August 02, 2017
It's unlikely that anyone has ever told you to shoot a bad shot on purpose. However, when we received this advice, it eventually made us much better archers.
During some tournament shooting, one of us was having problems being consistent throughout the entire competition. He would shoot well for most of the tournament but always seemed to hit a rough patch and miss quite a few shots.
After a particular tournament, he vented his frustrations to Steve, one of the top shooters. He pointed out that if he wouldn't have had a plague of high misses, he would have won. He was just going to have to practice harder.
Steve just shook his head and asked him a simple question, "What's causing the high misses?"
When he didn't really have an answer, Steve went on to explain that every time he missed, he knew exactly what he did to cause it. Steve knew that if he missed to the right, he was pulling the string into his face. If he missed low, he was dropping his bow arm. Steve even knew if he missed at 8 o'clock, he must have lost track of the bubble in his level.
Steve explained that a form flaw may cause him to miss a point in a tournament. But he was, hopefully, only going to miss one. By knowing what caused the miss, he could watch for it and avoid making the same mistake in the future. This kept his missed shots to a minimum during the tournaments.
Steve suggested he go to the practice butts and purposely shoot flawed shots and try to replicate the high shots. He also said to keep experimenting with his shooting form until he figured out exactly what was causing the misses. That way, the next time he had a high shot, he could instantly fix the problem and not let one miss become many.
In the past when he had missed shots, he would just invest in more practice time. The practice helped some, but the pressure situations had a way of bringing out the worst in him. He took Steve's advice and went out to the practice butts and experimented. Through several practice sessions and a lot of trial and
error, he eventually figured out what was causing the high arrows.
This new approach was so enlightening, he decided to share the information with all of us. What Steve had said made a lot of sense. So, we all went on the journey of trying to define exactly what was causing our missed shots. Every single one of us had different form problems. What was a problem for one wasn't necessarily a problem for another.
We quickly found some unforeseen benefits of defining our missed shots. We realized that if we knew what was causing us to miss, we automatically did it less. In addition, we found some of the problems could be remedied with equipment and tuning changes.
Steve's advice to purposely shoot bad shots and define what was causing our misses was amazing. It was something we had never considered. We always figured more practice was the answer. But Steve's advice made us all much better shots.
Nowadays, most of us can tell you exactly what mistake was made when we miss a shot. And if we can't, it won't be very many practice sessions before we can.