Tag Archives: Self-serving Plugs

Okay, I’m Back

Sorry, I have been busy. We will be formally launching the Archery Coaches Guild web site this week and that has been a great deal of work. Do drop by and “join” (www.archerycoachesguild.org). There will be no dues charged until next July, so you can explore whether this new organization works for you at no cost.

I haven’t blogged much of late because of the ACG and I have been working to get a couple of new books out (see below) as well as launching the 20th year of Archery Focus magazine with what we think is a stellar issue (also see below).

If you have questions, fire away; I will do my best to answer them.


TPOCA v1 Front Cover

TPOCA Vol2 Cover

AF Cover 20-1

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New Coaching Book Available

My latest archery coaching book is now available on Amazon.com and other sources. Here’s the TOC so you can see if you are interested:

 Table of Contents
Still More on Coaching Archery


On Form and Execution
1  A Defense of Copying
2  An Analysis of the NTS Finger Loose
3  Being Consistent
4  Helping Your Students Explore Balance
5  How to Build Championship Form
6  Relaxing
7  The Physical Requirements of a Good Shot
8  We Don’t Talk Enough About Stillness and Rhythm
9  What Is the Most Important Part of an Archer’s Form?
10  Why the Bow Hand Release is a Bad Idea

On Practice
11  Practice Tricks
12  Why You Should Always Center Your Groups
13  A Practice Prescription Case Study: After a Longish Layoff
14  Enjoying Practice

On Equipment
15  Arrow Overhang: How Much is Too Much?
16  Bearpaw Twinbow Review
17  The Broadhead Planing Effect: Fact or BS?
18  Ultra-Adjustable Compound Bows
19  What the Coach Training Classes Leave Out . . . And Shouldn’t
20  A Stringwalking Puzzle
21  Can You Read Arrow Patterns?
22  The Optics of Apertures

On Coaching
23  Teaching the Finger Release
24  Getting from “Here” to “There”
25  A Coaching Case Study
26  The Overaiming Meme
27  The Stages of Learning Archery, Pt 1
28  The Stages of Learning Archery, Part 2
29  The Stages of Learning Archery, Part 3
30  The Stages of Learning Archery, Part 4
31  Coaches Never Assume
32  Managing Emotional Attachments to Athletes
33  On the Nature of Advice
34  Towards a Common Terminology
35  Watch Your Language
36  What To Look For (At?)
37  What Great Archers Don’t Necessarily Make Great Coaches
38  What the Coach Knows and the Athlete Needs

General Commentary
39  Random Archery Thoughts
40  Alternate Shot Letdown Alternatives
41  ATAs Archery Participation Survey
42  There Must Be … A Better Way
43  The Benefits of Archery
44  Having a Lot of Pull on the Archery Range

SMOCA Front Cover 10%


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I Want Your Help

I apologize for the shameless plug but we are, once again, trying everything we can to spread good information about archery.

This post concerns our first archery publication: Archery Focus magazine. This magazine was created shortly after the 1996 Olympics by Rick McKinney of the U.S. and Yoshi Komatsu of Japan. I became the Editor in 1999 and Claudia and I took over the magazine shortly thereafter. What I need your help with is we need a broader base of support. I ask you to consider subscribing or, if you are already a subscriber, that you go out and convince two other people that they need to subscribe. Here’s why.

Archery Focus magazine is the only archery publication in the world that is solely focused on publishing articles that help archers and coaches get better at their crafts. All archers (compound, recurve, traditional), at all levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced, elite), and all aspects (physical training, mental game, form and execution, equipment, etc.). With a subscription you get six new issues as they are published and you get access to all of the back issues for no additional charge. This means that subscribers have at their fingertips the world’s largest collection of archery instruction materials in that archive. We have an educational mission and we do not want to put needed information behind a pay wall, except to make the money we need to keep the magazine going.AF Cover 17-3

We aren’t going broke but we are barely breaking even (Claudia hates that when I say this to people, but it is true). I do not draw a salary. And we could use more than a few more subscribers, so I ask you to consider it if you have not already or, if you are a subscriber, if you would talk it up with people at your range, I will appreciate it.

Archery Focus magazine

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When to Aim?

Whenever one of you signs up for this blog, I hie myself over for a look at yours (if you have one) to see what you are interested. I get a number of topics upon which to write for this blog in this manner. One such topic is “when to aim?” which, as it turns out is a topic of one of the chapters of my latest book (Still More on Coaching Archery, Watching Arrows Fly, 2014). Here is an excerpt from that book on this topic.SMOCA Front Cover 10%

* * *

The Overaiming Meme

Olympic Recurve coaches have a meme that is considered a cardinal sin if you break it: “do not overaim.” This admonition permeates the writing of recurve coaches at all levels. The USA Archery Level 2 coach training manual, for example, includes a shot sequence with one of the early steps labeled “not yet aiming.” I think this warrants a closer examination.

So what constitutes aiming? Is it just the act of aligning a sight aperture with a point of aim? Clearly this is not the case. Aiming starts from the very beginning of the shot cycle when the archer takes a stance. A condition for accuracy is that the arrow must be in a vertical plane going through the target center for it to hit the center (absent wind effects, etc.). When an archer steps onto a shooting line and effects a square stance, you can see that a vertical plane going through the arrow also goes right across the archer’s shoe tips. This is why we recommend a square stance to beginners, it is a natural aiming stance in that by aligning one’s shoe tips up with the target center, one is also aligning the arrow up with target center. If you take a square stance and get into reasonable T-Form at full draw, you will be aiming right down the middle. So, aiming begins with the stance.

Later in the cycle the bow gets raised, but how far does it get raised? What I teach my students is that it needs to be raised to a height such that when the draw is made and the anchor position is found, the sight aperture is naturally centered on the gold (or wherever the archer is aiming). Higher than that or lower than that results in the archer having to move the bow a substantial amount at full draw, a clear waste of time and possibly a use of the wrong muscles. So, raising the bow is an aspect of aiming. (It has been referred to as “pre-aiming” in the past.)

So, is this too much or too soon? Is this overaiming?

No. Here’s why.

What’s Special About Aiming
As an archer moves through her shot sequence, her attention focuses on just one thing, one thing after another, but just one thing at a time. When taking a stance she focuses on just that. When nocking an arrow she focuses on just that. Beginners have to focus more in that they do more consciously, they have to check the index vane, they have to check that the arrow is nocked snuggly under the top nock locator, they have to be sure the arrow is on the rest and under their clicker (if used). This is all done in a trice and without conscious thought by the expert archer, but it is done and all are attended to.

So, all through the shot sequence the archer’s attention is focused on one and only one thing . . . except during the “aiming” phase. During the aiming phase, the archer must divide her attention between two things: the visual matching of the aperture with target center (or point of aim) and some aspect of her form involved in completing the shot (the draw elbow, tension in the back muscles, etc.).

This is the only time during the shot sequence that the archer’s attention gets divided: during the “aiming” step. The admonition to not overaim is not helpful as it violates the coaching dictum of “tell them how to do it right, don’t describe how they are doing it wrong.” It also is vague and hard to understand. Just what are the characteristics of “overaiming?”

Instead . . .
Instead of this admonition, archers need to learn how to divide their attention during that step.

One simple drill is to have them hold their bow up in an American-style “Raise” position. I ask them to focus on the aperture on the target and then switch to focusing on their bow hand, then their bow arm, then their shoulders, etc. all the time keeping their aperture on the target. (You must include rests because the arms get tired holding the bow up.) Just ask them to move their attention and focus around. After just a few minutes of practice, they get pretty good at it. Then ask them to focus on their aperture and without losing that focus, include their bow hand, or their bow arm, or their shoulders, etc. Then ask them to practice doing this (which they can do at home) with the key being able to focus their divided attention on aperture and their back muscles (some coaches substitute a focus on the draw elbow for the back). Note My piano teacher taught me this. You can’t play different notes with both hands until each hand has learned to play it’s notes by itself.

Another activity/drill that will enhance an archer’s ability to divide their attention is “slow shooting.” This is just working through a shot but at a substantially slower pace than normal. Instead of a shot requiring 6-7 seconds, it takes 30-40 seconds done this way. The archer must also focus on what they are supposed to be focusing on. Mindless drills may tone the body but do not sharpen the mind. You must caution them to avoid flitting back and forth between the two task (maintain sight picture, finish shot, maintain sight picture, finish shot, . . .).

Another drill might be to ask them to focus only on their aperture position while shooting an end. On the next end they are to only focus only on completing their shot and not at all on their aperture. A third end they need to divide their attention between their aperture position and finishing their shot. This drill is based on the Goldilocks’ Principle: the first end is too much aperture focus, the second end is too much body focus, and the third end is “just right” or at least close to it. Often the third end shows a much better group than either of the other two (as it should).

A Fine Point
When writers do address this topic (almost never directly) they tend to mention visual focus on the aperture, which is correct, and a visualization involving the draw elbow or scapulas a means of making sure execution of the shot is continuing, which is incorrect. The power of visualizations is that they involve the brain triggering the same muscles that will be used during the activity visualized, so they are great for rehearsals. But the visual cortex is being asked to do two visual tasks in this approach, which has to lead to some confusion. Instead the visual focus on the aperture’s position needs to be combined with the tactile sensations in the back or draw arm that can be associated with correct execution.

But . . . Isn’t this a Form of “Multi-Tasking?
Recently psychologists have studied “multi-tasking,” that is doing two tasks at once, and have argued that this is often not what people think. Instead of two tasks being done simultaneously, the minds of the people doing these tasks were switching back and forth between the two and each task thus suffered in quality. The simultaneity was an illusion. Examples are given such as trying to do math problems while listening to a Presidential speech and extracting salient information. I believe they had brain scans to back up their claim. But it is not the case that if this is true some of the time, it is true all of the time.

Arguments by example, how scientists explain complex things to ordinary people like you and me, can be opposed by counter examples, so let me offer a few. About in third grade most American kids are presented with the task of “rubbing their stomach and patting their head” (or is it the reverse?) from a “friend.” At first none can do this as it seems impossible. But after a short period of practice, many can do these two different tasks simultaneously (maybe not so well, but practice usual stops when the feat is achieved). Some of these kids may grow up to play the piano during which each of their hands is doing something different and simultaneous, or maybe a virtuoso rock ’n’ roll drummer who can play complex rhythms, sometimes with different meters, simultaneously with both hands and a foot.

To end this argument with a sports metaphor, consider a baseball batter. He might have to track the curved path of a ball thrown from a variety of “release points” at near 100 mph close enough to the batter cause significant bodily harm were he hit by the pitch while swinging a baseball bat to intercept that ball to hit it the opposite direction. If they can do those tasks simultaneously, I think we can do our task simultaneously, our target is not even moving! All it takes is practice.

Please note, I am not refuting or rejecting the psychologist’s research. I believe they are absolutely correct when it comes to two simultaneous and complex conscious tasks, but the subconscious mind seems capable of attending to a great many tasks simultaneously.

Perhaps it is time to bury the “overaiming” meme. It was never particularly helpful. It is not an instruction of “what to do” but rather “what not to do.” And I don’t think it accurately described the issue at hand.

There was a time in the late 60’s, early 70’s when the clicker was being adopted that a number of archers were using it as a draw check only and would hold for several seconds after the clicker “clicked.” Many of these archers were taking too much time at full draw and could be described as over aiming, but no one is doing that now.

Coaches inherit too much stuff that has outlived its usefulness and I think this is one of those.


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Another Hot Off the Press Announcement!

We have formally launched the Watching Arrows Fly Coaching Library with the release of Larry Wise’s new archery coaching book Larry Wise on Coaching Archery. This book is now available on Amazon.com and I just put the finishing touches on a Kindle version for those of you who prefer that (plus it is only $9.95 — and for some strange reason the two editions are listed separately, so you have to search for the Kindle edicition separately).

If you don’t know Larry Wise, he is one of the premier compound coaches in the world. Currently he is helping the USA Archery folks write up the National Training System for compound archers. His new book is full of advice for compound and bowhunting coaches and was written also for those coaching themselves. This book fills a very large hole in the coaching literature as Larry address not only what to teach but how to teach it.

LWonCA Cover v4 (large)


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Hot Off the Press!

ACHT Cover v2I promised (threatened?) I was writing a “how to” book for archery coaches. Well, Archery Coaching How To’s is out and available on Amazon.com! In this book I tried to describe what I consider to be teaching techniques tf contents:


Table of Contents

General Caveats

How To’s

  • How to . . . Introduce Clickers
    ·   How to . . . Manage Draw Weight
    ·   How to . . . Teach Release Aids
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Slings
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Stabilizers
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Bow Sights
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Finger Tabs
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Peep Sights
    ·   How to . . . Introduce New Arrows

How To’s
Form and Execution

  • How to . . . Teach the Use of Back Tension
    ·   How to . . . Teach Shooting Off of the Point
    ·   How to . . . Teach Stringwalking
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Anchors
    ·   How to . . . Teach Different String Grips
    ·   How to . . . Teach a Finger Release
    ·   How to . . . Develop A Strong Bow Arm
    ·   How to . . . Create A Good Followthrough
    ·   How to . . . Create A Surprise Release (Compound)
    ·   How to . . . Adapt to New Bows

How To’s
New Experiences

  • How to . . . Introduce Field Archery
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Target Archery
    ·   How to . . . Introduce Competition
    Sidebar: Who Competes? Against Whom or What?

Having a Written Coaching Philosophy
Coaching Rationales

If you read it, please post a review on Amazon.com to help others with their buying decisions. Thanks.





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Catching Up

Egad, it has been a while since I have posted. I have been quite busy, so I will try to catch up shortly. For now, an announcement … Ta Da! My new book is out. It is available on Amazon.com. If you are a subscriber to Archery Focus magazine, we sent you an email with a discount on this book, so look for it (it is probably in your Trash). This book is for beginning-to-intermediate coaches and coaches teaching outside of their primary expertise, e.g. recurve coaches coaching compound students. It provides a system for teaching many of the topics encountered by such coaches. Here is the Table of Contents:

·  How to . . . Introduce Clickers
·  How to . . . Manage Draw Weight
·  How to . . . Teach Release Aids
·  How to . . . Introduce Slings
·  How to . . . Introduce Stabilizers
·  How to . . . Introduce Bow Sights
·  How to . . . Introduce Finger Tabs
·  How to . . . Introduce Peep Sights
·  How to . . . Introduce New Arrows

Form and Execution
·  How to . . . Teach the Use of Back Tension
·  How to . . . Teach Shooting Off of the Point
·  How to . . . Teach Stringwalking
·  How to . . . Introduce Anchors
·  How to . . . Teach Different String Grips
·  How to . . . Teach a Finger Release
·  How to . . . Develop A Strong Bow Arm
·  How to . . . Create A Good Followthrough
·  How to . . . Create A Surprise Release (Compound)
·  How to . . . Adapt to New Bows

New Experiences
·  How to . . . Introduce Field Archery
·  How to . . . Introduce Target Archery
·  How to . . . Introduce Competition
Sidebar: Who Competes? Against Whom or What?

Having a Written Coaching Philosophy
Coaching Rationales

Let me know what you think and if you like (or not) write a review on Amazon.com!

ACHT Cover v2


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Even More on Coaching Archery is Out!

I just checked and my latest book, Even More on Coaching Archery, is now available on Amazon.com. If you enjoyed, or better benefited from, Coaching Archery or More on Coaching Archery, this is more of the same. Let me know what you think (steve@archeryfocus.com). If you like the book, or any of the others really, I would appreciate you posting a review on Amazon.com. Many people say the reviews really help them decide whether or not to buy a book.

EMOCA Cover (10%)

Table of Contents

On Form and Execution
Using a Release Aid (The Right Way)
Teaching Aiming and Sighting
The Whole and Its Parts
The Pre-Draw
The Pre-Draw Redux
BEST Step by Step #1 Overview
BEST Step by Step #2 The Stance
BEST Step by Step #3 Hooking and Gripping
BEST Step by Step #4 Mindset and Set-up
BEST Step by Step #5 Drawing and Anchoring
BEST Step by Step #6 Loading-Transfer to Holding
BEST Step by Step #7 Aiming and Expansion
BEST Step by Step #8 Release and Followthrough
BEST Step by Step #9 Relaxation and Feedback

The Mental Shot
Shooting in the Now
Mea Culpa
Coaching Four Personality Types

On Coaching
Adapting Standard Form
Shot Planning
A Weighty Matter Put in Balance
The Lines of Archery
Following Up on Following Through
Taking Advice
Finding Coaching Wisdom
The Elements of Winning Archery
Drilling for Archery
The Whole and its Parts
Watch Your Language
Practice Prescription, Pt 1
Practice Prescription, Pt 2
How Relaxed is “Relaxed”?
What’s Your Preshot Routine?
How Compound Bows Mislead Beginners
Do As We Do? Do As They Do?
Coaching Precepts
Serious Questions About Teaching Form
Inexpensive Video for Archery Coaches

On Equipment
Teaching Archery Crafts
The French Method of Tuning

General Commentary
 Do As We Do? Do As They Do?
Just How Important is Safety?
Competitive Age Categories in Archery
Golf Envy
Golf Envy, Part Deux
The New AER Archery Curriculum

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