Evaluating Release Execution Using Cluster Analysis

Evaluating Release Execution Using Cluster Analysis 

Purpose of this tool: To determine when an archer’s skills using a new release aid have equaled or surpassed their previous release aid. 

I use this evaluative tool as a guide to monitor the progress in an athlete’s development with a new release aid. In this example, the athlete is beginning to add the use of a thumb release into their skill set. The athlete has an upcoming USAT event and wanted to use her thumb at this event. As the coach, it’s my job to help the athlete make the decision that puts them in position to perform at their best.  

Performing this test

  • In this example the athlete was shooting at 50m. This is further than the athlete’s competitive distance, but well within the skill set.  Use the furthest distance possible, that enables an acceptable group size. 
  • Set up two targets, each one to be exclusive to one release. In this example, the hinge was used on the left target and the thumb on the right. 
  • Alternate which release begins the round. In this example, we shot 6 arrow ends with the hinge first, then the thumb in round 1. In round two we began with the thumb first and then the hinge. 

No adjustments were made to the sight at any time during the exercise. The point is to measure the effective execution of the release aid. Score is not the metric that I am interested. 

  • Measure the furthest deviation in height and width to determine the “score” for the end. For example, if the group was 3 inches tall and 5 inches wide, I would score the end as 15. 
  • The lower the score, the tighter the group. 

In this example you can see that the group size consistency was significantly better with hinge (score 79.25) compared to the thumb (score 124.99). After the exercise, the athlete agreed that the hinge was going to produce the best results. 

The archer also learned how the different design of the releases impacted their anchor point and subsequentially the impact point on the target. With the hinge, arrows hit to the left and with the thumb they would hit to the right. The hinge and the thumb were not from the same family of releases. For example the Abyss and Fulkrum have similar design aspects to minimize the differences. Knowing how the impact point changes is important information for the archer should a release fail of the conditions warrant making a change. For this athlete, they have better control of their shot with the thumb in high winds and would be switching releases at the USAT if conditions warranted the change. The athlete needs to know what adjustments to windage need to be made if the change in release is determined necessary.