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Allen recently started a thread in the intermediate advanced competition archery forum asking what is the key skill in shooting well.

http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=2440830

Words are the means to an end -- communication, and words convey meanings.

But the major problem hindering communication is that the message the speaker was sending is often not the message the listener received. A primary cause, but not the only cause, is that the listener attaches a different meaning to the words that the speaker chose to use rather than figuring out what the speaker was really meaning.

How do you shoot an X? Simple. Release the arrow only when its flight path would hit the target in the X.

Ok -- how do you do that? Let's think about the process.

1. "Float" on the X or "hold" the pin on the X
2. "Command" the release or "keep pulling" through the shot till the release happens.

What does "float" mean? It certainly doesn't convey the idea of steadiness. It conveys an idea like that of a boat floating on the water. If the water is calm and still, the boat is too. If the water is turbulent, the boat is too. In other words, the boat is not "controlled."

Then what does "hold" imply? It doesn't coney the idea of moving around. Instead, using the boat analogy from above, if the boat is just anchored at one end, it won't move downstream. It will still align to changes in the current or to the wind. It will still bob in the turbulent water, so it isn't very steady. But, the more lines that secure the boat, the more stable the boat becomes. In short, the extra lines "force" reductions in the boat's movements.

"Commanding" the release to fire indicates a mental process focused on manipulating the release. Squeeze the trigger now. Stop squeezing now. Start squeezing again. Stop again. Oh heck with it -- just hammer it while the pin is as close as it's going to get.

Alternatively, "keep pulling" through the shot until SURPRISE the release fired. Ok, the pin is close -- start pulling. But, "pulling" demands recruiting increasing amounts of muscle tension. "Pulling" can force the pin off the target, or "pulling" can cause the sight picture to break down. Don't worry keep on pulling because it will be a surprise release, the result will be good.
As long as you focus on the X, the arrow will hit there. Wrong!

So in the question of how do you shoot an X -- the real issue is how do you set it up so that the pin is on the X (and the arrow's ensuing flight path would hit the X) when the shot fires?

In "Archery Anatomy," Ray Axford states, "Ultimately the objective is to shoot with the minimum physical and mental effort."

Those words capture the ideas of relax, recruit no muscle, don't attempt to force the shot.

"Relax" describes an absence of mental tension or anxiety.

"Recruit no muscle" communicates the idea of allowing the body structure to support the loads associated with archery to reduce muscle tension (tension which is difficult to consistently replicate) or fatigue. Either issue exacerbates the problems of creating a steady sight picture.

"Not forcing the shot" communicates focusing on the act of aiming and allowing the shot to happen without conscious intervention.

Axford goes beyond that summary statement. His book is titled "Archery Anatomy." Axford examines how certain techniques help or hinder attaining the overall objective.

For example, he examines drawing and raising the bow as that technique affects the bowside shoulder. That tends to force the shoulder girdle to collapse requiring the archer to recruit muscle (add tension) to force it back down or to prevent it from rising in the first place.

He then compares that to a technique of drawing and settling into the target from slight above. This technique allows the upper body to work in harmony in a relaxed fashion. Note -- a sky draw also displaces the shoulder -- which like the low draw requires recruiting muscle (inducing tension) to re-establish the bow shoulder position.

In another example, Axford examines the effects of how the archer breathes during the shot process. Inhaling as the archer raises the bow keeps his muscles working in harmony. Exhaling as the archer raises the bow puts his muscles working in opposition during the shot cycle (translation: adds unnecessary tension).

As a natural extension of that discussion, Axford explains how the right chest pressure can help steady the shot, while too little allows the bowside shoulder girdle to fall -- which in turn requires recruiting muscle tension to hold it up in place and stable.

He also examines the effects of issues like torquing the bow as well as under or over drawing as they relate to executing the shot with a minimum of physical effort.

Axford argues that allowing the bow to settle into a natural point of aim releases the archer from the mental anxiety of having to oversee a physical process filled with muscle tension -- forcing the bow into alignment and forcing it on target and then deciding when to force the release to occur.

So, does the archer have to "hold" the bow? Sure. Can he do that without recruiting any muscles -- anywhere? Nope. When he holds it, is it going to be absolutely still? Probably not! Should it be swinging back and forth or up and down? Certainly not in the manner that those words communicate!

But with a bow that fits the archer -- ie puts him in a position that allows him to support the loads of the bow (mass and draw weight) with most of the support coming at the least cost of recruited muscular tension and maximizing the support from the body's structure -- the archer can allow the bow to stabilize in a consistent position, which in turn allows the archer to focus on aiming and allow the shot to happen subconsciously.

In many ways, his conclusion is not so very different from Larry Wise's objective in fitting a bow -- put the archer in a position from which he can execute the shot (in Wise's case --- via back tension) with the greatest amount of consistency.
 

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Interesting read. Food for thought. Going to take a while to process that. :cheers:
 

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Very interesting. A bit above my head. For me, Axford is a great tranquilizer. :) So, like Lazarus, it's going to take me some time to digest that.
Thanks for starting the conversation!
Allen
 

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This was a good read.... the more muscle used, the more mental exertion is necessary to correct the "flaw". By maintaining correct methods of breathing pattern and draw stabilization, muscle and mental perform more effectively as a pair without the conscious decision to "execute". It looks like I may need to shop for this book!
 

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Shogun1,
You bring up some interesting ideas and techniques for better shooting. I'm going to have to pull out my copy of Archery Anatomy and dig into it a bit more.
Thank you!
 
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