Archery lessons learned the hard way. Through hundreds of arrows, listening to others and taking notes, this summer has been the best I’ve ever shot…….on paper at least.
Anyone who shoots a bow understands the time and effort one must commit in order to reach a lethal level of confidence. For me, I am a bit obsessive when it comes to shooting my bow. I have been known as the most paranoid shooter in my circle of friends if my arrows are off even center in the center. Although I have been shooting bows since I was a young kid, this summer, I can say with complete confidence, I have never shot more consistent. Confidence is at an all time high and frustration at an all time low. Partially due to my new equipment, and also due to a few self discovered lessons in mechanics and mental preparation.
Pinching the Scapulas.
If you already do create maximum back tension by pinching your shoulder blades together, good. Go ahead and laugh at me for figuring this out now. While shooting with my friend Levi, one night, he noticed my shoulder blades were not pinching together properly, thus leaving room for inconsistency. From the next arrow I shot until now, accuracy, consistency and my overall steadiness have sky rocketed. Obviously, being overall steadier lead to greater accuracy and consistency. By pinching my shoulder blades together I have greater tension between my bow arm and my release. Because of this greater back tension I not only stay steadier, but also am able to line up my peep sight ring with the ring of my Optimizer Lite Ultra. This is called appiture and you would be very surprised just how critical getting your appiture right impacts your shot.
New Anchor Point.
Experienced archers know just how critical your anchor point can be. Until I talked with my friend Dennis Dunn, My anchor point was extremely low on the soft parts of my cheek. Dunn told me in an interview I did with him on instinctive shooting techniques how his anchor point is on his cheek bone directly underneath his eye. The reason, because anchoring on bone is solid, unmoving, allowing you to have a consistent anchor point each time. Since I shoot a compound and a release, I began thinking about where a solid anchor point could be. The answer, the bone underneath my ear. Slowly experimenting with this possible new anchor point, Dunn’s words of wisdom flew true, literally. I have been anchoring by pressing the knuckle of my trigger finger( index finger) firmly against the bone underneath my ear. Not only does this give me a consistent rock solid point to anchor on, I found I am able to look much more purely through the peep sight, through the pins and through the target. Essentially, my head is down on the string much better. In years before, I have come to realize I was actually slouching my head down ever so slightly to meet my new anchor point on every shot. Another reason anchoring my knuckle underneath my ear has helped, my trigger finger is much more relaxed, hear me out. By putting knuckle to bone my trigger finger does receive as much tension from my release staining on my wrist. Sounds weird but it is true. My finger is able to curl around and squeeze off on the trigger with much more straight purity than ever before. It has the freedom to squeeze slowly.
Keeping my arm up upon releasing an arrow has always been a point of struggle. I know when I keep my arm up through the shot and when I drop. It shows in my accuracy. Although I have Identified this as an issue, also due to the advice of Dennis, remembering to keep the arm up through the shot is something I sometimes forget. I would say I am about 50/50. Striving for excellence has led me to create mental notes for consistent follow through. In all my years of baseball I have heard countless coaches(and fans) yell to keep my head down through the swing. The same applies to archery. This small mind game is simple and sounds ridiculous. Shoot through the target not to the target and don’t move my arm or open my closed eye until the arrow had hit the target. And, actually watching the arrow the entire way ensures my release is pure. These small mind games have cut down on my micro-movements upon squeezing the release. Accuracy and consistency are at an all time high.
The longer I shoot, the more I realize just how much shooting a bow is like stepping into a batters box. Both are pressure packed situations, both require good fundamentals practiced over and over and both require a game plan. In the batters box you survey the situation, runners on base, the pitcher, outs, fielders positions and requires mental tenacity to get the job done correctly. Bowhunting is similar. A game plan is required. Drawing your bow on an animal is the batter’s box. In both disciplines it is the repetition, the muscle memory and the one willing to dedicate the time to studying the minute details about him or herself who will prevail when the game is on the line.