Practising vs scoring

It seems to be tempting for a lot of people to do a scoring round each time they come and shoot, particularly indoors. There is nothing wrong with scoring. I mean, archery is a competitive sport, it’s what we do, and it is how you measure your progress. However, if you are serious about improving your shooting then you need to have practice sessions when you don’t score your arrows. When you are scoring you are naturally focussed on where the arrows hit the target, and to achieve the best score you have to make each shot the same as the last. So, you can’t be changing anything in your technique.

If you want to work on improving some aspect of your technique, say hand position on the bow, or shoulder alignment or whatever, you are acknowledging that what you are doing now is not perfect and needs changing in order to make it better. If you are changing your technique your arrows will fly differently and (in the short term, at least) your score is likely to go down. If the change is worthwhile then your scores will improve when you get used to it, but scoring is likely to discourage you from making that change. Even having a target face on the boss can be distracting, so take it off and shoot on a blank boss, using just a target pin or a small piece of tape to give you something to aim at.

If you are practising, don’t score. If you are scoring, don’t practise, just shoot!

Indoor shooting starts soon

The evenings are getting shorter and we are rapidly approaching the end of the outdoor season. Indoor shooting starts on 1st October at Leedstown Village Hall and on Saturday 3rd at Ludgvan Community Hall, and will continue on Thursdays and Saturdays from then onwards. See here for details of times and locations.

Ludgvan Fun Day 16th August

Penzance Lions Club invited us to run a ‘have-a-go’ stand at Ludgvan Fun Day on Sunday 16th August. The event runs from 10am to 5pm (weather permitting) at Ludgvan Community Hall. We shall be there with a couple of short distance targets and some lightweight bows, so come along and try it out!

Too much to remember? Build a sequence

Let’s face it, a good shot looks simple when you watch somebody else, but there is a lot to remember to get right all at the same time – hand position, shoulder alignment, fingers on the string, reference position, where your feet are and much more. It can all be a bit overwhelming, especially when you are holding the weight of the bow and trying to keep it pointing towards the middle.

Actually, it needn’t be quite that difficult. The trick is to build up a sequence to the shot, so you start with step 1, then step 2, then step 3 etc. The movement should flow smoothly through the steps, but if you take the time to do things in the right order then you don’t need to try to think of everything at the same time.

Resist the temptation to get to full draw as quickly as possible once you have nocked the arrow. Slow down, and take the time to get each step right before you move on to the next. You can work the details out for yourself to some extent, but the steps should go something like this:

Step 1: make sure you are standing in the right place.
Step 2: place your arrow on the string.
Step 3: place your fingers on the string.
Step 4: adjust the position of your hand on the bow.
Step 5: pull the string a few inches to settle your fingers in.
Step 6: lift the bow without pulling the string any more.
Step 7: get your shoulders in alignment.
Step 8: draw to your reference position.
Step 9: keep steady pressure on until you let go.

The idea is that you set up as much as possible of the shot before you pull the string. At each step, once you are in the right position it is relatively easy to maintain that position through the rest of the shot without thinking about it too much. At least, it is much easier than yanking the string back first and then trying to fix everything else!

Warming up

Just something they teach you in a beginners course because they have to, isn’t it? Nobody else bothers, so why should I?

Actually, warming up is important. Everybody should do it every time. Make it a habit before you shoot, and it is easy. It is often said that it reduces the risk of injury. The evidence is actually a bit mixed on that one, but on balance it seems sensible. Warming up does literally warm up the muscles, and warm muscles work more efficiently, there’s no doubt about that. Why handicap yourself by not doing it?

DON’T STRETCH! How many people do you see do a cursory pull of the elbow round with the other hand a couple of times before shooting? I know a lot of people were taught to do that, but please don’t, it isn’t good for you. Stretching before physical activity can actually make you perform worse.

Don’t get me wrong, stretching is good. Those of us over 40 in particular benefit as the range of movement in your joints tends to reduce as you get older, if you do nothing about it. A regular stretching routine can help keep you supple, but do it after you shoot, not before.

I’m not going to go into details of the specific exercises – there are lots you can do, so ask your coach or look it up. Spend a good five minutes on it, concentrating on the upper body but doing something for the whole body. Your whole body is involved in shooting, after all. Warming up should be gentle repeated movements to get things moving, gradually increasing in intensity, but always staying within your normal comfortable range of movement.

Sarah wins at national tournament

Sarah Conisbee shot at the three day Grand National Archery Meeting from 24th to 26th June 2015, and not only did she win the ladies longbow Double Hereford and Long National rounds, she had awards for the best score with a wooden bow and the Best Gold in the Double National, which was also the ladies Best Gold of the meeting (including all the recurve and compound archers with much more modern equipment)! Fantastic performance, Sarah!

Cause vs effect

Cause and effect – it isn’t always obvious which is which. In archery, they are often confused. When looking at any aspect of shooting technique it is important to know why something happens the way it does. How many people do you see snatching their hands behind their heads as a separate movement after release? Somebody has probably told them they need to pull their hand back behind their ear when they let go, so that’s what they do. What should happen is that the hand moves back of its own accord (effect) because there is a steady pull from the shoulder and the string suddenly isn’t resisting any more (cause).

Here’s another one: current thinking is that correct use of the shoulder muscles through the draw (cause) should result in a slightly curved path of the drawing hand (effect). Making the hand go through a curve is not the same thing.

Focus on the cause, and the effect is a sign that you have got it right. It doesn’t work the other way round. Forcing the effect doesn’t make the cause happen!

AGM news

News from our AGM on Friday 10th July: we knew this was coming, but we would like to say farewell and thank you to Peter and Sarah Conisbee, who having moved house have decided to join Redruth Archers as they are much closer to them. We would like to thank Peter for the work he has put in over the last few years as not only Secretary but Tournament Organiser and (along with Sarah) Records Officer as well.

I am now the Secretary, and other members have taken on Peter’s other roles. Most of the other officers have stayed the same.


New website!

Our old website served its purpose well enough, but the time has come for an update and to make it work better with mobile devices. We hope you like it!