Rob Shooting

Why fighting to recover a bad shot is a big mistake in the long run

I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there at some point in our archery journey. We might be at a competition, maybe on our clubs practice range or sat in a tree stand hunting.

We have nocked the arrow on the string, set ourselves up, starting our draw and got to anchor but something feels wrong. The alarm bells are going off in your head or your gut is telling you it’s not right.
Rather than coming down and starting again as we know we should, we push on with the shot believing we can make it happen. Willing it to work in our attempt to recover or force it.
What’s the result?
Well if we are honest with ourselves then yes sometimes it will work and we make the shot. Other times it fails, leaving us feeling and thinking why did we push it?
The problem is we are fooling ourselves each time we force the shot and it works.
It also lays down memories and processes in the brain that this is the right thing to do. IT’S NOT!! Plain and simple.
This can be very hazardous as there well maybe times you force it and it’s dangerous to do so.
It’s even more important for newbies to learn to reset and not push it.
I was coaching a family group last weekend, a couple of them had shot a little before so knew some basics. Like all newbies who draw a bow to anchor point and then try to aim, they can sometimes hold at full draw too long.
I tried to explain that its better to come down and start again rather than holding at full draw. This is both less tiring and it helps to condition your brain into knowing that drawing up doesn’t mean you have to shoot and it’s okay to come down. A fact that any experienced archers struggle with.
Thanks for reading.

How can a six sided dice help with your archery practice? 

It may sound a little strange, even a bit far fetched to many, but I have found that using a six sided dice can prove very helpful and no I’m not talking about gambling.
Firstly though I have to say that I can’t claim this was entirely my own idea though, as it was spawned from a book I’ve been reading on archery. Many of you know I enjoy reading on all topics of archery and am slowly building a decent library of material, which I share with my students and fellow coaches.
The book in question which generated this idea is “Instinctive archery insights” by Jay Kidwell.

This was a book recommend to me by another coach and I’ll type up a full literature review on it shortly, but for now I’m going to focus on one aspect, that of practice to overcome target panic. There you go I have said it “Target Panic

I really hate that phrase, as I personally prefer describing target panic as “shot anxiety”, since I see it manifest in so many different ways in archers, often long before the archer ever gets to draw up on the target. Anyway back to how a six sided die can help along your with archery practice.

In the exercises described the archer practices drawing up on the target but not shooting. Rather than immediately releasing, they move on and off the gold or centre spot a random number of times. Jay suggests having a coach or buddy saying a number to denote the number of times but you might be practicing on your own so I came up with the idea of using a die.
I modified the dice so there was no 1,5 or 6. This was easily done by sticking a blank label over the numbers. I wanted the die to show 1 four, 3 two’s and 2 threes. This may sound strange but you don’t want too many higher numbers when performing the exercise as you would get fatigued.

I then housed the die in a small clear plastic tub large enough to allow the die to roll and clear enough to see the result.

Dice in a box

There are three exercises in the book, the key thing to remember with all of them is using a light poundage bow rather than your competition bow. I use a 16lb-18lb draw weight recurve with my students.

I’ll briefly describe the way I use this. The archer rolls the die and obtains a random number, say 3.

They draw up and when they get to full draw on the gold they pass to the right and then left, whilst not releasing. In this case they would pass over the gold 3 times before coming down. When I am coaching this technique I recommend the student does this for 15- 20 minutes. Anymore and it can become tedious and the students tend to lose concentration.

The theory behind this is best described int he book but to put it simply it helps to train the brain into not releasing the arrow and being able to move on and off the target.

Further exercises work on the same principle but having you hold on the target for a second and then move off.
I’ve found the exercise works well as I have used them with people and die gives you a random number so you are not always doing 2 or 3 each time.
I hope this helps. I’m going to try and write up some target anxiety material.
Thanks for reading.