Sharon on the range

Before we start a quick reminder

So we have looked at two sides of the archers triangle, that of the arrow and bow. Now let’s look at what many see as the hardest element to gain control of, the archer.

archers triangle graphic

The archers triangle

Before we dive into this I want you to think for a moment about your mindset and how you approach these ideas.
It’s good to be optimistic when it comes to combating target panic but you have to temper this with a level of realism. So please be realistic in what you can achieve with the time you have available. Try and plan your activities so your time is used effectively and efficiently. Just like you need to allocate time for tuning your bow or making arrows you need to give yourself time to practice these techniques.
You will need to consider planning your time effectively. Don’t just go out and shoot lots of arrows believing it will cure your anxiety. It might build your muscle strength but I doubt it will solve the anxiety you feel.  Consider the fact that shooting 100 poor shots does not work as well as 30 well executed shots.

So think about practice regime and exercises you can do to help build confidence and resolve. Working on your chosen techniques whether these be focusing on your own form, shot sequence steps or exercises like drawing down off a shot have to be factored into your training regime.

view of the range

view of the range

Consider carefully how much time you can allocate to the techniques I will suggest. It may well require you to allocate 20 to 30 minutes a session in the early stages to get used to the drills. This is the sort of commitment required in the early stages.
Once you have regained control its still worth practicing the techniques every few sessions partly so they remain fresh in your mind and partly because they can help you remain in control.
Your objective is not to hit the target but to gain control over your target panic / shot anxietyremember this. Don’t let your focus move to hitting the gold, it has to be on control.
Too often we focus and perceive success as making the shot score highly. That is an outcome from solving the anxiety, your true goal is to take back control of the shot.

Physical Practise is one way but remember we are training your brain too. I mentioned in the previous article about mindset and changing the way you think about things. This includes how we consider things such as how we recall what we consider to be good or bad shots, productive or unproductive practice. Often when we start experiencing target panic we tend to recall the poor shots, what we consider bad ones. These prey on your mind, possibly because you missed a shot or scored less than you wanted. In reality the shot has gone, its in the past. remember to learn from it and move on.
You may have heard of the phrase “Making mistakes is not failure unless you let it be.” or something similar.
I firmly believe that making mistakes should not be viewed as a failure as it can provide a great learning experience. The reality is if we don’t learn from our mistakes we are likely to repeat them. Think of this for a moment. Shooting the wrong spine of arrow and identifying this only comes about from the mistake of shooting the wrong arrows in the first place.
Where archery is concerned this is very important to remember as you might try a technique and it doesn’t gell with you for whatever reason. The crucial thing to remember is you’ve tried something and made a step in gaining back control.
One way you can think of it is as if you are going to a new restaurant. You decide to try something new on the menu that sounds interesting. You might like it or you might hate it, without trying you’ll never know.

Getting good at something takes practice.
Getting better at doing the same thing takes more good practice.
Getting to a level where you are a master, can take a lifetime.

This is true if you are field archer, target shooter, fisherman, golfer or even a surgeon.
It is equally true of physical and mental practices. They take time to learn and for you to develop.

Natural Aptitude and learnt skill

Basic talent or natural aptitude only goes so far, after that its perseverance and good practice. Someone with natural talent will often start off well or ahead of another who has to work on shooting a bow. The thing is the person who is a “natural” may struggle later in their progression as they may have relied on their talent rather than developing skill. I’ve seen it time and time before affect the archers confidence as they start to struggle, wondering why it’s become so hard all of a sudden.

Modern fix, quick fix

In a modern world where people are always looking for short cuts or quick answers to fix complex issues the concept of spending time ensuring we learn the skill properly is sometimes overlooked.
Increasingly society looks for the easy fast solution. Here is a fact, target panic requires time to overcome. There maybe some quick tips that can help you find your right road, which is why I started writing these articles but there are no shortcuts or magic arrow.
The important thing to remember is effort can work and will work if the effort is focused.
Knowledge and effort makes a difference or at least it can if effort is directed and focused correctly. These posts are here to help you gain some insight and ideas on how to focus on the correct way for you.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself time. You might have been struggling with anxiety for years so don’t expect to learn to control it in hours. Remember in the second post I said there were 3 things

Put some work in – there are no magic arrows that solve everything or a secret draw technique that quells the nerves.
Remember one size doesn’t fit all – what works for one person may or may not work for you.
Be patient – it takes time to work out what helps you and this means time spent working at it too.

In the next couple of posts I’m going to cover a few techniques that can help.

  • Blank boss work
  • Target fear (where specific target faces trigger anxiety)
  • Drawing down
  • Drawing up but not shooting immediately

I might throw a few other ideas in the mix too. I hope these ideas will help.
Thanks for reading

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