Why 10,000 hours for Skill Development?

By Mark V. Lonsdale, Shaft Shooters Archery

It is a common wisdom that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, but have you ever given thought to just how much training is required to hit that 10,000-hour mark?

Looking at a skilled trade such as a carpenter or welder, the average apprenticeship is about four years which breaks down to 40 hours per week, times 50 weeks, equaling 2,000 hours per year, and 8,000 hours in four years. But a competent journeyman, fresh out of his or her apprenticeship, still needs a few years of experience to be considered a master at his or her chosen profession.   

Now to the field of sports, and using Judo as an example, it usually takes an individual 5 years to make 1st degree black belt, depending on how often they train and how successful they have been in competition. Training three times a week for 2 hours in each session, adds up to 6 hours per week, times 50 weeks and you have 300 hours per year. So five years would equal 1,500 hours total training time, well short of the proposed 10,000 hours. The logic here is that a black belt is not the end of the road, but merely the beginning of a much longer journey. The real mastery of Judo comes many years later and at about the rank of 5th Dan.

Again, using Judo as an example, the road to mastery can be accelerated by dedicated judoka and elite athletes. By simply training more often and training with a national training squad, the athlete could be training 30+ hours per week and 1,500 hours per year.  This is equal to 5 years training for the average recreational judoka, resulting in accelerated skills development, competition performance, and national rankings.

So how does this equate to target archery? An individual practicing at a club twice a week for 2 hours is racking up 4 hours per week, 16 hours per month, and 192 hours per year. Definitely not enough to advance quickly. For individuals who have made the decision to get serious about archery, and have access to a range in their backyard or nearby, then they may begin training every evening for 2 hours. This would generate 10-12 hours per week, 40 hours per month, and 480 hours per year. So at that rate, 10,000 hours would take 20+ years. This may be why we see older seniors and masters shooting very respectable scores because they have accumulated over 20 years recreational experience.

Backyard range with 40cm targets at 20 yards and 122cm target at 50 meters for Barebow training

Once an archer steps up to elite level training and national training squads, now he or she is training three to four times per day, six days a week, which is 18-24 hours per week just shooting arrows. This would be augmented by time in the weight gym and building aerobic endurance. This is where sports development becomes a fulltime endeavor and elite athletes are putting in 1,000 to 1,500 hours training time each year. Most are also shooting 240+ arrows per day in three sessions of 84 or four sessions of 60 arrows.     

My personal Barebow training program at 50 meters is 60-72 arrows three to four times a day with an average of 1,000+ per week and 4,000+ per month. It takes 30 minutes to shoot 6 ends of 6 arrows at 50 meters for a 360 round, and an hour to shoot that twice for 72 arrows. I usually shoot at 9.00 AM, Noon, 5.00 PM and 7.00 PM in summer. But in some sessions, if I’m working on something in particular, I may shoot 120+ arrows knowing that I’m also developing better endurance.    

On the subject of arrow count, you will also hear people say that an individual skill needs to be repeated 10,000 times to master it. Not so for target archery! So let’s see how this breaks down. If you are a serious recreational archer shooting 150 arrows a day, 3 days a week, that equates to 450 per week, 1,800 per month and 10,000 in five and a half months. Be assured that you will not have mastered target archery by shooting all 9s and 10s at that point in time. It usually takes at least a year or two for a serious archer to develop good form, a consistent shot process, and an 8.5 to 9  average in Barebow archery. So mastery of something as seemingly simple as archery is a  process of years not weeks or months, but we all know that precision archery is actually quite a complex process.  

Six in the gold at 50 meters with a score of 57 is very good for Barebow training. Anyone shooting a 9 average (54/60) is a contender for the Nationals

Warning – the quality of training is always preferable to mere quantity. Repeating a poor technique or having a poor shot process thousands of times only reinforces bad habits. While demonstrating good form, correct skeletal alignment, and a clean shot process hundreds of times per day serves to build the required neuro-muscle memory to execute the perfect shot repeatedly.

Finally – if you aspire to great things you must be willing to do great things, and this means many more hours of structured training.

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Attainable Goals in Archery

By Mark V. Lonsdale

To advance in any sport, it is important to not only put in the training time but to have a training plan. Part of that plan is a series of attainable goals.

While an aspiring athlete may have dreams of making the US team or competing in the Olympics, it takes considerable time, effort, and planning to turn those dreams into reality. So while most elite athletes work on a quadrennial training plan to coincide with the summer Olympics, the rookie athlete will begin with an annual plan with monthly metrics.

These metrics are the methods of tracking progress through improved performance and improved scores. In other words, attainable goals. These are tracked daily and and weekly, but it usually takes a month or two to see progress in precision shooting sports. It is also important to track if the improvement is a fluke higher score or a consistently repeatable higher score.

Keep in mind that the time it takes to attain these goals is directly related to the amount of time spent in well structured training. For archery, this is a combination of working on form and shot process, professional coaching, and putting in the time on the range. That said, the quality of training is more important than quantity of arrows. Shooting a lot of arrows with poor form just reinforces bad habits, while every arrow shot with good form builds the neuro-muscle memory for consistent precision and accuracy.

For the novice archer who has a grasp of the mechanics of archery and is committed to improvement and ultimately competing at the national level, the attainable goals and metrics, may look something like this.

The first goal will be to focus on technique and shot process while working to keep all the arrows on the target at 20 yards. Why 20 yards? Because indoor competitions are shot at 18 meters / 20 yards. At this distance, competitions are shot in a series of 10 ends of 3 arrows, for a possible score of 300.

For the Barebow archer, the next goal is to progress to 50 meters and be able to keep all the arrows on the 122cm target, since this is the standard distance for outdoor Barebow competitions. Considering the size of the target, you would think that this is no great challenge, but you will see more than one archer looking for his or her arrows behind the bale at competitions.

122

From there, the goal in training is to improve your score by first eliminating any arrows in the white (scoring 1 & 2) and black zones (3 & 4). This doesn’t even require keeping track of the actual score, but simple training with a focus on form and staying inside the black rings. Be patient – it may take a couple of months to stay inside the black and to develop consistency and repeatability at 50 meters .

The next goal is to get out of the blue “Smurf Zone” – scoring rings 5 & 6. This may take another couple of months of diligent practice – but still an attainable goal. Concurrently, if there are opportunities to compete in archery competitions, these are good practice and experience even for the novice archer. Just don’t expect to shoot the same scores in formal competition that you shoot in training since you will be contending with match nerves.

The next goal is to track how many arrows you can get into the gold zone (Xs, 10s and 9s.) At first you will be getting 2 or 3 out of 6 arrows in the gold. Then the occasional 4 out of 6. Since competitions are shot in six ends of 6 arrows, your possible score will be 360. So you can also begin working your way up from 250 to 260 to 270, etc. Again, you are looking for consistent improvement not just the occasional high score.

By the time you are getting consistent 3 or 4 out of 6 arrows in the gold, you will also be scoring 48-50 out of 60 and 280-300 out of 360. But you will probably be over six months into your training program. This is assuming that you are shooting upwards of 150 arrows per day and 900 per week. Again, the focus should be on good form and a repeatable shot process. With these, the scores will improve. However, you will also have bad days or bad ends where you are throwing low 5s and 6s in the blue zone, usually because of a weakness of collapse in your form. That is when you have to concentrate on good form, a repeatable shot process, and holding hard on the 10 ring.

The next goal will be 6 out of 6 in the gold at 50 meters, which is not that easy with a Barebow and no sights. The point of the arrow can completely cover the gold 9 and 10 rings if you have to hold high. This may also take 8 months of training 6 days per week, but you are now a contender for the nationals.

A score of 56/60 with 6 out of 6 in the gold 9 & 10 rings.

Another metric is to track your average arrow score. For example, if you shoot 48 out of a possible 60 your average is 8; while 300 out of 360 is 8.3. But if you shot 1100 out of 1440 your average is only 7.64. For most Barebow archers, the goal is to become a 9 average shooter, 54 out of 60, or 324 of a possible 360. For the Olympic Recurve and Compound archers shooting sights, it is all about 10s and Xs and perfect scores separated only by X counts.

Finally, just to keep yourself honest, write your training goals in a training log and then track your daily performance in a training log or in your computer. Track the date, the time, number of arrows shot, best scores for 6 arrows, best scores for 36 arrows, and the running total. My personal outdoor training program calls for 48-60 arrows four times a day, or 72-84 arrows three times a day at 50 meters. But I will periodically shoot several sets of 36 arrows with breaks in between to simulate a 1440 match (4 x 36 arrows). In the winter, the focus is on indoor training at 20 yards shooting 60 arrows three to four times a day.

Word of warning – as you increase the number of arrows being shot each day, it’s critical that you’ve established good form so as to avoid repetitive motion injuries. Good form with good skeletal alignment, with adequate conditioning and rest periods, will protect you from injuries, but poor form can result in painful tendonitis.

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A Rookie Guide to Competitive Archery

By Mark V. Lonsdale

“To compete or not to compete, that is the question…,” to paraphrase Will Shakespeare. But then old Will wasn’t a competitive archer.

I can state categorically that formal competitions will make you an all-round better archer. But in reality, it’s the preparation and coaching for competition where the real heavy lifting takes place.

Once you make the decision to try your hand (and eye) at competition archery, you will be at the beginning of a long and very satisfying journey. Emerging from the humble beginnings of a backyard stump shooter, you will rise to the level of “competitor” beginning by quantifying your skills through a series of metrics.

Archers warming up for a west coast tournament

To aid in this journey, the following is a road map to competition success:

  1. Decide which form of competition you want to shoot. This will often be driven by the types of bows you like shooting, or by the availability of local matches. The choices range from Olympic style target archery to roving 3D matches with either recurve, compound, barebow, longbow, or traditional. With a good bow, recurve or compound, you can compete in both indoor and outdoor target shooting and 3D.
  2. Check your budget because top flight competitive archery is not cheap. First there is the cost of a $1,500 to $3,500 bow, complete with rests, sights, stabilizers, and release, plus another $160 to $450 for arrows. For example, a Hoyt Xceed with Velos limbs for barebow retails for $1,500. Olympic grade sights can run another $400-$500. A Hoyt Invicta is a $1,800 compound bow, but then you can add another $200-$300 for a target arrow rest, $300-$400 for sights, and $200-$280 for a top shelf mechanical release.    
  3. Apart from equipment costs, there are also the time and costs involved in traveling to out-of-state matches. Flying across country or driving 1,000 miles to a match, laying down a $200 entry fee, and spending 4-5 nights in a hotel gets expensive, plus the time away from work. Travel, by far, is the biggest recurring expense for a serious competitor.  
  4. Do some research on what the top ranked competitors are using in the way of bows, sights, rests, releases, arrows, and related accessories. Take the time to reach out to some of these folks for sage advice. My personal mantra is, “Buy the best and you will seldom be disappointed.”
  5. Study the match format and learn the rules. For example, a Barebow must fit through a  122cm circle gauge and sights and stabilizers are out. Similarly, some matches have velocity limits for compound bows.
  6. Practice the match format, including distances and time limits on your local or home range. You need to become comfortable with the format to be relaxed and shoot well.
  7. If you have the opportunity, go and observe a match without actually shooting so as to become familiar with the format, whistle commands, and procedures. The onus is on the competitor to know the rules and format before entering a major tournament. This will also be an opportunity to talk to top ranked competitors and collect info on their equipment and accessories.
  8. Jump in, but don’t expect to do well in the first match or even first few matches. It usually takes about a year to become a seasoned competitor, so set your sights on doing well the second or third year. But this all depends on how serious you are about training and if you can practice six days a week. Most top archers are shooting 240-300 arrows per day in training.

Now, as Nike says, Just Do It!!

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Motivational Tips for Archers

By Mark V. Lonsdale, Instructor/Coach

There are many good books and DVDs on virtually every aspect of archery – so much so that it can become a little overwhelming for the novice archer. Sometimes it is useful to distil it all down to a few motivational training tips.  

  • Focus on the process not on the result. In other words, as you are at full draw, you should not be hoping for a 10, but rather focused on your form and process. This is especially true during the early months of training where you are still working to build the neuro-muscle memory for a relaxed shot process.
  • Alignment is everything. Most archers will agree that a solid skeletal alignment, from bow-hand to draw-hand elbow, is critical to consistent, injury free archery. The test of this alignment is feeling the draw-hand upper arm and shoulder rotating into the back muscles, and how steady you can hold on target
Working to find a solid skeletal alignment
  • Don’t let bad shots or a bad group define you. Maintain a positive mindset and continue practicing and applying the basics. The more you practice the more your shots and groups will move into the center of the target.
With time and practice those errant reds will move into the gold
  • Don’t underestimate the value of a good coach. Also try to train with other experienced archers who can help you through the rough patches and plateaus. Shooting alongside successful competitors will motivate you to become a better archer.
  • Use failures to fuel your training. While the athlete doesn’t learn much from wins, he or she will analyze failures to find solutions. How we handle losses and failures, and how we bounce back, is a good marker of personal determination and tenacity.  
  • Keep a training log with scores and daily lessons learned. It’s fun to look back 6 months or a year to see just how much you have improved.
  • Ensure that training is always fun or at least satisfying. The sheer joy of watching an arrow in flight and then impacting in the 10 ring, should be a positive motivator for continued training. 
  • At the end of the day, remember that you selected archery as your chosen sport. Something inspired you to take up archery, but to truly find enjoyment and satisfaction in this endeavor, you need to practice regularly. Moderate amounts of frequent practice are more beneficial than infrequent day-long training sessions.

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Training Goals in Barebow Archery

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Every sport has metrics for improvement, whether it is greater distance as in shotput or javelin, reduced times as in running and swimming, or greater accuracy in shooting sports. For archery, the metric is improved accuracy and score.

Where compound target archery is an almost repetitive series of 10s and Xs, barebow is considerably more challenging and no one is shooting perfect scores.

The first goal for the novice Barebow competitor entering the arena of outdoor competition, is to simply stay on the target bail at 50 meters. From there, a reasonable next goal would be to not throw any blacks (3&4) or whites (2&1).

This outdoor Dura-Mesh 122cm target sees a lot of action at 50 meters. In this image the archer is comparing 85 grain points to 100 grain points. While the 85s are close to point-on, the 100s are hitting low.

The goal that takes a little longer to achieve is not throwing any blues (6&5), also known as Smurf shooting. For the novice new to archery, this could take several months, and even top archers occasionally drop an arrow into the 6.

Once you have conquered the blue zone, the next metric is establishing an average score of 8, 8.5, and 9. The goal here is to get to a 9 average or 54 out of 60. This would be a winning score in most Barebow divisions.

In this image the Barebow archer has reached a 9 average, scoring 54 out of 60 with 5 out of 6 in the gold. But there is still that one arrow that hates you 😉

In 50 meter Barebow competition, the archer is aiming with the arrow point and string blur. This could place the point at the center of the X, or low or high on the gold, depending on arrow weight and bow poundage. Most serious Barebow shooters will increase bow poundage or reduce arrow weight until they can hold 6 o’clock on the 10 or 9 ring. But keep in mind that from the shooters perspective, the width of the arrow point can cover the entire gold zone, so not exactly the precision aiming afforded by a bow sight.

With a 9 average, the archer can still drop an arrow into the red zone (8s & 7s), so the next goal is to be able to hold the gold (9s & 10s) at 50 meters. I have yet to see a Barebow competitor shoot all 10s so simply holding gold may be good enough to win the day.

Finally, keep a daily training log, either in a journal and/or in your computer. This will keep you honest, track your improvement, and give you goals to shoot for.

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2021 Vegas Shoot

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Even though the turnout was less than 300 competitors, the 2021 Vegas Shoot was still a success under difficult conditions and Covid restrictions. Yes, we all hated wearing masks. But it was actually a pleasure to not have to deal with the 3,000+ crowds and the only times that the practice range was full was one hour before shooting times.

Barebow legends Spanky Brooks (left) and Tim Strickland (right) getting in some time on the practice range. Notice that Tim is shooting a compound barebow since the Vegas Shoot Championship Barebow Open combined recurve barebow and compound barebow together.

Spending time on the practice range was essential since the overhead indoor lighting definitely affects aiming and impact. Arrow point of impact also changes with the intensity and location of the overhead lighting depending on where an archer stood on the line. From personal experience, where the light was bright, my arrow hit 2″-3″ high, and where it was subdued, 2″-3″ low. This is probably due to the glare coming off the shiny silver arrow points and aluminum shaft. The lighting also causes the string blur to all but disappear compared to outdoor shooting. But since the practice range was open from 0730 to 1900 I was able to practice four or five times a day, averaging 160 arrows per day.

One the the great things about barebow division is just how friendly and helpful all the competitors are. Barebow has a justly earned reputation as being the most social division with a strong sense of comradery. But all are still very dedicated archers and serious competitors.

Had the pleasure of meeting and shooting with Spanky Brooks who was willing to share several tips on barebow equipment and shooting.

For detailed media coverage, go to http://bowjunky.com/

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Tracking Progress

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Continuing on from the previous post on setting goals for beginners, the next step is to track progress. With decades as a high performance athlete and coach, I’m a firm believer in having a written training program and a log to track progress. In the past, this was a hand written ledger, but now it can be done on the computer with the added advantage of being able to add images. Most athletes and coaches make regular use of their smart phones to both video form and photograph targets (in addition to a plethora of social media posts).

The importance of keeping a training log is to be able to track not only the focus of each training session, but to also track consistency. It is too easy to shoot a couple of Xs or 11s and call it good, but the champion is the individual who can do this on a regular basis with a high percentage of hit in the gold.

The following images are an example of a photo essay tracking improvement in training for barebow competition.

After occasionally throwing arrows into the blue, this archer has now progressed to three in the gold and three in the red, even though one may score as a liner in the gold. Elevation is good indicating correct use of the hash marks on the 3-under tab and correct point-on hold on the target. In this case he is holding 6 o’clock on the 10 ring.
Archer has progressed to consistent 5 golds and one red. The goal is to bring that one red into the gold. For this archer, he knows that when he throws an arrow left of the gold it is often attributed to a poor release.
Archer has no progressed to hitting the gold consistently so can now work on improving his score. In this case he has four 9s, one 10, and one 11. Once you begin getting a higher percentage of 10s, then it is recommended to switch to shooting 3-arrow sets or begin using a 3-spot target to avoid damaging arrows.

Finally, the word of the day is “consistency.” In other words, if you shoot ten sets of 3 arrows, how many sets were all in the gold? Even the top archers occasionally throw a red or a blue, but the goal is to self-analyze that shot and understand why that happened.

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Hoyt Xceed 25″ riser with Velos long limbs and Easton RX7-23 shafts

MAKING YOUR COMPETITION GOALS A REALITY– Part 1

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Wanting to compete at the 2024 Olympics may be aiming a little too high, but how about just competing at the annual Lancaster Classic or Vegas Shoot? You don’t expect to win the first year, but maybe in two or three years you can make it onto the podium? Well read on and see if you have what it takes to become a champion.

Vegas Shoot 2020

     Many people have passing dreams and high hopes of being a champion but very few make the commitment to bring those dreams to fruition. As with all that unused gym equipment collecting dust in the garage, many individuals buy all the gear (the easy part) but then quickly give up on their dreams in the face of real or perceived challenges. One contributing factor is setting unrealistic goals without shooting for more attainable incremental steps. The other is an issue with time management. They are simply not willing to commit the time and effort necessary to progress. Becoming a champion requires time, dedication, commitment, patience, tenacity, and perseverance.

More pragmatic individuals set their sights lower by simply seeking to improve their scores at the club level, whether it be pistol or rifle shooting or archery. But they too are often not willing to make the necessary commitment to progress passed the club level – a commitment that can range from a few more hours launching arrows each day to an all-consuming passion. So if you have long-term goals, such as winning the Vegas Shoot or competing at the Olympics, then you need to understand what separates the champions from the masses of “also rans.”

Dreams and goals are both positive forces, but both need to be tempered with a healthy dose of reality. This reality consists of some serious thought about personal motivation, commitment, and the training time to achieve any given goal. This is assuming that you already have a reasonable level of fitness, coordination, and the financial resources to go the distance.

Archery is one sport where age is not a limiting factor so most people with a modicum of athletic ability can go for gold. But setting aside the costs of equipment and travel for the moment, most have not grasped the significant time commitment necessary. However, on a more up-beat note, don’t ever let someone tell you that, “You can’t do it!” or that your dreams are just that, dreams. Follow the example of most great men and women by rising to the challenge and proving those timid souls wrong. In other words, don’t ever quit until you decide it is time to quit.

Author’s Note: I started judo at age 11 and shooting at 14 but little did I know back then that these two sports would take me all over the world competing, training, and teaching. The two contributing factors to success were love of these sports and dogged determination.

     So, the first step on this long but hopefully fulfilling journey of “many small steps” is to have a deep passion for what you are doing. You have to actually enjoy what you are doing and look forward to training. Next is to become a serious student of the sport. Read and study everything you can about archery including blog posts and articles by those who have gone before. With YouTube you can also study videos of past National and World champions in any of the archery disciplines. Look for top shooters you can model yourself after, but be aware that there are a number of world class athletes with very unusual styles. So the recommendation is to stay as close to standard form as possible, accounting for personal physiology, at least until you are experienced enough to make educated changes.

The next step is to get paper and pencil (or computer) and rough out a training program that is realistic and within your time and budget requirements. Yes, writing it down is the first step to making it a reality and the key word here is realistic. If you draw up a training program that simply will not fit within your work and family commitments, then you will quickly begin making excuses to skip training.

To stay focused and motivated, it is better to start light and add hours or days as you adjust your home and work schedule to suit – and it helps to have a supportive and understanding wife, husband, girlfriend, and employer. More on time management in Part 2.

Let’s look at the other areas of commitment.

Equipment – To begin with, if you have top-of-the-line equipment, the same as that being used by the national champions, then you have eliminated one big variable and several excuses. You cannot blame the gear! Also consider the fact that the $2500+ you may invest in that new Hoyt, Easton arrows, and accessories, etc., is going to be a small fraction of the cost of the time that you will put into training and travel.

Just owning the best gear is not enough. You must learn to tune and maintain that equipment so that you will have greater confidence in using it. Be assured, confidence is part of the mental game and every bit as important as motivation, enthusiasm, and skill.

Coaching – Do you have access to a good coach to help you work on your form and guide your training? Are you willing to spend some time and money to get the best coaching you can get? Without a coach to get you off on the right foot you may spend many hours just reinforcing bad habits and not progressing. The value of a good coach cannot be over emphasized, and their time has real value ($). What you gain from a good coach will be the foundation of all your training.

Training Time – Shooting in your back yard once a week, or club practice once or twice a week, and an occasional Sunday tournament is insufficient to progress at a reasonable rate. Conversely, vast amounts of undisciplined or unstructured training has less value than smaller, frequent amounts of intelligently structured training.

Now, if you are into archery for the sheer pleasure of shooting or the social aspects of the sport, then once a week may satisfy your needs. But if you have aspirations of winning at a state or national level, then you had better be prepared to train at least five times a week plus get coached at least once a week. That daily training will then grow to twice a day when you approach the high performance level of the sport.

It is better to train five times a week for one hour, than to try and train once a week for five hours. One to one-and-a-half hours is easy to fit into your daily schedule and small amounts of frequent training helps to build muscle memory while avoiding repetitive motion injuries. But whatever your training schedule allows, each session should be carefully planned with specific training goals, video analysis, and periodic coaching.

Training Goals – A training program is usually built around the local, state, or national competitions that you plan to shoot in the coming 12 to 24 months. While you may not expect to win or even make the top ten at these events, they will add purpose to your training.

For more specific goals, this is where Eastern philosophy teaches that every long journey is a process of many small steps. If you head to the range with your shiny new Hoyt and high dollar shafts and immediately expect to shoot 10s consistently at 50 meters, you may quickly become discouraged. If you cannot shoot consistent 10s at 15 yards, you should not expect to be hitting 10s by anything except luck and random probability at 50-70 meters.

So, taking small steps, practice at a distance where you can build your confidence by tearing out the gold. Then back up 5-10 yards and work on that distance until you get the same result—all the time self-analyzing your form. Over a period of time, allowing your consistency and grouping to be the guiding light, you will find your way back to the longer ranges where you will have to deal with the additional challenges of wind and atmospherics.

In addition, use this time at the shorter distances to experiment a little with bow tuning, brace height, a different plunger or arrow rest, shaft stiffness, finger tabs, and adjustments to your form. But remember to keep it simple and only make one change at a time so as to be able to gauge its beneficial or detrimental effect on your scoring.

Competitions – There is no substitute for tournaments and matches if one aspires to be successful competitor in any sport. Participation in a single tournament has more training value than ten training sessions practicing on your own, and the lessons learned are invaluable. It is only through exposure to progressively more demanding competitions that an individual can learn to control match nerves, perform under pressure, while gauging personal ability and tracking improvement.

One secret to progressing in competition is to compete with both yourself and others. Set personal goals, such as first being able to shoot the same scores in competition as you do in practice. This does not mean matching the occasional personal best, but holding scores that you can shoot consistently.

You can also pick an individual who routinely just out shoots you and set a personal goal to beat him or her. This will give you the feel of shooting man-on-man while preparing for the pressure that comes with finals and shoot-offs. (Check out the finals of the Lancaster Classic on YouTube).

Vegas Shoot 2020

When you pick someone to try to beat, this may include learning about their training schedule and then committing to train just a little more than they do. In this way, you are motivated to train both harder and smarter.

By keeping your short-term goals small, you will frequently meet and surpass these way-points while at the same time building confidence in your abilities. Conversely, setting goals too high too soon can lead to feelings of frustration and failure. As an example, if your dream is to make the finals at the Vegas Shoot, then the first year you should be competing just to get a feel for the tournament and match format. You are also using this opportunity to study the top contenders. The second year your goal should be to make the top 20 in your division, and then, after three years of practice and experience, you are a seasoned athlete and ready to go for the win.

Travel – If you don’t have the time or finances to travel, you will probably not gain the experience necessary to make the big time. Even if you’re not a national level shooter, it is still highly beneficial to shoot in state and national competitions to get a feel for these events. The more major events you can get under your belt, the more you will become comfortable with the match format while learning to control those pesky nerves. Be assured that a significant component of successful target archery is the mental game and stress management.

These tournaments will also give you the opportunity to shoot along side the best archers in the country and learn from their successes and mistakes. Watch them like a hawk, study their form, their pre-shot routine, and video their performance for future study.

In addition to tournaments, one should be prepared to travel out of state to participate in training seminars, coaching clinics, and anything that will improve your knowledge, fitness, form, and ability.

(Note: as a national and international competitor in judo and then shooting, air travel and hotels were my biggest expenses, running several thousand dollars each year and many weeks away from work).  

     To conclude, if you are not prepared to commit to a significant amount of time and money, not to mention physical and mental effort, then your journey will end long before you reach your goals. And if that goal is at the National or International level, then the commitment must be of the same magnitude—significant!

Dare To Dream, Train Smart, Stay Focused & Never Quit

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Part 1 has covered training commitment in broad strokes. Look for Part 2 for the blueprint to developing a realistic training program that will take you to the next level.

About the Author: Mark Lonsdale is a professional training consultant for law enforcement and military special operations teams. He is also a former national and internationally ranked judo and shooting competitor, national coach, and has contributed articles to several publications including Archery Focus. He is currently studying the cross training values of archery and training in barebow.

Barebow Break-in

By Mark V. Lonsdale

With the sun shining, today was the first day to get some arrows down range with the new Hoyt Xceed barebow. Still breaking in the string and getting a feel for the weight and balance, but initial results are encouraging.

Hoyt Xceed with Carbon Velos limbs running Easton 2213s
Working with an assortment of Easton 2213s with 125 and 145 grain field points. Also experimenting with the cock feather at 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock.

I have Easton RX-7 RX23 tappered shafts on order, which should be in next week. These are the ones I would like to ultimately use for competitions, but for now, the 2213s are definitely working well.

Hoyt Xceed 25″ riser with Carbon Velos long limbs

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Barebow Stabilizer Weights

By Mark V. Lonsdale

While barebow rules do not allow the long stabilizer rods used in Olympic archery, they do allow for a stabilizer weight below the grip. The only requirement is the bow with stabilizer fit through the 12.2 cm (4.75″) ring. This necessitates that the weights sit close to the riser.

To meet this requirement, Hoyt has developed integral weights molded to fit the Xceed riser.

Riser weight designed to fit the Xceed riser
Installation of the two halves
Seven Allen bolts are used to secure the two halves of the Hoyt Riser Weight

The Riser Weight adds 32 oz of weight below the grip adding both balance and stability to the Xceed barebow.

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