The purpose of an archery target is two fold. One is to give the archer a mark to hit. Second, it gives the arrow a place to land without damage to the arrow. An archer wants to be using a well constructed target that should give them continued use. That is why a 3D foam archery target can be the best choice for the money spent and the longevity of use.
There are two categories of archery: target and field shooting. The most popular being target shooting.
If you mention sport to most people they will more than likely think of football, basket, tennis or athletics. It's unlikely that archery will flash through their minds. Yet archery is a sport that is growing in popularity every year. Despite archery being somewhat of a niche sport over the years, regular practitioners of the art will be only too well aware of its meditative qualities. There's something relaxing about pulling back a bowstring and the feel of the bow in your hands. The sound of the arrow as it is released has a smoothness to it that is hard to explain to the uninitiated.
“I want to be an Olympian.”
“I want to go to the Paralympics.”
“My daughter could be a World Champion.”
What exactly does it take to compete at the top levels of a sport? In many sports, it’s about speed, strength and agility. But in archery, the ultimate sport of precision, it might take just three things: work ethic, true passion for the sport, and the ability to quiet the mind.
“Work ethic” means different things to different people, but when it comes to top-performing competitive archery stars, it’s about finding the winning balance between quality and quantity. While many top archers are known for their impressive daily arrow counts (think 300 or more arrows per day for some of the world’s best recurve shooters), the sport’s champions make each of those arrows count, and carve out time for other important activities, like visualization, cardio, strength training and equipment tuning.
It’s especially true in archery that “perfect practice makes perfect.” Just being able to release hundreds of arrows isn’t enough to win – and in fact, shooting for practice numbers, without regard to technique, could actually cause an archer to form bad habits. Thoughtful practice during which the archer concentrates on each arrow is far more likely to result in success.
Passion for the sport – such an important quality in competitive archers – can’t be taught or coached into an athlete. Regardless of how much potential a coach or parent sees in an archer, if they don’t truly love the sport of archery, they’ll eventually struggle to compete at a high level.
For an archer to get to the level of a compound world title or an Olympic team placement, they’ll shoot tens of thousands of arrows per year – maybe more – often alone in a field, or in front of their target, rehearsing the perfect shot over and over again. They’ll struggle in competition, shed tears of frustration and joy, and hopefully, eventually triumph – but only because they had a true love for archery and a willingness to shoot arrows even when they felt a little lazy – because they had the drive to win.
I once heard a coach talking about an athlete who was competing at a very high level – a World Championship team member, Olympic hopeful and international medalist in archery. The coach said the archer was successful because she could “quiet her mind” and focus on what she needed to do.
The ability to “quiet the mind” is the same thing as getting in and out of the zone; it’s the mental strength to shut out distractions and have a laser focus on the task at hand until it’s finished, and not allow the mind to wander. If you’re an archer, how many times have you known you had something to work on – perhaps your release, for example – and then become distracted because you realized something was “off” about your bow hand, your grip or your stance? In the end, the archer who can quiet their mind is able to focus on what must be fixed, and focus only on that one thing until it’s a good habit. And that same archer can shut out distractions – wind, rain, heat, and other competitors, for example – when the competitive pressure is high.
All of these qualities are critical to competitive success, and all of them are interconnected. With work ethic must come the passion for the sport required to put in the arrows and hours needed to succeed. And the archer who has a quiet mind will be able to get the most out of every arrow they shoot, fueled by the love of shooting a bow and arrow, and the desire to win.
Whether you are a serious competition target archer, extreme bow hunter, or a weekend recreational warrior in archery, there is one tool that will not only help you shoot you best but give you the instant feedback regardless of the distance you shoot. Optics.
How I Learned to be a Wind Master...
In 1991 I competed in a tournament in Houston, TX that would prove to be the worst weather I have ever shot in. The first day started off with a thick fog that made 90m hard to see and within the first hour the rain started coming down. It started gently at first and then would stop for moment just long enough for the wind to pick up between the rains. When 70m shooting started, light hail began coming down and the temperature changed fast. Within a few ends the winds had picked up and gusts of 40 mph would come and go. The entire day was spent with temperatures changing constantly, the wind blowing heavily most of the day, and the rain just kept coming with down pours every 15 minutes.
Every archer at some point has shot in the wind or rain. Only a rare few will say that they like the wind or rain. The reason why most do not like the wind is really simple. It is because it effects our shots. Plain and simple. The wind is an enemy for most outdoor shooters. You eat sand, eyes burn, the shot isn’t steady, and your hair is a total mess! So how do you enjoy shooting in the wind or rain?
To the inexperienced eye field and target archery might appear to be similar sports, but on further inspection glaring differences will begin to manifest. It’s true, both sports demand the same skills and techniques –a good target archer might prove to be a good field archer as well-and the same equipment is permitted. However, these two sports vary in their rules, settings, target faces and the distances applied between the targets and the archer.