I got the following question from one of my college archers and I thought you might be interested in the discussion And maybe you have some wisdom to share.
“On the three spot target today, I was able to shoot out the 10 ring on one of the spots (using my compound). 50% of the time, I would score a 9 really close to the 10, the other 50% would be a flat out 10. On the other two spots, however, I kept getting 8’s. Since the ring that I kept getting 10’s on was at the top, I decided to switch the bottom two rings with the top ring, so that there would be two rings on top. But, I still kept getting 10’s in that one center ring. Thus, I concluded that it wasn’t the height of the target that helped me, but it was the fact that the center target was perfectly perpendicular with how I was standing. Given this, what can I do to get of all my arrows in the 10?”
Welcome to the wonderful world of Archery!
My guess is that your preliminary analysis is wrong. One obvious reason is that there are many other factors you ignore. For example, a target spot that gets many 10’s ends up with a hole in the middle that can appear as a dark spot from the target line. Studies show that such “dots” can help aiming. (One of the difficulties associated with the multicolored target face is that the 9-, 10- and X-rings are all the same color, which makes them hard to distinguish, one from the others, at full draw). Realize, though, that I have never been able to get the same pattern on all of the spots of a multi-spot target! Only the elite seem to be able to do it.
Here are things you can try:
#1 Always put the target in its proper orientation as that is how you will see it in competition.
#2 Shoot in one particular order: e.g. 1, 2, 3. Compare the groups you get (10-12 arrows per spot, minimum).
#3 Try a different sequence: e.g. 3, 2, 1 and repeat.
There are six separate sequences on a three-spot target. One of them will typically give you better results.
You also should examine the results based on first, second, and third shots (no matter the sequence). If, for example, your third shot is always the weakest, you are probably shooting too quickly. It takes about 30 seconds for muscles to fully recover their full function and if you are getting off three shots in one minute, the last shot may be with only 80% of muscle capacity (numbers made up).
You will find that expert archers number their arrows and shoot them in the same order because there are defects in arrows that aren’t visible and only show up in the target. If your #3 arrow scores poorly, replace it with another and see if that was the cause of your poor scoring (I use the bottom tube of my quiver as a “penalty box” during competition. I do not shoot arrows in the bottom tube, so if I suspect an arrow is substandard I will consign it to the bottom tube until I can examine it more carefully. This is why you always want to have spare arrows in your quiver.
Other factors that affect your patterning: lighting (this is a biggie!), and soft target butts. Compound archers tend to shoot fairly tight groups. A great many arrows shot into a single place create a soft spot in the butt. Subsequent arrows are deflected from the firm parts into the soft parts, which causes the arrows to move position during impact. We want you to move your target face around while practicing to preserve the butts but at a competition you don’t know the condition of the butts, so if you watch the elite archers, they will move their target faces if they detect they are shooting into a soft spot. (Although they can only be moved so far.) They want to create their own soft spot, dead center in each spot of their target, not someone’s from another target.