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!
Many archers wonder if archery fitness is important and if you can improve your performance by improving your physical conditioning. The sport of archery is not considered to be extremely physically demanding. But as with most physical endeavors you can perform better with proper conditioning thus some archery exercises that include a modest strength training program should be considered if you want to perform up to your full potential as an archer.
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.
As complex humans with a wide range of personalities and emotions, we tend to think about “the perfect shot” as a bulls'eye. Pulling the bow back, aiming, and then watching the arrow hit the target dead smack center. Sounds more like a dream than most archer’s reality, or does it.
Over the next few weeks you will get a "how to" guide to mental training to help understand how to increase your mental game when shooting. Whether it is for fun or competition, the mental part to archery is more important than the physical aspect. Archery can be mentally tough and to combat it you have to know yourself and how to deal with the pressure as it comes.
To me the absolute perfect shot starts with me standing on a shooting line somewhere green and lush with trees surrounding a field with many colorful FITA archery targets. I stand on the line feeling how soft the grass is beneath, the sky is blue with fluffy white clouds keeping the sun off me just enough as not to bake me all day, surrounded by fellow shooters basking in the warmth of the gorgeous day, and a breeze so light that you can barely feel it.
As I draw my bow I mentally feel I look like Jay Barrs or Brady Ellison. The bow pulls so gently and my form feels rock solid. I aim with no effort at 70m with my sight pin not moving at all. I pull through the clicker smoothly and effortlessly, and as it drops my release lets a thrush of the string go off my finger tips. The bow rocks forward and the arrow is in perfect flight as I watch it fly away so gracefully. And before it reaches the target my head is already on the next arrow being pulled from my quiver. I never see the arrow hit the target because I just know exactly where it will land. To me that is the perfect shot. The shot that feels like the whole world just comes together and you truly enjoy it all… That is until you get to the target and realize you shot a 7 instead of a X. To me the perfect shot is all in how it feels. If it feels perfect, it will find its way into the bulls'eye…eventually.
Everyone has their perfect shot in their dreams. For some it is simply any shot that hits the center. For others it is just the pleasure of hitting the target.
The perfect shot is not the same for everyone, but for everyone the perfect shot starts in your mind and the mind is where it does become the same for everyone. Keeping the focus on your perfect shot starts well before you ever pick up the bow. The mental game of archery is not only the hardest part of the sport, but the most crucial. I have JOAD archers trying to shoot the 1000 arrow challenge thinking that each shot is just a shot and the goal is to physically just shoot 1000 arrows. What if I told you that for 1000 shots on every shot you also had to do a math problem before each shot? Your mind would wonder well before the 500th arrow and your body would already start to get even more tired. Did you know that a thinking marathon is just as physically exhausting as actually doing exercise?
When we begin to concentrate we naturally start to tense up while thinking about say a math problem. Over time the problems, regardless of how simple it is, seem more and more complex. The reason is simple. The more we concentrate the more energy we expel through our bodies. This causes the body to become more fatigued. That fatigue along with physical exercise starts an even faster downhill slide to our energy levels. The combination creates a weaker body and a weaker mind and the more we try using both, the harder everything becomes in general. The mind wonders, the body collapses, and the perfect shot disappears.
The solution is simple. If you do shoot the 1000 arrow challenge, challenge your mind on every shot. For any archer that is simple. Don’t just shoot the shot. Focus on form, or focus on aiming, or focus on something like your idea of the perfect shot on every shot. If you do it enough then not only will your mind be able focus longer, but your mind and body will both be able to go longer with better results. This philosophy is the basic principle for elite military training. The reason they do it is so that at any given moment the body and the mind work in sink regardless of how tired you are.
The perfect shot starts in your mind, but is your body able to keep up. Practice your perfect shot on every shot in your head before you shoot. Practice the perfect shot in your head while you exercise. Practice the perfect shot. Practice. Practice. Practice. Remember this… Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. So what is the perfect shot? It is the ability to shoot a shot that you already shot in your head and make it happen in the exact way you mentally pictured it… EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I’m always curious, what’s your perfect shot?
Check back later this week for Part 2 of this series and don't forget to check out Legend Archery's new Summit archery quiver before leaving! I will have a full review on the new Summit Quiver soon so keep checking back to read all about it!
Check out the new quiver here: http://legendarchery.com/collections/archery-quivers-arrow-quivers/products/archery-quiver-summit
Archery is sometimes viewed as a static sport compared to other sports such as football or snowboarding, but in reality it requires just as much physical training and conditioning as anything else. There is a huge difference between professional archers and hobbyists, and the reason the pros are so much more proficient is because of several reasons. Technique and equipment both play a huge part obviously, but physical training should never be overlooked. At your local archery range you'll probably find people that don't stretch, don't warm up, don't generally perform any exercise at home, and snack on mostly pizza, beer, and soda.
It’s a beautiful spring day and you just arrived at your favorite outdoor shooting place. The sky is blue, no wind, perfect temperature, grass is green, and the target seems amazingly colorful today. As you draw your bow back you feel confident and assured that today will be great shots. As the arrow is released you feel relaxed and know it was a great shot. Thud! The arrows hits the target and it is not exactly what you expected. You draw back and shoot again. Thud! Arrow hit the X. As the day goes on your shots overall are good, but you just can’t explain the strange flyers that happen and your groups could be a little tighter.
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.
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.