A Missing Key Point in Teaching Form

Note—I can’t remember whether or not I have posted this before. A quick search of my posts just goes to show that quick searches aren’t available on this platform. So, if this is a repeat, I apologize. Steve

We distinguish “form” from execution by defining form as the various positions one gets into during a shot and execution is how one gets from position to position. Many others lump form and execution as defined this way into just the word “form.” In either case, we are all taught to coach by teaching “optimal form.” With regard to shooting technique, we are told “this” is correct and “that” is wrong; “this” is good, “that” is bad, etc. Of course, no one, and I really mean no one, shoots with optimal form. It is something to be striven for, not accomplished.

People go to great lengths to explain why shooting their way is best. Even I do this, despite the fact that I understand that there probably is not a best form, but that every archer must find “their shot.” I believe each archer must build a form they can master, which will be somewhat close to optimal form, but their form and execution being perfectly aligned with what is prescribed is probably not possible.

There is one point, however, that should be emphasized and virtually never is. And that is that if some element of optimal form, as you teach it, is not possible, then that form element needs to be taken off of the table. The only coaches that seem to have embraced this principle are para-archery coaches, but we all should.

For example, we all know how important, even essential, shooting with back tension is, right? But what if your student has had a back injury and cannot shoot that way? Back tension needs to be taken off the table as an option and another way to shoot needs to be found.

As another example, I had a student-archer who because of his body shape and a few other factors, could not get into “proper” alignment. So, that had to be taken off of the table. We figured out how he could improve without proper alignment. (A great many successful archers do this in any case.) Of course, he ended up as close to proper alignment as he could get and make repeatable, good shots, so he ended up close to “optimal form,” but not actually there. What we relieved was his concern over that; he stopped trying to get “there” as it was not something he could achieve. His time was far better spent working upon other things.

Our coaching approach should always be to encourage the most effective form an archer is capable of, optimal or not.

The big problem in all of this is figuring out what to do “instead,” which is basically not covered in coach training courses. Consider the young archer who struggles to hold his bow up. What do you do? Allow him to practice dropping his bow arm until it becomes a permanent part of his technique? I had to figure out, on my own, that one “fix” is to get them to widen their stance some, not so much as to make them unstable, but substantially wider. This gives them more leverage in holding their bow up. Next, we removed as much weight as we could from the bow (back weights . . . gone, unnecessary stabilizers . . . gone, stabilizer end weights . . . gone, etc.). Then we lived with a bit of “dropping of the bow arm” because there is little we can do until the archer’s bow shoulder muscles develop and those develop later in life. We informed the archer that they are to try to keep their bow arm up after the loose, which is exercising the muscles needed, but we are not criticizing them for “dropping their bow arm.” (This is one of the reasons we suggest delaying the transition from wood or plastic recurve bows to metal-risered recurve bows for any younger archer who struggles to hold their bow arm up.)

We need to share other such “compensations” so, if you have a pocketful, please consider writing guest post for this blog. We all benefit when we share good coaching knowledge.

1 Comment

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One response to “A Missing Key Point in Teaching Form

  1. Antal Marián

    Hi Steve, you can´t better to write it….
    The real true of cauching without “Monkey syndrome owerwrite technic ” of top archers for all adepts of archery shooting…..


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