McKenna Montgomery – Draw, anchor, aim, and release. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s harder than you’d think when it comes to practicing archery. That’s why you put the time in to practice – to make shooting second nature in a tournament.
During practice, there are many steps that go through my mind. Anchor point, breathing, follow-through, and considering what I need to do to improve my shooting.
At a tournament, my thoughts focus on reflection and asking myself, “why did my arrow go where it did?”
From watching other archers around me, I notice things about their form and how it is different, or the same, as mine. I’ve noticed archers shoot at different speeds. Seeing this reminds me to take my time and to hold an extra half a second before releasing, because that is what works best for me.
Last year, I was shooting inconsistently at 15 meters. While reflecting on my shooting with my grandpa, he reminded me shooting from 10 meters and 15 meters is no different in the way you shoot, just in your mind. The next tournament I attended, I moved back to 15 meters and told myself to do the same form as 10 meters, there is no difference.
My first round I had a very tight group, but it was low. Through reflection, I realized I had made a silly mistake and aimed for my 10 meters spot. 10 meters is closer than 15 meters to the target. My aiming point at 15 meters is higher than at 10 meters, which is what caused my arrows to go low. The next round I adjusted accordingly to my reflection.
This goes to show that archery is as much mental as it is physical.
I am more confident in myself if I go back to the basics and depend on consistency, form, and positivity. Rather than think too much, I go back to the advice my parents always give me, which is:
SHOOT ONE ARROW AT A TIME
Forget about what happened with the previous arrow and move on to the next.
Just remember, archery is a mental sport. Don’t let one arrow get you down, focus on the next arrow and reset by taking a deep breath, clearing your mind, and focusing on the one thing you know will help you. This “one thing” could vary from archer to archer, but for me it is currently having a good follow-through by bringing my hand straight back to my shoulder when I release.
Practice hard to build muscle memory for you to transfer that into tournaments.
-McKenna Montgomery is a 2022 student contributor. Watch for her future submissions.-