Very good question, answer is simple, but not easy.
(I gotta write a paper on this ... someday)
When you say "aim a recurve", we have to assume that mean barebow, that is without a sight. (Recurves can have sights, )
Here goes (this is actually something I posted a while back another forum, so it may sound familiar):
Instinctive shooters use "sights", if you will. You can focus all you want on the target, but the arrow, bow arm, string etc are all in your periphery. A gap shooter puts the tip of his arrow on a specific spot conciously, the instintive shooter does the same thing, but subconciously, or in some cases unconciously. (He actually has a "sight picture" that he can repeat at various distances. The only other way of hitting a target would be to rely on what some people call muscle memory or more specically proprioception, that is the way your nervous system "knows" where the various parts of your body are at any given time. While that is possible, the only way to prove it would be to stand in front of a target blindfolded, and repeatedly hit center. I firmly believe that most people who claim that they shoot by "pure instinct" are actually using a combination of techniques, again conciously or subconciously.
That's an interesting opinion, Viper1. How would you confirm it?
One way would be to affix an appliance that narrows the archer's vision field to the target, similar to a form of blindness where only the macular vision is retained. Has that been done? I doubt it, but I've heard the assertion you've made more than once despite the lack of experimental evidence to confirm it.
One thing I can confirm though in my own experience is when I focus on the arrow rather than the target, the shot invariably goes off the mark. This might confirm what you're saying about the total sight picture in some fashion, however, it doesn't change the skill requirements.
Do you suppose a baseball pitcher has a similar "sight picture"? It's certainly possible but that hardly changes what he needs to do to hit the strike zone.
Consequently, I suspect your assertion, while interesting, is rather irrelevant.
You can believewhat ever you want, that's your right. The body physiologically can only do certain things. I don't know if the restricted field of view test has been done or not, perhaps you could try it and let us know.
Your second paragraph is actually the most telling:
"One thing I can confirm though in my own experience is when I focus on the arrow rather than the target, the shot invariably goes off the mark. This might confirm what you're saying about the total sight picture in some fashion, however, it doesn't change the skill requirements."
It does support what I'm saying, and no it doesn't change the skill requirement, so what's the problem?
We all use the throwing a ball analogy, as it's easy for a beginner to understand, and translate to the bow, but that skill is actually more of the proprioceptor response, than what we do when instinctively shooting a bow.
Sorry, if you think I'm attacking your beliefs, I'd be happy to hear your explaination of what happens.
BTW- macular vision would probably include the bow hand / sight window and foreshaft of the arrow, but I get your point.
Also - your use of the term irrevalent is, well, irrevalent, .
I'm not familiar with your terminology, Viper 1, "proprioceptor" for example. Does that term somehow make things clearer?
And just how do you know what the body is physiologically capable to doing? Is this a new discovery that somehow nullifies thousands of years of empirical experience?
What is most interesting is how people who don't shoot instinctively seem to understand it better than the people who do? Why do you suppose that is?
Well, no matter. I'm not attacking your beliefs either. Just expressing a certain critical concern, that's all.
If you want to learn the technique, you can go to my website and read what's there concerning how to shoot without sights or conscious reference to whatever else might pass for the same.
As for subconscious references, well, that's very abstract don't you think? How would we know unless someone was somehow conscious of it?
I'd be grateful for any feedback you could provide on what isn't clear or complete. It's rather difficult to articulate this sort of thing in words in any case, so the help is undoubtedly sorely needed.
Proprioceptors are specialized nerve endings in your joints, they send messages to the brain, telling it the position of various body parts. If I asked where's you right foot, you would have to look at it, to tell, that's what those nerve ending do.
I know what I've been taugt. Until I get a better explaination, (that makes sense), I'll go with what I know, of it it makes you happier, what I believe.
BTW - I am an instinctive shooter, I focus on the target' center, and nothing else during the shot. I trust my form is good enough so I don't have to worry about it, usually. I've just done a little more analysis as to what the brain is really doing, while I'm looking at the target.
As for what the subconcious is doing, it you're interested there are serveral decent medical texts on Physicological Psychology, mine are from the mid '70s, but most hasn't changed, and you will have to extrapolate the data to make it applicable to shooting.
BTW - you must understand what empirical evidence means. It means that if you do action A with yield result B. By definition, it does not explain how it does it, it just does it reproducably.
In this case, you yourself provided a very valid test, by limiting you field of vision to the target only. If you been shooting for a while, my guess would be that you would still hit the target, but not with the percision, as you would without the device one. If you want to try, have a friend hold a pair or binoculars, or a small telescope to you eyes or eye while you shoot, (just be careful!) and see what happens.
I'll be honest with you, I'm happy with my theory, and I'm not going to try it, but if you like, please be my guest and I'd like to hear the results.
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