Improve Your Form: Try these tips for smoother, more accurate shooting
Posted on August 6, 2014
Shoot With Eyes Shut
One of the best things you can do for your shooting is to shoot with your eyes shut. This may sound a little funny to some but it’s practiced by most of the top archers on a regular basis.
To shoot with your eyes shut, move up to within a few yards of the target butt with no target face attached. Go through your regular shooting routine and when you reach full draw with the sight on the middle of the butt, close your eyes and complete the shot.
The first few shots will be rather uncertain and tense. After a few ends, you will begin to relax. At this point, you’ll be able to feel every part of the shot and the reactions you get upon release.
By practicing up close with your eyes shut, you’ll be performing each shot the same. By removing the aiming process, you allow yourself to build muscle memory and the correct feeling for a proper shot. You’ll be able to detect the slightest mistake in your form and correct it without worrying where the arrow will end up.
After several sessions of this, you should attempt to duplicate the same shot and feelings with your eyes open at a blank butt. When you have accomplished this you can move on to a target up close and then eventually to the distance you need to shoot.
Practicing with your eyes shut, and shooting 100 percent perfect shots builds muscle memory faster than shooting 50-percent of your shots perfect on the range.
The archery industry has become very equipment and gadget oriented in recent years. Because of this trend it’s very easy to make equipment changes in hopes of shooting a better score or harvest a larger animal. Be careful of this pitfall! Equipment changes, small or large, can be very beneficial or very detrimental depending upon your situation. Changing your equipment or adding a new piece of equipment too close to a tournament or hunt can spell disaster. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to the new equipment and gain the confidence necessary. For best results, only change one piece of equipment at a time. This rule will help you make certain that the change is a good one without adding the confusion of several changes at once (i.e., don’t shoot a new bow and release at the same time, try one before the other).
Any equipment change that will affect your form or mental outlook should be given plenty of time to absorb before the big shoot or hunt takes place. Remember it takes about six weeks to form a habit or to change one.
Working with elite athletes on their shooting problems becomes very challenging because of their obvious consistency from shot to shot. What appears to be a perfect execution of a shot, may in fact be a less-than-perfect result when it arrives at the target. Sometimes the problems are so small that they are hard to pick up.
One of the problems that are shared by both beginners and top competitors is loss of focus during the shot process. This can be picked up by watching a shooter’s eyes. The term “the eyes have it” is never more true than in maintaining focus. Top competitors will maintain their eye contact with the target better and longer. This is true with almost all sports that involve hand eye coordination. Baseball, golf, tennis, pool, table tennis, rifle and pistol shooting, archery, and many other sports.
If your shooting is going south and you can’t put your finger on the problem, try working on your focus. A good method is to shoot in a dark room or area with only the target lighted. During your shot sequence, concentrate on the exact spot that you wish the arrow to appear and keep your focus on that spot from pre-draw until the arrow has reached the target. Do not allow your focus to change from the intended target to your sight and back. Shooting in the dark room will also reduce your tendency to follow the flight of the arrow.