Team USA – Tokyo Olympics

Go Team USA and MacKenzie Brown for her 4th place finish at the Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 30: Mackenzie Brown of Team United States competes in the archery Women’s Individual 1/8 Eliminations on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
MacKenzie Brown, Team USA, 5th in the ranking round on Day 1, Tokyo Olympics

Visualization and Mental Rehearsal in Archery

By Mark V. Lonsdale

Visualization and mental rehearsal are important components of success in most athletic endeavors. In other words, visualization is a process of consciously programming your subconscious mind to perform the way you want. For archery, this includes visualizing yourself shooting the perfect shot process from nocking to release and follow-through. You are visualizing your arrow hitting the 10 ring.

An important part of this mental game is positive reinforcement. For example, you don’t want to be saying to yourself, “don’t pluck the string” – instead say “clean release.” Don’t say, “don’t throw another 6” – instead say, “shoot for the 10”    

Training for indoor archery

By dwelling on not throwing a 6 in the blue, your mind is focused on the blue when you need to be focused on the yellow 10. What your conscious mind thinks about your subconscious mind will make you do. This is why you will often see a competitor throw a bad arrow, and then throw another bad arrow. They were so fixated on the high left 4 that they throw another high left 4. On the flip side, it is the mark of a champion when you see an athlete throw a bad arrow and then come right back with all 10s.

This goes back to the conscious mind programming the subconscious mind, and in an ideal world, after tens of thousands of repetitions, it is our subconscious mind that kicks in during competitions. As you will hear coaches say, “Don’t think, just shoot.”  Overthinking is not helpful when you have done the training, repetitions, and built the neuro-muscle memory programming.

To wrap this up, focus on what you want to do and not what you don’t want to do. And then visualize yourself doing the perfect shot process and scoring that dead center 10.

END

A positive attitude is part of mental toughness

Managing Stress in Archery Competitions

By Mark V. Lonsdale

    Stress is both a psychological and physiological condition that plagues not only athletes and soldiers but also every one of us in our every day lives. However, the added pressure of high-level competition seems to manifest these stress related problems in more dramatic and quantifiable ways. Even for the super-cool champion who appears to have iced-water running through his or her veins, stress is still a significant factor, especially when entering any major championship where the stakes are high – for example, making the National or Olympic team.

Stress and butterflies are real

    Over the years I’ve trained with numerous athletes who have racked up excellent scores in training and demonstrated considerable skill in their field of endeavor, but then these same promising athletes were unable to reproduce that performance on game day. I have also seen superbly trained and equipped combat personnel freeze when required to go in harms way. Lacking any injuries or other reasonable explanations, the probable cause of their failures can most probably be attributed to fear, match nerves, and stress.

     Fear, a close relative of stress, is an interesting phenomenon, often triggered by unfamiliar circumstances or a confrontation with unknown forces. For the athlete, this can equate to participation in a match format that is not familiar; against opponents of possibly superior skill; and in conditions that are not favorable. There is also the more tangible fear of failure or not making the team.

    To remove fear from the equation, it is essential to add an element of realism to the training process so that training sessions directly reflect match conditions. To do this prior to a big tournament, the archer should practice shooting the entire match in the same format, under similar conditions, and with the same time limits. In this manner, and by using the same equipment, the archer should be able to gauge his or her expected performance while developing a familiar “comfort zone” with that particular match format.       

    Now to address the effects of stress. Looking first at the more physical aspects, match stress and nerves can be manifested on several levels ranging from sweaty or shaky hands or wobbly knees, all the way up to totally uncontrolled body shakes. In some extreme cases, the nervous individual can simply go catatonic as seen in the classic state of stage fright where the aspiring thespian forgets his or her lines and is frozen on the stage, much like a deer caught in headlights.

    So to combat stress, we need to first understand what causes this very real physical reaction? We are all familiar with the physiology of the Flight or Fight syndrome found in the human condition. Under situations of extreme stress or fear, our primal survival instincts kick in and our body energizes itself to either run from danger or stand and fight. This is often manifested in the individual who exhibits almost super-human strength to save a loved one, or the quiet soldier who risks his own life in combat to save his squad or platoon.

    This burst of adrenalin driven energy and strength can be of great value in some sports such as power-lifting or judo, but equally detrimental to athletes who participate in precision sports such as archery or target shooting. Where the weightlifter or fighter has a physical and dynamic outlet for all this adrenalin and energy, the archer or pistol shooter is trying to remain exceptionally calm and relaxed.

      Archery and shooting are sports where whoever can move the least is often the winner. Unfortunately, when competition stress creates adrenalin and over stimulates the nervous system, the only outlet is shaking, which in turn creates a loss of confidence and even more stress. At times like these, one pre-game remedy is to go for a run or get some vigorous exercise to burn off that nervous energy. 

Treat the brain like a muscle that needs to be trained and strengthened

     Since shaking and tremors are physical problems, accompanied by accelerated heart rate and shallow breathing, they can often be reduced through physical conditioning. A conditioned athlete will have superior cardio-pulmonary responses to stress in that his or her heart and respiratory rates will remain slower and blood pressure lower. Therefore, having an active and healthy life style is an important first step in stress reduction for everyone, not just athletes.  

       Another physical symptom of nerves is indigestion and the feeling that one will throw-up. This again is the body’s need to empty the stomach so that the blood being used for digestion can be better utilized to Fight or Flee from perceived danger. So obviously, heavy meals before competition are not recommended, particularly foods high in fat and protein which can be difficult to digest. In addition, food or drinks that contain excessive caffeine or sugar are not going to help the precision shooter.

    However, not eating is also a problem causing lack of energy, weakness, and loss of concentration. Reasonable amounts of bland foods and carbohydrates are excellent in the morning or prior to competition and may absorb some of the gastric acids and help settle the stomach. Several light snacks during the day, such as bananas, along with adequate hydration, can also have a beneficial effect supplying the energy required to concentrate and compete, without overloading the digestive system. 

    Now we get to the more complex psychological or mental aspects of stress control. As humans, we frequently play mind games with each other but the ones we play on ourselves can be the most destructive. For some reason we persist in dwelling on the problems of everyday life without actively working to solve these problems. We hate our job, but we don’t quit. We are in a destructive relationship, but we don’t leave. Our car is unreliable, but we don’t get it fixed. We don’t shoot well in competition, but we don’t practice enough. You get the idea….

    All of these problems will continue to occupy our conscious thoughts until we correct them. For the athlete, it is critical that both personal and professional lives are kept in order so as not to arrive at training or enter a competition with a myriad of mental distractions. From personal experience, I know that it is difficult for me to enjoy and benefit from a training session if I am neglecting work commitments. The solution is to first clear the desk and then go the range with a clear conscience.

    There are however bigger problems in life such as personal tragedy, death or illness in the family, an ugly divorce, getting laid-off from work, etcetera. We often have no control over these, so must simply try to work through them. However, in many of these cases, having a healthy outlet and distraction such as physical training or archery can actually be cathartic (even though performance can be expected to suffer).

    To be successful in competition, one needs to be not only a problem solver but also a positive thinker. This may sound overly simplified but it is true. You must think positively. As the old adage goes, “If you think you can, you probably will. If you think you can’t, you probably won’t. But in either case you are correct!”

    The other quote that I like is the one from Rick McKinney’s book, The Simple Art of Winning, “We literally become what we think about most of the time.”

    Along with a positive attitude, confidence is an important component of stress reduction. Not the arrogant confidence of the big ego, but the confidence that comes with having laid a solid training foundation for the trials ahead.

     Developing confidence begins with being well prepared. When you know that you and your equipment are in the best possible condition, you will enter the competition arena with a level of confidence that is unmatched by less prepared competitors. The first step towards becoming better prepared is to remove any possible excuses that you may be able to conjure up for not performing well. These may cover the full gambit from personal fitness and finances to equipment and training. The solution:

  1. Get into good physical condition for archery.
  2. Make sure you have the best equipment available.
  3. Ensure that your equipment is tuned and working at its optimum performance.
  4. Know how to set-up and tune your own bow and arrow combination.
  5. Allow necessary time for training and travel.
  6. Work towards getting the financial resources needed to train and compete at a national level.
  7. Get a coach who will not only help your form but boost your confidence.
  8. Enter each competition with a realistic expectation of where you will place.
  9. Only expect to win if you can consistently shoot championship scores in practice; and even then, do not focus on winning just on the shooting process.
  10. Think of every competition as a learning experience and don’t fixate on the glory.
An example of a lapse in concentration in 50 meter Barebow practice

    So the next subject is competition mindset – that delicate balance of confidence and focus that can be so easily disrupted by personal demons or the words or actions of others.

    The novice competitor will often ask his or her coach, “What should I be thinking about when I am shooting?” Answer: “Exactly the same as what you think about when practicing by yourself.” Stance, set-up, draw, anchor, transfer, aim, release, follow-through. It is important to lock out all the other distractions and perform in the moment.

    Drawing on the Zen philosophy again, launch each arrow like it is the only arrow. To quote from a kyudo text, “Whether one thousand arrows or ten thousand, each one must be new.” In other words, do not dwell on earlier good or bad shots, and do not think about the shots to come – only the one that is nocked, drawn and ready to release. Thinking about earlier bad shots will only erode confidence, and while it is acceptable to draw confidence from a good series or end, this should not give a false confidence in future performance. Stay focused, stay in the moment.  

    As stated earlier, the mind games that we play with our selves can be extremely destructive, one of which is self-imposed pressure. We put pressure on ourselves to shoot better, to score higher, to impress others, to win and to make the team. Unfortunately, in precision shooting sports such as archery, performance generally deteriorates the harder we try. This is where one must differentiate between “trying” and “focusing.” When we try harder to do something, we are focusing on the outcome and not the act. Without concentrating on the act, performance deteriorates which continues to create stress. This in turn makes us try harder, only resulting in additional loss in points and more stress – a vicious cycle that must be interrupted by stepping back from the abyss, taking a deep breath, relaxing and returning focus to the act of shooting not the hope of winning. 

    Anyone who is driven to win at a national or international level is probably very motivated, bordering on being an over-achiever. It takes confidence and determination to win, but too much determination, unsupported by a structured and comprehensive training program, can simply be manifested as destructive stress.

    The important aspect of harnessing this determination is not to set unrealistic goals or make unattainable claims. To boastfully claim that one will win a specific tournament, only puts the proverbial “monkey on the back” and creates additional stress. Remember that everyone likes to see a braggart fall flat on his face, just as the crowd likes to see a quiet and humble man or woman win gold.

    At the risk of contradicting myself, it is however important to have confidence that you can win in a specific tournament. This confidence should be derived from well-structured training and knowing that you have been consistently shooting scores that are capable of winning this match. If you cannot shoot winning scores in practice, then it is unreasonable to expect to shoot winning scores under match pressure. It is then better to go and just shoot the best you can and enjoy the experience. By removing the stress of “having to win”, you may in fact shoot the best score you have ever shot and actually win.   

     Lastly, it is important to surround yourself with equally positive thinking friends and training partners. A healthy support network of non-judgmental friends and family, who will continue to love and support you whether you win or lose, can be a major asset to a competition shooter. Just as they can share the joy of your successes, they will be equally supportive and encouraging during the slumps and all too frustrating training plateaus. But when it’s all said and done, it is your own mindset and attitude that will make or break you as a competitor. So think positive, dare to dream, stay focused, train with a purpose, and the golds will take care of themselves.  

Note: For more information on the mental game, check out Mental Management Systems’ books and audio CDs available from Lancaster Archery.  

Olympic Archery Schedule

Coming to a TV near you: 23-30 July 2021.

Opening Ceremony begins at 4.00 AM on Friday 23 July on network NBC. Repeats later in the day.

For regular archery coverage, go to NBC’s Peacock streaming TV — free on your computer or smart TV. Note that Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time — so the evening of one day in California is the next day in Japan. So an event airing on the 24th in Tokyo, for example, could be seen the evening of the 23rd in the USA.

Archery begins at the following times – Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)

23rd Ranking – 5.30 pm & 10.15 pm;

24th Mixed Teams – 5.30 pm & 9.45 pm;

25th Women’s Team Finals – 5.30 pm & 9.45 pm;

26th Men’s Team Finals – 5.30pm

27th, 28th & 29th Men’s and Women’s – 12 am & 5.30 pm

29th Women’s Finals – 10.45 pm

30th Men’s Quarterfinals and Finals – 5.30 pm & 10.45 pm

31st (in Tokyo but the 30th in the USA) Men’s Finals

Go Team USA

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.

END

The Road to Greatness

By Mark V. Lonsdale

While the purpose of sports is to make better people, not just champions, there have been many greats in the sporting world. As with any endeavor or sport, there is a simple but difficult road to greatness. Simple because there are only a few things the athlete needs to know, but difficult because of the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to truly master these simple truths.

So here is the easy part:

  1. Find inspiration in the achievements of those who have gone before you
  2. Make a commitment to your chosen activity or sport
  3. Set goals that are a series of attainable steps
  4. Study the skill-sets required for your chosen activity
  5. Become brilliant at the basics and work to master the fundamentals
  6. Enjoy your achievements but learn from your losses and mistakes
  7. Work every day to improve your performance, fitness, stamina, and strength

Now the difficult part: Follow the above plan six days a week for at least four years to enter the world of the elite athlete.

A BLUEPRINT TO SUCCESS – Part 2 – Developing a Training Program

By Mark V. Lonsdale   

I hope you have read Part 1 of this series, evaluated your personal situation, and now ready to make the commitment to becoming a champion – or at least a better archer.  You have accepted the reality of the situation and understand that a significant portion of your time and money may be going into nothing more significant than launching pointed sticks from a once primitive weapon system at a distant paper target. A target that is of no threat to you and cannot even be eaten. The only personal satisfaction will be in doing this better than any other stick launcher in the country, or on the planet, and for that you will get a gold medal that is not even real gold.

However, if you are one of those rare individuals who can derive satisfaction from the simple pleasure of launching a good arrow, seeing it arc through the air straight and true, and then strike gold, you are ready to at least consider the arduous journey ahead.

That said, and assuming we are now on the same page, as it were, it is time to make a plan. Without a plan, your most valuable commodity, training time, will be wasted and energy will be expended with minimal returns.

The simple act of writing down an idea and seeing it on paper (or in the computer) is the first step to making that idea a reality. It could be compared to drawing up plans for a new house or mapping out an itinerary for a long trek in the mountains. Seeing your proposed training program on an actual calendar will drive home the added reality of just how much time you are about to commit in search of that elusive title of champion.

THE PLAN

The plan or strategy for an athlete intent on improving is composed of three documents – a training calendar, a training program, and a journal. Without these, an archer is just a recreational shooter lacking any defined training goals or method of tracking progress. These three training aids make up the map by which an archer navigates his or her way down the “long path of many small steps.”

The training calendar will allow the archer to best manage his time and serve as a constant reminder of coming events.

The training program will give the archer specific performance goals and keep the training focused and on track. The training program must take into consideration the well-worn triad for human performance – Mind, Body and Spirit – all of which must be trained, honed and kept in harmony. With archery, there are also the added technical aspects of equipment, match format, and exterior ballistics. Mastering all of these and keeping them in balance requires formal training that is best managed with weekly, monthly, annual, and even quadrennial training goals.

The training journal is where the archer keeps track of competition and training scores. These will reflect the hard facts of his or her progress. A periodic review of the journal will highlight weaknesses or performance plateaus and will have a direct effect on the direction of future training.

THE CALENDAR

     The single most valuable asset of an athlete is training time. With all the other demands of life, the archer must find time to train, travel, and compete, and the training calendar will facilitate that. It’s importance cannot be over emphasized.

In designing a long-term training program, it is recommended to begin with an annual training calendar. Start by taking a Month-at-a-Glance type calendar and a blue pen and mark in the exact dates of all local, state, and national competitions, including required travel days. This will allow you to design a monthly training program to built for each specific type of event and match format – indoor, outdoor, NORs, etc. These dates can be pulled from club calendars, state archery association, NFAA and USA Archery websites, and newsletters.

Still using that blue pen, also mark off all the training camps and seminars that you plan to attend that year. This will allow you to organize your school or work schedule well in advance of these events. Always keep in mind that a tournament or formal training camp can be many times more beneficial than individual or club training so should be given considerable priority.

State, national, and international competitions will also give you a first-hand opportunity to evaluate your own performance under tournament conditions (nerves and pressure) and to rub shoulders with the champions who you’re either modeling yourself after or hoping to one day out shoot.

The Zen of archery tells us that every shot should be executed perfectly and that we focus not on the results or the competition, but only on perfect form and execution of that perfect arrow. However, in the high stress world of man-on-man and elimination format, the stress and presence of the other archer is both real and unavoidable. This makes competition experience that much more important.

The next step is to take a red pen to that annual calendar and block out all the days or weeks where you have other non-archery related obligations – work, school, travel, trade shows, family vacations, and other unavoidable commitments.

 Now, still with that red pen, but working on a week-by-week basis, mark off all your required hours at work or school, family commitments, kids soccer games, church, and other personal obligations. What you are left with at this point, in between all the blue and red ink, is the time available to you for archery and fitness training. In those remaining blank spaces, you can now begin to pencil in your weekly training schedule.

However, this is also the time for another reality check by asking yourself if in fact you have the time for a significant amount of training. In archery, as with most sports, repetition is the key to success. This requires frequent training sessions augmented with a healthy and active life-style.

      Most national champions and Olympians have had to sacrifice many personal activities, time with their loved ones, and even their jobs to create the required training time to have a realistic shot at making the team or going for gold. If you are still determined to keep up that bowling league, party on weekends, and play golf on Sundays, then you may not be making the sacrifices necessary to be an archery champion.  (Note: This author quit school in his late teens to tour with the national judo team then moved to France for over a year to train at their national sports institute. Later in life, when he became involved in competitive shooting, he quit a very lucrative job and founded a shooting school just so that he could spend more time on the range training).

THE TRAINING PROGRAM

      The training program is a week-by-week process that needs to be constantly tweaked and adjusted to suit the archer’s progress and performance – both of which are being tracked in a journal. The weekly training program dictates which days you hit the gym to work on strength or cardio capacity, which days or evenings are set aside for archery practice, and which nights you will get professional coaching. The monthly training program is more reflective of short-term training goals.

Improvements in either form or fitness do not happen overnight, so your training goals should be spaced at reasonable intervals to avoid frustration and to best gauge your progress. For the mid-level archer on a good training regime, thirty days should be sufficient time to expect to see quantifiable improvement in training scores, but may not be equally reflective of competition performance, which is more of a semi-annual training and performance progression. In other words, consistent improvement in monthly training scores should be reflected in improved scores at quarterly or semi-annual competitions.  

Also keep in mind that as you progress, you can expect quantifiable improvements to become smaller. Where initially a minor change suggested by your coach may cause a ten-point increase in your scores on a particular exercise, the same cannot be expected at the higher levels. As you approach a competitive level of performance, you will spend many hours fine tuning your technique and struggling for every single point. Just look at scores in any Olympic sport where gold and silver are often separated by tenths of an inch, hundredths of a second, and perfect score ties are broken by X-count.

But as either a mid-level archer or championship athlete, a training journal is still an essential tool for quantifying consistency and tracking progress.

TIME MANAGEMENT

     Shooting for one or two hours every day is the ultimate goal, but access to a range may be a problem. Most serious archers will have an area at home or near their home where they can shoot on a regular basis. Initially, and at a minimum, archery should be practiced every other day. The same is true for strength and fitness workouts. This will give fingertips, arm, and back muscles time to repair themselves and adapt to the new demands. Over training, or having a too aggressive training schedule, can cause painful injuries, fingertip swelling, and tendon strain that will severely inhibit future progress.

      So assuming you work an eight-hour day or have school studies like most mortals, but still have your evenings free, a training program may look something like this:

Monday Morning – Cardio – run or cycle for 30 minutes

Monday Evening – Gym for strength training 1 hour

Tuesday Evening – Archery practice 2 hours

Wednesday Morning – Cardio – run or cycle for 30 minutes

Wednesday Evening – 1 hour of Coaching before Club Practice (2 hours)

Thursday – Archery practice 1 hour 

Friday Morning – Cardio – run or cycle for 30 minutes

Friday Evening – Gym for strength training 1 hour

Saturday Morning – 1 hour of Coaching / 1 hour of personal practice or club tournament

Sunday – Take a day off

     Once your fingers, arms, and back have adapted to the imposed demands of archery, then you can begin a daily practice routine of 100+ arrows. Many top archers shoot upwards of 200-250 arrows per day.

     You may also be asking why all the cardio and strength training when all I need to do is stand still and launch arrows? The simple answer is that general fitness builds confidence and improves stress management. As with strenuous exercise, competition stress can cause accelerated heart rates, spurts of adrenalin, and nervous tremors – all detrimental to a precision performance. Overall fitness has a beneficial effect on all of these.

As you draw close to a major match, the frequency and intensity of archery practice can replace the time spent in strength training. A serious archer will also begin trying to take half days off work or getting out of school early, so as to have a few more hours of daylight for training. (We are not suggesting teens cut school, but non-academic electives and school sports may have to take a back seat to archery practice).  

Additional spare time such as lunch time and time watching TV can be used for stretching exercises or studying videos of past competitions. But even with the above light schedule, you are still getting four or five archery sessions a week for total of 13 hours bow time, plus 3 1/2 hours of fitness training. If something has to be cut, it should not be the coaching sessions or tournament practice.

Days where you cannot train because of work, travel, or rain should not be considered a total loss. Mental exercises and visualization are also extremely important. By taking a quiet moment to close your eyes and mentally visualize the entire preparation, draw, aim, release, and follow-through process, right up to and including seeing that arrow strike the X ring. This will subconsciously program and condition your mind and body for a perfect winning form. YouTube is also a useful training tool in that you can pull up a variety of championship tournaments to study the form of various top ranked athletes. This can also aid in visualization exercises and positive reinforcement.  

 The key to success in any training is to keep thinking, acting, and training like a champion. It is only through regular, disciplined training and sacrifice that an archer can develop the skills and gain confidence to push through slumps and training plateaus. To quote Vince Lombardi, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

END

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.

END

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