Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Zen of archery

When I was young, like a lot of kids, I played with crudely made bows and arrows. I briefly got to try out proper archery when I first went to art college, but it is only recently that I became seriously interested (one of the advantages of being retired and having time on my hands). Instinctive archery (shooting without conscious aiming and without mechanical aids) is what appeals to me, probably because I see it as similar to the way that I create art. For that reason I think that it is worth writing about my progress and what I am attempting to do.

I am shooting 33 inch carbon fibre arrows using an American style flat bow, pulling at approximately 40 lbs. However, to develop instinctive skill, the one recommendation that I believe to be true is that it takes a lot of practice! This is why I have developed my own particular way of doing things.

I use a back quiver as this enables me to reload quickly after shooting (after releasing an arrow my hand is already in position to lift out the next one). This means that without particularly hurrying the process, I can release an arrow approximately every seven seconds. This is not really all that fast, skilled speed shooters can do much better. My own purpose is simply to cut down on practice time. l also carry 25 arrows in the quiver. Since at present I am only shooting at a range of 10 metres, this means that shooting the 25 arrows and recovering them takes just less than 5 minutes each time. Two half hour practice sessions each day means that I shoot 300 arrows per day. To avoid unnecessary damage to the arrows, I divide my shots over 8 target faces, three per target - with one extra shot so that it is easier to work out my accuracy as a percentage!

My main concern now is to improve my consistency. If a shot is off centre by 6 inches at 10 metres, it will be miss by 12 inches at 20 metres, so I need to learn how to consistently hit the centre. Since I started I have improved, but I still need to get a lot better. At present, I score myself according to how many arrows I can get into or cutting the centre gold.
This is the first time that I achieved 6O% accuracy (15 arrows in or cutting gold) a few days ago. Unfortunately, most of the time my average occuracy is more like 32%, but there are signs of it improving!

THIS is what I need to be getting regularly (the rest of the 25 shots were only average)! However, if it can happen once, I can do it again! It is the mental process of getting up to this standard that I believe is of interest and that I am primarily concerned with writing about.

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