Shooting from the Present Moment

Shooting from the present moment, from “the now,” is highly recommended . . . even by me! But is that even possible?

Yes, it is but it isn’t easy. Basically, our power as human beings is to be able to anticipate the future and plan/act upon that anticipation. For example, animals hunt quite directly, the cheetah charges and if it takes down the prey, then it eats . . . or not. If not, then it tries, tries again. Man became a fearsome hunter because of his ability to map out the future. The most important hunting technique when we lived on the savannah was to spook a prey animal so it would run off. To conserve its energy, it would not run far. But along comes the man who trotted behind to spook it again, and again, and again. Eventually, after miles and miles of this treatment, the prey animal was nervously and physically exhausted, sometimes so much so that the hunter could come up and slit its throat with a knife. (Our stamina is still extraordinary amongst animals.)

To come up with such a hunting strategy, you had to envision a future and how it would change, iteration after iteration, and bet a lot of life energy that it would work.

It is hard for us humans to set aside the mental tools that made us great.

It is said that animals live in the present as part of their natural constitution. Whoever came up with this bonkers idea apparently hadn’t spent much time with animals. This morning, I put on my shoes (in anticipation of going out later; I usually wear slippers in house), and our dog went crazy. He thought it was time to go out for a walk. The dog loves to go for a walk, and apparently, he was not living entirely in the present as he was thinking about a future walk. In addition, animals that have been abused often respond to cues with great anguish, which means they remember and they anticipate. Human beings have this ability only in greater extent, not exclusively. Many animals show the ability to plan and anticipate the future.

Since this ability is automatic, that is we do not control it (well or at all), it is not easy to turn it off. Luckily it only has to be turned off for seconds at a time. This is portrayed quite well in the movie “For Love of the Game.” The main character is a baseball pitcher who stands on the pitching mound, receives a sign, then use a key word/phase (“Clear the Mechanism”) to drop into the now. When he does the crowd noise virtually disappears, only to reappear when the pitch is completed. He is “in the now” only for the few seconds it takes to execute a pitch and then he is back out.

This pattern is the same for archers. Walking to and from the line and all of the time between ends is “normal time,” but when shooting it is best to shoot from the now, but this is hard to do and hard to maintain, so it is only done for the 9-10 seconds it takes to shoot one arrow. You go in and then come out . . . for each arrow, arrow after arrow, to the conclusion of the end.

In order for young archers to understand this it has to be explained as to what we are asking them to do. The whole purpose of being in the now is to be able to focus upon doing each element of each shot correctly. Since they have practiced their butts off, this mostly happens automatically, but their attention is needed on each step of the shot process as it occurs until the shot is over. (The shot ain’t over ‘til the bow takes a bow.)

After each shot there is a reset. You check to see where the arrow landed, you evaluate whether that was a good shot or not, you make a plan for the next shot, etc . .  in normal time. When you get to the pre-shot visualization for the next shot, then you drop into the now again. Lather, rinse repeat.

It ain’t easy, but it is effective.


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4 responses to “Shooting from the Present Moment

  1. My Coach when I was just starting in archery (about 25 years ago) used to say that you had to be a genius during the set up and a total moron when at full draw and anchor until the loose. Not the words I would use today but similar to ‘being in the now’?


    • LOL. There are many, many ways to get the point across. Back when I was teaching I used to say that one had to hear something three times or three different ways to truly grasp what was being said (Repetition being the mother of learning, or so the ancient Greeks said.) Sometimes saying something outrageous was needed to make a point.

      In the US, going back 25 years, it would be really hard to find an archer who had a coach (more common on the recurve side than the compound … way *more *common, but not common at all). It was about that time that I discovered that there were archery coaches! (Who would have thought such a thing?)

      On Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 6:32 AM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  2. Coach Rama

    Dear Sir,
    as ever great article.
    I have been teaching my students to incorporate relaxation techniques whilst walking to and back from the butt.
    Another area more directly related to aspects of your article; is that of ‘focus’ or ‘prioritisation’.
    I have introduced a new word into my coaching to replace these words ‘SERIOUS’, “be SERIOUS about your hook”, “be SERIOUS about breathing” and so on. As results go, there is a marked increase in application to each portion of the shot cycle.
    Each individual action is a fraction of the ‘now’.


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