By Mark V. Lonsdale
“Accuracy is the Product of Uniformity”
Understanding that consistency is critical to accuracy in archery is often more difficult to execute for barebow archers than other archery or shooting disciplines.
One of the big differences between rifle shooting and bow shooting is that where rifle shooting requires fine motor skills (laying still and squeezing a 1-2 pound trigger, archery requires the coordination of both fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Recurve target archers must pull a 30 to 45 pound bow to full draw, utilizing major muscle groups and skeletal alignment, while holding, transferring, aiming, and then releasing.
So what makes barebow shooting more challenging for the archer? First, one of the foundational principles of recurve target archery is that while we use the term “hold,” in reality there should be constant motion to release, even it is infinitesimal and measured in millimeters or fractions of an inch. To aid in this, the Olympic recurve archer has a clicker. He or she first draws into the clicker, and then during the hold/transfer process is drawing through the clicker in a slow, imperceptible 1-2mm movement to release.
The barebow archer, lacking a clicker, draws to full draw, anchors, settles, aims, and then releases. During that settling and aiming process, just prior to release, is when even top tiered competitors can experience creep.
At the low end, creep can be the slightest movement of the draw arm elbow moving outward or forward. But in severe cases is is seen as a collapse of skeletal alignment and form. Creep and collapse can also be a component of target panic or shot anticipation.
Since the barebow archers do not have clickers to draw through, competitors may find that they after they have pulled to full draw, and then settled into their anchor, their focus moves from their form to the aiming process. During this aiming process, while holding full draw and possibly fatiguing, they may be unaware that their draw elbow is gradually creeping forward. When an archer perceives this, he or she may panic and release the shot, resulting in an ugly 2 or 3 on the target. Since it is difficult to recover from collapse or target panic, a more experienced competitor will interrupt this downward spiral by lowering his or her draw and begin the shot process again.
To overcome this shot anticipation and potential creep in the draw arm, the archer should practice drawing through an imaginary clicker. Again, this rearward movement after coming to full draw and anchoring is so slight that an observer would not see the movement. We are talking about 1-2 millimeters or 1/16ths of a inch. It is more a mental process of staying in motion than coming to a static hold and release.