October 28, 2021
Sometimes when we shoot our bows, it feels like we have attention deficit disorder. For whatever reason, we can shoot a few good shots, but the next thing we know our minds are wandering all over the place.
Did we feed the dog? What’s for dinner? You name it, we’ve probably thought about it at full draw. The problem is, when our minds wander, we miss.
Some archers seem to have a natural gift for focus. They are the ones winning the tournaments and standing on the podium. That’s not us; we had to learn to focus and stay focused.
Our first attempt at a solution was to not let our minds wander — at all. When we would practice, we spent every moment trying to stay focused. That 100 percent focus was nearly impossible.
Then, we noticed most professional athletes do not try to stay focused throughout an entire game/match. They joke around and relax in between plays but maintain a deadly focus when it is time to perform.
That made us realize that we didn’t need to focus every minute; we just needed to focus for the important parts. We figured if we could maintain consistent focus from the time we drew the bow to the release of our shot, we would shoot better. After all, it was only about four to seven seconds per shot — that seemed very doable.
So, we started down a path where we tried to have elite focus for those four to seven seconds, and we would relax and let our minds wander between shots. Our shooting definitely improved. It worked best when we would specifically pick a part of our form to focus on, such as squeezing our release or holding the bow up until the arrow hit the target.
Giving our minds something consistent to think about was gold, and it made sense. If we wanted consistent results down range, not only did we need consistent form, but we also needed consistent thoughts.
As our shooting got better, we started shooting with better archers. Eventually, we got to rub elbows with some of the top archers, and we picked up some great tips to help us stay focused.
One archer told us she likes to hum a song in her head while executing her shot. We have tried it; singing or humming a song works fantastic. Another archer told us he uses a mantra during every shot. (A mantra is a word or phrase repeated over and over). He said at full draw, he would repeat a word over and over until the shot went off. We tried using a mantra. Sayings such as “X, X, X” or “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze” worked amazingly well.
We have also found giving our conscious minds something to do really cut down on our minds' wandering, which has given better and more consistent shooting results. But just like everything else, we had to practice focusing for it to get better.