Digging Deep

Three months ago the first brick fell. Three days later the entire building was nothing more than a pile of rubble. The seemingly impenetrable shell of brick and mortar was reinforced by inner skeleton of steel; it stood secure through many storms over nearly 30 years, but it was no match for a few men with machines.

As soon as the ground was clear, a new work began. The future for this chunk of dirt promises to bring bigger and better things, but the progress is hardly visible.

Construction Site

It took 3 days to destroy the old, but now – more than 3 months later – the signs of new life are remarkably unimpressive. A few beams protrude from the surface, but that’s it.

You can’t see the much of the work that’s been happening over recent months, but it doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been important developments. Although it doesn’t look like much, the work that’s been done up until this point is the most important work that will be done on the entire project.

Digging deep. Spreading footing. Securing holds. Stabilizing foundations. That’s important stuff.

In another year this lot of dirt will hold six-levels of concrete, glass, and steel. The grand opening ceremony will celebrate this building’s state-of-the-art technology and styled furnishings; every detail – inside and out – will be meticulously manicured. The three months that was spent digging in dirt to hold this all together will be forgotten.

Our lives are a lot like this building.

We want progress. We want results. We want the latest and greatest. We want to be attractive. We want to be appreciated. We want our grand opening ceremony, our ribbon cutting, our celebration of how great we are.

What we don’t want to do is go beneath the surface of our lives. We don’t want to do the painful work of excavating what needs to be removed. We don’t want to dig in the mess until it hurts. We don’t want to be patient and lay a solid foundation.

But all of this must be done before anything great can be built. If you skip the pain, you’re not building anything other than a facade that’s soon to fall.

Bow Basics: Peep Sights – Use, Sizing, and Selection

The peep sight is a simple part of a bow setup, but its importance is often overlooked.  The purpose of a peep sight is to properly align the bow’s front sight, in the same way that a rear sight is used to align the front sight-post on a rifle.  Without peep alignment, the front sight on a bow isn’t guaranteed to be accurate.

For example, a shooter may place the bow’s sight pin on the bullseye of a target, but the rear of the bow may be low, causing the alignment to be off and the arrow to miss high.  When the peep sight is used to align the front sight on a bow, the shooter is ensuring that their alignment is correct, and that consistency can be achieved – shot after shot.

Interchangeable Aperture Peep Sight Kit from ClearShot Archery

Types of Peep Sights

Peep sights come in various sizes, and are measured by the peep’s internal diameter.  From 1/32” on the small end, to 5/16″ on the large end – various sizes are offered to meet user preferences, and to match different diameter front sight housings.  The most common peep sights have a fixed internal diameter, but there are some new designs on that market that allow the user to adjust the peep’s inner diameter with interchangeable inserts.  Smaller peeps are more precise and are often used by target archers, whereas larger peep sights are typically used by hunters that are looking for more field of view and better visibility in low-light conditions.

Other variations in peep sight designs include tubed and tubeless varieties.  Peep sights with tubes have been used to ensure that the peep sight rotated to the correct position every time when the bow was drawn back.  This consistency in rotation is achieved at full draw because tension on the peep’s tube would “pull” the peep into position.  However, as bow string materials have become stronger and more stable, peep sights have become less susceptible to variances in rotation and the need for added tension has diminished – so tubeless peep sights have become increasingly popular.

How to Use a Peep Sight

There are two primary techniques that are used to align a peep sight with a bow’s front sight.  The first method is to center the bow’s sight pin in the center of the peep sight (below, right).  In this case, a shooter with a multiple-pin sight would center their 20, 30, or 40-yard pin in the center of the peep sight, depending on which sight pin they were using.

Peep Alignment with Sight Housing

The second method (above, left) is to align the bow’s entire sight housing (the outer “ring” of the sight) within the peep sight’s field of view, regardless of which sight pin the shooter may be using.  This technique works especially well when the peep sight is selected to match the size of the sight housing.  Keep in mind that there is no exact formula for determining a peep size for a given sight housing size because the geometry of the shooter’s anchor point, draw length, and other factors will determine the distance between the peep sight and the bow sight’s housing.

How to Select a Peep Sight

The main consideration to make when choosing a peep sight is which size you need.  You could take a guess, or go through the painful process of installing and trying different sizes, but my preferred method has become to use an adjustable peep sight.  Because I like my bow sight’s ring to line-up perfectly within the peep’s field of view, an adjustable peep is incredibly helpful.

The other advantage of an adjustable peep is that I can use it with different bow sights.  For example, sometimes I shoot my with one bow sight for target/3D, and then switch to another sight for hunting season.  An adjustable peep allows me to switch back-and-forth between these different-sized sights simply adjust the aperture of the peep to match the sight, instead of removing and installing a new peep altogether.

Recently I have been using the IA (Interchangeable Aperture) model peep sight from ClearShot Archery.  This kit (pictured above) includes a 5/6” housing, and different inserts that can be installed into the housing to make your peep aperture become 7/32″, 3/16″, or 1/8″.  They’re built right here in the US, precision CNC-machined, and come in different colors to help with quick visual recognition.

Elk & Bowhunting: Like Jeans & Boots (RMEF Guest Post)

I have stacks of hunting magazines.  It seems like Mr. Postman drops a new one off at least once a week.  But there’s only one magazine that I read cover-to-cover each and every time, and that’s Bugle from The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Every issue of Bugle opens with a message from RMEF President & CEO, David Allen.  When I read the President’s Message in the July-August 2014 issue, I immediately knew that I wanted to share it with you, and thankfully The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation gave me the permission to do so.

Whether you hunt elk or not, if you’re a bowhunter you should consider joining the RMEF.

I was an RMEF member years before I started hunting elk.

Learn about the good that RMEF does for elk (of course!), hunting at large, and archery in particular in the article below.

Be sure to see the end of this article for a special offer from the RMEF and onXmaps!


Elk & Bowhunting: Like Jeans & Boots

David Allen with a September Bull

Even the most diehard rifle hunter has to admit there is no more magical time in elk country than September. Trust me, I’ve been hunting with a rifle for more than 40 years. I love a good fresh tracking snow and the challenge of a long spot-and-stalk sneak as much as anyone. But I’m not blind to the basics of biology.

Come November, bulls will be silent as monks and have a home range roughly the size of your living room. They’ll be in full survival mode, wound tight as the E-string on a pawn shop guitar and gone at the first hint of hunters. Aspens and cottonwoods will be bare skeletons. Your water bottle will freeze solid inside your sleeping bag. Your knuckles will be white from frostbite. Or maybe just from your death-grip on the wheel as you fishtail up toward your secret bull hole at 15 mph, chained up on all four.

In September, the bulls are bugling, wrecking trees, wallowing in their own special muck, traveling far and wide, and engaging in the most epic wildlife battles in North America. They’re basically doing everything possible to advertise their presence, and the megaloads of testosterone in their veins have compromised their judgment. Meanwhile, the trees glow golden amid crisp mornings and afternoons when you can shade up and nap in shirtsleeves. If you hit a patch of stormy weather, it might rain or, heaven forbid, get down to freezing and spit a few flakes.

Then there’s the weapon in your hand. Depending on whether it’s a compound, recurve or longbow, you’ll have to get close, darn close or ridiculously close to an elk to make a clean, killing shot. Whatever your personal maximum yardage is for a responsible bow shot, it’s probably less than the shortest shot most rifle hunters will ever take on an elk. That right there is simultaneously the great curse and blessing of bowhunting. A bull that would be a chip shot with a .30-06 will parade back and forth for 20 minutes just five steps out of bow range. But there’s nothing like the thrill of getting near enough to hear him shake off after a mudbathor feel the ground shake when he bugles.

Is it any wonder so many of you dream of September all year round?

Back in 1996, we took a look at how many RMEF members are passionate bowhunters and decided to put together our first Bowhunting Special Section in Bugle.  For 18 years now, we’ve devoted a good chunk of every July-August issue to celebrating bowhunting. This year is no different. Check out the great crop of stories starting on page 37. For the past 9 years, Chuck Adams has been hitting the bull’s-eye with his “Bows & Arrows” column in every issue of Bugle. Every year in the March-April issue, we dedicate our entire “Gear” section to reviewing the best of the new year’s crop of bows, arrows and other archery innovations. And you’ll find great feature hunting stories that happen to involve bows and arrows all year long.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been helping to introduce more people to the joys of the bow for decades. So far, RMEF has invested almost $1.2 million to help fund 966 projects in 47 states, including National Archery in the Schools Program, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshops and scores of other programs aimed at young people, women and other first-time shooters. Through almost a thousand projects, RMEF has helped spread the good word on safe and responsible archery and bowhunting to more than 650,000 people.

RMEF spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on high-quality archery gear to be auctioned and raffled at Big Game Banquets across the country, and we’ve been a presence at the annual Archery Trade Association national convention for almost 20 years. I’m proud to say it’s a two-way street. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a groundswell of support from the bowhunting community and the archery industry. That’s a natural partnership we want to continue to grow. Everyone should have the chance to experience just how fun and exciting shooting a bow is, let alone getting really close to an elk and then doing it, can be.

Elk and bowhunting really do go together like Wranglers and boots. But whether you’re a hunt-with-a-bow-or-not-at-all purist, a gun nut who wouldn’t dream of swapping arrows for bullets, or like me, someone who enjoys the charms of both, I want to thank you for supporting the RMEF. Because without healthy habitat for elk and robust access for public hunting, it doesn’t matter what you shoot: we all lose. And when we all pull together for elk and wild country and our hunting heritage, we can’t help but win.

By M David Allen, President and CEO, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


How RMEF Funds are Allocated

When you join The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation you put money on the ground to help protect, preserve, improve, and secure hunting access to wildlife habitat.  Here’s a summary of what the RMEF has done from their beginning in 1984 through the middle of this year, 2014.

  • 6,473,344 acres of habitat enhanced or protected
  • 713,176 acres opened or secured for public access
  • 8,795 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects
  • 203,703 members (as of December 31, 2013)
  • 504 RMEF chapters
  • 10,000+ RMEF volunteers
  • $918,611,443 = total value of RMEF efforts

This isn’t a sponsored request, this is just me encouraging all of you – whether you hunt elk or not – to become an RMEF member today.

I also wanted to let you know about a brand new RMEF membership benefit from onXmaps (Hunting GPS Maps).

So join us, get a free year of the premium HUNT App from onXmaps, and protect the future of bowhunting.


“Stop Dreaming, Start Hunting” in Petersen’s Bowhunting Magazine

An advanced copy of the August issue of Petersen’s BOWHUNTING Magazine arrived in my mailbox a couple of days ago.  I eagerly flipped through it to find my article, “Stop Dreaming, Start Hunting”, which begins on page 110.  It’s truly humbling to have an opportunity to share my passion for hunting in writing, especially in nationally-distributed publications.  I’m not an amazing writer, nor am I a better hunter than any average Joe wandering the woods, but I do love to share my adventures.

I would love to hear your feedback on this article, and I hope that it inspires many hunters to pursue the adventures that they dream of.  It is possible!

Thank you for sharing this journey with me…

Stop Dreaming, Start Hunting in BOWHUNTING Magazine


Tent Review – Sierra Designs Lightning 2 UL

When is the last time you saw a tent design that made you stop, think, and want to spend the night in it just to test it out?

That’s exactly what happened to me when I saw Sierra Designs’ new series of Lightning tents for 2014. I knew that I had to have the Sierra Designs Lightning 2 UL.

Forget the idea of a tent body and an additional tent fly. In the Lightning, Sierra Designs has combined the two – merging the benefits of single-wall and double-wall tents into a hybrid body design. Part of the Lightning is single-walled (primarily down near the foot), which provides a lighter weight, and part of the tent is double-walled, which allows for better performance and prevents condensation.

The best of both worlds? That’s the idea.

The benefits of this one-piece body don’t stop there. Think of the situation where you’re pitching camp in the rain. Since there is no separate fly to worry about, you don’t have to go through the gymnastics of trying to keep the inside of your tent dry while you lay the tent out, get the poles in place, and attach the fly just perfectly.

Speaking of poles, the Lightning features top of the line, Featherlight NSL poles from DAC. I call it a “single pole” design, because there’s really only one pole that you have to worry about. In reality, there’s three poles, but they always remain connected to each other via swiveling hubs.

The tent's hubbed-pole design

The poles attach to the tent body externally, using quick clips. (I’m so glad that the days of threading poles through small nylon tunnels are over!) And at the end of the main pole there’s a slick little ball joint that snaps everything into place.

Once pitched, you realize just how unique the layout of the Lightning 2 UL is. It’s a front-entry tent with a massive opening, but like many front-entry tents, you don’t have to wiggle through a vestibule, and climb over your gear to get in. The opening is wide and tall – plenty large for my 6′ 3″ frame to get in without pulling a Cirque du Soleil type of maneuver. This wide opening gives the tent a very airy feel, and makes a great spot to sit and watch the sunrise in the morning, as you heat up breakfast. If the sun’s drowned out by rain clouds, the covered awning proves even more valuable.

The tent's massive front opening

Sierra Designs has moved gear storage to the sides of the tent by utilizing vestibules that are quick to access from outside, or inside the tent. And since they cubbies exist on both sides, each person in the tent can have their private gear locker.

It’s not only the big, unique design features that I appreciate in the Lightning; Sierra Designs also nailed the small details. Take, for example, the high quality DAC J stakes, which store away neatly in a Velcro pouch that’s attached to the pole bag. Each stake-out location is also factory-equipped with auto-locking line tensioners that make getting the perfect pitch effortless. But if you find yourself in a spot where stakes are hard to drive, don’t worry – the Lightning can be setup freestanding, too.

The tent's auto-locking line tensioners

Outside Magazine recently named the standard – the UL’s slightly heavier, yet cheaper brother – one of “The Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Backpacking Tents” on the market. Outside’s testers remarked that the Lightning series is, “‘one of the most creative tent’ designs he’s ever seen.” I would have to agree.

The Sierra Designs Lightning 2 UL has performed admirably on some small trips thus far, but the big test will come when I live in this shelter for a week on my upcoming Co elk hunt. Be sure to check back to see how it performs in the highcountry. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions…

Tech Specs

  • Minimum Weight: 3 lbs 7 oz.
  • Packaged Weight: 3 lbs 14 oz.
  • Gear Storage Area: 4.1 + 4.1 ft2
  • Interior Area: 30.5 ft2
  • Internal Peak Height: 42.5 in.
  • Awning Height: 36 in.
  • Awning Overhang: 15 in.
  • Length: 86 in.
  • Width: Front: 56 in., Rear: 44 in.
  • Stakes: 10 DAC J Stakes
  • Pole Type: DAC NSL
  • Pole Diameter: 9.0 / 9.6 mm
  • Fly Fabric: 30D Nylon Ripstop 298T, Silicone/PU 1500 mm, FR
  • Floor Fabric: 40D Nylon Ripstop 238T, PU 3000 mm, FR
  • Body Fabric: 20D Nylon No-See-Um Ultralight Mesh
Tent view from rear


The large opening at the foot


The ball joint at the end of the main poles


DAC's Featherlight pole system


DAC's lightweight


Front view of the tent


Specs on the tent bag