Recently, the weapon that predates recorded history has made inroads into 21st Century schools, where archery has become one of the most popular activities.
Today, the National Archery in Schools Program includes 12,000 schools in five countries — or about 1 million youths. Among them: Sarcoxie, Carl Junction and Joplin.
'I was hooked'
As an archer or bowhunter, you know how important it is to be accurate to be able to hit the bull’s eye. If you are not able to do it well, you will not be able to reach your target.
If a bow is out of tune, then there will be problems with its accuracy. There are two things to consider when tuning a bow: timing and center-shot alignment. Improving both of these factors will improve a bow's accuracy.
Journey into your Mind: The Subconscious Journey
Everything that is automatic in your body comes from the “subconscious” part of your mind. Your subconscious mind controls everything that you do because like a computer, it is programmed to do so.
Understanding how your subconscious mind affects your STRONG/WEAK column is crucial and today you will take a journey into your mind and begin to connect the pieces of the puzzle from week one.
Subconscious vs Concscious
In simple terms your conscious mind commands your thoughts and your subconscious mind obeys by what it knows. As an example of your subconscious mind is your heart. The heart beats without you having to even think about it. It does that because the subconscious part of the brain is programmed to make that work for you no matter what, even if you consciously tell your heart to stop beating it will always beat. Conscious thoughts allow us to make changes to what we do or how we do it.
“You control your conscious mind just by thinking it.”
All your habits of thinking and acting are stored in your subconscious mind. It has memorized all your comfort zones. The subconscious mind also works hard to keep you in those comfort zones.
Your subconscious mind causes you to feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable whenever you attempt to do anything new or different, or to change any of your established patterns of behavior.
You can feel your subconscious mind pulling you back toward your comfort zone each time you try something new. This is the feeling you get when you when you get uneasy about something. Even just thinking about doing something different from what you are accustomed to will make you feel tense and uneasy.
People have been pushing the envelope of what makes them feel safe or how they react to fear. The difference between most people is that if you can push through your fears and you reprogram your subconscious to accept that what you are doing is the new normal, then you start to improve your abilities and you increase the levels at which you can perform both mentally and physically.
An old rule of thumb is that it takes 21 days to change a habit. That is because the average person must consciously think about the change for 3 weeks before the subconscious mind just reacts and makes it normal. By doing something the way you want to do it over and over and over, again and again and again, you eventually change the habit and it becomes automatic to you. So automatic that you never have to think about it again and it becomes natural.
That change is done consciously until the subconscious is reprogrammed to make it normal. You can change anything in your life you want to by consciously making an effort every single day until your subconscious makes it a normal habit.
STRONG vs WEAK: It is in your mind
Three weeks have gone by since I had you make your STRONG/WEAK columns. Did you catch that? Three (3) weeks! By now the thing you chose to work on should start becoming more natural to you and you should already start feeling confident about that item. If not then don’t worry, just keep working on it. Remember that 3 weeks is just an average and there is not rush on building confidence that will be with you forever.
Using imagery will help you keep a conscious focus on what you are wanting to change. Imagery will help speed things up and help teach your subconscious what it is that you want to be done. By physically practicing that change and feeling more confident you will be able to move onto your next item.
As I stated in the first article in week one, you will start to see how the pieces of the puzzle come together. I am sure you are still curious as to why we don’t erase the WEAK items and only cross a line through them so that we still can read them. Not to worry because next week you will learn why that is important and until then keep working on imagery and keep focus on reprogramming your mind so that you can physically make the change long term as well as feel confident about the changes.
I changed my subconscious to know that my Legend Archery Pro Sling will keep by bow safe and I don’t have to worry about it ever hitting the floor!
Follow back next week as I explain why we don’t erase WEAK items and I will start my series on using psychology to “psych-out” the competition.
How to on your Mental Game: Confidence Your Way
A month has gone by now since we started the articles on the mental game. I hope your training is seeing some improvements from using the STRONG/WEAK column.
Since day one you have been instructed to not erase the items in the WEAK column at all, and to just draw a line through it. If you are a curious archer and wondering why you leave it there and not get rid of it entirely, then you are not alone and about to learn why.
Bow Arm * Anchor
Grip * Release
Equipment/Gear * Crowds
Aiming * 3-spot target
Each time that you begin to move a WEAK item into the STRONG column you are not only changing how you see yourself but changing how your mind interacts subconsciously as you learned last week. You dictate what your subconscious can do so that you just naturally perform the way you want. What you can’t control is the past. It has already happened and will define you forever. Even when you change something on purpose there is a reason it was WEAK to begin with and that is the real you without any correction.
Remember how you were told that STRONG column items does not mean perfect but only things that you feel confident about and WEAK items were things that needed improvement in order to feel confident?
Those STRONG column items are not PERFECT! All the items that you move from WEAK to STRONG are moved because you purposefully worked on them and now feel confident in them. You feel confident enough to move onto the next item. The entire process is at your own pace and you have been given some steady tools like imagery to help move those items over one by one.
“I am confident in my release!” So why not erase it as a WEAK item for good?! The reasons are simple.
The past is a reminder of how far we have come. Progress forward builds confidence but if you were to erase the WEAK items then you could never look back and see exactly what has changed or in what order. Being able to see what you have changed is crucial in feeling more confident.
Back to the Future
Every archer will have a moment when things just don’t seem to go their way. Form feels good, equipment is tuned, you feel confident for now, but scores are starting to drop. This downslide is normal and is the hardest times to overcome mentally. You know you can do it because you had just been shooting well. This slump can be caused by many things but the top reasons usually start with something you moved over to the STRONG column. It could even be the very last WEAK item you crossed off your list. Slumps in sports are usually mental and require a spark to the subconscious to turn things around. By being able to see what WEAK items on your list you moved your subconscious will remember every little thing it took to move it over to the STRONG column. By not erasing those items we are forcing a connection with our subconscious mind without even trying. Since your mind will see the WEAK column item you crossed out, it will also see the STRONG column with the same item not crossed out. All the mind will see is the item. We consciously force our subconscious to relive what we did to move the item over. All of this without having to think about it or focus on it. The mind will do this all on its own and begin triggering events that took place during that time. Within almost no time at all your mind will start to point you down a path to repair what is going wrong. It is like a gentle reminder of the past and the future all in one glance of a word. It works this way because we trained it to work this way by using the STRONG/WEAK column from day one.
I promised to give you some weekly pointers on how to “psych” out the competition. So here is this weeks lesson.
The next time you are on the shooting line and have some close competition shooting with you, try this “psych-out” trick. Ask your competition if they think the target is really round or not. Look confused as if the target isn’t round to you at all when asking them this. The trick takes a few ends to kick in but eventually, no matter how strong willed they are mentally, their mind will notice the target was never round to start with but is actually square. This will make them focus on it enough to stop focusing on their shot and begin to over aim. Even a tough competitor will give up a few points due to this trick.
Not enough room in your head to store your tricks, try the Legend Archery Diamond Pack to store more tricks and gear!
Archery has Gone Mental: Part 2: Imagery
I hope your training is going well so far and that you made your STRONG/WEAK column this past week. If you still have not made the column list, then go back to Part 1 and be sure you do it. This process is in steps and in the end the parts will all come together. So do yourself a favor and don’t cheat, just give it a try and do it!
Bow Arm * Anchor
Anchor * Release
Grip * Crowds
Equipment/Gear * 3-spot target
Exploring the Imagination
Everything you do starts with an image in your head. That image you have of yourself doing anything is called imagery. Imagery is a picture or moving picture you have of something you want to act upon. The difference between imagery and dreams is that in dreams you are not always in control of what you see. Imagery is a conscious effort to see yourself doing something and is on purpose.
The concept of imagery is very simple. However it is the beginning of everything you actually do and if not taken seriously it can hinder what you are trying to accomplish. If you try to imagine yourself jumping off a cliff and then picture yourself with wings and flying, then you are just day dreaming and not using imagery correctly. It is important to understand that when using imagery you must picture everything you do as being completely real and not be unrealistic with it.
Every person is unique in the way they imagine the world around them. Some people have active imaginations and can picture themselves as Superman flying around and looking down at their house. Others struggle with an imagination like that and can’t even see themselves in their mind doing anything but what they already know they can do, like walking down stairs.
The difference between the two types is night and day, but by learning how to use imagery correctly it doesn’t matter what type you fall under. If you have an active imagination you actually struggle with imagery because you tend to lose focus and see yourself doing something unrealistic. While others dream and picture themselves in reality as seen through their eyes.
Active imaginations are great with imagery because you have the ability to see not only yourself but your surroundings as well as one image. You can easily change the background of where you are just by thinking it. This is a good thing, but needs to be controlled.
Have someone else read this part to you right now. Close your eyes while they read this to you.
Picture yourself flying through the air like superman. There are clouds all around with blue sky above you. Your arms are out to your side and your legs straight. Your head is up looking straight ahead. You lean to turn, right then left. Then you do a barrel role! Now try to picture yourself and what you look like. What color shoes are you wearing? (If you are the one reading this to them, did their body move to fly while in front of you? Did their head move down to look at their feet?)
Now put your feet back on the ground, we have stuff to learn.
When you were asked what color shoes are you wearing, did you stop flying and look down at your actual feet? Or did you keep flying and look at your feet in the air? If you looked at your feet while flying, how did you look at them? If you saw your shoes by looking at them then you are viewing in the first person. If you looked at your shoes from outside your body then you saw them as third person. Following so far?
Now ask the person who read that to you whether or not you just sat there or if you moved your head while looking at your feet.
If you just sat there and did not move it means that you are able to picture yourself doing something including a task without moving at all. Congratulations! You are able to perform imagery in public and not embarrass yourself!
For everyone else all it means is that you use your body to complete what you picture in your head. There is no right or wrong, just whether or not you don’t mind on lookers when doing it at the airport.
How to Visualize, You
Imagining yourself is not easy for everyone to do. Everyone can close their eyes and visualize seeing something from their own perspective. The hard part is being able to close your eyes and picture yourself from someone else’s perspective and not lose focus.
As an exercise to learn how to visualize yourself I have found that the easiest way is to have someone take a picture of you while shooting. Now take that picture and look at it. Look at every single inch of everything in it. Hold that picture in front of you and stare at it without blinking. Do this for about 5-10 seconds. Without blinking or looking away, close your eyes and visualize the picture. Don’t move, keep holding the picture, or at least don’t move the picture. After about 3-5 seconds open your eyes and look at the picture again. Do this over and over until when you close your eyes you can see the picture without your eyes open.
This is a way to train your mind to see what you want it to see. By memorizing the picture your mind is able to see it as if you were actually looking at the picture with your eyes open. This may take some of you a while to learn how to do it, but this is crucial for learning imagery.
Once you learn this, assuming it does not come naturally to you, you will be able to close your eyes and see yourself like a picture. If you struggle with being able to see yourself from different angles in your head, then have more pictures taken of you while shooting from different angles. I have found that making a video of yourself is the fastest way to see yourself in all angles.
What you want to be able to do is close your eyes and see yourself shooting. You want to be able to see yourself as if you were a camera from all angles. Being able to visualize yourself in your mind and moving around yourself is the goal. If you get frustrated trying to do it, just watch the video of yourself again and see what the camera sees. Once you can see yourself in that way, elaborate on it. Try to move your view to above yourself in your mind, looking down on yourself.
Being able to visualize every part of you is not always easy and takes practice. Once you are able to do this however, you will be able to see yourself in a different way and it will begin to help you understand your form and your surroundings better.
Once you grasp being able to see yourself and your surroundings with your eyes closed, you can begin to use imagery. Imagery is an ability to see anything you want from first person to third person point of views and change the picture you see to how you want it to be.
Assuming you can do this now, close your eyes and take a look at the field you are shooting on. Picture everything around you as you wish. The sky, the grass or dirt, the target, the trees, the wind, everything you would see when you shoot. You can use imagery in your mind to change the field and things like weather or time of day. You can picture yourself shooting on a rainy day and visualize the water running down the riser. Imagery can go even further with your senses and you can learn to smell the rain or feel it on your skin.
Imagery is a key ingredient to a stronger mental game because it allows you to create a perfect picture of what you should be doing and to find ways to fix problems before ever shooting a single real shot. If you feel comfortable in an environment before ever showing up to that place you will already feel more confident.
Never been to a specific tournament or location and feel anxious about it? Use imagery to calm yourself down. Find pictures on the web of previous tournaments at that location. Study the pictures or video. Look at how it is laid out, the grass or carpet if indoor, look at the targets and lighting, and find everything you can to picture yourself standing there. Imagine being the one who took the pictures or video. Close your eyes and look around the venue. Get a feel of the place. Walk around a bit in your head. Go stand on the shooting line and fire a shot real fast. Don’t worry, no one will mind.
You can even go online to see average weather of the venue or find the weather for that day you will be there. You will know if it is 70deg with sun or 90deg with rain. Visualize yourself on the shooting line knowing what it looks like and what the weather is like. Visualize and imagine the perfect shot. Picture how perfect you release the string and how strong your bow arm is. Visualize everything as if you were actually there right now.
Take a WEAK column item and work on it in your head. Visualize yourself doing it the right way, perfect. Picture yourself shooting with perfection. Work on it in your mind until you just want to pick up the bow and just do it right away. Build confidence before you even stand on the shooting line. Use imagery to curb your fears. Shoot strong shots in your head.
The mind has a wonderful way of helping us correct physical struggles. If we imagine it enough the mind will start to help our physical bodies perform exactly the way we picture ourselves. You can cut WEAK issues time in half by using imagery to correct the problems.
By using imagery, which you can do anywhere at any time, you can learn to shoot an entire tournament before you even get there. Imagery is nothing more than picturing the perfect you. Anyone can do it with some practice and advanced practice will let you close your eyes anywhere and shoot all your shots perfectly while feeling the rain on your skin and the push of the wind on your back. Remember not to day dream and keep it realistic. Feel confident when visualizing yourself, and always visualize hitting the X!
You want to use imagery before shooting every real shot. Picture your shot process and how you want to execute the shot before nocking the arrow. Then shoot it exactly how you imagined.
What are you imagining right now? For me I am using imagery to see myself preparing my gear with my Archery Backpack before heading to the field.
Weekly Challenge: Use imagery to help move a WEAK column item over. Remember that moving a WEAK item over is about confidence and confidence is all in your head.
See you next week when I take you on a journey with your subconscious mind.
When you get your gear ready to go out and practice archery you need to gather all your equipment and pack neatly in an appropriate case. A recurve bow is collapsible so you can take it down and pack it into a small backpack about 30 inches tall. A compound bow can’t be taken down in the same way and it’s bare form is too big for a conventional backpack or a case. Other bow users like longbows and crossbows require special cases to carry their gear and so the world of archery manufacturers like Legend Archery build cases designed for specific types of bow.
Shopping for the tools for a new hobby or a sport like archery is an investment that needs careful consideration for costs and use. We all get attracted to the fancy material wealth out there but only some of us can afford that luxury at all. However that doesn’t mean that we can’t afford to take up archery. A typical Olympic bow and arrows plus all the accessories like quivers, armguards and sights run up to around £1200. That is a good price to pay for a gold medal at the Olympics or the world championship competitions but the average person wouldn’t and shouldn’t have to pay that much upfront for all those basic essentials. When I took up archery and looked for my own bow and arrow I went in search of a decent beginner’s model. To that end I set a target of spending no more than £300, which is just about the same as a typical home computer. Was there such a reasonably priced bow and arrow out there? Well as it turns out there was.
I remember walking down the Las Vegas strip in 1991 with my luggage and my heavy bow case. Struggling with the bow case and dealing with luggage that had the worst design of moving wheels since caveman invented it. It was not fun to say the least but it was normal for most archers. In the same year I traveled the globe and had the same complaints and frustrations about carrying my stuff to and from places. Eventually I would just set up my bow, sling my quiver around my shoulder, and walk to the event with everything ready to go. Needless to say a recurve takes up space when together and things always got bumped. These were trying times.