Reagan Trent May – You may have done well at your state’s tournament, and with Nationals just around the corner, this is an important time to prepare. Practicing shouldn’t slow down, if anything, it’s a great time to get a few extra practices in. It’s a good time to make tiny adjustments and talk to a coach about anything specific that you need help with. You could even ask them to watch you shoot, they may see something you weren’t even aware of. Take it back to the basics with the eleven steps and work your way through them. Working these things out before you arrive at Nationals will help you with both accuracy and consistency.
The eleven steps starts with important items. Stance, the consistency of where you put your feet, how far apart they are, and how you hold your posture are all pivotal to your shot. If you are struggling with your stance, make sure you are lining your feet up properly on the shooting line. Some coaches even suggest wearing the same shoes throughout the season. Where you nock your arrow on your bow string should be the same with each shot. Take the time to really look at your nock as you are securing it. Ideally, it should be just below the nocking point and your odd color fletching is inline with the middle of the nock on your arrow. Draw handset and bow handset must be the same with every shot to ensure accuracy. Where you place your fingers on the bow string and where your hand is placed on the grip should be the same each time. If you are having trouble, this is a great time for you to ask a coach or teammate to stand on the line next to you and help analyze your shot.
I see a lot of people merge pre-draw and draw together. The time between those two steps is important. It’s a time to collect yourself, remember your breathing patterns, and prepare for what comes next. Your breathing is really important during these two steps. When you inhale or exhale, your upper body moves up and down. Try to steady your breathing, which in turn will steady your upper body in preparation for your shot. Just like everything else, your anchor point has to be consistently in the same spot. Whether it’s anchoring at your lip or cheek, using the same spot each time will be helpful. Don’t rush, make sure you’re in the correct position.
Aiming can be a little different for everyone. You could pick a specific spot on the target or use the gap method. Even if you don’t hit the ten ring, if you have a grouping, that’s a good thing. When you have a grouping, it’s easier to fix what is going on with your shot. It may be just a minor adjustment to your stance or even just opening up your shoulders and widening your chest. Archers can improve their accuracy by practicing at longer distances than your range. By doing this, your mistakes and flaws in your consistency show more clearly. When you move back to your original range distances, it will be like a piece of cake.
Shot setup is the most important step in my opinion. This is a mental check to see if everything is the same as it was before. This is the part where everything lines up and when you feel ready, release. Accuracy and consistency are both involved in the step release. You must be consistent with the way you release as well as the time between shot setup and release. Accuracy depends on what your arms and fingers do when releasing. Keeping a straight line between your hand, arm, and shoulder is the correct way.
Lastly, follow through and reflect. It’s just that, following through and not just plucking your string. Finishing up your shot and doing a quick check that everything felt good or what needed to be worked on. Just remember, you’ve worked hard this whole season and earned your qualification for one of the biggest archery tournaments in the country.
Good luck at Nationals and I hope everyone has an amazing time.
Reagan Trent is a 2023 Student Contributor