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.
Hi 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).
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.