch per side) between your thumbs and the first knuckle.
With both eyes open, look through the triangle and center something such as a doorknob or the bullseye of a target in the triangle.
Close your left eye. If the object remains in view, you are right-eye dominant. If your hands appear to move off the object and move to the left, then you are left-eye dominant.

To validate the first test, look through the triangle and center the object again with both eyes open.
Close your right eye. If the object remains in view, you are left-eye dominant. If your hands appear to move off the object and move to the right, then you are right-eye dominant.
One more alternative method is to assume the same position with your hands forming a triangle around the object and have both eyes open. Now, slowly bring your hands toward your face while continuing to look at the object with both eyes open. When your hands touch your face, the triangle opening should be in front of your dominant eye.

Repeat the above tests several times to satisfy yourself that you are sure which eye is your dominant eye.

Right-eye dominant people should partake in all shooting sports as right-handed participants. Left-eye dominant people should participate as lefties. Exceptions can be made to this general rule but most of the exceptions have to do with physical adversities or in some cases the curing of target panic (lack of ability to aim and execute a good shot).


Buying the Correct Compound Bow

Where to Buy
It is always recommended that you buy your bow from a reputable dealer, whether they are an in-town storefront or an Internet dealer. Your Pro shop should be familiar with the product they are selling and with the expertise to tune the bow to fit your unique specifications. Hopefully, your Pro shop dealer will have been involved in archery long enough to successfully work on older second-hand bows as well as today’s newest models.

There are also some good deals to be had on second-hand bows, both from archery shops and the private seller, but be cautious as what may seem very cheap at the time can become expensive if the bow needs new limbs or cams, or the bow is an end-of-line model and parts become hard to get and are expensive. Many new wheels and cables can be installed on older models and even older wheels can be installed on today’s bows. I know some newer dealers that have never changed a set of metal cables or have the tools to do so.

Bow Length
It is a well-known fact that extremely shorter bows are easier to torque left or right when shooting. When compound bows first became popular they were 48 inches axle to axle. Many recurve archers said they were too short to shoot accurately. Those critics and archers were proven wrong. Today a very long compound is 44 or 45 inches axle to axle and many companies are making bows in the 30 to 32 inch axle-to-axle length.

Most release aid archers will find that a 38 to 39 inch bow will give them the best of both worlds: “Speed” and “Accuracy”. Most finger archers will find 42 or 45 inches to be their best choice.  Pat Norris has a new 44 1/4 inch compound for accuracy and finger shooters.

Axle-to-Axle length is a personal preference that you must decide for yourself. I feel that your physical size should be the determining factor in the bow you decide on. If you check the axle-to-axle length of the top shots in the USA, you will find most of them shoot bows between 38 and 43 inches axle-to-axle length. A person 5 feet 3 or 4 inches shooting a bow 36 inches long would have about the same string angle (pinch at nocking point) as an archer 6 feet shooting a bow 42 or 43 inches long.

Speed is the “buzz word” and most companies say their shorter bows are built short for speed. Many companies imply that those old long axle-to-axle length bows are just too slow for today’s 3-D and hunting archers. In the real world, there is not that much difference. Look at the specifications in the newest archery manufacturer’s catalogs and you will find that many “short” bows are even slower by a few feet per second.

I will gladly give up 20 or 30 feet per second to shoot a more accurate arrow. You can shoot the fastest arrow in the world but if it does not hit where you aimed, it is a miss. Now I would not suggest a serious 3-D un-marked shooter set up a bow at 230 feet per second for competition. But, I do not see what the advantage is in shooting a short critical bow at 305 feet per second over a longer 38 to 39 inch bow that shoots 300 feet per second.

I sincerely hope you will see that your best interest is in my heart here. Accuracy is king (number one) in all aspects of archery, comfort second and speed are third on my preference list.

300 to 310 feet per second is accepted as the speed benchmark measured at 70 pounds with a 30-inch draw length and an arrow that weighs 350 grains. There are a few bows that shoot faster and a lot of bows that shoot slower. Archers with shorter than 30 inch draws will get slower speeds out of their bow regardless of what the advertising says. Archers that shoot arrows that weigh more (recommended by every bow manufacturer) will also have slower speeds.

Draw Weight
Please do not let an archery dealer sell you a bow that is too heavy or does not fit your physical draw length. Most archers, especially those that bought through catalogs or at mass merchants or sporting goods stores have bows with draw lengths that are too long for them. Many are overbowed with poundage that is hard to control. It is safe to say that 80 percent of archers who take a certified shooting course end up having the instructor shorten the draw length and lower the poundage of the bow. It is also safe to say that 98 percent of these archers become more accurate after these changes in equipment setup, as they now control the bow and have better body alignment. (Form)

With a compound bow, the draw weight, or peak weight is not affected by the draw length when over drawing or under drawing.

Draw Length
It is important that you anchor to your draw length on your compound bow; you do not draw to an anchor point. The emphasis must be to the correct draw length for you as an individual to receive the maximum benefits from your bow. I am not saying don’t anchor; you must have a solid anchor.

Your perfect “for you” draw length must coincide with your solid anchor point and many times you will have to change your anchor point to make them coincide. Once your bow, bow arm, draw length, anchor point, back muscles and rear elbow are all in alignment (extension of the arrow) you will experience much greater and more consistent accuracy. This holds true for all types of target shooting or hunting.

With today’s eccentrics and cams, if you draw a compound bow that is set to a specific draw length, you have no option but to try and anchor at the position. More often than not, if it’s too long you will incorrectly stretch to anchor at that position. You can shoot a bow that is set too short more accurately than you can shoot a bow that is too long.

Most bows have some draw length adjustments; changing cable and string length is often needed for a custom fit. Superior custom strings and cables fitted to your personal needs will become a natural choice over factory manufactured strings and cables.

Your anchor point, when shooting with a release aid, is different than shooting with your fingers. Because of the release aid, your anchor point may be similar, but your arrow length will be shorter by 1/2″ – 1″. Compound bows, like recurves, are sold in draw lengths relating to their arrow lengths.

The Pro Shop Advantage
You can save many dollars buying on the web and by dealing with an Internet PRO-SHOP and you can and should get excellent service. Unlike many of the dot.coms, the phone company, ebay and others. You will find our email address displayed along with our phone number. If you phone us you will get to talk to a real live person. If you get our message machine we will return your call.

If you have questions, either email or phone us. I know that we can outfit your new bow and accessories correctly to and for you. In fact many archers send us their bows to rebuild and help improve their accuracy and archery enjoyment.

We will not always have the lowest price on the net but we will do our level best to give you the best service and equipment.

Enjoy all phases of archery, Target, marked and unmarked 3-D, Field and Hunter Rounds, Indoor tournaments, leagues, and Hunting. Shoot all year long and your archery “career” will be more fun and rewarding.

Help start a youngster correctly in the world’s finest lifetime sport: ARCHERY.


Buying the Correct Recurve Bow

The first thing you should do before buying your new recurve bow is to determine what your main shooting interest will be. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you primarily going to HUNT or do you want to shoot for weekend RECREATION, such as field or target shooting?
  • How serious are you about participating in your main interest in question one above? What is your first goal? For instance, if your goal is to begin working towards shooting a FITA target round and you want to become an Olympic hopeful, then your equipment needs will be different than if you want to shoot at a local club a couple of times a month for recreation.

Remember that you can enjoy archery 12 months out of the year if you have the correct equipment. Many of my friends and customers participate in more than one aspect of archery.

Bow Length
Recurve bows have many styles and physical lengths.

If hunting is your main goal you may decide on a short bow (52 to 58 inches) for more maneuverability or a longer bow (60 to 64 inches) for more smoothness.

In my opinion a target or recreational archer that is 5 feet 9 or less should purchase a 62 to 64 inch bow. Archers 5 feet 10 to 6 feet should consider 66 to 68-inch bows. If you are over 6 feet I think 68 or 70 inches is your best bet.

For all types of bows you want to bend the limbs while at full draw and stretch the recurve so that the bow can store energy efficiently. If a short person shoots a very long bow they do not bend the working part of the limbs enough to produce the maximum force that the bow is capable of providing.

Bow Weight
Adult recurve bows have their draw weight measured at 28 inches of pull. Your bow will be lighter than its marked weight if your draw is less than 28 inches and conversely heavier if your draw is longer than 28 inches.

Today’s recurve bow limbs are very well designed and pull very smoothly to 28 or 30 inches. Most of the top bows pull between 2 and 3 pounds per inch during the draw. Once they are drawn past 28 inches they can start pulling 3, 4 or even 5 or more pounds per inch. This is call STACKING. The better designed and more expensive limbs that have space age composites have the least amount of stack. With longer bows the stacking is less noticeable. A shorter 54 or 56 inch bow pulled to a draw of 30 inches seems to stack more than a 58 or 60-inch bow of the same bow weight at 28 inches.

As I have said before in my published articles: DO NOT OVER BOW YOURSELF. For your first bow, I recommend 20 to 25 pounds for ladies and 35 to 40 pounds for men. You must condition and build your “archery muscles”. If you have a bow that is lighter in draw weight than you are physically capable of shooting you will be in complete control and will develop your shooting technique and form positively. If you have to strain to pull the bow you will be forcing your muscles to compensate and most of the time they will be out of proper alignment, which will limit your shooting prowess. If you purchase a take down-bow in a low weight, then after you have become in control and are stronger you can purchase heavier limbs.

I personally always used a 35 to 40 pound bow for target and recreational shooting. Then, as hunting season approached I would switch over to my heavier bow and hunt with either 50 or 55 pounds. I shot recreationally for 9 months and shot my hunting equipment for 2 months every year.

Draw Length
Your actual draw length is determined by your physical size. I believe for the archer that is shooting without a bow sight that you should anchor your drawing hand at the corner of the mouth with either the index finger or 2nd finger touching a tooth. This has been the age-old popular Bowhunters anchor used by most of the archery greats such as Fred Bear, Howard Hill, and Ben Pearson. It is important not to pull past the corner of your mouth, as the bowstring must be in front of your eye.

If an Archer decides to shoot with a bow sight they can continue using the corner of the mouth anchor or they can go to a lower anchor, which increases the distance the bow can shoot. Your bowstring can have a peep sight installed to help you touch the exact same anchor point each time you draw the bow. If you cannot see through the peep sight then you must move your anchor to the proper place where your peep sight was adjusted for you. Low anchors can be on the side of the face directly below the corner of the mouth or the anchor can be under the chin with the string touching the point of the nose.

Once you have established your anchor point and are comfortable then your arrow can be measured and your correct and actual draw length can be recorded for future reference.

Where to Buy
I suggest you buy from a legitimate archery pro shop – either a local in-town store or from a trustworthy Internet Dealer. Either email or phone the Internet dealer a couple of times and see how quickly they respond to your inquiry and questions. The lowest price is not always the best deal. You may have questions six months or even a year from now. Is the dealer you bought your bow from still willing to take good care of you and give you excellent service? Unlike many of the dot.coms, the phone company, ebay and others, you will find our email address displayed along with our phone number. If you phone us you will get to talk to a real live person. If you get our message machine we will return your call. If you have questions, either email or phone us. I know that we can outfit your new bow and accessories correctly to and for you. In fact many archers send us their bows to rebuild and help improve their accuracy and archery enjoyment.  

Enjoy all phases of archery, Target, marked and unmarked 3-D, Field and Hunter Rounds, Indoor tournaments, leagues, and Hunting. Shoot all year long and your archery “career” will be more fun and rewarding.

Help start a youngster correctly in the world’s finest lifetime sport: ARCHERY.

Your First Arrows

I will make a few assumptions here:
The first assumption is that you have just bought equipment or are going to buy equipment in the near future.
The second assumption is that we are only going to discuss Aluminum, Carbon and Carbon/Aluminum bonded composite shafts.
Wood arrow shafts and Pultruded Carbon shafts are purposely being left out of this discussion.

Arrow types and sizes can be very confusing. Every arrow shaft manufacturer has multiple grades and they give the impression that every arrow shaft they make is the best arrow shaft in the world. If they make Aluminum shafts then no other company makes as high quality as they do. The same thing can be said for the Carbon shaft companies.

There is only one arrow shaft that is perfect for you and your individual equipment set up:


Aluminum arrows can be the best choice just as Carbon Arrows can be the best choice.

Most of the Olympic archers shoot a shaft that is a combination of Aluminum and Carbon bonded together. (Archers shooting Pultruded Carbon shafts have also placed at the top of the competition). Over the past 50 plus years, most archers shot Aluminum arrows for both Target and Hunting. Now, Carbon arrows are taking the lead. Carbon Arrow sales are outnumbering Aluminum or Aluminum Carbon bonded shafts.

All shafts have Pros and Cons:

Aluminum Pros:

1. More sizes to choose from so an archer may be able to get the best shaft without adjusting point weights.
2. Sometimes the initial cost is cheaper than carbon.
3. Made in much larger sizes for indoor league and money shoot line-cutting abilities.
4. Tried and tested for years. ***

Cons for Aluminum:

1. The less expensive shafts are quite soft and bend easily.
2. Even the best quality will bend and need straightening.
3. Aluminum prices have continued to go up compared to Carbon coming down.
4. Many but not all Aluminum sizes weigh more per inch than Carbon shafts.
5. Each time an Aluminum arrow is straightened it loses some of its strength and memory. (so it will bend easier the next time)

Aluminum/Carbon combination shaft Pros:

1. Extremely good quality.
2. Thinner in diameter for the same arrow spine.
3. More point combinations compared to Aluminum.
4. More nock combinations compared to Aluminum.

Cons for Aluminum/Carbon Combination arrows:

1. The price per dozen is higher than both Aluminum and Carbon.
2. Can still be bent but are nearly impossible to straighten.
3. The bond between the two materials can be damaged and the bond will break.

Pros for Carbon Arrows:

1. They do not bend; they are permanently as straight as the day they were manufactured.
2. Lighter weight per inch than aluminum and Aluminum/Carbon combos per inch.
3. Lots of nock combinations and more are being developed.
4. Adjustable weight point systems.
5. The higher priced shafts are extremely straight over the length of the arrow shaft.
6. More research, testing, and design money is being spent on this end of the market.
7. Stronger than Aluminum during a straight hit, therefore deeper penetration.
8. Newer sizes allow for internal components.

Cons for Carbon Arrows:

1. Much difference between manufacturers although the shafts may look alike.
2. The shafts do not take glancing blows very well, they sometimes break.
3. Not as many sizes to choose from so an archer has to experiment with point weights to perfectly spine match the arrows to his setup.
4. Made only as large in diameter as FITA will allow, smaller than aluminum largest size by 3/64 inch (allowed in NFAA competition but not in FITA).

Now that you know some of the pluses and minuses of all three let me tell you what happens in the Real World:

Many tournaments have been won and many trophy animals have been taken with all three types.

If you talk with a knowledgeable dealer either on the Internet or at an in-town local archery shop you are on the right path.

The first thing to focus on is: what do you want to budget for a dozen arrows? The correct-sized and best-quality arrows will shoot well out of any bow. (See the charts at the Norris Archery website) As the price comes down there are differences in weight and straightness tolerances. Lower priced arrows have lower specification tolerances.

The second thing to consider is the longevity of the shafts. Most archers find that higher priced Aluminum arrows outlast the lower priced Aluminums about 2 to 1 and take fewer repairs. The same thing holds true for Carbons. Most archers find that the higher quality Carbons will outlast Aluminum shafts 4 or 5 to 1. So, if you spend $165.00 or more per dozen on higher quality Carbons you may get as much usage from one dozen carbons as you would from 4 or 5 dozen Aluminum arrows. (you could spend $200.00 to $300.00 for Aluminums)

Peer pressure sometimes comes into play. My suggestion is to shoot the arrow you want, not what a buddy tells you that you must have because he or she shoots them.

Decide how you are going to use the arrow and then buy the correct size, spine, and length arrow for your setup. If you are going to shoot at ground squirrels in the rocks buy the least expensive arrow that is correctly sized for you. If you are going to compete in tournaments at a local, regional, state, or national level then buy the best arrow you can afford. Then tune your bow, match your arrow to the bow, and then tune your entire setup for maximum accuracy.

ACCURACY IS KING. A miss is a miss, whether it is with a very expensive arrow or an inexpensive arrow.

The Correct Arrow Size for You

I will make a few assumptions here:
First, you already have equipment and second, you are looking to improve your score or effective shooting range.

If the arrow size you are shooting is the correct size according to the charts, then everything here applies to you.

Grouping of your arrows at the bow weight you want to shoot is your most important consideration. If your arrows group as good or better than your shooting ability, then you are ready to move up to the next level of accurate shooting.

Are you happy with the grouping and arrow flight?

If an arrow is the correct size in the arrow charts and does not group you need to make changes to point weight or rear weight.  Adding weight to the point (going to a heavier broadhead or target point) will weaken the spine of the arrow, allowing it to shoot out of lower poundage bows. Decreasing the point weight stiffens the arrow and allows the bow weight to be increased for the same arrow.  With Pat Norris Signature Carbon shafts and arrows you can add weight at the back of the arrow with 3 different weight Pin nock Inserts.

This is one of my Real World tests that is not in the archery manufacturers’ literature:

  • The easiest and first test to double check if your arrow is correct is to change the bow weight. If you lower the bow weight and the grouping gets better, then you know that your arrow was too weak and should lighten your tip point weight. Depending on how far you lowered it will give you an idea as to how much weight to change, or even change the arrow spine size.
  • If you have to raise the weight of the bow to get a better grouping of your arrows then you will have to weaken the shaft by using a heavier point. I have seen archers go from a 90-grain broadhead all the way up to a 130-grain broadhead to get the arrow they have been shooting to work best for them. The opposite also happens. Many target points will weigh between 50 and 125 grains.

The test described above is based on the assumption that you want to shoot the bow at your existing weight and are not happy with the grouping. It also assumes that your bow is correctly tuned and the arrow size you are shooting is on the arrow chart as being correct or very close.

Only after you have determined that your arrow cannot be tuned to your bow and the weight you want to shoot should you consider changing arrow sizes. This test will help you determine what size arrow to change to.

You also should check your draw length and muscular alignment. Most archers that take advanced shooting form and bow setup lessons end up having their draw length shortened. Most of them go to custom cable and string lengths to reach their ultimate personal archery abilities.

Once you have the best arrow for you as an individual and the bow set up you are shooting, you should stay with that arrow unless you change bows or your current bow’s setup. Do not allow peer pressure to make you change your personal setup. I have found many times that a particular arrow will shoot and group perfectly out of one bow and will not shoot as well out of another bow of the same weight. This difference is caused by the efficiency of the bow, the cam, and the speed of the bow.

Charts that were excellent 8, 10 or 15 years ago are incorrect for today’s faster bows. This statement applies to both compound and recurve bows. Beware of the archer or dealer that says “Oh yes, this is the same arrow size we used 20 years ago for this poundage.” He may be correct, but the overwhelming odds are he is wrong.

The arrow charts for each arrow manufacturer are slightly different. The one thing they all have in common is that they get you close to the correct arrow size. You have to fine tune arrow length, point weight, type of nock, type of fletching, and your bow draw length and pulling weight to get the absolute best set up for you as an individual.

Check the arrow charts and instructions on the Norris Archery website and on the individual manufacturers’ websites to get started. Make sure that you can talk to a knowledgeable person at either the Online archery merchant or the in-town archery store you deal with.

There is one perfect setup for every archer – many setups will work well but only one is the sweet one. We call it the sweet spot when everything is working to perfection.
Bows have a sweet spot, which is a combination of draw length, arrow size, arrow length, and bow weight.
Arrows have a sweet spot, which is a combination of bow weight, arrow length, draw length, arrow size, arrow weight, arrow fletching, and arrow point weight.



I was asked the question last week for about the 1 millionth time

In the last 50 plus years of testing, developing, and selling broadheads my answer has always remained the same.

There is only one broadhead on the market that is best for each individual.

That broadhead is the one that flies straight and hits where you are aiming.

The weight of the broadhead in my opinion is not as important as the accuracy you achieve by having your arrow fly true. Broadheads have changed a lot in the last 70 years that I have been shooting. Many are gone from the market, but some of the originals are still around and work well with some minor changes. (for example the Zwickey broadheads or the MA3)

Over the last few years, the re-invention of the expanding broadhead grabbed the market. The first one I tested was back in 1970, it worked as I took some Santa Cruz Island Sheep and Pigs but the blades bent and were very hard to re-sharpen. Most of today’s expanding broadheads are extremely strong, easy to replace blades or re-sharpen and they fly like a field point.

Getting back to the question “WHAT BROADHEAD IS THE BEST?” The best broadhead for each person depends on your personal feelings. To become your BEST BROADHEAD the following requirements must be satisfied for each individual.

You must have confidence in the looks, style, strength, and type of the   broadhead.
You must have a broadhead that flies smoothly and allows your arrow to hit where you aim it. ACCURACY IS KING.
Your broadhead must be SHARP. I repeat SHARP. Any dull broadhead does you and the animal you are trying to harvest a disservice.

In my opinion, most manufacturers of broadheads have too many models. This confuses the consumer and the dealer. In fact I have heard archers tell a friend that they bought the wrong broadhead because it is a different model from the one they are shooting even though both broadheads were 100 grain, 3 blade and made by the same manufacturer.

Many local archery shops and online sellers have too many choices for YOU their valued customer. On the Pat’s Specials side of my website, I have picked the BROADHEADS That I feel meet the above requirements. On the ONLINE CATALOG side of the website I have many other choices for your consideration. I do feel that all of today’s broadhead manufactures have good products even though they may not be on my Pat’s Specials List.

Once you have chosen a broadhead, shoot it into a foam target to check for accuracy. If it does not shoot in the same place as your field points then the first thing you should do is raise or lower the poundage of your compound bow. If you are shooting a recurve then you can add adapter weight rings and make your broadhead heavier. If that makes the grouping worse then you should consider a lighter broadhead. Always make sure your nocking point has not moved, and check your arrow rest for wear and adjustability.

Most importantly, once you get a broadhead that works for you, once you know it hits where you aim it, once you know it is sharp and the blades can be replaced or re-sharpened, and once you have confidence in your personal broadhead. Then don’t let someone else talk you into trying their boardhead. STAY WITH WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! I would suggest that you purchase as many as you can afford because next year the broadhead manufacturer may decide to drop that model and come out with something new to advertise.
I am personally shooting Anderson 3 blade 100 grain broadheads that have not been manufactured in the last 20 years. They worked for me, they still work for me. I built my personal stash to about 20 dozen before the company went out of business. In about four of years, I will have to decide what my new BEST BROADHEAD will be for me.

For the best adhesion of Flex Fletch Vanes to your shafts, please consider following my recommendations.

Place your vane in either the fletching clamp to clean one vane at a time or use Pat Norris’ Fletchers Friend vane cleaning tool to hold 12 vanes at one time.

  • Use acetone, lacquer thinner, wood alcohol or you can also use Isopropyl alcohol if it is at least 97% pure to clean the base of the vane where you will be placing your adhesive.
  • Use a 100% cotton rag, to dip in the above cleaner of your choice and rub the base of the vane. I wrap the rag around my finger, dip it in my solvent choice, and then wipe the bottom of the vanes. Old tee shirts make excellent rags or you can get a bundle at any paint store.
  • Move your finger to different positions each time you rub the base. Normally a couple of wipes down the full length of the vane is sufficient.
  • I personally clean 12 vanes at a time, then I take them out of the Fletchers Friend Tool and place each vane on a clean white paper towel. If fletching one dozen arrows I clean all 36 vanes before starting to fletch.
  • Use the adhesive of your choice.
  • I personally use Goat Tuff Cyanoacrylate High Performance glue provided by Goat Tuff Products. They are the original fast-setting glue developer for archery and I know it is compatible and it dries quickly, 7 to 10 seconds with Goat Tuff Opti-Vanes.
  • Seal the tip of the vane both front and rear with Fletch Bond or Fletch-tite adhesive or Goat Tuff High Performance glue.
  • For Flex Fletch Vanes I use Bitzenburger Fletchers as the vane base is too thin to use in the Goat Tuff Fletcher which is now my fletching tool of choice.