By Mark V. Lonsdale
This is no great secret, but it is a truth in precision sports. Don’t compete against the other shooters, compete with yourself. In other words, go out on the field to match your training scores or beat your personal best, not the archer next to you. In this way, you are not letting the other athletes get inside your head.
Most of us shoot better scores in practice, when there is no pressure and no audience, than we do in major competitions. Therefore, the mark of a champion is someone who can shoot just as well on match day as he or she does in practice. This tells us that he or she is unaffected by match pressure.
So when competing in competitions, don’t worry about what the other archers are shooting or where you are in the rankings. Just keep shooting your backyard practice game. Once you start stressing over your placing or ranking, then you have lost the purity of mind needed for archery. Archery requires total relaxed concentration and a strict adherence to process. Everything else is a distraction and a detriment to performance.
That said, it is only through competing regularly in competitions that you can develop the focus needed to block out all the activity around you. Keep in mind that there is another archer shooting in your lane and another in the next lane less than two feet away. You need to focus on nocking your arrow, setting your hook, and then turn your attention to the gold 10 ring. From there, relax and follow your shot process.
Parting shot – when you can shoot your practice scores on game day you are well on your way to making the winners’ circle.