“Son, you will play like you practice.”
“No I won’t. I’ll turn it on come game day, Dad.”
If I had an arrow in my quiver for every time my father and I had this discussion I could open an arrow distribution center today. The fact is, Dad was right. If you practice halfheartedly then you will play halfheartedly. Archery is no different than fielding ground balls on the baseball diamond or running a pass pattern in football. If you “fling” arrows in practice then you will fling arrows at the shoot.
I know there are some out there that will say, “I just want to shoot and have fun with the boys,” and that’s fine, but don’t be upset when you perform poorly at the monthly club shoot. We reinforce something every time we draw the string. The question is are we reinforcing something good or something bad. With each arrow we must focus on every aspect of the shot.
Even when we meet with friends to walk the practice range it’s important that we step up to the stake, observe the terrain and ask: is it sloping, uphill or downhill. Is our footing level and if not what must we do to compensate. When we execute the shot it must have our full attention from draw through conclusion. When the shot is over we then ask ourselves if the arrow hit the intended spot and if it didn’t why. Did we estimate the distance wrong? Were we fooled by the presentation of the target? Was it a form issue? When we know the answer to these questions we can make mental notes to ensure that we aren’t fooled again or address the flaw in our shot execution.
Certainly, this type of focus doesn’t have to take the fun out of shooting. Heck, it’s always fun when we hit what we are aiming at. What we must do is to be careful in our friendly outings. It’s easy to walk along conversing and joking and start flinging arrows at the target without much thought. We have to learn to turn that switch on when we step to the stake. Remember, every time we draw the string we are reinforcing something. What we reinforce is up to us. I suggest we practice how we want to play.