What is Archery Practice?
Every archer must practice their sport to get better; without practice you will not improve. But just what is Archery Practice? Do you just shoot lots of arrows? Sure a good practice schedule does have lots of shooting and opportunities to score, but Archery Practice is intentionally working on some part of your shot cycle to improve it. You need to know when you should be doing it, what you should be doing, how it should be done, and how to measure whether you improving.
So what do you practice and when should you practice it? You need a practice schedule, a road map, of how to get better. Work with a coach to set-up a practice schedule. Then follow that schedule.
What you should do is and how you should do it is taught during archery class and in some coaching sessions. Learn which is the correct technique and then do that.
Measuring your progress is not easy. Yes, the ultimate goal is to get a high score to earn the next pin or to win a tournament. But scoring is a gross, or large, measurement; with scoring your do not know if what you have practiced is getting better. Scoring is like measuring your height to see if you are getting smarter. You need to measure the right thing.
You need to use right tools to measure your technical progress. I recommend you use video to see you progress. There are six views that you need to use:
- All views need to see the entire shot cycle
- Front View of the entire body, head to foot, draw elbow to stabilizer
- Side View of the entire body, head to foot
- Back View of the entire body, head to foot, draw elbow to stabilizer
- Anchor View – Just the face and neck to see the draw hand both coming to anchor and finishing the shot
- Bow Hand – just the bow hand, from the moment the bow is lifted until after the arrow leaves the bow
- Top View – from the stabilizer to the draw elbow throughout the shot
By comparing older videos to new ones you can see progress and improvement. By reviewing current videos you can see if you are improving your technique.
So if scoring does not indicate if you are improving each individual technique, what do you do during a practice session? A practice session is executing some part of the NTS Archery Form to make it better. The vast majority of practice is not just shooting arrows or just scoring. You have to work on some part of the form and make it better. I recommend that you build a practice schedule that includes the following:
- Stretch Band in front of a mirror – Using a Stretch Band in front of a mirror is the best way to learn your techniques since you can immediately see what you are doing.
- Drawing a light bow in front of a mirror to make sure you are doing the same technique with the Light Bow as with the Stretch Band. (A light bow is one that is ½ the draw weight of your tournament bow. Your tournament bow is the bow that you use during tournaments.)
- Draw your Tournament Bow in front the mirror. Make sure you are doing the same technique as with the Stretch Band
- SPT4 before you start shooting your Tournament Bow.
- Shoot between 30 to 90 arrows.
- Score a Qualification Round (10 ends, 3 arrows per end)
- Execute some SPTs – the more the better (see your coach for SPTs)
- Use a Shot Trainer or a Form Trainer
You need to mix up the items above, don’t do all of them in a single day. I do recommend stretch band practice every day, but you don’t have to draw a light bow in the mirror every day or shoot 120 arrows every day or use a Shot Trainer every day or shoot a score every day. Practice must be fun! Mix it up! Practice to be a better archer!
You need to do more than just practice; you need to exercise. You should do some of the following every other day for about 30 minutes. You only have to do the basics:
- Endurance Training
- Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, bicycle riding, running, tennis, basketball, etc.
- Restive Training
- Free Weights
- Resistive Machines
Endurance exercise is varied, you can run, swim, bike, hike, walk; anything that gets your pulse up and makes you break a sweat!
Exercise, including archery, is good for you. You will get stronger and build endurance. You will shoot better. You will enjoy better health. You will recover from illness and injury better. You will help control your weight. You will help prevent diabetes. All by just 30 minutes every other day! What a bargain!