Repeatable form for bowhunting greatly increases your chances of success.
By: Larry Wise
As has been said by more than one person, archery is a simple two-step sport:
- Learn to shoot a ‘ten’ ring shot (center ring of the target).
- Repeat Step One.
You may find this humorous at first, but let’s look at it closely. You can learn to shoot a “ten” in many different ways, but when you get to Step Two you often falter because the way you learned to shoot is not repeatable. At least, it’s not repeatable with a high enough frequency to satisfy your desire to score well or down that buck.
With that in mind, read on, and learn to build repeatable form, learn to build Core Archery. After all, bowhunters are beginning to ramp up for bowhunting seasons that begin in little more than a month. So let’s do what we can, beginning right now, to create and maintain a Core Archery shooting system.
Core Archery is a complete system of archery shooting form presented here as the sequence of proper mental and physical actions required to launch an arrow to the target center.
What is significant about this system over others is that it is COMPLETE and REPEATABLE. It consists only of the necessary and sufficient actions needed and has been validated by numerous archers, including myself, in the past and present years.
You’ve seen Core Archery in action in others or even experienced it yourself but couldn’t explain it or find it again when you lost it. Thus, when you learn Core Archery you’ll be able to repeat your form. Shot after shot after shot.
Core Archery is about using your skeletal structure properly. Your form will repeat if you are using your body properly. That is if you are using your core — your spine — correctly. Following that, by efficiently positioning the rest of your skeleton, you will be able to build a form that repeats.
Also, you will resist fatigue far better than those who fail to use their skeleton efficiently. Throughout each form step, the governing theme is to maximize the skeleton while minimizing muscle. If you do this, your form will be energy efficient, fatigue resistant, and highly repeatable.
I teach back tension as the base, because of all the different ways to release an arrow, controlling the release by using your back muscles is the most consistent. If you’re not using your rhomboid muscles, then you have to substitute with arm muscles, which are more difficult to control and, therefore, less likely to repeat a precise motion. Back tension is all about repetition with a few short back muscles, and my years of shooting and winning have proven to me that it’s better than any other method.
As you read about each step of Core Archery form, you will learn how it links to the next step and how all of the steps relate to the final shooting objective of “back tension execution”. These links are what make the Core Archery system easy to evaluate and repair. Linked steps keep your form nearer peak performance.
Why is Core Archery about mental skills, too?
When your form is physically complete and practiced so it operates through the subconscious mind, you must develop good mental skills to help you score high under all conditions. Good mental control enables you to relax when others are tense, and that takes you to Step 2 while are wrestling with Step 1.
Keep these things in mind as you read Core Archery, and good luck becoming a Step 2 archer.
YOUR SHOOTING OBJECTIVE
For most archers, the only objective when they nock an arrow is to shoot it into the ‘ten’ ring or ‘x’.
I want the arrow to hit the ‘x’ too, but to those who want to excel, archery is more than arrows hitting targets. Taking archery seriously means that you must organize what your body is doing prior to releasing the arrow. At the highest performance level, archery is all about how you control your body and mind while executing a sequence of steps known as FORM.
To be successful in anything, you must have an appropriate and specific objective. In archery, this objective must focus on how you direct your body actions. “How will I use my body to shoot an arrow, and what is my concluding, objective step?” is the question you must answer about yourself.
Do you have an objective? Or do you, like so many other archers, just follow a loosely organized set of steps until the arrow is released and immediately grab your binoculars to see if you hit the ten-ring?
Then the questions come streaming at you. If you didn’t hit the middle, did you have bad form? If you believe that you had good form, how do you know? By what standard are you measuring your form steps? What objective in your form are you not meeting when you miss?
If you can’t answer these questions, ask the following two: 1) Will having a shooting objective improve my performance?, 2) What shooting objective will get me the best results? These are valid questions you must be able to answer if you plan to build a shooting form that will provide consistent, long-term results.
Let me repeat: You must have the correct shooting objective if you want consistent, long-term results!
THE SHOOTING OBJECTIVE I TEACH
The shooting objective I teach in Core Archery is: Shoot each arrow using the appropriately timed execution of back tension.
It’s so simple to state, but it requires self-discipline to learn and apply, There are easier ways to shoot arrows but none more effective ort more enduring. Using back tension to conclude an archery shot is a must if you want to succeed in tournament archery or when bowhunting. Yes, bowhunting, because often you get only one chance in hunting, and you had better have a reliable form for that one shot or you’ll miss, or worse yet, get a non-vital hit.
The advantage of this objective is the fact that you can use it to measure every step of your form. Every step of Core Archery form relates directly to the final objective of back tension. Each form step can be evaluated for its effectiveness and its place in the form because, “In archery, you must not only do the right things, you must do them at the right time” … Bud Fowkes, 1972 United States Olympic archery coach.
In other words, archery is not about bows and arrow, it’s about you and your ability to control your body consistently to achieve the desired outcome. In Core Archery, you focus on body position and proper use of your body’s core, your SKELETON.
The following section (next week) covers three important topics of Core Archery: 1) DEFINING BACK TENSION, 2) BACK AND SHOULDER MUSCLES and 3) FULL DRAW POSITION.