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.
Close up of Sharon shooting

Whats your top 3

I’m calling all the archery coaches and instructors out there for your input please.

If you coach complete beginners or nationals champions, traditional archer or Olympic recurve. I’m trying to compile some coaching materials on two main topics, one being the most common faults you encounter and the other being areas of improvement you target with your students.

So can I ask you, what you think are the 3 top or most common faults that you encounter when coaching archers?

Maybe you think its’ stance, or release? What about consistency in anchor?

Secondly what are the top 3 things that you think make the greatest impact on improving someone you are coaching?

Likewise this might be associated with shot sequence or simply slowing down? What about equipment and tuning?

The list is endless and I’m looking forward to hearing your input

Thanks for reading.

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.