Have you ever wondered how the best archers in the world spend their practice time?
Practice makes perfect – this is the best way to describe anything that you want to learn to do properly. I have made all kinds of mistakes when practicing with the bow and arrow. All of them could have been prevented if I had known a few important things. This is the reason why I decided to write a blog about proper practice.
I would say that experience helps you learn proper practice techniques. At the same time, it’s good to learn without having to experience trial and error. This is going to save you a lot of time and frustration. It’s really up to you if you want to go into this journey without much help. Some people like figuring things out for themselves when it comes to technique.
The reason why the title reads, “practice like you compete” is that you need to take your practice time seriously even if you don’t compete. If you want to make your practice time valuable, these tips are going to be very useful for your practice.
The basics of effective practice
You could spend one hundred hours practicing something the wrong way, and you won’t get any substantial results in terms of progress. On the other hand, you can practice with proper form, technique and in the ideal setting, and you will upgrade your skills within just a couple of hours. Practice smart, not hard, but if you can practice smart and hard, that’s even better.
The first thing that you need to do is learn to focus and concentrate during practice. You can’t be thinking about what you will be doing later during the day. You need to be mindful of your posture, your technique, and your breathing. This means that you should be practicing in a quiet location. No music, no talking, and no noise. This is truly the most basic and important thing to consider when practicing archery.
I mentioned being mindful of your posture, but before you do that, you need to learn proper posture techniques. I would say that you need to focus on posture before you even practice shooting. Learn proper hand placement, arm positioning and height. You also need to learn feet position, back and shoulder posture – once you do this, you can start to practice the process of going from an idle position to a shooting position.
This is going to be a great way for you to practice for a while. You can shoot if you want, but I would think that focusing on proper posture and getting ready for a shot would be ideal at first. Remember that everything related to archery should be learned with muscle memory as the main goal. With that said, you don’t want that muscle memory to be acquired with improper posture.
You have to master your posture basics and your anchor points. Then you can start to practice shooting with the posture you learned. Then you can start doing minor tweaks on your posture to benefit your shooting accuracy.
This is going to be a process that allows your intuition and your experience to help create your own style.
Learning to breathe and relax
Being able to breathe properly and to relax is going to be extremely important. Professional archers believe that most of their accuracy comes from the ability to focus. Being able to take a proper breath when shooting is also going to play a major role. The moment you shoot that arrow your body and your breathing need to be in perfect harmony.
Yoga is a great option if you feel you are having a hard time learning to focus. I have never been a very hyperactive or restless person, so focusing was not too hard for me, but I know a lot of people struggle with this. Yoga is an excellent way for anyone to avoid this problem. You will learn how to breathe and it might seem like we all know how to do this naturally, but breathing for focus and relaxation is an entirely different thing.
Once you combine all of these important factors into your practice sessions, you are going to be able to get optimal results. The following steps are a bit more advanced, but they are going to be extremely important if you want to make the most out of each practice session.
The practice schedule
Being able to practice often is important, but if you feel that you have limited time, Is better to practice daily at least for 10 minutes, than to practice 8 hours once a week. Consistency in your practice is going to be the best way to improve your skills. This applies to anything you want to master in life.
If I feel I am having a very busy day, I will usually take at least 10 to 15 minutes of my day to shoot some arrows. I don’t mind if I only shot five arrows that day. I just make sure that I focus as much as possible.
Archery is not like studying for a test the night before. With archery, you have to be consistent and you need to make each practice session count as much as possible.
Patience is very important when you are learning archery. There will be days when you shoot is going to be terrible, and other days when you are going to be shooting like Legolas. This is a normal process because your body and your mind are both adapting to the changes. Don’t let any of this get in your way and you will achieve excellent results.
I remember that I felt very frustrated at times and I would take a one-week break and come back. This would help me tons and I would see an improvement after doing this. Your practice should be consistent and daily if possible, but if you feel frustrated and unable to get results, it might be a good idea to take a break and come back refreshed.
You should always take a break when you feel you are not making any significant progress. This is really going to make a difference. I have done it quite a few times. I always feel like the progress I was unable to attain was finally given to me when I got back from a quick break.
Make use of the internet
YouTube has always been a great place for people to learn about anything of their interest. It’s very important to know how to make use of videos that have quality content. The following are some great links that you can use for basics and to avoid certain practice mistakes.
This video from the world of archery teaches you how to get a perfect archery posture. I already know this when I sew the video, but the way this person explains it is very easy to understand. Don’t let his age fool you, he has excellent form.
NUSensei published an excellent video that gives you 10 tips on what beginners do that you should never be doing. He goes through many important things that seem to be common mistakes made by amateurs, and it’s quite useful because you will avoid the trial and error of those mistakes.
Once again, NUSensei with a great video but this time on 10 things that intermediate archers are doing that are incorrect. I would suggest you check his entire channel because he has plenty of material that you are going to find very useful.
Limb Driven TV posted a very good tip on how to breathe properly. I mention this as an essential part of the practice process and anyone who wants to take archery seriously needs to consider doing this. That is if they want to achieve optimal results.
How to learn archery?
This brings me to the process of learning alone or looking for a teacher. To be honest, most people can learn the basics from videos online, but if you feel you want to be guided in a more methodical way, you are probably going to get better results from a teacher. You could hire someone to give you proper guidance on your first steps with the bow and arrow.
In my case, I only had a teacher for a couple of months and then I kept going on my own. The truth is that those first few lessons I took were very helpful. They allowed me to practice with better form and with some basic understanding of the bow and arrow.
You need to be patient when you start the journey to become a good archer. The more you learn to focus and to relax while practicing, the better the results will be in the long run. Just remember to seek help from someone who knows what they are doing, or use online resources from archers who have verifiable experience. The last thing you want is to be learning from someone who is teaching improper techniques.