More We Can Learn from Jordan Spieth

(excerpts from NYTimes “Jordan Spieth Reassesses a Career Path From the Top, Where Time Is Short” 8-24-15)

Megastar golfer Jordan Spieth was asked to address a bevy of young archers as he was preparing for the FedEx Championship series to begin. He gave what adults would call sound advice. (Mr. Spieth just turned 22.) For example, he advised the youngsters not to cut short their education, as he did.

“‘It wasn’t the smartest choice that I made,’ Spieth said, referring to his decision to drop out of the University of Texas early in his sophomore year to turn pro. ‘I got lucky, and it ended up working out.’

“He cautioned against focusing only on one sport before one’s teenage years. ‘Until I was 12 or 13, I played more baseball than I did golf,’ he said. Spieth mentioned that he had also played football, basketball and soccer. As a result, he said, ‘I learned how to be a teammate, learned how to fall in love with golf as an athlete who plays golf versus being a golfer who tries to be an athlete.’

“Spieth ultimately chose golf, he said, because he was good at it but also because he was an adrenaline junkie who viewed contending in a major on a Sunday as the next-best thing to a free fall to earth lasting two hours.

‘Your blood starts running; you get nervous; you get the adrenaline,” Spieth said. ‘For golf, when that comes up, that exhilarating factor, you have to learn to control that for an extended period of time.’

He added, ‘I’d be somebody who’d go jump out of an airplane because it would get your heart rate going.’ He smiled and said: ‘I don’t recommend that, by the way. For me, the fact you can keep feeling that, learn how to control it and use it to your advantage, that’s something I didn’t find in any other sport.’”

In other words, young Mr. Spieth went into competitive golf because nerves from performance pressure were there. And watching golf, like watching archery, is the sporting equivalent of watching paint dry. They are not what most people would think of as a sport for adrenaline junkies. And we thought competition nerves were a negative factor! Maybe we ought to start viewing them into a positive!

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Dots Nice?

Compound-scope shooters have quite a few options for apertures: none, crosshairs, fiber optics, stick-on dots, stick-on rings, etc. Which should you use? I have tried all of the above and in various combinations. I always ended up with a stick-on ring in some form. I was never what you might call “steady,” partly because I started archery seriously after my 40th birthday, so I missed those steady days of youth plus I am tall, so my bow and my aiming eye are separated by a longer distance, and I am just not a steady person.

scope with ring

I prefer a thicker ring than this one.

Rings have some large advantages used as apertures. Here are some of them.

Perceived Movement A 1 mm diameter aiming dot moving back and forth 0.5 mm will look jittery in that it is moving half of its entire diameter. A 10 mm ring moving back and forth 0.5 mm will look relatively still in that it is moving only 5% of its diameter. (It is all relative we are told.) Which of these promotes a calm mind, do you think?

Some archers counter this by using a larger dot. These can create the situation, though, that the dot covers up the smallest aiming circle which leads to a tendency to move it out of the way to take a peek behind it to make sure the right thing is there.

Self Centering Your brain has a subroutine hardwired into it. Presented with two circles, you are capable of arranging them to be concentric (having the same center) quite accurately. (This is how we can tell we are looking down a channel. The other end of a pipe, say, forms a circle that is smaller than the nearer end. We are looking straight down the pipe when the two circles are concentric. Obviously this capability evolved before there were pipes but there are reasons enough to establish this capability.) So, ring apertures have the advantage that your brain prefers them to be lined up with the rings of a target faces and so will put it in that position subconsciously (most microcorrections of position are subconscious).

Overaiming Small dots can often be substantially smaller than the target’s center dot (think of a 900 Round at the shortest distance). This leads to uncertainty as to whether the dot is in the exact center of the center ring and this increases focus on getting the dot into the exact center which disrupts rhythm.

The common approach is to get the aperture positioned correctly after anchor position has been achieved and a second or two later, when the residual motions from the large scale effort of drawing the bow have settled down (we become as steady as we are going to be), the release trips. Any encouragement to stay at full draw longer is unlikely to improve the situation and likely to make it worse.

Gunstar Scope Apertures

Ring and a Dot is a fairly common choice.

You can tell I prefer rings. My favorite rings are somewhat thick (thin rings promote finer aiming than I am capable of and are harder to see in difficult lighting conditions). I favor a bright green color which contrasts well with most target faces. By looking through the ring at the spot I wish to hit, my “self-centering program” is free to operate without me spending a lot of time worrying about how jittery my ring is. I have also used such a ring but with fine crosshairs added. I use the ring until I am on a target where fine aiming is desired (birdie/bunnies and 15 yd field targets, for example) and then I use the crosshairs for fine aiming. I can also use them to help with sidehill shots, If the bales or a target hut gives me any kind of level surface, I can use the horizontal crosshair to keep the bow plumb while focussing on aiming (again subconsciously).

All of this said, there is a psychological factor involved. Some archers just prefer dots or fiber optics. (I gave up on fiber optics because how bright the dot at the end of the fiber affected how large the dot appeared and that varied with lighting conditions.) If you think you have such a preference, make sure that you have tried (really tried) some of the other options and you are not confusing one’s normal preference for what one is used to for an actual preference between tested options.


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Any Ideas on How to Market Your Coaching Business?

QandA logoI received a question recently for which I had no answer, namely, did I have anything on marketing a coach’s coaching business? I admitted I had nothing but was interested in anything they would come up with. Do any of you have novel or even pedestrian ways to make your coaching services known to the archery community? (All I’ve got is business cards.)


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What Archers and Coaches Could Learn from . . . Jordan Spieth

If you follow sports at all you cannot have missed the story of Jordan Spieth who prior to his 22nd birthday has been burning up the Professional Golf Association Tour. So what could a golfer have to share with an archer that would be any help. It turns out to be “a lot.”

Consider any very capable serious competitive archer today. Most of these are compound archers so I will use them as an example. If you have any desire for making a good showing at a major tournament (I will use Las Vegas as it provides the most context), you have to prepare for this event seriously. So, most shoot many practice rounds prior to the event, make travel arrangements and register well in advance of the event. They fly in, check their equipment over to make sure nothing got damaged and try to get in some practice the day before the event.

During the event, they often run into friends and arrange meals around the shooting times to be able to catch up. After dinner, they may park themselves in a bar for awhile for a drink or two and talk with archery buddies. (In Vegas, there may be a bit of effort at “the tables” or “the slots,” too.) Their tactic for the event is to shoot one quality arrow at a time and to say in the present. The results will take care of themselves. Then it is hope for the best.

Sound familiar? Most of us have done this.

Mr. Spieth, on the other hand is more strategic. His goal in being prepared for an event is to perform at a high level at events preceding so he will be high in confidence when he begins. He arranges for living quarters out of the fray. This may be a rental house or in the case of the British Open Championship, he rented two. One he slept in, the other, just a few steps away, is where his friends and family stayed and communal meals were shared. When Mr. Spieth was in residence, the rules are: no TV and no talk about golf (none).

Before he steps foot upon the course, he has a detailed strategic plan of how he is going to deal with each hole on the course. His coach, caddy, and others may contribute to this plan, which includes possible weather variations especially if the winds are variable. His entire focus on the course is on how to execute his plan. His warm-up routine is extensive and includes two putting sessions, putting being one of Mr. Spieth’s strengths. The routine is varied depending on whether he has an early or late tee-time.

While playing Mr. Spieth is in control of his emotions which is to say that he is not a robot. If he makes a bad shot, you can hear him shout “Come on, Jordan!” But shortly thereafter he is back in focus working on his next shot. Because he is in control of his emotions, he seems to perform under pressure as well, if not better, than when he has less pressure.

Win or lose, he is focused on what he can learn or could have learned from his experience and how he can work to improve on what he has been doing. Improvement is recognized as being incremental and to keep it going he requires input from his coach and caddy and then plans are made to make those improvements.

He knows that, as a golfer, his form is built around “feel” rather than technique, so has set up practice and warm-up activities accordingly. Self-knowledge is a foundation stone of his approach. Knowing who he is and how he performs is key to his approach. There is no fantasizing involved. There is no “go out and have fun” involved. Instead there is an immersing into and engagement with what he is doing on the course. The fun is in the winning. On the course, there are light moments but they seem to be of the “isn’t this a beautiful spot” or “aren’t we lucky to be doing this” variety, almost always just with his caddy, a former elementary school teacher, who is temperamentally suited to helping a young archer keep on his chosen path.

Mr. Spieth is aware of where he is in the history of the game of golf, but doesn’t indulge in thinking about that when he is at the course. In this manner he compartmentalizes his thinking as he compartmentalizes this personal life. A time and place for everything.

Now, the young Mr. Spieth has made many millions of dollars in his short professional career and will make countless more millions, so he has more resources than you are I. And that is irrelevant when it comes to planning, thinking, strategizing, and all of the other aspects of an effort he makes to win a tournament.

So, is there anything to be learned from young Mr. Spieth’s approach to the game of golf which has allowed his to soar to almost unmatched heights at the age of 21? You be the judge.

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Point Weight Woes

QandA logoI got an email from a friend regarding a problem you may have encountered in your coaching. Here it is.

Hi, Steve!
I wanted to bounce something off of you if you have a moment. I had some unexpected issues with arrows over this past weekend when I was shooting my first FITA. I was struggling much more than anyone else with the light wind we were having. Right before the competition, I had been trying to tune in my new arrows that were acting too weak and I ended up reducing the point weight to 90 grains, which had them finally performing well in practices. I put up some personal best practice scores with my adjusted arrows right before the FITA round and was feeling good about my performance. I suspect, though, that the light point weight was my downfall and part of what was giving me such problems. My longer distance scores were the worst I’ve ever done in my life, however my shortest distance score (30m) was right on the money with my normal practice scores, even though the wind was the same and I should have been the most fatigued and dropping points at the end.
            I bought my arrows slightly long and am thinking about cutting off a 1/2˝ and putting 110 grain points back in the shortened arrows. My theory is that that will have a similar effect as having the longer arrows with lower point weight, but will give me more ability to cut through the wind. However, I can’t find any literature online or in my many archery books about point weight vs. arrow length in trying to make adjustments to arrow spine. Which is a better adjustment to make, and is there any such equation such as “each 1/2˝ of length = 20 grains of point weight” or whatever? I’m not keen on cutting down my arrows if that might not give me the results I’m looking for.
Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give!

* * *

I doubt your point weight made all that much difference so it may or may not have been the source of your woes.

First I have to ask: when you were tuning in these arrows, did you have a reasonable centershot, plunger button resistance, nocking point height, and was your aperture centered above your arrow? If not, you were tuning to a less than optimal setup. It is always important to have a bow in a proper setup when trying to tune. If your aperture is off center, for example, you are then trying to tune your arrows to a dynamic spine that will compensate for a mis-set sight!

Most Olympic Recurve archers have a FOC balance point of 13-15%, so that is something you might want to check. (FOC guidelines are the equivalent of the “equation” you desire.) The vast majority of OR archers have 100 gr points (110 gr being in second place, I think), unless … you are shooting a very lightweight all-carbon arrow such as McKinney IIs, then 90 gr and even 80 gr come into play.

As far as wind stabilization goes, there are two strategies: use a heavier arrow (like Easton X10s) or a lighter arrow (like Carbon Tech McKinney IIs or Carbon Express Nano Pros or Medallions). The heavier arrows have more mass and therefore require more wind force to move them (inertial stabilization). The lighter shafts are faster and hence spend less time in the wind for the wind’s forces to act on them (speed stabilization). When an arrow is shot long distance, a higher FOC is generally desired to keep the arrow on track during those longer flight times. When I was shooting field archery a lot I was using 60, 70, and 82 gr points in very long arrows with little downside. But shooting FITA rounds, I was using 100 gr or even 120 gr points (again, in very long shafts).

So, research Front-of-Center (FOC) balance and how to measure it (it is easy) and check your current arrows. If you are close to 13-15%, then it was not your point weight that was a problem. If it is 6-9%, then maybe so.

If it was not your point weight, I suggest you go back to a basic setup and retune (nocking point height 1/2˝ above square, centershot has inside edge of arrow point visually lined up with outside edge of bowstring with string centered on the riser (visually), plunger pressure mediumish, aperture centered above arrow when bow is vertical (I just run the aperture down to the bottom of the sight bar and eye-ball it)). Also, you need to take off all vibration absorption devices (Doinkers, et. al.); they can only mask the feel of good shots.

You may find that the tune you had wasn’t all that good.

The reason the tune is so important is the tune establishes the launch angle of the arrows (at what ever angle the bow is being held), so if the centershot is way outboard, for example, the arrows are launched point left. Then the fletching has to correct for that, but if the wind is blowing more than a bit, that “sideways” launched shaft is going to be blown in unpredictable ways (the shaft itself is a bigger source of drag than the fletches) and you are going to have very large groups as a consequence.

I hope this helps!


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The Most Powerful Tool in an Archer’s Quiver is … a Notebook

I was watching a golf instructional video and the PGA Coach in the video was making the point that the most important tool in a golfer’s bag was a notebook. (I was watching a golf coach on video because how many archery coaches supply those for free? Answer none. Okay, I admit to trying to produce such videos, but it is harder than it looks and we only had our living room to use as a studio.)

Golf NotebookI had often told students that “the most powerful tool in an archer’s quiver is a notebook” so I was receptive to this message.

It is important to get archers started early on writing things down as there is too much information t keep in their heads. Having detailed measurements about one’s bow setup can prove invaluable, for example.

More importantly, notebooks allow archer and coach to see what is happening over time, Often archers can get frustrated because they have the impression that they aren’t making progress. A look through past scores in their notebook and at other indicators of work done and problems solved can often show the archer that they have made more progress that they thought, they had fallen into the “what have you done for me lately” trap.

A key use of a notebook I teach is to reserve the first five or six pages at the front and on the very top page, I ask them to list the top three things they are working on. If there are more items than three, they are listed on the next page down, out of sight.

Then, I ask them to always (religiously) read that list before shooting an arrow at any archery session (practice or competition). It is almost always the case that archers are working on something. If they begin “warming up shooting” without reminding themselves as to the things they are committed to changing, the pull of their “old normal” shot will have them shooting the old way through the entire warm up. There is nothing more confusing to an archer’s subconscious mind that alternating doing something two or more ways. By emphasizing “doing it right” during warm ups, such reversions to the archer’s old form will be minimized and the learning of the “new normal” will be faster.

When something is learned and no longer needs to be on the “top three list,” it has a line drawn through it and something from the next page down is promoted up. That top page, when it gets to the point here dozens of items have been listed and crossed off, is a powerful indicator to the archer of progress being made.


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Coaching Cheap Thrills

I just received a notice of another follower of this blog. (There I’ve told you there aren’t so many followers of this blog (there are 142 of you to date), if there were I would have turned off that notification long ago, otherwise one’s Inbox gets swamped.) The new follower is “rosecityarchery.” (Be still, my beating heart.) For those of you who don’t know Rose City Archery, it is the premier producer of wood target archery shafts and arrows. They may also produce the world’s best hunting shafts, but I cannot attest to that as I have never hunted with wood arrows.

Rose City Archery is located in Oregon and they claim to be the world’s largest wood arrow and shaft manufacturer. I have no way to verify that, so I take them at their word. They have been in business since the early 1930’s.

If you are interested in traditional archery and wood arrows, check out their web site and their blog ( You will find not only the highest quality products for sale, but also some high quality information about building them.

Also, there are a great many false claims made about wood arrows, such as they can’t be shot from compound bows safely, so that if you decide to “go wood” you will need to educate yourself. Traditional archery icon Dan Quillian wrote a series on such myths for Archery Focus magazine a while back (all back-issues are available for free with a subscription for the next six new issues).


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An Indisputable Relationship

I was watching the 2015 U.S. Open Golf Championship this past weekend and something unusual happened: quite a few players criticized the putting greens. Basically they complained that the balls were not rolling true. This was observable even on TV. And, yes, they were all playing the “same” course so the competition was “fair,” that is not what their complaints were based on; their complaints were that the scores weren’t meaningful, that is they were not reflective of how well a golfer played.

Putting is a very complicated task. A golfer must judge the path to the hole. Is it flat or is it sloped? Are there multiple slopes? Does the grain face toward or away from the golfer (this affects the speed of the roll). Is it uphill or downhill? Then the golfer has to visualize a path the ball might take to the target, a path which is speed dependent. (I once saw a golfer sink four putts from the exact same point using four different ball speeds on four different paths (faster putts are straighter). And this is complicated by the fact that as the ball slows down (as it does the entire way to the hole) it “takes the break” more and more.

The course being played was a new course and the golfers had very little prior information. Golfers take copious notes of green conditions in their “yardage books.” Now they are even given “green guides,” that golfers of old would have loved to have, guides that graphically show the slopes on the greens, but sometimes greens don’t “read right.” Golfers see the path breaking to the left and their ball rolls to the right. These inconsistencies are the subject of notes as they gain experience. These, of course, were lacking in a course new to them.

So, what were they bitching about? They were bitching about the fact that the balls were not rolling true, meaning the ball would roll along a well-read path, at the right speed, and then take a slight jog off line for no reason visible to caddy or golfer. This, in effect, takes some of the putting (roughly half of the strokes in a round) out of the area of skill and puts it into the realm of chance.

You are by now wondering what this has to do with archery. We have little that is similar to these complaints (although we do complain enough to keep up) especially since archery golf seems no longer to be played. Possibly the closest we have to golfing situations is field archery. And the only thing comparable to putting surface conditions we have is wind. Irregular winds can wreak havoc with a round score. And, such do inject chance in the place of skill.

“My point is it is a fundamental principle of coaching that our most important job is to create ‘an indisputable relationship between an archer’s expertise and his results.’”

But this is not the point. My point is that a critical concept for archery coaches is displayed by this: that, as John Holden put it in his book on archery equipment (Shooting Straight, 1987), there needs to be an “an indisputable relationship between an archer’s expertise and his results.” Putting, like shooting arrows, is a largely subconscious effort. Like archery, golf does a lot of conscious planning (golf more so) but when it comes time to shoot, it is a matter of “feel” and this is the realm of the subconscious mind. We ask our subconscious minds to block out irrelevant information but to suck up relevant information. So, we spend time on the practice facilities judging the “speed of the greens” or the “wind at the targets.” And how do we do that? Golfers putt and seeing the result of a putt, putt again, and again trying to accommodate their putting stroke to this week’s surface, be it fast or slow. Archers do the same thing. They shoot and then aim off and shoot again. For golfers and often archers, everything is different about this venue from last week’s venue, but the variations in wind and light are the ones archers focus on. We don’t, for example, usually have to worry about the size of the targets as they have been made standard, just as golfers always are putting toward a standard 4.25˝ cup.

My point is it is a fundamental principle of coaching that our most important job is to create “an indisputable relationship between an archer’s expertise and his results.” If a student shoots an arrow correctly, but the arrow is bent, the result is not a consequence of their execution. What can that archer’s subconscious learn from that? Answer: nothing good.

The bow and arrows teach the archer. We, for example, spend very little time observing any student- archer’s performance. I coach a team of about 12 archers. In a two-hour practice that means that I spend an average of 10 minutes observing each archer. But their subconscious minds are observing 100% of their shots. Even if you coach an individual, they spend many hours in individual practice between lessons, no? (I am convinced that a part of Korea’s success in international archery competitions stems from the fact that each archer is being observed to a much greater extent than ours are.)

By focusing on creating “an indisputable relationship between an archer’s expertise and his results” for our archers, we are ensuring that when our student-archers do something, the arrow and target are giving them “good feedback,” accurate feedback from which they are learning to correct and/or minimize their mistakes. Just like golfers who want greens that give their subconscious minds “good feedback,” archers want the same from their venues and their equipment. It is a coach’s primary job to get our archers into adequate form and execution with equipment set up so that the feedback it provides from shooting reinforces positive improvements and not confusion.

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Leaning In

I had a lesson yesterday with one of my favorite adult Olympic Recurve students (state championship level). When he stepped up to the line, I immediately saw something different. This faculty of coaches (to immediately “see” differences) reminds me of chess masters who can play multiple games of chess and win all of them. Most people seem to think they keep all of the boards in memory, but that is an entirely different skill (which some do possess, being able to play games blindfolded). These masters of their craft step up to each board and “read” it. They may or may not recall their last move or their opponents last move, they are irrelevant, they can see the board and all of the situations upon it knowing that the next move is theirs. Then they go to the next board and read it as if it were new, etc.

Studies of various levels of chess players indicate that these chess masters are no better in many ways than are lesser players; they consider about the same number of moves when trying to estimate counter moves, for example. What these masters have is the ability to “chunk” the information into scenarios and sub-scenarios at a glance. When chess masters and much less experienced players were asked to recreate a board after looking at it for just seconds, the masters were much better than the beginners. But when the boards were set up randomly, with no set relations between the pieces, both types of players were equally inept. These latter boards had no normal chunks to “see.”

I find coaching to be similar. We expect to see a kind of “normal” form and when something is “different” it really stands out. In this case, my student seemed to be leaning onto his toes more than he had in the past. not dramatically so, but certainly recognizably so. I commented on this and he said that possibly it was because he wasn’t yet warmed up, so he finished his warm up, and “it” was still there.

He asked if his shoes could be a source of the difference. He mentioned that he wasn’t all that comfortable shooting in the shoes he was wearing. We had had a change of season, so people were no longer wearing the boots of winter. He had switched to a pair of “trainers,” which is not a good idea.


Cross-trainers … bad!

When I was young (long ago and in a galaxy far, far away), there were “tennis shoes” and “basketball shoes” available to sporty people. These tended to have flat soles. Then some genius figured out that fortunes were to be made selling specialized sport shoes. Now there are myriad choices, many of which are specialized. (One of my favorite pairs of shooting shoes were “bouldering shoes.” They had flattish soles and steel shanks making them very stiff.)

Trainers or “cross-trainers” have soles that are quite curved. This is not desirable when shooting. Archers need to have a flat(ish) soled shoes that are quite rigid. If you are a field archer, you probably need a lugged sole, too, for good traction on sloped surfaces. These shoes give consistent feedback to the wearer about their weight distribution. The “curvy-soled shoes” are curved to control changes in weight distribution while running (heel to toe), etc.

While we were on the subject I went on to explain my theory regarding weight distribution. The books recommend a 60% forward, 40% rear weight distribution (as well as 50:50 left-to-right). I think this came about because some enterprising science-minded archery bloke measured the fore-back weight distribution using force platform insoles and discovered the magic ratio (60:40, toes–heels). The mistake was made when archers tried to establish this ratio by doing something, which almost always resulted in too much weight forward. Coaches made the mistake by recommending or implying this was something “to do.”

I believe this “balance” situation happens automatically. Since the student’s bow was sitting on the floor between us (stabilizer sticking straight up), I reached out to pick up his bow via the stabilizer illustrating my point that one’s balance point shifts forward when we pick up our bows. What I hadn’t noticed before is that I could feel that shift when I picked up his bow (the bow being right next to me but hanging from the stabilizer.

Flat-soled shoes ... good!

Flat-soled shoes … good!

So, I asked my student to repeat this drill. I asked him to stand close to the bow and get as balanced as he could be (at least as balanced as the wrong shoes would allow). Then I asked him to pick up the bow the way I did while concentrating on what happened to his balance. He felt the shift forward also. (I haven’t proven this yet, but I am becoming more and more convince this is at last approximately correct. I have a science study indicating that a weight shift forward occurs whether the weight is place in front or in back of the bearer, but they used 20 kg weights which is far greater than the weight of a bow, so there may be differences due to that.)

One of the most common mistakes archers make (coaches, too) is in confusing things that “happen” with things needing to “be done.” Common examples are guiding the bow into a perfect roll over during the release instead of letting it do that on its own, trying to remove the string fingers off of the string rather than relaxing them and allowing the string to flick them out of the way, etc. This 60:40 rule is another of those. Those archers who were shooting well, were not shooting well because of a 60:40 weight distribution, but in spite of it. The weight of the bow held out in front of our body causes this shift, we need do nothing.



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Getting Through the Clicker

This question came through as a “comment” on an older post. I have added a little to it and put it up here in the cue where people can find it. (You can sort through these posts by clicking on any category or tag in the “clouds” to the right. The posts that have those categories/tags applied to them will then burble to the top of the stack.) Also, when you send in questions, please indicate what style you shoot and any other particulars you think bear on your problem.

QandA logoHi Steve, have you got any advice on overcoming mental blocks? I often struggle to commit to squeezing the arrow through the clicker. I’ve worked on the mental program stuff from Lanny Bassham but I’m not quite there.

This is hard to answer without watching you shoot.

The whole purpose of the clicker is to remove the decision of when to shoot and place it onto the clicker and training (clickers are not just triggers). My first suspicion is you don’t have your clicker set up correctly. Here’s a test to check that. Have a mate watch your clicker as you draw through it. (Be sure you are well warmed up.) The drill is: draw through the click, but when you hear the click, continue to expand as hard as you can without losing good form. Do not let the string slide back on your face or do anything else you would not normally do. Ideally, your arrow point should only be able to get 1/4˝ (0.5 cm) past the rear edge of the clicker. If you can get farther than that, your clicker is too far out. If you can’t get that far, it is too far in.

The point here is that the clicker needs to be set very close to the edge of your range of motion (in the funny motion we can drawing at anchor). Since you are so close to not being able to move farther, you will feel a great deal of discomfort in your back (if you are using the correct muscles there). That discomfort is what your subconscious mind uses as a guide to what makes a “shot going well.” Without that guide, getting through your clicker becomes an athletic event. On good days you will get through your clicker in good order, on bad days you will either pull through too easily (if you are feeling frisky) or struggle to get through at all (if feeling sluggish).

Ch 09 Clicker (Andy M)When the clicker is set right, a short training cycle should get you synced up: it helps to have a mate work with you. The drill goes like this: you will either let down or shoot or count to 1, 2, or 3 seconds and then shoot. I suggest that you let down about every other shot at the beginning and mix in the others randomly. As you work through the drill, reduce the number of let downs until they constitute their ordinary share of the five different possibilities. Your mate tells you which of these to do before you do it. (I have typed out sheets of these instructions, randomly sorted after the initial 20 shots or so (which are let down “heavy”) for students working alone to remove the decision making.)

The purpose of this drill is to give you control over your clicker. The two conditions for a correct release are the clicker clicking in good order and everything else is good. So if you are aiming dead center and the clicker clicks but you don’t see gold through your aperture, you must let down. If you make your response to the clicker clicking a conditional response, that arrow is going to be shot and is going to land poorly. This latter drill creates a space in time after the clicker clicks in which this decision is made, so make sure you confirm the good sight picture after the clicker clicks. In time your subconscious mind will take this task over and it will happen with lightning speed.

An elite archer pulls through their clicker almost every time in a clearly defined rhythm … I am sure you want to do this, too, but you have to get there in control of a correctly placed clicker.

In archery the “mental” and “physical” aspects are stitched together and need to be address in proper context. This may be a “mental” problem or it may not be. As I said, it is hard to tell without watching you shoot and interviewing you.


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