July 23, 2008
from J.K. of UK:
Firstly, I want to say how interesting and helpful Total Archery has been for me. I have used it as the main basis for rebuilding my form after an injury and found it invaluable. However, I have two problems, which I think are connected. If you have time, I would very much appreciate your thoughts on them.
Firstly, in practice and with no target, I can produce very smooth shots. With a target, sometimes I can shoot well but at other times I find it very hard to shoot with good timing. I can set up on the point of the clicker but it can take a lot of effort to pull through. Although my alignment is good (compared with the pictures in your book and on your website) and I clearly use my back muscles, I suspect I am unable to relax my drawing arm muscles to let the back take over completely. In competition especially my release is very bad, with the drawing elbow dropping and the drawing hand coming away from the face. No matter how I try to focus on relaxing my string arm I find at full draw I am either gripping the string very tightly or have a very shallow grip. Both result in a poor release, and my bow sounds very loud because of this.
Secondly, I am very unhappy with my string picture. If I anchor with a slight side anchor, the string is on the left of the sight ring (I am right handed). It is hard for me to keep the string on the left edge of the sight for consistency. If I anchor a little more around the side, the string then aligns over the sight ring and it becomes difficult to see the gold, especially at further distances. I was never shown how to align the string when I started shooting so it is very difficult for me to learn. Only when I shoot barebow with a high side anchor point can I easily align the string on the riser. When I am struggling with the string alignment I become even more tense. It takes my focus away from the feel of the shot and the first problem becomes worse. I am not overbowed, shooting only 40lbs. I am doing reversal training with heavier limbs (about 50lbs) using a formaster. I very much want to shoot better, and would appreciate your advice on what approach I should take to fix this problem.
I have a very good coach, but he is very busy and I haven't had much chance to see him lately. I want to be able to sit down with him and put together a solid training plan to get me shooting to my full potential.
Thank you for your time.
Many, many archers have your difficulty, but shoot well, smoothly and with good timing on a blank butt. However, once the target comes into play people focus too much on aiming. Have a good look again at the KSL Shot Cycle; aiming should ONLY start once 'Holding' has been achieved. Most archers never reach 'Holding' and pull through the clicker (as you said yourself too), rather than expanding through the clicker. By your own description you do not reach 'Holding' and as such you haven't transferred unwanted tension to your back muscles. How to fix this is another thing.
I would suggest, as part of your training routine, you start using a very light bow, like 18-20lbs and shoot very close up 5-10m. For you to be able to feel the shot, draw your bow and close your eyes and concentrate on each step, especially the Loading/Transfer phase, where you have to transfer the unwanted tension in your body to your back muscles. Visualize that your draw fingers are connected to your elbow by chains, which will help to be able to transfer the unwanted tension in your draw hand and draw forearm. You have to learn to expand through the clicker rather than pull through. Once you are able to do this with your eyes closed, now do it with your eyes open.
Once you succeed with that put a small target at 20M and try to do the exercise incorporating aiming. Once you are successful with that, try the same routine, closed eyes etc with your normal bow. It should be noted that, besides other factors, your string picture is also affected by your bow grip. However, you should not have to fight your sight picture/string alignment as that will divert your focus.
Again, with your current set-up, draw the bow with your eyes closed till you feel properly aligned and anchored comfortably, then open your eyes and see what the string picture is like. Do this a few times and if consistent, keep that as your string picture. String picture is a natural result of your form and best to work on with a coach. You indicated that you wish to shoot to your full potential and as such I urge you to see your coach to work on your challenges./box]