How Much is “Enough?”

QandA logoI have a student battling target panic (TP) and he sent in the following question:

Do you think 1000 shots are enough to get the muscle memory for that good back tension release feel or is it more important on a certain number of days doing it? I’ve read one month, three months. I remember my martial arts instructor (early 80’s) telling me if you do a move 3000 times, it’s with you for life. Don’t know how that relates to archery shots.

* * *

The usual estimates are only estimates but it is more than 1000 shots. There are two phases, I believe, Lanny Bassham refers to the first as “Building the Base.” This is the phase requiring many thousands of shots. After that “Maintenance” requires fewer shots but you never get to “no practice necessary” because of the design of our brain software, manifested in the phrase “use it or lose it.”

Dave Pelz, the Master Golf Instructor, estimated that it takes 10,000 repetitions to learn a move and 20,000 to “own it.” With regard to your TP, what you are striving to do is get to “normal shooting” so that your practice is “normal” and not focused on TP. I know of no test one can do to see if one is “healed” from the TP malady, in fact I don’t think a “cure” is available yet. It seems to be something you live with.

You have to make the transition (from blank bale to “normal” shooting) along the lines of what you are doing and then see if you can handle normal shooting. (I recommend warm up shooting to start blank bale regardless—focus on the feel of shots to reconnect your thoughts to your actions.) If you have a relapse, then it is back to the blank bale, then the transition program, then trying “normal” shooting again.

This is why so many people fail to effect this process: the want to “rush” the whole thing to get back to normal. This is like someone taking antibiotics saying “the doctor said I need to take these pills for ten days, but I think I can do fine with just five.” Rushing such a regimen dooms you to failure. The unfortunate thing is we do not have a test to see if what you have done is “good enough.”

Interestingly, I knew a young lady who closed her eyes just before she released (This was mentioned elsewhere in this letter. SR). She shot better than I did keeping my eyes open. And I am not sure this is not a valid way to deal with a TP recurrence on the fly. If you get a touch of TP during a competition, you might want to try closing your eyes just before you shoot (as he described) and see if it “goes away.” TP is an anxiety disorder and this may be an effective way to deal with it short term. Of course, you have to be able to do it, and it seems you have established that. The key to success doing it is to be setup so that you are not fighting your body. Tom Dorigatti wrote a nice article in Archery Focus magazine on shooting with your eyes closed and adjusting your stance until, in the case of some of his students, they were shooting perfect 25 point ends on the NFAA indoor five-spot target.

 

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2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

2 responses to “How Much is “Enough?”

  1. I have coached an archer through his TP and it was a bad case, untreated by any coach until he approached me. We set out on a journey, together, to cure his target panic.

    Though I do think that “cure” is the wrong word, totally not suitable, in fact a better word would be overcome your TP.

    We tried all kinds of things from books and articles that or this works … that works… this cured me !

    I came to the conclusion that not every archer will be able to get through their own personal TP in the same way. What works for one archer may not work the next time you come across it.

    I do think that part of the process is blank bale shooting and I think it is an important part of getting through it.

    With my archer he knew he was good. He knew he had the tools and he shot 570 – 580 indoors on a regular basis. With him it was confidence, self doubt and it all stemmed form a competition where half way through the serving came loose and caused him to doubt his own skill, caused him to doubt his own shot and doubt his equipment.

    To start we only shot as blank faces, white 120cm’s reversed on the straw with nothing to aim at. but a white face. I filmed him so he could see that his technique was good. He is still the only archer that I have coached that shot after shot after shot the arrow was always lined up along a line of bricks … not once did that arrow move from that line!

    I had him once shoot blindfolded at a 60cm face, five arrows, for a score of 48.
    I would have him remove his sight, shoot my longbow … Lots of different things. In fact anything to take his mind off TP .. After the first couple of weeks we never talked of gold shy, TP .. shot freeze. Normally I shot with him on the same boss.

    We worked through his shot, literally I had him speak his mind and I wrote it down …. again and again and again over and over. Until over three weeks and nine hours shooting I had about thirty sheets of paper. I typed them all in to my lap top, one word in each cell on a spread sheet. If a column matched the row went green. if any words differed then that word highlighted red … We re-wrote his mental shot routine to match the most commonly thought routine …It helped ..

    As a confidence builder I had him make his own strings, 5 in all, and then keep a note of how many arrows he shot through each string. On a regular basis we’d scrap two strings and make replacements … This worked for him, it will not work for your archer in the same way. He was never cured but he did learn to live with it.
    In all it took a year before he took part in a competition.

    We moved on and the main thing that I learned was … There is no cure but there is a way to overcome “IT”

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    • I don’t think I understand what you did in “We worked through his shot, literally I had him speak his mind and I wrote it down …. again and again and again over and over. Until over three weeks and nine hours shooting I had about thirty sheets of paper. I typed them all in to my lap top, one word in each cell on a spread sheet. If a column matched the row went green. if any words differed then that word highlighted red … We re-wrote his mental shot routine to match the most commonly thought routine …It helped ..” If you would expand on this, I’d appreciate it.

      I think that TP is like anything else: its symptoms and palliatives vary for each person and looking for “a cure” is probably foolhardy.

      Like

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