By Larry Yien
Any seasoned archer will tell
you that great shooting is a result of practice, but once you
accept that, the next question is how to practice. Simple. String
up your bow, grab a bunch of broadhead tipped arrows and shoot
till you get tired. Right? Although many of us practice by just
shooting arrows and accept that as practice, there are certain
types of practice routines that produce better shots. Better
shots makes us better archers and ultimately better bowhunters.
First make sure your fundamentals
are correct. Coaching by a certified instructor or coach can
be helpful. Reading books and watching videos can give insight
to fundamentals. A helpful hand from a fellow archer can sometimes
prove beneficial. If an archery instructor is not handy in your
area, there are some instructors that will accept a video tape
of you shooting and coach long distance. I will address some
fundamentals in future articles, but in this article I will focus
I divide my practice sessions
into a few categories, mental, endurance, and
fine motor movement.
Mental practice is perhaps the lost element in modern
day archery. We are so intent on hitting the kill, or shooting
the spot, that we spend all our time shooting. We neglect working
on mental imagery, and concentration. Granted , archery is very
physical, the archer in first place is usually the archer who
had his best mental game that day. The same thing goes for hunting
at that moment of truth when that bull is one step away from
a perfect broadside shot, our mental game has to be operating.
There are mental programs out there, and many more books on the
subject. I like to work on mental imagery, visualizing fluid
shots. I also visualize my arrows hitting the spot. Another good
exercise is done while shooting, staying in the present and not
dwelling in the past. The past arrows I shot are gone, good or
bad, they are over. The only shot I focus on is the shot at hand.
Endurance training has a few elements. I do cardiovascular
work at least every other day. I try to get a minimum of 15 minutes
of cardiovascular work per session, either hiking, running or
mountain biking. I prefer to get 30 minutes, and two hour workouts
on the weekends. Sit-ups and push-ups are a daily routine and
I am working on my pull ups. You can set up your physical training
program with your schedule and current health in mind, the goal
is to be fit, toned, and flexible. Strength and flexibility keep
me strong throughout the tournaments, and the hunt.
I picked up an endurance technique
from Don Rabska, in his article in Archery Focus. Don is an active
Olympic style archer, coach, and engineer at Easton. Don talks
about 'long drawing times', draw the bow back to anchor and hold
at full draw for 20-60 seconds. The key is to never stay static,
rather, continue pulling with your shoulders and back muscles.
The arrow should not be drawn more than 1/2" past your anchor.
When doing this exercise, build up to about 10 repetitions per
session. An occasional check by looking in the mirror to make
sure you are staying active in this drill is helpful. I use a
30 second timer to measure the intervals. If your bow poundage
is too heavy to do this drill, start with a lighter bow and work
up to your bow. Focus on using your back muscles.
Try incorporating these elements
in your practice routine. In my next column I will introduce
some exercises where we actually shoot some arrows, as we work
on more mental, endurance and fine motor elements.
In the mean time, enjoy the shot.