The Art of the Possible (Score)

Okay, so I am addicted to watching videos of golf coaches coaching. This is because videos of archery coaches coaching are not available. In a recent viewing Golf Coach Hank Haney said that one can establish a “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda” golf round score by subtracting all of the big mistakes (penalty strokes, two-chips/two-pitches, etc., and three putts). This provides you with a score that is closer to your potential that what the scorecard actually said.

This practice applies to archery score cards, also. Take a look at a typical score card. On a, say, ten point scoring face, there might be mostly 10s, 9s, 8s, and 7s, but an occasional “flier.” Take all of the sub-seven arrows scores and turn them into 7s (this being your “normal low scoring arrow”). So, if there was a three, add four points to make it a seven. If a five, add two; if a two add five. When you are done, you will end up with a score that is closer to your potential score than what the scorecard actually said.

The point being, if you can eliminate your mistakes (or reduce them to a very small number, 1-2 per round) you will be shooting that score or very close to it. I went through a similar process in my NFAA field archery days. Through one long summer, I shot many practice field rounds with the goal of elimination all target scores under 18. (This is a 5, 5, 4, 4 minimum on those targets.) I did not chug along on this rounds and mumble “no low scores” or no “17s” like the Little Engine That Could, I just focused on shooting good shots and when I failed to hit that score goal of 18/20 on a target, I disassembled that end in mental replay to try to figure out what went wrong. (In almost every case it was a breakdown in mental focus, if you wanted to know … my mind wanders ferociously … as if you couldn’t tell!) The idea is to eliminate low scoring shots, or “working from the bottom end.” This can be a very helpful approach when coupled with “working from the top end” which is working to shoot excellent shots over and over.

One of the things I noticed when doing those rounds was if I shot a couple of fours early, then I became very conscious of “trying” to shoot the remaining shots as fives. This is, of course, not conducive to shooting fives, but it educated me as to the feeling of “trying” when I just wanted to execute good shots. I started to learn to shake off that feeling and get into a clean shot process. I also saw that my “misses” became smaller and smaller as I practiced this way. A great many things can be learned from a stint of working from the bottom end upward.

So, help your students see what is possible from where they are now. Too many are pessimistic about their scoring ability while too many others are overly optimistic. The optimistic ones need to see that even their “coulda, woulda, shoulda score” would not have won and the pessimists need to see where they would have placed had they shot their “coulda, woulda, shoulda score.”

Note This is my 279th post on this blog. That’s a whole lot of free advice! If you are grateful, think about buying one of my books (Steve Ruis on Amazon) or subscribing to Archery Focus magazine ( As you may know I am a retired schoolteacher, so I can use the money! :o)


Filed under For All Coaches

4 responses to “The Art of the Possible (Score)

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    Another wonderful post, Steve Ruis! So often, coaches and archers that do not have a coach set goals that are not attainable. They base their goal on a lofty goal based upon a perfect score instead of taking on the challenge by “eating one bite of the elephant at a time.”
    In a rush to get ready for a local, State or Regional tournament, they will set the goal to shoot a super high score in hopes of winning; rather than stepping back and analyzing the scores they are shooting right now, and take small, attainable chunks at a time. They fail to realize that a personal best is a much more attainable goal that trying for a win of the entire event, either in their division or the overall high score for the event.
    These coaches and archers fail to really pay attention to the fact that a shooter that is shooting 504 out of 560 on a field round isn’t likely to pull off a 555-558 score in ONE summer. But they will set that as a short-term goal anyways and put themselves into a box that they cannot ever get out of.
    The best thing to do is to take several of your actual scores, and as Steve has so well explained, set a goal to turn those 3’s into 4’s, and adjust your score goal accordingly. Once that is attained and you’ve eliminated all or most of the 3’s, then you tackle a goal of eliminating 20%, 30%, or maybe 40% of your 4’s. This should only be done once you have eliminated those pesky “3’s”.
    Now, for those that don’t shoot 3’s, and only a few 4’s, those people ascertain their X-counts and set goals to improve their x-counts. FOR ME, when I was shooting my best (averaging 553 on field/hunter rounds), my goal wasn’t perfection! My goal was to shoot 275 or better, with a minimum of 50% x’s. The x-count determined more about how well I was shooting as opposed to concentrating too hard on 275. The 275’s would come IF I musteredd that decent x-count. If I shot less than 50% x’s, my scores directly reflected this.
    Remember, goals must be RELIASTIC, they must be MEASURABLE, and they must be ATTAINABLE.
    Setting too lofty of goals that are way above your current level of expertise will only lead to failure and frustration. Again, “You eat an elephant ONE bite at a time.”
    This, and many other things will be brought out in my new book, “Improving Archery Motivation Through Goal Setting.”


  2. Ross Elliott

    Great post. I’ve taken this approach myself by focusing more on eliminating the errant shots and bringing my score up from the bottom; it seems self-evident that I have much more to gain by preventing flyers than by trying to force my group to tighten up. Fighting the desire to play catchup after a few bad arrows complicates matters, it is difficult to discern what is causing a flyer when you’re honed in on your score. I’ve found I make the most progress in diagnosing what is causing my errors after a particularly bad few ends, when the combined score loss forces me to check out of the catchup mindset.


    • The mindset is useful. Numbering ones arrows (or otherwise identifying them) allows one to find arrows that “do not group” (for whatever reason). Identifying the causes of fliers is important because I want them to be due to something I did, rather than something I didn’t do. If I misinterpret a flier as something I did, rather than shooting a defective arrow, then I am making a very bad mistake as I am basing my behavior on false feedback. Getting all of these issues out of the way allows us to accept the consequences of our actions, which, when we get those better scores, supports further progress because that progress shows that we can do “it” whatever “it” is.

      On Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 9:39 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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