Close up of Sharon shooting

How can Costa Coffee cups help your archery practice?

Sharon on the range

Sharon on the range

No, not a trick question, nor am I talking about cup shooting, and if you don’t know what Cup shooting is check out Grizzly Jim’s video here.

This is a tip from my better half Sharon came up with and was using this on our range the other day. It’s no secret that I like Costa coffee, in fact it has got to a stage where I can walk into the local Costa Coffee shop by my office and they have had my order ready for me by the time I reached the front of the queue. This means I tend to have a few spare cups floating round. Normally they get used for mixing paints or pant pots.

stack of Costa Coffee cups

stack of Costa Coffee cups

But how can they help with archery?

We have a 40 yard practice range marked out in five yard increments, behind our house. This means we can practice distances from five yards upwards, but we both like to mix up the distances we shoot from. So we might shoot a set of arrows at ten yards, then move to thirty five yards for the next set, then fifteen for the third set and so on. The key thing is not to shoot two sets at the same distance consecutively. Why? Well it improves your distance judgement.

The problem is when you are doing multiple sets it is quite easy to lose track of which distances you have shot at. Well Sharon, the ever intelligent one can up with a simple idea of how to track this using Costa cups.

First step is dropping a cup over each of the distance pegs at the beginning before you start. Then when you have shot from that distance you remove the cup to indicate you’ve shot the distance. When all cups are off the pegs, you know you’ve shot all the distances and can start again.

On the second round after you’ve shot you take the cup to the boss and stack them on top. This means when you’ve shot all the distance, all cups will be at the boss for you to collect. It is a simple and easy way of tracking the distances.

If you look at the picture below you will see some of the pegs covered and others with a coffee cup along side.

Close up of Sharon shooting

Close up of Sharon shooting

The only problem comes if it’s a windy day.

By mixing up the distances you shoot at you can develop great skills in judging distance. It is something that is mentioned in Beginner’s guide to traditional archery by Brian J Sorrells.

Thanks for reading and no this post was not sponsored by Costa coffee.

Question from a reader – Aiming without sights

Recently I had a couple of questions sent to the blog by one of my readers.
It’s always good to have feedback and if I can help I will.  The subject matter of the questions posed are ones I think many would find interesting as one concerns the concepts of aiming and the other is on reducing the size of your grouping in the target.
I will try and answer each in turn over the next few weeks. Firstly I will discuss focus and aiming. The question was
“When you place your concentration on a small point at the target or animal, while you are pulling and about to get to your anchor point, do you take your eyes off the target for a second, and look at  the aliment of arrow with it ,or simply never see nothing else but the target point…”

There are a couple of things to consider here. One is focus on target with the other being arrow alignment.

Arrow alignment

When I first started archery I was very aware of the arrow. Sighting down the arrow to ensure it was pointing the right way.
This is what is taught to most archers to ensure they are lined up with the target.
I find now that I only do this when using a new bow or one I’m unfamiliar with. The rest of the time it is purely subconscious.
I try to fix my focus on a spot on the target where I want my arrow to hit.

Focus

So the simple answer to this question is no I don’t let my focus wander. I try to keep my point of focus set on where I want to hit. This is far easier said than done and takes practice and concentration. I  find if my eyes wander, then the arrow will follow where I am looking and not where I wanted it to go. Sharon and I both use this technique.
It takes discipline and practice, a lot of practise and I  don’t think I have fully mastered the technique yet.

The only problem is when you can’t pick a point on the target due to poor lighting. Something that can happen on shoots or at the end of the day as the shadows increase and light begins to fade.
Some of you will be aware that I’m not a gap shooter and consider myself as instinctive archer. Subconsciously my brain or should that read brain cell ☺is calculating the distance and telling my limbs when to release when i have where drawn up to. Great in theory but requires constant practice to maintain that awareness and internal sight map. It is also very fatiguing as it takes concentration of all things to relax and not second guess yourself.

Obviously this method doesn’t work for those archers using scopes or sights as they have to calculate the distance to be able to adjust the sights accordingly.

One book I have found resonates with me is Beginners guide to traditional archery by Brian Sorrells (book review here)
 Beginner's guide to tradional archery

The mindset of the author and style of writing is one I have found easy to follow and explain to others.
The concept of one arrow shooting I find  beneficial for developing focus. Here the author explains how you shoot only one arrow and then retrieve it and shoot again. This helps you focus on the individual shot and your form.

Another useful article is this one on various forms of aiming. It covers different forms of aiming from instinctive to gap shooters.

In the next post I will try to answer the question on improving grouping.
Thanks for reading.

Literature review – Beginner’s guide to traditional archery

There are a wealth of books, magazines and websites out there offering the archery related advice and guidance.
So I thought it a good idea if I put down my thoughts down on such sites I’ve found.
The first of these is a book review.
Beginner’s guide to traditional archery by Brian J Sorrells ISBN 978-0-8117-3133-1 Stockpile Books
I’ve found this book covers the basics pretty well. It is very easy to read with simple clear explanations of the key points. I’ve taken to carrying this in my work bag to read on the train, as I have found I can pick it up and read a few pages or section easily.
I like the shooting exercise shown in the later chapters, these are particularly interesting as they mirrored many of my own practice methods. As a coach I’ve found that some of my pupils have also found these techniques worth while.
I think it works by giving an overview of archery for those interested in learning to shoot a traditional bow (recurve,  flatbow etc) but compound archers may find it less useful.
Beginner's guide to tradional archery
Overall I would say 9/10 as I really like the way it is written and find it an easy  read, along with something I go back to from time to time.
Thanks for reading