It Is How Your Brain Works, Deal With It

Try this little experiment. Pick up something heavy and hold it. If you don’t have something heavy, hold something like a can of soup or a quart of water in your outstretched arm. That’s it. Just keep holding it. And what do you notice? It is strange but the damned thing feels like it is getting heavier. And the longer you hold it, the heavier it feels it is.

This is due to the normal wiring of your brain. I do not know the details, but it makes sense that if it just felt “heavy” and that feeling never changed then the following could happen: Sure it feels heavy, but you think you could hold it like that forever, but suddenly it goes crashing to the floor. What happened? You dropped it!  In order for you to resist gravity, you must flex muscles, which consumes energy. When the chemical energy used to fuel this process runs out, so does your ability to flex those muscles and they go limp. So, apparently, as that muscular chemical energy is exhausted, the sensation we “feel” changes. It feels as if more and more effort is needed to hold the object up against gravity. But the mass of the object is constant, the acceleration of gravity is constant, so the force is constant. But it sure feels as if it were changing!

Okay, big deal, why are you bringing this up, Ruis?

Well, what are we told to expect to feel as “back tension.” This is the tension in the mid-upper back that complete the draw and effect the hold, prior to the loose. We are told to expect this muscle tension to build and build. Does this mean that the draw just continues and continues? I think you can see where this is going.

If your back tension feels as if it were building and building, then either the draw is continuing or you are holding still. Both are acceptable. What isn’t acceptable is any feeling that the muscle tension isn’t building or is slacking off. Both of those mean the draw is going backwards, which we call creeping, which can lead to collapsing (which is just larger scale creeping). Neither of these is conducive to consistent shooting.

So, the feeling of increasing back tension, at the very end of the draw doesn’t mean you are still drawing, it may mean that you are just holding. This has consequences for Recurve archers using a clicker. You can be “hanging on the point” with just a fraction of a millimeter left to go and feel that your back tension is building, building . . . but the clicker doesn’t go off. This is why clicker setup is critical. If this happens more than a few times in a shooting session, you need to move your clicker out just a hair, so that you will get through it 99 times out of 100.

Postscript The Nautilus and good weight training systems use this phenomenon to maximize the returns on your workout. They set the resistance and the numbers of repetitions to work the muscles involved into a state of complete fatigue, aka they stop working. Then they move you to a different exercise working a different set of muscles and do the same. In this manner they work each group  of muscles as much as they can be worked, every time, which maximize the return in your investment of workout energy.

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