Madilynn Rhinevault May – I’ve been shooting a Genesis bow since I was five, and helping out as a junior coach since 6th grade. I have learned a lot by watching other archers. Whether it’s the little kids I’m helping to coach or the older archers that I consider role models, no one ever shoots perfectly. Some archers have excellent form and yet, they can’t seem to hit the ten to save their life. I myself have had this struggle many times and it has caused me to question my form and capability when shooting. It was extremely aggravating until I discovered the source of my problems. My form was fine, but my attitude was affecting my shooting.
I’ve watched many other archers struggle to shoot their expected scores because they are angry with themselves and let their attitude affect their shooting. My brother Logan serves as a wonderful example of why attitude is an important aspect of archery. Logan has been shooting since he was three years old and has achieved near-perfect form. I noticed that when he was grumpy and having a bad day, his group opened up and he struggled to hit tens which usually came easily. He would become very angry very quickly and adopt bad habits the longer he shot. In contrast, when he was in a good mood, on the line with his friends Caleb and Nico, he shot much better and his groups became more consistent and accurate. A prime example is our PA state tournament this year. Before we shot we hung out with our friends, took some silly pictures, and talked about all the things we hoped to accomplish for the 2023 season. Logan went to the line in a good mood and ended up 4th overall as a 6th grader and 1st for middle school. This shows the important effect of your mood and mental state on shooting because even if you have perfect form, a bad attitude can prevent you from shooting your best.
Similarly, I discovered that when I was happy and joking with friends I shot better because I had a good attitude. Even before shooting, spending time and laughing with friends improved my mood before the tourneys. In contrast, when I became angry or annoyed with my shooting, I shot much worse because I had a bad attitude. I’ve watched my scores drop throughout practice by letting one arrow affect my mental state. In fact, it is a subject in which I have received much scolding from my dad who is also my coach. The effects of attitude are something we have been working on and it is definitely important to manage correctly. So here is what I’ve learned:
- Shoot happy. If you slip up and shoot a bad arrow, you can’t fix it so you shouldn’t stress about it. Instead, acknowledge your mistake and do whatever you can to make the next arrow better. Getting angry or annoyed with one bad arrow will cause you to shoot just as badly with the next arrow and the rest after that. When you are having a bad day you won’t shoot as good and if you’re like me, you’ll become angry and irritated. At this point, it would be best to step back and change your attitude but that is often “easier said than done”. So, if your finding it hard to shoot happy, then acknowledge the fact that your bad attitude is causing you to shoot poorly, and if you can’t change it – take a break. In my experience, if you continue shooting without fixing your attitude, you will only cause problems in your form and shoot worse, so just take a break. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or even a full day of rest. Make sure that when you come back and pick up your bow, you can shoot happy and shoot with a good attitude.
- Shoot with confidence. If you start shooting badly and continue to do so without changing your attitude or stepping back and analyzing the situation, shooting badly will become a habit and you will be instilled with constant anxiety and worry. Then, the next time you step to the line, you will question your shooting and your ability, and whether you can shoot your desired scores. Don’t shoot at all if you can’t shoot happy and if shooting badly causes anger, then take a quick break to avoid the creation of a bad habit. When you step to the line remember your best scores and think about nothing other than perfecting your form and shooting your best. Don’t allow your brain to become clouded with worry and doubt because it will cause more problems than you think. Shoot with confidence and a good attitude and know that you have the capability to shoot great scores each time you nock an arrow.
- Be humble. You need to shoot happy in order to shoot well and you need to have enough confidence in your shot to reassure yourself of your capabilities without the threat of worry or anxiety. However, you should not be overconfident to the point that it brings others down. You may have had a great day of shooting but boasting and talking about how great you are is unnecessary. It is wonderful to be proud of yourself but that doesn’t mean that you should be bragging about it. You should try to maintain a good balance of confidence and humbleness in order to show the true depth of a good sportsman and archer. This can all be achieved by having a good attitude about your shot, your scores, and toward your team.
To recap, shoot happy, shoot with conﬁdence, and be humble. These are all important steps to take to maintain a good attitude and become a good sportsman and a great archer. If you’re not an archer, then I encourage you to try shooting and if you are, I hope this helps at your next practice or tourney, happy shooting!
Madi Rhinevault is a 2023 student contributor.