Archery And Bowhunting Blog

Stronger Mental Game: Part 4 of Series

How to on your Mental Game: Confidence Your Way

A month has gone by now since we started the articles on the mental game. I hope your training is seeing some improvements from using the STRONG/WEAK column.

 

Since day one you have been instructed to not erase the items in the WEAK column at all, and to just draw a line through it. If you are a curious archer and wondering why you leave it there and not get rid of it entirely, then you are not alone and about to learn why.

 

STRONG                                             WEAK

Bow Arm                          *               Anchor       

Grip                                   *               Release

Equipment/Gear                *              Crowds

Aiming                               *             3-spot target

Anchor                              *

  

Looking Back

 

Each time that you begin to move a WEAK item into the STRONG column you are not only changing how you see yourself but changing how your mind interacts subconsciously as you learned last week. You dictate what your subconscious can do so that you just naturally perform the way you want. What you can’t control is the past. It has already happened and will define you forever. Even when you change something on purpose there is a reason it was WEAK to begin with and that is the real you without any correction.

 

Remember how you were told that STRONG column items does not mean perfect but only things that you feel confident about and WEAK items were things that needed improvement in order to feel confident?

 

Those STRONG column items are not PERFECT! All the items that you move from WEAK to STRONG are moved because you purposefully worked on them and now feel confident in them. You feel confident enough to move onto the next item. The entire process is at your own pace and you have been given some steady tools like imagery to help move those items over one by one.

 

“I am confident in my release!” So why not erase it as a WEAK item for good?! The reasons are simple.

 

The past is a reminder of how far we have come. Progress forward builds confidence but if you were to erase the WEAK items then you could never look back and see exactly what has changed or in what order. Being able to see what you have changed is crucial in feeling more confident.

 

Back to the Future

 

Every archer will have a moment when things just don’t seem to go their way. Form feels good, equipment is tuned, you feel confident for now, but scores are starting to drop. This downslide is normal and is the hardest times to overcome mentally. You know you can do it because you had just been shooting well. This slump can be caused by many things but the top reasons usually start with something you moved over to the STRONG column. It could even be the very last WEAK item you crossed off your list. Slumps in sports are usually mental and require a spark to the subconscious to turn things around. By being able to see what WEAK items on your list you moved your subconscious will remember every little thing it took to move it over to the STRONG column. By not erasing those items we are forcing a connection with our subconscious mind without even trying. Since your mind will see the WEAK column item you crossed out, it will also see the STRONG column with the same item not crossed out. All the mind will see is the item. We consciously force our subconscious to relive what we did to move the item over. All of this without having to think about it or focus on it. The mind will do this all on its own and begin triggering events that took place during that time. Within almost no time at all your mind will start to point you down a path to repair what is going wrong. It is like a gentle reminder of the past and the future all in one glance of a word. It works this way because we trained it to work this way by using the STRONG/WEAK column from day one.

 

 

Sike!

 

I promised to give you some weekly pointers on how to “psych” out the competition. So here is this weeks lesson.

 

The next time you are on the shooting line and have some close competition shooting with you, try this “psych-out” trick. Ask your competition if they think the target is really round or not. Look confused as if the target isn’t round to you at all when asking them this. The trick takes a few ends to kick in but eventually, no matter how strong willed they are mentally, their mind will notice the target was never round to start with but is actually square. This will make them focus on it enough to stop focusing on their shot and begin to over aim. Even a tough competitor will give up a few points due to this trick.

Not enough room in your head to store your tricks, try the Legend Archery Diamond Pack to store more tricks and gear!

 

Mastering your sight for accuracy

The bow sight is an intricate little device that requires fine tuning in order to be accurate. If you set the sight right then you can score a direct hit on target with a constant score. There are a number of different sights out there on the market but for modern target archers getting the right sight is important because it’s vital to your accuracy. A sight has to able to withstand the vibration and shockwaves that run the bow from the release of the arrow. It has to be able to remain consistent with your stance and draw length otherwise you’ll have to readjust it every time you draw again. If they have loose pin blocks that rattle when you fire then you are in serious trouble because it means you can’t get accurate enough. I started off with a small low cost sight that cost me about £20, which was good for a beginner but when I started to move up my game I needed something a bit more advanced in the price range of £60 - £90. Recently I just bought myself a new sight with a carbon shaft and can absorb most of the shockwaves and a rigid sight block with more locking nuts that can tighten it better to resist against shockwaves. It can also be adjusted in micro-increments to allow it to be accurate to within 0.1 centimetres.


Understanding how they work


Earlier this year I wrote a piece on the science of projectile motion called ‘Classical Mechanics of Archery’ and now with a bow sight I can demonstrate how to experiment with projectile motion. Let’s recap on that for this post. Projectiles like arrows don’t shoot in straight lines, they travel in a curved path from the archer to the target called a parabola. The force of the string on the arrow forces it to fly in an upward direction and then as gravity and air resistance slows it down the arrows takes a dive towards the target and hits the spot where it lands. The T-shape of the sight’s horizontal and vertical shafts are built for the parabolic projectile motion of arrows. There are two shafts that allow you to move the pin sight horizontally and vertically. Both of them can be adjusted for the shooting distance. The horizontal shaft is fixed to the riser and can be adjusted backwards and forwards.

 

The vertical shaft has a numerical scale on it which you use to mark your position corresponding to each distance. When I go out and practice at each distance I use a record of settings in a notebook as an aid to memory to remember what setting to put my bow sight on. There is also another adjustment for the pin sight in which it can be moved along the pin block. The pin block is the part that fixes the pin sight to the vertical shaft. This can adjust the bow sight left or right as well.


Getting the group right


One of the first things my archery instructor said to me was to get a grouping of arrows in the middle. To do this the trick is to get the sight to follow the arrow that you shot previously. To understand how this works imagine the target as a clock face and your arrows group towards the three o' clock position. To get the arrows group towards the bullseye you would need to move your sight to the left towards the three o' clock position. Try shooting again and you should see your arrows group within the bullseye or yellow area. If your grouping is in the one o' clock position then adjust the sight to the right and move it up slightly. Shoot again and it should hit the centre of the target.


Your bow’s draw weight also plays a part in the accuracy of your arrows. A heavy bow will exert a considerable amount of force on the arrow that it can over shoot on a setting for the bulls eye meant for a lower poundage bow. I changed my limbs last year going from 24 pounds to 30 pounds and the difference in the sight setting is obvious by the poundage.

 Poundage 24 lbs 30 lbs
Sight Setting/Distance 2.1/ 20 yards 1.5/ 20yards
3.4/ 30 yards
5.5/ 40 yards 4.6/ 40 yards
7.5/ 50 yards 7.3/ 50 yards
8.6/ 60 yards



As this chart shows there is a slight variation in the poundage for each of the distances. This is from my notebook on my progress.


Take a look at your bows riser where the arrow rest and the sight pin are aligned in parallel to one another. The position of the sight pin and the arrow rest forms the longest length of an imaginary triangle. In physics the dimensions of a parabola are measured using trigonometry, which is the study of triangles. When I shoot with my bow and adjust the target I often wondered if there is a relationship between the shape of the triangle from the arrow rest and the pin sight and the parabolic shape of the arrow’s trajectory. Well judging by the sight settings for each distance there seems to be a connection there. The higher sight settings mean that you have to lift your bow up high to get it at the right angle of inclination to hit the target. However that arithmetic requires a bigger investigation that we won’t go into at this time. When it comes to adjusting your sight, what matters is the power of the bow and the distance towards the target.


Choosing the sight


The best sight to choose from has to be one that is rigid and shock absorbent because the shockwaves that run through the bow on release can loosen the bolts and the pin block. My last sight was easily prone to shockwaves and as a result the bolts loosened from the thread from time to time. It was really bad for maintaining accuracy. What was even more annoying was the constant rattling the pin block made when I released. This rattle sound is a bad sign for an archer because it means that you are losing your sight! I decided enough was enough and got myself a brand new one with a carbon shaft and more locking pins. The locking pins on the bow sight can be used to tighten the components so that the sight can resist the shockwaves better. So you don’t have to keep adjusting the sight and focus on shooting.


Another useful feature on a good bow sight is one that has micro-adjustment increments on the shaft. Moving the pin sight to the right mark is easy but when you are trying to make it with pin point accuracy it can be a bit cumbersome. But this can be perfected with a micro-adjustment knob which when turned will move the sight along the gauge to within a fraction of a centimetre. This can be an advantage if the bow sight makes the smallest of slippages. You just turn it back to the right setting with a few turns of the knob.


You may find that it takes time to get a direct hit on the bullseye but if you struggle to get there then don’t be so hard on yourself. I think of the time it takes to get it right as a way to learn how to succeed. It’s just the right idea of a mental exercise to test your perseverance and determination. Thomas Edison had a saying about learning how to succeed in inventing a good machine. ‘I have not failed, I have found 10’000 ways that won’t work’. So if you shoot 5 dozen arrows in a Portsmouth and only manage to get one in the 10, then that means that you have found 1 way to shoot accurately 59 ways to miss it. So keep working hard at it and learn to shoot well and stick to that 1 way to do it properly.

Accuracy is one of the primary goals of a great archer. For those who practice archery for competitions, for example, more accurate shots mean higher scores. But being a skilled archer is not just about the quantifiable criteria. Sometimes, looking at the simplest of things makes you realise that they are the best foundations, and this applies to archery skills as well – if you start with a solid footing on the basics, you can easily work your way up to enhancing the more complex know-hows in order to polish your skills. Have a look at the tips below.

 

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