Talent and Skill

I have written on this topic a number of times but the following quotation really hit home for me.

“I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is this: ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy is sleeping, I’m working. While the other guy is eating, I’m working […] The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, have dreams, want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” Will Smith, Actor

As coaches, I think there needs to be a conscious switch flipped after your student has developed a shot and has become fairly consistent. From that point onward, skill acquisition should be placed ahead of technique refinements. After a good set of archery skills are acquired, they can cycle through the whole thing again.

There is another saying that “practice without talent beats talent without practice.” So Mr. Smith is emphasizing the role of hard work in skill acquisition, which, I think, has little to do with “talent” or whatever passes for talent in your mind.

All of our serious students need to have a growth mindset fostered in them. They need to believe down to their bones that “I can get better.” And they need to know if they are not getting better through effort, their competitors are.

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My Battle with Perfection

When you shoot Compound Freestyle, also known as the Compound Unlimited style (and by many other names . . . I especially like the French label: arc à poulie, basically “bow with pully”), indoors your goal is a perfect score. In indoor leagues we varied between shooting NFAA 300 Rounds (60 arrows, 5-4-3 scoring) and the Vegas Round (30 arrows, 10-9-8-etc. scoring).

I started out in archery shooting a compound bow with my fingers on the string. I only switched to a release aid when I got tendonitis. “Release shooters” were supposed to shoot perfect or near perfect scores indoors, so this was my goal. For some reason, I struggled with the multi-colored Vegas target. I never broke 290/300 on that round, but on the NFAA Round I made steady progress. I moved up from the 260’s to the 270’s, then 280’s and 290’s. I hit a plateau, however, at around 296/300.

I shot score after score at 296 ± 2. This lasted for more than one season. I realized at the time that while shooting I had thoughts like “This first one had better be in or the rest of the round is a waste of time.” and when I finally dropped a point, I realized that I had lost mental focus during the end, thinking about scoring or worse, thinking about work, rather than thinking about executing.

Then one league night, I grabbed the wrong bow case and ended up with my outdoor bow at the league session. Instead of somewhat larger aluminum arrows my outdoor rig had Easton ACCs. Well, no sense in whining about it, I shot my outdoor setup. And I shot a 300/300 NFAA round with 42Xs, a new PB in X-count. (So much for shooting fat shafts because of, you know, the advantage.) After one regularly shot 300/300 rounds, the next goal was an X-count of 60. Note The NFAA X-ring is almost the same size as the Vegas 10-ring.

Thinking that I finally had broken through whatever was preventing me from scoring regular 300s, I shot the next league, with my indoor bow, and shot . . . 286/300. I had mistaken someone who had shot one perfect score with someone who always shot perfect scores. I certainly hadn’t brought my A-game that night.

What I Learned
It is clear that archery is a sport in which one, in short order, can approach a score that is “near perfect” in a number of rounds. (Not the York Round shot with a self bow! I didn’t break 100 on my first try . . . out of  1296 (using traditional 9-7-5-3-1 scoring).) It is easy to make the transition from “points made” to “points lost” in one’s thinking and when one is chasing “no points lost” odd thoughts crop up from “sighters” through to the final end. (I cannot clearly remember what was going through my head on the final three ends of that 300/300 round I shot, but it wasn’t pleasant.)

By extension, I now teach students that seeking perfection is a bad idea. We do not want to “shoot perfectly.” We do want perfect scores, though. A perfect score is an outcome from sticking to your shot routine and focusing on each and every shot the same way. In other words, a perfect score is not the summation of X perfect shots. It is the summation of X shots that were “good enough.” My perfect score had more than a few 5s and Xs that were shot “outside-in” (I kept the target face and examined it carefully).

And, if you want to be an archer who shoots perfect rounds almost all of the time, you have to shoot a lot of those scores, to get the mental cobwebs swept out. You want to prove to yourself that shooting those perfect scores is “just like me” and the only way to do that is to shoot a lot of them. And the only way to shoot even one of them is to attend to your shot sequence while focusing on what is happening now. Thoughts of what might happen are not helpful, not helpful at all.

Photos of the target face can be easier to evaluate than the faces themselves.

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Sometimes a Blurb is Enough The Secrets of Modern Archery by Jake Veit

I didn’t bite on this one, even though I am constantly on the lookout for new books on archery. First of all, the title! Argh! There are no secrets in archery . . . repeat after me “There . . .” And then here is Amazon’s blurb for the book:

“There is a lot of archery out there—and it isn’t just shooting a bow.

“Moreover, there are different ways to shoot a bow, many different bows, and five national archery organizations.

“Jake Veit, former NFAA Master Coach, USAA Level IV National Coach & USAA National Judge walks readers through efforts of archery organizations through the years.

“He also highlights how archery changed and became a sport, the formation of the NFAA and other organizations—and how archery was added to the Olympics.

“Find out more about the national archery organizations and how each is organized—as well as how members demonstrate their skill.

“While archery isn’t easy, it can be a satisfying and pleasant diversion to everyday life. ‘Discover why so many people love the sport and how to participate with The Secrets of Modern Archery.’”

Is there any reference whatsoever about “archery secrets” in all of that? Also, “fining out more about archery organizations” isn’t exactly thrilling stuff. If any of you does read this, I would love to hear your opinion of it.

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Negative Cancels Positive

Regular followers of this blog know that I search for usable slants on coaching from golf educator sites. (There are more of them and they have been doing it longer, and it is similar enough, etc.) In so doing I ran across this quote from one of my favorite golfers:

Winners see what they want, losers see what they don’t want. Don’t let the game eat you; you eat the game.” (Moe Norman)

I like Moe Norman, now deceased, a lot because he basically coached himself to become the greatest golfer Canada ever produced. The stories of his skill are almost beyond counting (and some beyond belief).

In any case, allow me to unpack his quote. The word “see” refers to visualizations of the shots golfers want to pull off. So, they “see” the next shot in their imagination, then they do it, just having “seen” it. (I argue these are like a visual recipe for our subconscious minds to follow.) Moe’s main point is that “winners” see what they want to have happen, while “losers” see what they fear will happen. This is why so many golfers trying to hit a shot over a pond end up with their ball in the pond because what was dominating their thinking was “Don’t hit it in the water; don’t hit it in the water” which is a subconscious recipe for . . . hitting the ball in the water.

He recommends that you not allow the game to “eat you (up)” and that you instead should be the eater. This is a somewhat colorful metaphor for not letting the golf course dictate to you what to think, that you be in charge and dictate your own thoughts, thinking only about what you want to have happen, not what you fear might happen.

With respect to archery, we are in a repetition sport that is even more repetitious than golf. In golf, it is hit the ball and walk up to it and hit it again, whereas in archery we stand on one spot and shoot two, three, four, five, or even six arrows before we have to walk up and find them. In order to get the desired level of consistency/repeatability, we endeavor to repeat each shot, just like the previous one (assuming that were successful). To pull this off we create a shot sequence that we train in so we do the same actions, in the same order and, if we can pull it off, with the same timing/tempo. Part of that sequence is what I call the marker for the end of the pre-shot routine and that is a visualization of you making a shot, from your point of view, seeing the shot fly through the air to land dead center in the X. This is a very positive visualization, one that equates to success. Immediately upon the completion of the visualization, the shots starts with you raising your bow and just a few seconds later, your arrow hits the target.

It sounds perfect, but . . . I am here to tell you that “negative cancels positive.” If you are anxious about your shot for any reason, say it is score related—you are shooting a personal best score and then some and want it to continue—the fear of missing can creep into your thoughts. You can see each arrow score as being on the track to that new personal best or being off track, so in the back of your head your are entertaining the negative effects of an arrow that doesn’t score as well as you wish. You, in effect, are thinking “Don’t hit it in the water; don’t hit it in the water.” And, often as not, your arrow scores deteriorate and your opportunity for a new personal best score is gone.

This scenario is typical of what is used to explain performance “comfort zones” and why we as a rule, never think about score if we can avoid it. Nothing good can come from thinking about your score or anyone else’s . . . well unless you are practicing performing under pressure. I am reminded of an archery camp I attended in which they pulled off a simulated tournament to give us the experience of competing in a USAA target tournament (I had not at that point, so the exercise was most welcome). As luck would have it I ended up in a shoot-off with another archer: “one arrow closest to the center” determined who went on. The other guy was chosen to shoot first and while he was doing that, I settled myself thinking “I don’t care what he shot, I will just ‘shoot my shot’ and let the chips fall where they may.” When I looked up the coach was walking toward me with a Cheshire Cat grin on his face, looked me in the eye and said, very loudly “He shot a 6!” A voice in my head immediately said “I only need a 7 to win!” Have you ever shot to score a 7? No? Neither had I. I had to compose myself for several seconds to clear my mind and just take a “normal” shot. I knew better but couldn’t control my thoughts.

So, what to do, what to do?

I still can’t control my thoughts but I have a processes for “shooing away” those negative thoughts. If you have one of those mid-shot, a let-down is in order. Whatever does control my thoughts knows that if we do not stay positive, we don’t get to shoot. This is the same way we control lines of acting out teenagers on a shooting line. Anyone acts up, no one gets to shoot. (It works, even with those considered incorrigible by the schools they attend.)

I have no idea what the actual control mechanism is, or even if there is one. (There is a good argument for unbidden thoughts being a survival mechanism too valuable to shut off.)

We also have to be aware enough to notice when negative thoughts are starting to hold court. If we do notice this, it is time to stop, take a deep breath or two, and refocus upon what our actual goals are for the day, rather than a goal that just happened to pop up. (New PB! New PB!)

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Should I Rebuild My Shot?

This is a coaching blog so the question probably should be “Should I recommend that my student rebuild his/her shot?” That would be a bit long for a title and, actually, I wanted to put you in the position of the archer in this scenario to better understand it.

Rebuilding your shot is a massive undertaking and, because of that, it should be the very last thing you recommend. I teach that archery is an “experimental sport.” Everyone builds a shot that is simultaneously the same as everyone else’s in that style and unique to themselves. The surface appearance of a shot is controlled to a large extent by the laws of physics and it would be very unusual for anyone to have success making shots a radically different way. And, while the appearance is the same, if you look closely you can find differences, often idiosyncratic differences, in the ways people perform their shot.

So, the experiment is this: you build your shot and then you test it to see how well it performs. If it performs as well as you want, ta da, you’re done. If it doesn’t perform as well as you want, then modifications are to be considered. Basically this happens along the lines of an archer’s benchmark scores increase as they acquire skill but a plateau is reached and progress seems to stop. At that point, the archer’s equipment needs to be examined to see if it is holding them back—examples of equipment that limits scores are arrows that are bent (aluminum) or mismatched in weight (all kinds). If the equipment is adequate (it only needs to not limit the archer’s performance, it doesn’t have to meet any particular standard), then the archer’s form and execution have to be examined. Nuances of form not yet tackled, e.g. shooting rhythm, need to be examined. Only when all of the above have been eliminated as reasons for the performance plateau should you even consider a shot rebuild.

So, the key elements supporting a shot rebuild are: a legitimate performance plateau and all discernable causes of said plateau being eliminated. This list may seem short but it is not. It involves various tweaks in the archer’s current shot to see if just a small modification will do. If it does then the archer’s current shot has been refined and progress ensues, so no shot rebuild is to be considered. And there are a lot of elements in an archer’s shot that might be causing the performance limitation, including his/her mental game.

Only if all of those things have been tried, without success, should a rebuild be recommended.

What If the Archer Just Wants to Start Over?
Archers talk and sometimes they become convinced that another shooting technique is superior to the one they are using. Such decisions are subject to fads, some coach’s recommendations being viewed as being better than others, whims, and any number of other effects. I think that when such happens, the amount of work involved, the process, etc. need to be discussed with your archer so that they know what is involved and that this is not a “quick fix” by any means. I also teach that the archer is in charge. They make the decisions in the end. If the archer wants to go down a path I completely disapprove of, well, that’s my problem, not theirs.

What Are The Elements of a Shot Rebuild?
There are some aspects of a rebuild that differ from just learning how to shoot from scratch. Otherwise it is quite the same as starting from scratch.

The necessary indicators for a rebuild were mentioned above, and a rebuild has been recommended and decided upon, so what do you do? To start, some archers just want to be told what to do, others want to be involved in the planning. In either case you need a plan as to what form and execution is being looked for. In this, you will need to know what involvement level your archer is at to judge how involved they want to be in the planning.

In any case, a couple of significant issues pop up right away. Any “different” shooting technique will not be all that different as all shots “look alike.” So, whatever plan you engage in must emphasize the differences substantially. Each difference has to be a focus of attention for quite some time, otherwise regression to the mean becomes the problem. I refer to this regression as the “almost magnetic attraction of doing it the old way.” If the archer isn’t provided with a different feel, or different image of getting some shot element done, they will quickly slide back to doing it “the old way,” after all, they practiced doing just that thousands of times. For this reason, it is important to change some things overtly, some even whether they need to be changed or not. The element I think is most effective in making things feel different is an archer’s stance. For example, if they were shooting with an open stance, ask them to shoot from a closed stance. This change alone makes everything feel “different,” and since it happens first in the shot sequence, emphasizes the “different” nature of the new shot. The stance is ideal for this purpose because it can be “modified” later. If it only serves to break the log jam of the “old shot,” it will have served its purpose. If the “new shot” is not made tangibly different from the “old shot” there will be little difference between the new and old and it is unlikely the new will be any better than the old. (Note Sometimes the huge amount of effort invested in this process rejuvenates an archer’s interest and things get better because the archer is more engaged than he was when he was in the rut that resulted in the decision to do a shot rebuild. This is one reason why it is so hard to evaluate whether the new shot is “better” than the old one.)

If you avoid the above in your rebuild, a significant problem you will have is just with your archer staying the course. The number of archers who will just put their shot in their coach’s hands and do what they are told to do is vanishingly small. Most archers, having achieved some experience and success will expect to master this “new shot” quickly and be back to competing in tournaments right away. The same syndrome occurs when teaching adult beginners. Adults are used to mastering new things quickly and displaying “adult competence,” aka not appearing foolishly naïve and childishly unskilled.

Things that are subtly different are harder to master than things overly different. Archers going through rebuilds have been known to stop competing for a year to a year and a half. The reason is obvious: the competition and the desire to do well will encourage regression to their old shot. Subconsciously, our performance will be driven to “what has worked in the past.” All shooting techniques are stored in long term memory. Subconsciously, when performance is suffering, switches are made to other things “on file” that have shown success in the past. Every archer has experienced the shock of performing a form flaw that they eradicated years ago, usually when they were dissatisfied with their shooting when under pressure. That flaw was stored in long tem memory and is always available. This is why focus and mental control are so important to high quality shooting. The ease with which things are pulled off of the mental shelf like this is determined by repetitions. The more something is repeated, the easier it is to recall. The archer’s “old shot” was repeated a lot and the “new shot” should not be taken out for a test drive until it is in the #1 position, strongly, on that memory shelf. One thousand shots the new way are not enough to override 40,000 shots the old way. Rebuilds, therefore take time.

The classic example of shot rebuilds is provided by Simon Fairweather of Australia. A world champion in the early 1990’s, he experienced declining performances for the better part of a decade afterward. Since the 2000 Olympic Games were to be in his home country, he embarked on a shot rebuild a year and a half ahead of time, with his then national coach, Kisik Lee. His declining performances must have fueled a great desire because it is quite, quite rare for an Olympic Recurve archer to rebuild his shot after ten years of elite competition. And he did medal in those Games. We don’t have records of those who rebuilt and failed to exceed their prior performances (another of the many glaring holes in coaching knowledge in our sport).

These are just my thoughts on the matter, of course. I have had only a couple of students rebuild their shots, so I do not have a lot of experience at this. I am unaware of a coach who does have a lot of experience in shot rebuilds (maybe Kisik Lee). This is a good indicator of how often these things happen.

Also, if nothing else, the difficulty of making a complete change in shooting technique shows the importance of guiding serious target archers when they are building and modifying their first shot. Build it right (really, reasonably close to being right) and they won’t ever need a rebuild. They will be close enough to their optimum shot, the best shot they can master, and will be able to achieve it through minor modifications over time.

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The Ikigai of Archery

Ikigai is a Japanese word which is a composite of iki (to live) and gai (reason) so it translates as a reason to live. It is more complicated that that but I like the application of the word as “what gets you out of bed in the morning.” Wikipedia describes it as “The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.”

To apply this to recreational target archery is a bit too puffery if that is a word, but I had a memory that popped up as I was contemplating this. There was a young man who was in my high school at the same time as I was, Charles Johnson. He was three years behind me and although we both played the same sport, basketball, he was a tad better at it that I. He ended up in the NBA as a member of the Golden State Warriors, back in the Rick Barry era, and won a NBA Championship in his tenure. I remember talking to him on the street and he broke off the conversation with a somewhat world-weary “I gotta go to work” not “I have to go to practice, but I have to go to work.”

My first reaction after waving goodbye was to think “Boy, if I got to play professional basketball, I would hop, skip, and jump my way to practice.” In all honesty, it was late in the season and the season is a grind of one-night stands on the road and I understood how he felt

But let’s get back to archers. If you work for a living, you probably only get in a good practice on weekends. Do you wake up in the morning of a practice day feeling “Oh, I can’t wait to get to the range” or do you feel “. . . <groan> another practice day. . . .” Which attitude is more likely to result in a good day of practice and good feelings from it?

Sometimes we groan all the way to the range but when we get out into the sunshine and experience the power of our bow’s and the success of our shots, we look back and wonder why we were bemoaning “having to practice.”

I am coming to the position that our attitudes are trainable, certainly they are affected by the others around us. (Which is why our mothers bemoaned us “keeping bad company.”) So, what ways can you think of it helping your archers boost their ikigai, have them jumping out of bed, eager on major practice days?


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Some Thoughts on Competing Against Yourself (Personal Bests)

We encourage young recreational target archers to participate in competitions as soon as they are comfortable with the idea (and even before). We argue that competition fuels progress. Often times, however, we follow that up with the concept of personal best scores (PBs) and argue that they are really only competing with themselves.

So, why do we need those other people if we are only competing against ourselves?

There is, as is often the case, some truth in each claim, even if they contradict each other somewhat.

I am reminded of an experiment. Researchers asked cyclists to pedal stationary bikes as fast as they could and recorded their personal best records after several rounds of attempts. Despite the fact that the cyclists were sure, very sure, that they could go no faster, once they were put in a simulated race against a supposed competitor—which was really just an avatar set to their own best time—nearly all of them were able to beat their previous PBs.

Similar experiments have been repeated in the realms of academics, music, and art, with exactly the same result: individuals perform at a higher level when competing against external opponents than when working alone.

So, the idea of competition spurring athletes to greater performances that they thought they could have is supported by research, but we still have to deal with students who look at competition the wrong way. These students follow their placements during a tournament. They are obsessed with the scores of those they perceive of as their opponents, and when we tell them “they are just competing against themselves” they stare in blank amazement at our utter stupidity.

The cure for unproductive competing is not personal best scores. Those are good indicators of progress, but maybe not good goals in and of themselves.

As coaches we need to train our charges in how to compete: how to avoid distractions such as mind games, how to focus on those things that will improve their scores, how avoid evaluating their shooting until they are done, etc.

We need to teach them about comfort zones (and how to avoid their effects), about what to focus upon (shot sequence, mental game, recovery programs, etc.), and how to respond to “failures” (as they perceive them). Competition needs to fuel better practices. (“If I am going to beat “so and so” I have to shoot in the <scoring zone> so how do I get there, what do I need to do in practice to make that a reality?)

I guess I am saying is if we just leave it up to the competitions to teach them about competing, we are doing the equivalent of expecting the bow and arrow to teach them how to shoot, our guidance being unnecessary. It can happen, but good coaching can reduce the time needed and the pain experienced when learning.


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Why Do We Listen to Those Little Voices in Our Head?

We all have them. Little voices in our head that seem to be voiced by someone else, often sounding quite critical of something we just did. We even have a meme, exemplified by an image of two “devils/demons/angels” sitting on our shoulders, one mouthing good things, the other bad things.

This “voice” for archers is a problem. As I have said often enough—never say bad things about yourself, that is what friends and family are for. But, whenever we shoot a poorly scoring shot, we have thoughts along the lines of “Argh, what an idiot!” and “Here we go again!” Why do we listen to these voices, which clearly aren’t being helpful?

I am going to argue that often enough it is because we can’t get good feedback about important things from anyone near us. How many people know you well enough that you could say “He/she seems to know me better than I know myself?” If you are lucky enough to have one of those people in your life right now, how much credit do you place on their opinions of you? Do you take them seriously? I would.

When it comes to your archery, is there a coach or mentor whose opinion you have such great trust in? If not (and “not” is the norm, I believe) what other options do you have but to coach yourself and that includes listening to the little voices in your head.

Back when I was teaching I often said “you can’t buy good feedback.” I meant by that is you can’t pay someone to give you that. In order to get good personal feedback, you must have a fairly deep relationship with that person. You have to know them, know them well and they have to know you, know you well. Trusting a coach, say, because they have a great reputation or an archer because of a championship pedigree really just gets their foot in the door. It takes time together, time on task, for such a relationship to form. This is why many great archers forgo their coaches and shoot with a training/shooting partner for a while. Each member of this duo provides feedback to the other (when asked, only when asked!). And, those “partners” didn’t just meet each other, they have a relationship already.

So, if you still have those little voices chiming in, you will have to have the discipline to analyze them and discard those which are unhelpful. Is that “Here we go again!” just a statement of fear or frustration regarding a poor shot. (Often this is how we protect our egos, by softening the blow of a poor overall performance by predicting it!)

Are the voices in your head stand-ins for critical parents/“friends” who aren’t there to berate you in person? Take some time to understand where those little voices come from. Over time, they will diminish in frequency and energy, or you may just train them to be actually helpful.

The lesson for coaches? Always, always, always treat your students as if they will become very serious students (don’t treat them like they already are, however). If they do become serious students and they do want consistent, frequent coaching they may just choose you for that because you know them so well. And, all of the time you sent together previously will have helped to create the relationship that will be crucial to the success of the team.

An Aside If you do not get chosen (and this is hard for me), be happy that they found someone better than you to coach them.

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Release Aids: Conscious or Unconscious Execution?

In an online AMA question and answer column (AMA = Ask Me Anything) elite compound archer Tim Gillingham was asked the question “Do you still prefer command release versus surprise release?” Mr. Gillingham replied (in part) was “Absolutely. It’s the most accurate way to shoot a bow in all conditions. All top rifle and pistol shooters shoot the same but surprise shots are prevalent in archery because people don’t know how to control anticipation.”

I am trying to get Mr. Gillingham to write about how one controls anticipation but I wanted to get some of my thoughts “on paper” while waiting to see if he is willing.

Tim Gillingham is a very successful archer who shoots by consciously tripping his release aid. He is one of a small group who does this. Most archers use a “surprise release” process in which the release is not tripped consciously. Many compound archers do not realize that both techniques have been used very successfully.

The consensus wisdom currently is that a surprise release is better in a number of ways, but it is important to recognize that both approaches have strengths and weaknesses.

Here I am just addressing the comparison to rifle and pistol shooters and whether they are comparable and not the larger context.

Shooting Arrows vs. Shooting Bullets
There is a big difference between shooting arrows and shooting bullets. When shooting arrows (except in the case of crossbow archers) the archer is supplying the energy to be transferred to the arrow in the process of shooting. When shooting bullets the energy to be transferred to the bullet is supplied by gunpowder and not the marksman.

A consequence of this is that an archer is under the stress of the bow (if he is pulling 50# the bow is pulling 50# back) and that situation must be held for some time before that load can be released. Riflemen and pistol shooters have to hold their weapons up against gravity, as do archers do their bows, but do not have that much larger force involved in their shooting.

Rifle and pistol shooters, who are in good shooting shape, only have to focus upon the aim and execution of their triggers. Archers have to focus on their aim, maintaining their bow at its proper draw length against the pull of the bow, and executing their triggers. Archers have three things to focus on, rifle and pistol shooters have only two. Note There are long lists of things that people claim are important at this moment in time and many of those points are valid, but how many of them can you pay attention to consciously?

You may have been taught that the conscious mind can only handle one thing at a time. I have taught this myself. But more recent studies show that people can actually hold two things in their minds consciously. The shooters of guns have only two things to attend to: aiming and triggering and so both can be done consciously. Archers have three things to do at that moment so, they must choose which two of the three (aiming, maintaining full-draw position, and triggering) they can do consciously.

So, the comparison is not exact.

My current understanding is that the vast majority of Compound-Release archers are better off with a surprise release because the proportion of shooters that have a personality that allows for conscious triggering without creating excess anticipation is somewhat small. This means they concentrate on aiming and maintaining their full-draw-position, while an automatic process works the trigger which “goes off” when it “goes off.” This process avoids the anticipation associated with a conscious triggering of the release aid. (Note, even with a surprise release technique employed, many archers are regular enough that the release trips at an exact point in time anyway.)

If I am wrong in this I would love to find out why.

If Mr. Gillingham has techniques that conquer the anticipation bugaboo (which leads inexorably to Target Panic), I will certainly give them a try.


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A Good Sports Psychology Blog

There is a sport psychology blog I find worth following and so I thought you might also. It is called Sport Psychology for Everyone and the kicker is the poster is Emma Karamovic, a professional basketball player. So, there is no question as to her actually experiencing what it is she talks about.

Here is her “About” statement: “I chose to create a blog about sports psychology and mental toughness because it has helped me tremendously over the past 5-6 years from high school, through college and now to being a professional athlete. For example, I have learned how to tackle problems, effectively use sport psychology techniques and strategies to build a productive and healthy mind. I have also learned how to work my way up to a healthy and strong mindset through adversity. Therefore, I want to share what I have learned, what works for me and how my way of using sport psychology every single day might help you as well. The most critical questions I would like to answer is where to start, how to start, how to maintain and develop positive thinking, as well as mental toughness. I hope that you find this blog beneficial in any aspect.

She writes well, certainly clearly, and does talk about individual sports along with team sports, and she has a BA in Psychology.


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