The "Skinny" by Jim Belcher
New for SKY Archery is this Blog by our Owner and Master Bowyer.
Master Bowyer Jim Belcher has been involved in traditional archery for over 55 years. Many people have asked him to write about his knowledge of archery, and this is a very easy and instant way to do that on a weekly basis. He has a voice worth hearing on the subject, and if you don’t want the skinny, then you shouldn’t read this! Here are Jim’s honest and straight to the point thoughts on archery.
Mystery of I.L.F.
A clever, simple 3 piece take down system for Recurves and Longbows.
There seems to be a lot of mystery around the I.L.F. (International Limb Fitting) takedown system – but the truth is it’s just basic bows and arrows without the need for tools to take it apart. I.L.F. is simply a really clever system with no mystery at all.
Earl Hoyt made the I.L.F. system by a progression from his original screw-from-the-back system to a dovetail alignment system – a flat sided dovetail with alignment screws to make the riser straight, not the limbs. It then morphed into a tapered dovetail and adjustable pocket, built to allow you to take your bows apart and put them back together with relative ease.
This system was so good that it was mimicked by everybody, eventually becoming what it is today – International Limb Fitting (which was actually coined by someone else. Earl Hoyt called it the Dovetail Alignment System).
Why is this system so good?
What the I.L.F. gives you as a shooter is the adjustability that Olympic target shooters have had for nearly three decades, allowing you to change tiller and adjust the weight by about 10%, making the I.L.F. system very tunable for your shooting style and bow. When the goal is to shoot 90 meters, it’s a lot more demanding on the equipment.
Following that, people believed that the DAS system was the first to develop I.L.F. for bow hunting (which is probably true). David Allen Sosa, although using the older screw from the back system, simply took the technology of the target limbs and fit that to field and hunting use.
I.L.F. is a clever system and easy to calculate your bow length. It’s simple:
The bolt pattern on a riser is 5 inches shorter than its length, and the limbs are typically three lengths – 23”, 24”, and 25” (at SKY Archery we also make 22” and 26”). To calculate your bow length, you just add the bolt pattern and each limb. Example: a 17” riser has a 12” bolt pattern. With 24” limbs, that makes a 60” bow (12 + 24+ 24 = 60). Or you can adjust it further with shorter or longer limbs, making a 56”, 58”, 62”, or 64” bow. Now try different riser lengths from 13” to 25” and you have bows from 52” to 72”.
Some people don’t like adjustability or that it doesn’t lock in until you put the string on and snap it. Some people don’t like the look of it. Some people don’t like metal. These are reasons I.L.F. is not for everybody, or just excuses for not understanding the system. But, that said, metal handles are the best and are the most tunable, even more so than wood risers. This is because of the total adjustment for true center shooting. There is no flex with the metal like there is with the wood.
For you to be a better shot, you have to shoot and understand your equipment. I.L.F. is just a different, simple system of attaching the limbs to the riser. Once you tune it into what you shoot, it shoots like all the rest. Don’t over think it!