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We offer historical Asiatic archery products, including fitted thumb rings customized to the individual archer. We also offer a variety of accessories, tools, and exotic replicas. 

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Stay abreast of the latest sales, discounts, news, product releases, projects, and guides here on our blog. 

Patterned glow-in-the-dark ring

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Every once in a while some little project or custom order comes out really really special. This is one such case. It was requested we make a ring which glows in the dark, coat it using our coating process, but then carve it. The result is a stunning mask that really shows off the patterning. And this is exactly that.

Under daylight, you’d never know this ring’s secret trick, the underlying material looks somewhat like recently cut ivory, in that it has a clean off-white character. That doesn’t make it ugly, far from it, we’ve done limited runs of carved rings that look much like it in our ivory colored polymer which are fantastically beautiful, but just wait until night to see this ring really shine. This was a fun special little project.

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Product Announcement - Ring Sizer Range Expansion

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Custom Thumb Rings bespoke ring sizers - the full line

Custom Thumb Rings bespoke ring sizers - the full line

Our Ring Sizers have been raucously well received; finally there is a reliable and inexpensive way to figure out your ring size. We recommend everyone looking to get into a ring start with them.

Our original two ring sizers covered the majority of thumbs and sized for our circular and elliptical series rings. Unfortunately there was a small subgroup of customers, <5%, whose thumbs fell outside the range of our original sizers. These were predominantly men with very large hands at the big end, and dainty women or children at the smaller end. To remedy this we’ve tripled the sizer lineup to offer expanded options for people with very large or very small hands. The round aperture sizers (Manchu and Nubian) have also been switched over to alphabetical sizing to avoid confusion with the regular (elliptical) sizers.

New Product - Dragonfly Patterning and Manchu Rings

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Ottoman rings bronze and silver over metallic copper with dragonfly patterning

Ottoman rings bronze and silver over metallic copper with dragonfly patterning

This blog post is a little late in coming, but better late then never perhaps? Our carved rings have been incredibly popular, however most of our patterns paired best with our middle-eastern rings and we wanted to add another pattern which would go well with our Asian styled rings. The dragonfly inhabits a special place in Asian art, and the patterning in their wings is incredibly striking, so we thought to combine the two and a new design was born. There was a question of orientation though, how should the wing be laid across the ring, and so we created the two above samples and put it to a vote. Longitudinal, the style on the right, won and so was added to our lineup.

On a related note, we’re now patterning our Manchu rings circumferentially, that is to say the pattern covers the surface the entire way around the ring. This might make it an excellent canvas for the aforementioned dragonfly pattern. Just a thought…..

Manchu ring silver over noctural blue, weave pattern.

Manchu ring silver over noctural blue, weave pattern.

New Carved Ring Patterns

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Our four carving patterns, from left to right: Paisley, Islamic Star, Islamic Knot, and Weave. Finishes are, from left to right: Copper, Bronze, and Silver.

Our four carving patterns, from left to right: Paisley, Islamic Star, Islamic Knot, and Weave. Finishes are, from left to right: Copper, Bronze, and Silver.

If you didn’t know, we offer a variety of metallic finishes and carved patterns to embellish our standard polymer rings. And we just added two new patterns, check them out!

Lets have a chat about ring design

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Lets have a chat about ring design. Here at CTR, we have what is very likely the broadest catalogue of Asiatic ring designs in the world. That brings with it unique insights regarding ring design and function, but also presents a real challenge to our customers: which ring do you actually want and why?

If you’re relatively new to Asiatic archery, or are moving over to a historically authentic from one of the popular modern “Southeast Asian” style rings, the short answer is we strongly recommend you start with our popular Chinese Spur style ring. One of our leather ring inserts makes for a nice comfort and grip enhancing addition. So if that recommendation is all you came here for, go for it, this is the TL;DR answer.

For those interested in the dynamics at play though, lets start by looking at the the popular “Southeast Asian” style of our competitors. (yes, by popular demand and for the sake of a complete collection we do offer our interpretation of the style as well) What makes this design popular? Well the short answer is that it is very comfortable with low-poundage bows, and it is very easy to use particularly as it is designed for and encourages a “death grip” on the thumb. This over-curling of the thumb is very natural if you're a beginner, as there is a lot to concentrate on and there is a very real fear that the string will slip off the ring. So this style adapts to that, encouraging and even in some cases requiring one to fully curl their thumb and pinch the ring and string and arrow as much as possible. The release this produces is generally not as fast and clean as a more advanced ring style, however the real problem comes about when heavier bows are drawn.

You see this style does another thing, and that is load greater than 50% of the force of drawing the bow on the thumb pad. It does this by positioning the string fairly far away from the knuckle joint. On low poundage bows and for newcomers this is very comfortable, because we are all used to loading force on the pads of our thumbs, we do it every day. At higher poundages though, this rapidly exceeds the thumb and index finger's strength to retain the arrow, and begins to over-burden the pad of the thumb itself causing pain.

More advanced ring designs shift much of this load off the pad of the thumb, and onto the sides of the knuckle which can, with practice, bear vastly more force and allows the comfortable drawing of much much heavier bows. 60-80% of the draw force should be borne by the sides of the knuckle, Adam Karpowicz has noted this as well. And designs of antiquity virtually all follow this rule. Don't believe me? Note Turkish designs. Look at how little meat is there to cover the thumb's pad, it couldn't possibly be bearing the majority of the force, really it is there simply to kick the thumb out of the way upon release.

Okay, so we've established where force should be loaded on the thumb, but how does this affect the archer's dynamics? Well there are a couple things. First, the #1 form fault I see is over-curling of the thumb, the string should not be “cornered” in the thumb, it should be gently balanced on the ring, neither driving into the soft flesh of the thumb nor slipping off and releasing the string. It is worth noting that rotation of the wrist and pressing of the index finger into the string and arrow gently is part of this balance. This sense of balance is the primary skill to be learned when it comes to shooting rings. Put simply, you should be grabbing the tip of your thumb with your index finger a LOT less than you may think. If you really want to feel how a fast snappy ring should behave, one that is unforgiving of form faults but is a great teacher, I can't recommend our Turkish style ring highly enough. It will not only enforce the opening of the thumb and a gentle balanced hold of the string, it will also quickly teach you the ills of another form fault: excess retained tension in the thumb.

This brings me nicely around to our Gao Ying style ring. It has a string guard, but if you read The Way of Archery, you'll note Gao's guard was added with the intent of protecting the string from the thin side walls. THIS IS NOT A BEGINNER'S STYLE OF RING. The release angle is in fact quite aggressive and the shelf upon which it sits quite narrow. Whereas most great ring designs allow the string to provide feedback, this design protects the thumb and makes the over-curling side of balance difficult to feel. While a beginner certainly can learn on this style of ring, the consequence for bad form is longer term discomfort, namely the area around the tendon relief begin to cause discomfort as the ring is inappropriately driven rearward into the thumb, rather than an instant and obvious need of correction. In essence, the ring is adequately comfortable when used incorrectly to make the archer think the flaw lies with the design rather than their form if that makes sense.

This permits me to circle nicely back around to the Chinese Spur style ring. It uses the arrow to help position the string on the ring, providing a consistent index point. If the archer curls the thumb too hard, driving the string backward toward the thumb, this will provide immediate feedback causing the ring to twist on the thumb. This painless feedback is perfect for teaching balance without the discomfort of learning on something like our very popular Ottoman style ring. Our Ottoman style appears visually similar to our Chinese Spur style ring, however there are numerous subtle tweaks, aside from the obvious spur, to accommodate the slightly different ways in which these two rings load force on the thumb.

There is no reason why the Chinese Spur style ring is necessarily for beginners, far from it actually. It is the style we recommend users learn on, but they can also happily use it forever to no disadvantage.

What of our other designs? Well the Byzantine is our earliest design still in our catalogue. It is beautiful, but a bit of an anachronism. While perfectly fine on lower poundage bows, it offers minimal support for the sides of the thumb and a fairly steep release angle. Historical examples are even thinner than ours. My longstanding hypothesis on this ring, which is widely held by others here at CTR, is that the design was meant for use in warfare to be worn OVER gloves, and its slim design was meant to minimize interference when transitioning from the bow to polearms or the like. If you were looking for a piece of functional jewelry, this ring would be my first choice.

The Sarmatian is another odd duck, not as slim as the Byzantine, but still unusually thin. In some regards, I think of it as a transitional ring. To my knowledge it is the oldest metal archer's ring ever found, and one of the oldest archer's rings ever found flat out. (technically Nubian rings predate it, however are made of stone) It is very likely, being an early ring design, that it is not as technologically advanced as some later designs. Whether it was meant to be paired with a glove or the like we'll never know, however I suspect the rear loop was meant to be used with a leather thong tied around the wrist thus moving some of the force off the thumb entirely.

The Tongue rings are odd, but appear to act much like a very gentle thumb protector, barely discouraging the string from shifting rearward. The long tongue ring in particular does encourage clarance between the thumb tip and the string, so if you have issues with retained tension in the thumb, this ring might be treatment rather than cure.

Our Mughal style ring is as much an exercise in style as it is one in ring design. Being fully contoured it requires an expert sense of balance to use. It is both robust and elegant, and offers something of a “choose-your-own-aventure” in terms of string positioning and the thumb pad/knuckle force spit. If you can comfortably use this ring on a powerful bow, you've very likely mastered the use of rings.

And, finally, there is our Sugakji or Korean Male style thumb ring. This ring loads ALL the force onto the thumb's knuckle, and does so with the aid of a wedge of some form. Sometimes these are made of rubber, but traditionally they were made of leather. Thus the ring is able to effectively “shrink” once slipped over the knuckle, providing a very secure and comfortable fit.

And this segues nicely into the use of leather with rings, the final thing I want to touch on here. I can't recommend the addition of leather to your ring highly enough. While made for the Sugakji, most of our ring styles can have their fit snugged up with either the korean leather inserts or a kulak. But their utility goes beyond that. The kulak can act as a mild string protector on many of our ring designs, further increasing comfort. They also remain grippy when wet, which is incredibly helpful as you start to perspire when shooting. While some traditional styles of ring are found with leather, others are not but this doesn't mean they didn't use them. In TWOA for example, leather not pictured was referenced in use with traditional designs. It seems likely that many if not most rings involved some use of leather for comfort and function, and we shouldn't shy away from it simply because we have not found them depicted that way yet. Archers of antiquity faced the same challenges we do today.

I hope that serves as a brief overview of ring design, and some of the functions behind it. One could write volumes on the subject, but I hope for now this brief overview will suffice.

Collector's Pack

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Here at CTR we have one of if not the largest collections of historical ring designs available for sale. In recognition of that, we’re pleased to offer an Ultimate Collector’s Pack which puts all these ring styles together in one place. Included in that are 13 different rings:


TRMT - Manchu Thick
TR5 - Byzantine
TR6 - Ottoman
TR7 - Hybrid
TR9L - Tongue Long
TR10 - Chinese Spur
TR11 - Turkish
TR12 - Sarmatian
TR13 - Korean Male
TR14 - Southeast Asian
TR15 - Mughal
TR16 - Chinese Tongue-Spur
TR17 - Ming Chinese (Gao Ying)

Gao Ying's Ring

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Our interpretation of a Gao Ying Four Victory Ring

Our interpretation of a Gao Ying Four Victory Ring

With the huge popularity of Justin Ma and Jie Tian’s translation for Gao Ying’s military manual, there has come a demand for a ring designed based on the book’s descriptions and drawings. We just had to take up the challenge!

The result we think has good fidelity to the original, and offers a great shooting experience. I would describe this as an intermediate level ring. On the one hand, the “two prong guard” can encourage over-gripping and excessive retained tension in the thumb, both basic form faults. On the other hand the large load bearing surfaces on the sides and the relief for the thumb’s tendon provide excellent comfort. Despite the aggressive release angle though, the ring is exceptionally docile and easy to manage. It is definitely one of our all-time favorites!

Our interpretation of “Gao’s Four Victory Ring,” shown here next to some of the source material from which we derived it. A big thanks to Jie Tian and Justin Ma for writing this book. (ref. Tian, J. &amp; Ma, J. (2015) 978-0764347917)

Our interpretation of “Gao’s Four Victory Ring,” shown here next to some of the source material from which we derived it. A big thanks to Jie Tian and Justin Ma for writing this book. (ref. Tian, J. & Ma, J. (2015) 978-0764347917)

Product Spotlight - Ring Decoration

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One of our Chinese Spur rings in Nocturnal Blue given a copper coating and weave pattern carving

One of our Chinese Spur rings in Nocturnal Blue given a copper coating and weave pattern carving

Love our ring designs, but want something with a little more spice? Well our custom ring decoration is exactly that! We currently offer two standard metallic coatings, bronze and copper, which look a lot like media blasted metal. It makes for beautiful rings, and you can leave it at that, but we also offer carving. This carving is available only on our coated polymer rings, and as you can see above is very dramatic. We offer two standard styles, weave and paisley.

For teams, vendors, groups, etc we can also offer a high level of customization in an exclusive production run of rings. This includes custom carvings, as well as custom colors. Want electric blue rings with a team logo on the inside of the thumb pad or on the band? We can do that. Message us to inquire!

Just a few of the different coatings we can offer in custom production runs. Seen at center is a real favorite of ours which changes color depending on what angle it is viewed.

Just a few of the different coatings we can offer in custom production runs. Seen at center is a real favorite of ours which changes color depending on what angle it is viewed.

Out of Office 11/22/18 - 11/25/18

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We will be out of the office for the Thanksgiving holiday, 11/22/18 - 11/25/18, so will be unable to ship orders or respond to inquiries. During this time we’ll have the coupon code TURKEY2018 active, so customers who enter it at checkout can get a 5% discount on all orders. Happy holidays everyone!

Custom Ring Design

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A recombination of our tongue and chinese spur rings in solid copper.

A recombination of our tongue and chinese spur rings in solid copper.

We do, on occasion, get requests for fully bespoke ring designs.The challenge of such things is the initial design and development work, once that is complete we can manufacture a virtually unlimited number of that ring in any size or applicable material. This ring was borne of just such a request: the combination of our short tongue with our spur ring, to be manufactured in solid mirror polish copper. And, if I do say so myself, I think it came out absolutely beautifully. Fresh off the polisher, it has that perfectly light pink look of raw copper, not yet darkened by oxidation.

A recombination of our tongue and chinese spur rings in solid copper.

A recombination of our tongue and chinese spur rings in solid copper.

World's Largest Thumb Ring

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The world’s largest thumb ring, shown here in our Mughal style. For size comparison is one of our Ottoman rings with our copper coating.

The world’s largest thumb ring, shown here in our Mughal style. For size comparison is one of our Ottoman rings with our copper coating.

Not satisfied with simply having the broadest selection of historical thumb ring designs available, we also wanted the biggest. And here it is, the largest archer’s thumb ring ever made. (to our knowledge) At over 30 centimeters long, this ring is about ten times the size of a ring you’d typically order/wear. If you wanted to draw a very large bow with your leg, instead of your thumb, it’d be about the right size to go around your thigh.

What was the point of this? Absolutely none. But it was fun, funny, and get out there and shoot!

Out of Office

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Due to the American holiday, we'll all be out of the office from 9.1.18-9.3.18. All orders will be filled/inquiries responded to as normal when service resumes 9.4.18. As a thank you we're offer a 15% discount for those who use this discount code (CM8SMHV) while we're on holiday. This discount applies only to orders placed on the above dates, and is not retroactively applicable. 

Thanks everyone. Get out there and shoot! :D 

Mughal Ring

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Our Mughal Ring

Our Mughal Ring

Our latest design, the Mughal Ring. Swooping curves all around, but for a break at the back, this design allows for a broad range of string positioning depending on the shooter's tastes along with a fast clean release. Whether it is because you love the style, or want the fully rounded form for individual string placement, this really is one to try. 

Sword Games

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A beautiful and fully functional katana with differentially hardened blade, ray skin handles, tight wrapping, and lacquered saya.&nbsp;

A beautiful and fully functional katana with differentially hardened blade, ray skin handles, tight wrapping, and lacquered saya. 

Those of us with an affinity for historical archery tend to share a broader love of historical weaponry. Be that armour, shields, black powder firearms, spears, or swords. This story begins when one of us was browsing available swords and discovered that a fully functional through-hardened katana could be had for a mere 50$, deferentially hardened (real hamon) with ray skin handles and other flourishes for 100$, and folded "damascus" for 200$. Clearly, this newfound information needed to be put to work. 

Showing off the differential hardening aka hamon, would you believe this blade was only 100$?

Showing off the differential hardening aka hamon, would you believe this blade was only 100$?

Test cutting is fun, and I suspect common practice among those who've bought a functional sword, but you can only hack so many water bottles or expensive tatami mats before it becomes cost-prohibitive and, dare I say it, boring. I liken it to target shooting in any variety of disciplines, sure you can spend endless hours refining form and fighting for those slim gains in precision, but eventually you want to spice things up with novel scenarios, targets, action, and competition. 

The answer came from the background some of us have in competitive pistol shooting. Borrowing elements of the target stands and overall competition setup, we set to work. 

A sword obviously has a lot more momentum than a 9mm pistol round, so instead of strapping we opted for a single 2x4 as the upright in the center of a four foot long segment. The method of assembly is simple. Cut four pieces each two feet long, add two ends, and a loose vertical in between them and dry fit. When you're happy with the fit, a cordless impact, screw gun, or your screw driving weapon of choice can quickly and easily zip the whole assembly together with two exterior grade deck screws per join. The vertical in the center can then be withdrawn leaving a modular "foot" that can accept any sort of target which can be mounted atop a segment of 2x4. With two people working, a dozen of these can be knocked out in an evening for perhaps 20$ or less. 

From there we need to build targets themselves. These days cardboard is perpetually coming and going from online orders and so on, it seems in endless supply and we recycle it by the truckload. Breaking it all down is a time consuming process, so lets put it to work. After all, shredding is part of the cardboard recycling process, what harm will a little extra breaking-down do? So we zipped together some clamp stands which use two boards in a T shape and a few screws to clamp a sheet of cardboard. With a cordless impact, zipping these open and closed to swap cardboard sheets takes a few seconds. Wanting some variety though, we also decided to make a pool-noodle stand, a cutting target more akin to a tatami mat while costing vastly less, but surprisingly challenging to defeat. And, finally, we created a platform stand where free standing objects, namely water bottles, could be placed for cutting. Understand this was all zipped together in the span of an evening with scrap material we had laying around, thus it represents just a fraction of the possible diversity of targets. What about a linked-stage for example, where the cutting of one target would release another target held on the end of a string which would begin swinging? A rolling ball target like in Bladesports? Or how about a free hanging rope? Or what about a combined stage where one starts with a bow or spear and then transitions to sword? The possibilities are truly endless. 

If you look closely, you can see both pieces of the cut Gatorade® bottle still in the air.&nbsp;

If you look closely, you can see both pieces of the cut Gatorade® bottle still in the air. 

It is worth noting at this point that swords are weapons and, like all weapons, are incredibly dangerous. Safe use and handling practices should be observed, and everyone who is not cutting should keep a reasonable distance and remain in a safe direction. This all should be fairly obvious, but a few sentences are cheap while injuries incredibly costly, so it bears mentioning. Less obvious is the importance of "real swords." Many of the cheap, often "stainless steel" swords out there are not suitable for cutting. This is less because of poor grinds or edge retention, and more due to fragility; should a piece of a sword blade part company from the remainder of the blade or handle, an extremely dangerous event has occurred. 

A perfectly, precisely, decapitated mouthwash bottle. If you have one of these bottles laying around, look at how thick the plastic is at the mouth where it was cut. We were all amazed. The bottle was cut and left standing so perfectly, initially it was thought to be a miss.&nbsp;

A perfectly, precisely, decapitated mouthwash bottle. If you have one of these bottles laying around, look at how thick the plastic is at the mouth where it was cut. We were all amazed. The bottle was cut and left standing so perfectly, initially it was thought to be a miss. 

How to score, how does it work, and what is it like? Smartphones being ubiquitous, someone pulls up a stopwatch app, and times as the person makes their way through the course. A completed cut adds no time. Each partial cut or uncut target adds to the person's time. At the end the lowest time wins. This is entertaining for hours on end as friends compete and new clever and challenging scenarios are set up. 

Cardboard silhouettes provide great sport, but errors in blade alignment become readily apparent.&nbsp;&nbsp;

Cardboard silhouettes provide great sport, but errors in blade alignment become readily apparent.  

Graphite Ring Finish

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Our  Southeast Asian  ring with a graphite finish.&nbsp;

Our Southeast Asian ring with a graphite finish. 

We're now offering an optional graphite finish for our polymer rings. This coating is applied on top of our polymer rings, providing a gray metallic lustre. Pictures really struggle to capture it. The question that immediately follows with any coating is "will it wear off?" In this case, the coating is quite abrasion resistant, but ultimately nothing can survive major abrasion of the ring. This can be taken as a feature though, applying the coating on rings of contrasting color resulting in an even more beautiful and exotic "weathered" appearance. For this effect to appear at its best, we recommend our metallic gold or metallic copper polymer rings as a base. 

Interesting in adding rings of this type to your collection? Get in touch with us using the contact form at the top right of the page or check out with a free Special Materials ring. 

Our  Southeast Asian  ring with a graphite finish.&nbsp;

Our Southeast Asian ring with a graphite finish. 

Product Introduction - Southeast Asian Ring

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The history of this ring is a little murky. While it is popular today, we couldn't find an example over 200 years old. The style also seems to have popped up as far west as India. While the origins of the style are a bit hard to pin down, it's features are not. These rings all feature a pronounced lip, extended curving "tongue," a generous internal pad to distribute the load around the tendon, and tend to place a higher ratio of load on the thumb pad rather than on the knuckle. The result is a ring which many beginners find very comfortable and easy to use, particularly at lower poundages. 

Tong-ah/Majra/Solenarion

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Our Majra seen here with our copper Ottoman ring and AF Turkish bow.&nbsp;

Our Majra seen here with our copper Ottoman ring and AF Turkish bow. 

What was top secret military technology centuries ago, you can now purchase online. This tool has had many names across different cultures including Majra, Nawak, Tongjian, Tong-ah, and Solenarion. The basic premise is an overdraw device in the form of a channel down which a shortened arrow can ride. Unlike the Turkish Siper, which allows the use of an arrow a few inches shorter, the Majra allows use of veritable crossbow bolts. Why you might ask? When researching this project we came across a variety of different explanations and hypotheses, mostly centered around reusing shorter projectiles or increased projectile velocity. 

We manufacture these in house from poplar, selected because of its mechanical properties, strength and low mass. Each is cut from a single piece, finished with multiple coats of a durable varnish, and has a reinforcing eyelet. A leather finger loop completes the package. 

Product Introduction: Turkish Siper

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Our Turkish Siper shown here with a lightning strike walnut plate&nbsp;

Our Turkish Siper shown here with a lightning strike walnut plate 

King of the overdraw devices, the famous Turkish Siper. The longest flight shots of antiquity were almost certainly done off one, the markers of which still stand in Istanbul today. For those who don't know, the Siper is an overdraw device, worn on the hand, which allows the shooter to draw an arrow shorter than their draw length. This reduction in arrow mass contributes to increased arrow velocity and in turn greater range. Check out all the details on the PRODUCT PAGE