August 23, 2022
Several years ago, we were all shooting together when one of us mentioned how blurry his sight pins were. Another said his pins were fine, but his target was blurry.
Before long, we were discussing whether our visual focus was on our pins or the target during the aiming process. Some of us didn’t even know where our focus was.
Because of the way our eyes work, we must choose where we want to focus. Do you want to focus on your pins and leave the target blurry? Or do you want to focus on the target and leave your pins blurry? As archers, is there an advantage to one focal point over the other?
To help answer that question, we decided it would be interesting to talk with some of the nation’s top archers and see what they were doing. After all, if they are successful, they must be doing it right. Well, we got a variety of answers from these top shooters. Surprisingly, many didn’t really know where their focus was. It was something they had just done naturally and didn’t have to make a conscious choice between focusing on their pins or the target.
So, we decided we needed to experiment with our own shooting, using both focal points to determine which one yielded the best results. What we found was rather surprising.
We found that when we focused on the pin, we did a great job of leveling the bow, centering the pin guard in the peep sight and gapping (shooting the odd yardages) between our pins. The aiming seemed to be the priority.
However, when we focused on the target, it seemed like aiming became secondary and was less of a priority, which we figured would be a bad thing. Strangely, some of us shot tighter groups while focused on the target, because shot execution seemed to be the priority. Another bonus of focusing on the target was that we held steadier.
The holding steadier made sense. When we tried to hold our pin on a spot, we would fly by the spot then try to correct it by bringing the pin back to the spot and fly by again. This made us feel as though we needed to “catch” the spot as our pin flew past.
When we focused on the target, aiming was secondary so we didn’t keep trying to correct the pin position, which was causing a lot of unnecessary movement. We were able to hold steadier and shoot with fewer flinches and without punching the trigger.
However, we soon realized there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to focusing. More experienced archers seemed to have great success focusing on the target and letting the aiming be secondary. But the less experienced archers struggled. They seemed to shoot a lot better when they focused on aiming with their pins.
After studying this for a while, we realized this is because less experienced archers don’t have a good foundation of aiming. If they focused on the target, they would not center the pin guard inside the peep sight, choose the correct pin or consistently level the bow. They needed to consciously perform these steps to be accurate.
On the other hand, more experienced archers had built a solid foundation of aiming, so they could let it be secondary and still aim well. They could take advantage of focusing more on the shot execution.
So, depending on our skill level and experience, we have found that one focal point is superior to the other. We suggest shooting groups using both focal points (near and far) and experimenting, because you may be missing out on better shooting.