Megan Christopherson April – You know how they say that “consistency is key?” In archery, we are encouraged to do everything exactly the same every time, right down to the shoes we wear and the thoughts in our heads as we stand on the line. While all of this is generally good advice, it’s also helpful to learn to be flexible, because your shooting conditions could change at any moment, as evidenced by my sister, who was once forced to use a different bow during the state competition, and walked out a state champion. There are any number of circumstances that may happen to you. An injury might occur. Your bow could break, or be lost by the airlines. You could miss practices, and find yourself unprepared for the competition, etc.
On one of our Nationals trips, a boy tripped while ice skating and ended up slicing his bow hand right before the competition. Luckily, he was still able to hold his bow and compete, but if the injury was worse, he might not have. Another time, a girl sprained her ankle on a trampoline. Injuries to your legs or feet can affect stance, or even the ability to stand up.
Then there was my sister, whose case was very different. Before traveling to a state competition, all of the bows were loaded in a school vehicle, but my sister, Tia’s, bow was somehow left behind. The mistake was discovered just moments before the competition started. Tia was given another bow that she had never tested before, but fortunately, our coaches had made us ready for events such as this.
During the practice round, Tia was able to find and adjust her aiming point, and she came out a state champion, even with the mix-up. Thankfully, there are ways to prepare for these unfortunate events. Let me share them with you:
➢ Practice with a different (or even different-handed) bow:
○ To try this, trade bows for a round with your shooting partner, or another team member. This lets you experiment with contrasting draw weights, acquire knowledge of how draw weight affects aim, and overall just see how it feels to shoot another bow.
➢ Practice shooting sitting down:
○ Grab some chairs! Doing so lets you see a different perspective of shooting, and can make you prepared in case of a leg injury.
➢ Practice shooting at the curtain behind the targets:
○ The goal of this exercise is to work on your form, without the pressure of hitting the center of the target. To do this, you will need to move the targets so they aren’t in front of the curtain, bring your quiver forward to the target line, and shoot. Shooting at the curtain can help with your consistency, and it is also very calming.
➢ Practice with a string bow:
○ Like shooting at the curtain, practicing with a string bow helps with your form, and can be done anywhere, even at home. This can be useful if you are traveling, or have to miss practice for any reason.
In my school district, we practice all of these things and more regularly. It’s always good to test out everything you can. These activities help switch things up and make practices more fun. In addition, it lets us see shooting through different perspectives than we’re used to. All of these things are great to practice because sometimes the bows may break, archers may get injured, or any number of things could happen. However, before trying any of these fun activities, please remember to consult with your archery coach!
Megan is a 2023 student contributor.