The other day I was in the yard, launching arrows from my favorite longbow when I was reminded of one of the most useful pieces of advice given to any shooter: pick a spot.
This lesson began as I was flinging arrows downrange at a target that had no mark on it. I loosed arrows from 25 yards at the white 18-by-36-inch feed bag and, predictably, they landed all over the target. One even skimmed the edge.
It was not exactly confidence building.
I chalked it up to a bad day, but I made it a point never to quit practice on a sour note either.
With that in mind, just before I went in, I turned my attention to a cigarette package-sized piece of Styrofoam sitting on a side hill in the hardwoods. A chip in the middle left a very visible mark on it, so I quickly focused on that tiny spot and released an arrow. Imagine the smile on my face when that carbon shaft barely missed the mark, but center-punched the Styrofoam. The same fate awaited another similar target that sat 2 yards further.
The ranges, it turned out, were 25 and 27 yards, and as I retrieved those two arrows, I marveled at how, when I focus intently on a smaller mark, I get better results.
This makes sense. If your focus is scattered over a large target, you have a better chance of missing it. If you aim at a small point within that target, however, even if you miss that point, you still have a good chance of landing an arrow within the target. Some folks call it picking a spot. Some refer to it as aim small, miss small. Call it what you like — it works.
The smaller the spot and the more intently you focus on it, the better.
I believe that picking a small spot, forces you to concentrate harder on your form and sight picture. I also suspect that the mental computer in your brain that controls the shot realizes it must put its best foot forward to meet to the challenge of hitting that tiny mark.
When I was shooting at that unmarked bag target, I got sloppy because it seemed too easy. Because I wasn't picking a spot, my arrows landed accordingly. It took those small pieces of foam to recapture my focus and remind me that "pick a spot" isn't just a phrase I should say to myself when drawing on a deer. No, it should be part of every shot sequence I take.
It should be part of yours too.