About Form

Registered User
Registered User
Joined: June 17th, 2005, 11:07 pm

June 12th, 2009, 10:30 am #1

In the most simple terms, a basic description of how to shoot with a bow and arrow:

"Pull it back, point it and let it go".

The problems are:

1. Managing the draw-weight.

2. Loosing without making the arrow go somewhere else.

We should be able to assume that the bow is well set up and that the arrows are straight and an acceptable match to the bow.

The archer always accepts responsibility:

1. For the condition of the equipment.

2. For clean execution of the shot.

3. For a precise focus on the mark.

4. For total commitment to the shot.

The task is:

1. To improve the performance of the archer.

2. To develop a clear understanding of the process.

And to recognise the difference between:

1. What the equipment does.

2. What the archer causes the equipment to do.

About form.

Good form is not a term that only describes the habits of a target archer.
To think so is to not understand the real function of developed form of any sort.

By developing good form we are able to reduce or eliminate unwanted variables in how we shoot.

1. It can provide a physical and mechanical least work method of handling the draw-weight.

2. It can promote a balance of forces making it less likely that we will collapse or throw out of line.

With a measured extension in the loose:

1. It can produce a finer control of the arrow speed, which is a controlling factor in where the arrow will go in elevation.

2. It can prevent the arrow being misdirected by a loose that habitually throws the rear of the shaft out of line.

What are the unwanted variables?

They are the typical errors in shot execution which make the arrow go "somewhere else".

They occur as common faults, singly or in combination.

Three are matters of physical form.

1. Failure to control arrow speed.

2. Failure to control alignment.

3. Failure to control elevation.

Two are matters of mental discipline.

4. Failure to maintain concentration on the mark.

5. Failure to maintain belief in the shot.

A common misunderstanding.

It is sometimes said that good form is a target archer's straight jacket which is an understandable comment from someone who values flexibility of response over precision.
Most often it is said by someone who supposes themselves to be a natural archer, but it is most likely to be heard as an excuse for wishing to shoot without putting much effort into training or practice (which is play to some, but work to others).
Often it is the opinion of someone who has no understanding of the part that form will play in good shooting.

Properly embedded good form in any style is recognised most of all by its ability to produce a truly natural shot.

Some may say that a natural archer shoots in the same way that we might throw a stone.
But  both throwing a stone and shooting a bow and arrow are learnt skills and when they are mastered, to the uninformed it will look like a natural act.
It is also true that the competent instinctive will in both cases look where he wants it to go and send it there.
Beyond this they are two different processes but the skills required for both kinds of weapon are practised using careful observation and intelligence. 

The ability to shoot well is not likely to be achieved without putting in the necessary quality of effort.

This applies to the tribal archer who is instructed in the traditions by his elders just as much as it does to those who study classic form.
We are just different tribes with variations in equipment and the levels of  understanding of some points of the mechanics; the pragmatic elements remain the same.
Whether we choose to regard this as play or as work will depend on out point of view and the realities of the context in which we employ the equipment.

Habitual behaviour

It is useful:

To be in the habit of making an ongoing effort to improve.
To understand that the arrow is an impartial witness which always goes where we make it go..
To see the occasional error as a reminder that we are not perfect but that what we understand we can fix.
To believe that with careful practice our errors can become smaller and less frequent
To know that true competence is not built upon the good opinion of others.
To understand the distinction between not deceiving about the faults we need to address, but still accepting the important truth that it is useful to have our subconscious that it is normal that we can shoot better.

It is a mistake to underestimate the role of what we believe when we make each shot.

It is of the utmost importance that we really do expect the arrow to go precisely where we are looking.
(And that we are careful of exactly where and how we look).
Anything less will compromise the ability of our subconscious mind to operate effectively.

The real object of practice is to continually narrow the gap between what our subconscious should believe to be the norm and the truth of what an honest statistical record would tell us.
The only problem then is to find ways of doing this whilst still enjoying ourselves.
This is best done by developing a sense of humour and not beating ourselves up by rehearsing bad habits.
By always ending our practice on a good note, we don't undermine our self confidence but in the long run confirm our subconscious faith in our ability to shoot better. 

The default state of mind.

Despite the knowledge of our own faults and weaknesses, we must make every shot in the firm belief that it is normal that we hit what we look at.

This should state of mind should  become our default condition.

On the rare occasions when I make a really perfect shot, the defining feature is that it did not even cross my mind to think about  hitting or missing.

In this context, physical good form, or indeed any aspect of  technique is only the foundation upon which we build; we practice so that we may learn to manage the mechanical and physical details without having to think about them.

The real task is to manage what we think, what we expect.

This is the intangible which produces the most certain of outcomes.
It is not something that will produce instant results, but it is the most effective and essential of long term strategies if we would shoot accurately.

If we happen to miss, it should not be treated as a crisis, it is just a reminder not to be sloppy.
When we hit, it is not a big deal, it is just further evidence that it is normal for us to hit our mark.

Copyright: Rod Parsons
[/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size][/size]All rights reserved.
Revised September 2010

Last edited by Rod on August 25th, 2015, 11:52 am, edited 38 times in total.
It's meant to be simple, not easy.