It’s been a while, in fact, it’s been far too long since I have added anything to this site, for which I apologise. My attention has been focussed on developing the podcasts (https://anchor.fm/off-the-arrow-shelf) at the expense of the written word. So with only one minor delay to say Happy New year and I hope everyone reading this is well, let’s get on to this book review.
Those of you who are familiar with field archery in the United States or other areas of the world for that matter may well have heard of Joel Turner. I have mentioned him a few times on this site and on my podcasts. He is a highly respected archer and coach, appearing in countless podcasts, videos and articles.
Joel has also authored Controlled Process Shooting – the science of target panic which is going to be the focus of this review. ISBN 9781981346431
Onto the first impressions, well these may not be positive for some people as pages per buck or pound are not high. It is quite a skinny pocket-size book rather than a huge encyclopaedia. The flip side of this is it gets to the point quickly, being quite focussed. It runs to 58 pages and I bought my copy online but it is available from several archery shops.
One thing that I really like is the way the book has been constructed with empty notes pages, where you are encouraged to add your own notes as you practise the processes outlined in the sections. I often end up with post-it notes stuck in books with my scrawl all over them as I don’t want to deface the book itself. I was actually talking about this very topic with Simon Thomas at the weekend, who also has the book.
If you have ever watched any of Joel’s videos on YouTube or listened to a podcast, when he was discussing the principles of shooting, then you will be familiar with his style of presentation. The book is written in the same style as he speaks.
My advice would be for you to read it, then go back and read it again to make sure you understand what Joel is saying and the messages he is trying to get across. Then read it a third time to confirm this.
The section on mechanical releases is less relevant to my style of shooting as I shoot off the fingers, normally split-finger so I won’t comment on that chapter.
Some aspects of shooting a bow can be subconscious in the execution, but I still believe you need them to feel right. Maybe that is the way an instinctive archer has a closed-loop shot.
I found elements of the book interesting as Joel talks of a blueprint of a shot, which is effectively the same idea just different wording to how I describe a template of a shot to my students.
I am not sure that his style will suit everyone, in fact I would go as far as to say that it probably won’t suit everyone’s style of shooting or rather their mindset. That is just a fact of life as everyone is different and comes to archery via different life experiences.
I feel you will get out of this book as much as you choose to invest in working through his ideas. So, don’t expect to read it and that be it. You will get more if you read and work with it over time.
Like owning a pair of walking boots. You need to wear them to bed them in. You need to work with this book to get the most from it.
It reads like a training manual for archers wanting to gain control of their shooting, with the option for you to annotate with your own notes and thoughts throughout the book. Hence the blank ruled pages for you to add your own notes and thoughts. I think this is an important part of how to use this book, as it is something for you to work with. Not just read, but work with. That work will take time and commitment.
This is something I try to get across to all my students when I am working with them on improvements to their shooting. They have to work for it. There is no magic arrow. Money spent on top-level equipment will only go so far. “All the gear and no idea” is a phrase I have heard about many sports including archery.
For that reason, you need to read this book, give yourself time to process what is being said and then practise the ideas Joel mentions.
I am a fan of the open and closed-loop process, though not sure that fan is quite the right word to use. I can see what Joel is alluding too when he discusses it. I use a phrase of feedback and feed blocks when I am explaining it to students, but the concepts are very similar.
A long time ago I learnt the importance of listening to the feedback your body is providing you. It is one of the reasons that I spend so much time teaching my students the importance of coming down or drawing down if the shot doesn’t feel right or controlled.
I know some traditional archers are not a fan on his shot control and feel things should be more fluid or instinctive. that’s fine, that is their perspective and opinion. It is so important to recognise that what suits one person is not necessarily going to fit with another person opinion or style. After all, archery is a very diverse discipline and opinions do vary.
I can understand why some who purchase this book may be disappointed when it arrives, possibly because they expect a large document or weighty tome. I think they may fail to understand the purpose of it. I see it as a training guide for your improvement. Like all training material, whether it be learning to drive, brain training or DIY, you have to apply it. many will want to rush out and apply what is read straight away, which is great. My only comment is that you need to give yourself time to adjust to these ideas.
I believe some people will feel this is overpriced for such a small book, but I feel they might be missing the point. It is not a text you simply read, it is a guide for you to work with, or at least that is how it came across to me.
Stay safe, stay well and thanks for reading.