Follow-up on “Committing to the Shot”

In a recent post (Committing to the Shot) I made the point that at some point or other, an archer (as well as golfers, baseball players, etc.) needs to commit to what they have planned to do in every shot. In the absence of such a commitment, our subconscious minds may come up with their own ideas on how to achieve the goal. What I did not do in that former post was indicate where this commitment needs to take place.

Golfers have more variables than we do: putts take different tracks at different speeds, the ball can be made to curve left or curve right, as well as go straight, shots can be hoisted up high where the wind will affect them more are shot down low where the wind will affect them less, the turf itself has different textures which affect the roll of the ball (the “fair way” vs. the “rough way”—those are the original terms), etc. In archery, we may have wind to contend with, and a shot clock, but little else, so the physical choices are fewer. Unfortunately, though, some of our choices include previously learned shot techniques, that have been shelved but can be called upon subconsciously.

Because of various factors, I suggest that the commitment needs to go after the shot visualization just before the raising of the bow. The visualization is a plan for the shot transmitted to the subconscious mind. The commitment is the command to the subconscious mind to “stick to the plan” and don’t consider other options (equal to a “Do Not Improvise” command). Either you commit to your shot at that point, with the sight, sound, and feel of such a shot just vividly imagined, or you need to change your plan and start over.

There is an aspect of timing involved here. From the visualization, there are just a few seconds before that “image” fades from short term memory, so it is “commit and go” time right after it.

Training This I do not recommend dumping all of this on an archer from the first moment they think they are serious about archery. I recommend that the shot sequence be taught as a series of physical steps first. When it has been learned then you can spring upon your students that the shot sequence is also the framework for all of the mental activities involved in shooting.

Shot Sequences The shot sequence or shot routine is basically a guide as to where we need to place our attention, not to micro-manage each step of the process but to be there to observe whether anything is going wrong. If you are looking at your arrow’s nock when it is being attached at the nocking point (in the context of a shot, of course), but your mind is on “going to MacDonald’s after practice because boy, are you hungry,” you are ever more likely to attach the arrow in the wrong place or with the index vane in the wrong orientation or…. You just need to be “there” and “paying attention.”

An Aside The phrase “paying attention” is indicative of the feeling we all have that our supply of attention is finite. Our supplies of other mental properties seems not so bounded, e.g. love, hate, finding things humorous, etc. I tend to agree with this as our attention has been woven into our mental processes very deeply. For example, much of the information that comes into our eyes that results in neural pathways being activated is just jettisoned in our brains. The small cone of focus of our eyes that we can control, acquires information that is much less likely to be jettisoned. If one is focused on what one is observing and one is “paying attention” that is attending to that task, the information is even more likely to get into short term memory which is the only pathway to long term memory and from which we can “re-play” events that go wrong for us. If we are not “paying attention,” the information involved is much less likely to be kept. (If you are interested in these phenomena, I recommend the book The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size by Tor Norretranders to you.)


Filed under For All Coaches

7 responses to “Follow-up on “Committing to the Shot”

  1. Coach Krish Rama

    Dear Mr. Ruiz,
    I have followed your page, for many years an have also made many comments.
    Today, I would like to say something and make you aware.
    With respect, as an archery coach, I have no idea about golf and am not interested in it. As much as it may annoy you to hear this, please take it as an objective comment. I have noticed lately, that you are referring more and more to golf.
    Now I will share my coaching ‘bigger picture understanding’.
    I am a coach that sits in the centre of the 10 zone.
    My students start on the outer 1 point ring.
    Through correct coaching, I slowly draw them nearer to me.
    When most look at the target, they only see points.
    As a coach, I see each ring as a level of progress.


    • Dear Coach Krish,

      My intent is to not irritate you because of my gold references, but that archery has so few sources of coaching information, that I have been driven to pursuing coaching wisdom in other sports. Also, golf is a very prominent sport with millions and millions of dolalrs of prize money, yet those rich, famous, professional athletes have the same issues as ordinary archers. So, I am trying to establish that connection, too.

      If you find my gold references useless, please skip over them, knowing I mean no offense.

      The metaphor you use to describe your role as a coach is far from mine. For me the route to the center of the target for each student is through an understanding of themselves, so it is through them, not me that they will find their way. My role is to help point out the direction they may need to go. For example, I do not think technique is paramount, yet many people spend a great deal of time trying to find “the best way” to do something. I, on the other hand think that “technique is important, every archer needs one.” I find that every archer’s technique is unique to them, so they need to find their technique and the learn how to own it as uniquely theirs. My evidence that this is a viable way to proceed is the wide variety of ways people shoot arrows. They are all different and yet they are all similar. We need to teach the similarities and not insist that our students do things “right.”

      On Fri, Mar 30, 2018 at 1:36 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:


      Liked by 2 people

      • Coach Krish Rama.

        Sorry Mr. Ruis, my comment does seem quite rude but this was not my intention. Funny thing is, that when I do compete (quite rare now), I use a pair of VIVOBAREFOOT golf shoes. On the foot ware subject, I wonder how many archers have the correct shoes. After all, the ‘foundation’ starts from the sole and heel.
        My metaphor, was just a basic concept that I chose to describe my function. What I do, encompasses so much more. Physical, biological, physiological and psychological, are comprehensively used and applied during my training, with a view to creating the necessary adaptation to progress.
        As for adaptation, this also applies to me. I set my self on a five year plan to become a professional coach, whilst operating my own archery schools. My National Federation is very upset that I have not opened a club but then, I cannot, until I am ready to. For me, studying the theory whilst applying the practical during coaching, has been how I have grown to become better at what I do, with a greater level of understanding.
        I already possess two A4 bits of paper, that recognise me as a level 1 and 2 coach (Mauritian Olympic Committee), another that certifies me as an Advanced Sports Manager (International Olympic Committee) and at the beginning of this year, received another A4 bit of paper, that recognises me as a Bachelor of Sports Science (Bsc).
        About to finish my five year plan soon, with a seminar and two exams over four days, in Munich. I will be doing two coach levels (1 and 2) back to back. My tutor will be none other than Mr. Kisik Lee. Afterwards, I will consider myself ready to open a club.
        I would be curious to know how many coaches have kept on studying and improving. Let us not forget, that assessing others is fruitless, if the coach does not perform regular self assessments.


      • I argue that doing what you are doing is essential. If you are not trying to get better as a coach, you are probably becoming worse (just like in archery).

        Here is the U.S. the problem is the lack of availability of suitable trainings. There is much that is “coach specific” that is not archery but most of these programs are for team sports which does not help much. In fact, the lack of training opportunities for coaches has lead me to include more coach-centered articles in *Archery Focus* magazine and to publish books on coaching archery (over a dozen now and more coming) even though this is not particularly profitable for the authors (certainly not for us).

        Good luck on your trainings. I am interested in how you perceive these.

        Keep up the good work, my friend!

        On Tue, May 22, 2018 at 9:06 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  2. Hi Steve
    I’ve been thinking (Always dangerous ) about shot commitment a fair bit and reading this again has jolted my memory. Coaching my compound archer I get her to visualize and then commit to the shot just after her release aid is secure on the D loop and before any real tension is applied to the release. On my recurve archer I get him to get his hand and fingers set, a part raise, couple of inches only, check everything then either he visualize the shot and commits to it whole heartedly or he re-sets.
    Would you agree that the timing is going to be slightly different and that the process of committing to the shot can be in different places for different people ? Certainly before the draw on any bow type?


    • Actually many coaches suggest committing to the shot needs to happen at full draw/anchor because it is an evaluation that “everything has gone correctly so far, so I will finish this one.”

      In my mind, the visualization is a set of instructions to the subconscious mind of what is desired. The commitment comes either before you execute the plan or when you feel that the plan is being followed, which requires some stillness, therefore in the few seconds between anchor and release. I think both are viable recommendations.

      On Wed, May 16, 2018 at 4:40 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  3. Hi Krish
    I like your way of putting the way you lead your archers to the gold, it is a way of putting the way you teach archery in to words. I think we all have different theory we use, both to ourselves and our students. Nice work Coach Krish.


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