Practice Doesn’t Always Make an Archer Perfect

There are times when we spend a ton of time practicing and don’t see perfection. Becoming an accurate archer doesn’t just mean you need to practice, it means you need to practice correctly. I practice quite a bit. As a matter of fact, I’m an instructor and spend time analyzing other people’s shots and giving them tips. For the most part, I’m consistently accurate.

With hunting season looming, demoing new bows, sights, increasing draw weights and attempting to cram in practice times, I’ve become anxious, and it’s showing in my practice.

“Practice doesn’t make perfect if you’re doing it wrong.”

The above quote is 100% true. In my last two practice sessions, I’ve continued to make a mistake. It’s one that so many people ask about. “I keep punching the trigger. How do I stop?”

How do we become perfect, or at least get close to it?

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As with any problem, the first step is to acknowledge it. I knew what I was doing, but continued to do it through two practices.

If you continue to do the same thing, you’ll continue to get the same results. On day one, I knew I was anxious while I was shooting. I knew I needed to step back. I knew I needed to reevaluate and stop punching the trigger. I stepped away and left the task until tomorrow, hoping I’d relax and return to my normal shooting groove.

On day two, I stepped up to the line and realized no relaxation had magically appeared. The punching persisted, and the more I attempted to resist, the more it occurred.

How do you stop punching the trigger?

I know exactly how to stop punching the trigger (Without switching to a thumb release). I made up my mind and told myself I needed to go back to the basics and rebuild my crumbled shooting foundation. Even though this is only two practice sessions, I cannot accept practicing a technique (or lack of technique) that’s incorrect and obviously not working.

Remember the basics:

  • A balanced stance with my feet about shoulder width apart. Open the forward toe 45 degrees toward the target, for added stability.
  • A relaxed draw hand with the release snugged down, not too tight, on my wrist.
  • A soft grasp with the bow hand centered on the grip.
  • Consistent pre-draw routine. In this case, holding the bow in front of me, pointing toward the target. Keep my eye on the kill zone. Remember the slight crook in the bow arm, and a relax the draw arm after attaching the release to the loop.
  • A smooth draw. Keeping my eye on the target, I raise the bow so the sight is also on target. With my draw arm, I pull the string toward my face and reach my anchor point.
  • Use that consistent anchor point. Anchor points vary from archer to archer, but for each individual, it better be the same each time they draw their bow.
    The following are key areas where anticipation, target panic or punching can originate:
  • Put my sight on target. I have my bow arm extended toward the target and hold steady.
  • Set up for the shot. Continue to keep your sight and eyes on the target. Consciously identify and maintain your muscle activity. Continue your strength through your wrists, arms, shoulders and on through your back.
  • Touch the release. As you continue the muscle movement, through the back, use the back tension to cause your trigger finger to touch the trigger.
  • The ever important follow through. The back tension causes the draw hand to fall rearward. The energy released from the bow causes the arrow to fly and the bow to fall forward.

After returning to the basics, the shots become more consistent, and the arrows hit the ten-ring. The muscle memory I’ve worked so hard to develop appeared and consistency appeared again.

I mentioned the last four points are key areas where target panic, or punching, surface. That’s because we often put effort into looking at the target and where the arrow is going to hit, rather than the technique required to make it get there.

Isn’t it amazing, what we can do when we step back and assess ourselves? If you go back to the basics, you may realize where the breakdown is. Once we’ve identified that, those arrows will be smoothly sailing.

Have you ever had to re-analyze your set up or shot? Tell me about it.

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