8 Ways to Be Mentally Fit for Bow Season

Posted by  Friday, May 16 2014 9:00 am
Published in Blogs > In the Field > Hunting > Bowhunting
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8WaysMentallyFitBowSeason blogAs I said in previous blogs, traditional archery success is based largely on confidence in your ability. You get that from loosing thousands of arrows in various circumstances, the high majority of which hit the mark.

Hits are always good. Every miss, however, erodes your mental confidence just a little bit, if you let it.

This trick is not to let it.

Over the years, I've been afforded lots of advice on the mental aspect of shooting a longbow or recurve. Here are the gems that have helped most.

#1 — Always end your practice on a good shot. This to me is the greatest way to build confidence over the course of a practice season. Earlier this week, for instance, I shot a few arrows and was shooting fairly well at ranges from 5 to 17 yards. I then stepped back to 20 and center-punched my bag target right through the heart. The shot was effortless, felt perfect and the arrow went exactly where I wanted it to go. This was an excellent time to quit. Doing so on a good shot reinforces the fact that you are capable of accuracy and there's no reason it shouldn't happen every time.

#2  Don't set yourself up for failure. If you are tired, distracted or stressed out don't go to the range. You'll be apt to shoot poorly. That's bad for your confidence levels. Also, don't try shots you know you can't make. Instead practice towards making them by building your effective range slowly.

#3 — A few good shots are far better than a lot of poorly executed ones. I'd rather shoot one arrow a day, with flawless form, that hits the mark than fling 100 arrows with only 70 hitting the mark. Those misses are what causes doubt, so opt for quality over quantity every time. Besides, when you shoot a lot you get tired and that eventually causes issues. So, if you plan on shooting 100 arrows a day, do so in small batches with good rest in between.

#4 — Never deviate from the fundamentals. If you want confidence, make sure you have a good understanding of the fundamentals of shooting. Having this means you understand why hits and misses happen and how to correct the latter. It also means you'll work hard to maintain great form.

#5 — Don't dwell on the bad shots but try to understand why they happened. Then correct it. Everyone has bad shots. The good archers are those who know why they happened. For instance, last week I had three bad shots over the course of a practice session. Every one happened because I held at full draw a little too long. For the rest of the practice session, I focused on fixing that  and did. Now I remember that and avoid the issue.

#6 — Don't enter into a shot thinking you will miss. If you do, you probably will. A good mental attitude alleviates doubt, calms nerves and stops you from second guessing yourself or sight picture. If you are going to fling an arrow at a target, know you can hit it. Own the shot.

#7 — Take your time between shots. In that time, clear your head, focus on the target, mentally review your shot sequence. Tell yourself this is the only shot that matters. Treat it like it is. Then go for it.

#8 — Put it in perspective. When you have those bad shots remember all the good ones too. And remember how you were last year. You'll probably find you improved since then and that on this day you shot more good arrows than bad. Take heart from that. The point is negative thoughts don't help anyone's shooting. Lose them. Focus on the positive. Set yourself up for success and you'll soon have more of it.

 

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Last modified on Tuesday, June 24 2014 5:52 pm
Steve Galea
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Steve Galea makes his living as an assistant editor for Ontario Out of Doors magazine, where he is best known for My Outdoors, his back page humor column that has run continuously since 1996. He also writes columns for five weekly newspapers across Ontario and has contributed to several books on the outdoors. When not writing, Steve spends time fly fishing and tying. He also enjoys using bow, rifle or shotgun, depending on the hunting season. His English springer spaniel Callie is an eager grouse and woodcock dog and he values time afield with her.

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