BRENNAN STEPHENS February – “It’s simple, but not easy.” This is the reply my dad gave me after I let a single arrow ruin a tournament. He was referring to the fact that I failed at forgetting my bad arrow that I shot my second round at 15 meters. The only one that matters is the one that sits on MY rest as I draw back my bow. The other 29 arrows have their time, but now is not that time. Oftentimes, I let that one arrow that might have had a tore fletching or that I did not have a clean release on to affect my mind.
Everyone’s definition of a bad tournament is different. A bad score for one person can be someone else’s goal and it is important to realize this. No matter your definition of a bad arrow, one bad arrow tends to become two. I rarely have a bad tournament that I shoot consistently bad. Normally it begins with one arrow and then I fall apart. It is important to keep this from happening and I have a couple of techniques I use.
The first thing to do to keep one bad arrow from becoming two is to prepare your mind. Be ready to have a bad arrow. Every archer is bound to make a mistake and it is a fact that must be accepted. Do I like it? No, but it’s going to happen. A good habit to get into is when you have a bad arrow, lower your bow or return it to your toe and take a deep breath. This allows you to detach a little from the shooting process which can help to calm you down.
Next is to have confidence. Shoot so much that you know that the next arrow that you release is going to hit the mark. That bad arrow was just a fluke, an anomaly that will not be repeated.
Although it is good to think, don’t think too much! Trust yourself. This goes back to confidence. After I shoot a bad arrow, I have found that I end up holding my next arrow too long instead of just releasing.
My last piece of advice is to have fun! If you are like me, you get so caught up in shooting and winning that you forget to enjoy yourself. My best tournament this year was also one of my most challenging. I had my target face fall off twice and my partner and I were the only ones on the line. I could have gotten stressed about how everyone was watching me but instead I laughed.
Never let your mind be the one who holds you back.
~Brennan Stephens is a 2023 student contributor~