The Confident Archer:
Over the last couple of issues I’ve offered some suggestions about things you can do during practice and equipment changes you can make to improve your accuracy. Today, I want to talk about how you use your brain. Confidence: you hear coaches in every sports talk about the importance of confidence. It has long been understood that being confident is a requirement of top performance. My thought is that many of us don’t really understand what that feeling is. This is an emotional state of being where you don’t actually believe you will fail. Now many of us know that we don’t hit the bulls eye every time but a confident archer starts every shot believing 100% that this is not going to be one of those times. And I mean every shot. So let’s talk about what that feels like and how you can reach that state of FEELING!

You’ll note I’ve emphasized the “feeling” of being confident, many of us are generally thinkers (me included) and so getting in touch with our feelings is more challenging. However feeling confident is something you don’t or shouldn’t have to think about. If you have to THINK about it, then you really aren’t confident. So let me describe a non confident shooter and think about if this might be you. A non confident shooter is saying things like: “I can’t miss this shot” “Don’t miss, Don’t miss, Don’t miss. “All I need to do is not miss any of the next three shots and I won’t lose”, “If I hadn’t missed on the last three shots I would be a winner” “Now don’t shoot until that pin is centered or you’ll miss”. In all of these cases the archer is feeling worried or anxious. Anxiety is the killer of quality performance. If you have any anxiety about a shot you have a lack of confidence you don’t truly believe that you will hit the bulls-eye. When you focus on “Not Missing” guess what, you’ll miss.

Now lets talk about the confident archer. A confident archer has a smile on their face when they step to the line. They know how good it feels to hit the bulls-eye and they are looking forward to this feeling. They can’t wait to get to the line so they can shoot another one. They don’t think or concern themselves with the arrows that missed they obsess about the ones that they shot well and how great that good shot felt. If you are looking forward to how great it’s going to feel when that arrow hits the center of the X ring then more often than not your subconscious will make it happen. You will also ensure that the things you do to prepare will make it happen.

OK, that all sounds good but how is someone supposed to feel that way when 80% of their arrows miss. Well let’s talk about how we elevate our positive feelings towards shooting and eliminate the negative feelings. No matter how many misses you have to be happy, any day shooting is better than a day at work or school right? Anger, is the way to the dark-side Obiwan, it leads to anxiety and frustration. Always comment about the good shot you have and think (no obsess) about how that felt. (I know this is hard) You have to forget and not concern yourself with the misses, they hold no value. Don’t try to fix a miss you already know what a good shot is so, try to emulate it. So if we are trying to emulate a Good shot start by practicing so you always get one. Shoot at ten yards at a 6” plate for a while. Do this until you can hit the plate 30 out of 30 times, believe me you’ll start to develop a feeling that it’s really hard to miss it. As you do this remind yourself you never miss. Say to yourself “I never miss that’s how I shoot” After you have mastered this move back and shoot at a slightly smaller target, all the time registering how great it feels to hit the target and re-enforce that you always hit the target. This will help you develop that positive feeling and get you focused on the right path. Of course archery is a game of luck the more you practice the luckier you get.

Scoring, I know this next bit sounds counter intuitive and it’s hard to do but you really can’t concern yourself with your score. The score is really the byproduct of the shooting experience. If you enjoy the shooting experience and look forward to every shot with confident in your abilities then the by product will be good. If you have anxiety that you will perform poorly and are distracted by misses and poor performance and a low score then the byproduct will also be poor. Now if you read this article it’s probably because you were hoping I would tell you how you can do raise your scores but I hope you walk away from it learning how to be positive happy and successful. That is what is really important. Concentrate on the successful fun part of shooting all the time moving forward and you’ll be amazed at how the other byproducts of your success will change, oh and yes your scores skyrocket too.

Have fun good luck and shoot straight
Pat.