Archery’s most consistent competitors are uncommonly prepared for tournaments. The sport’s mental side keeps competitors atop their game, and takes them beyond the mere repetition of practice that makes releasing arrows instinctive. Let’s explore archery’s mental game.


Shooting a bow requires many subtasks that culminate with releasing an arrow. These intricate steps include the draw cycle, anchoring consistently, settling the pin, releasing the arrow, and properly following through. Top-level archers habitually go through a mental checklist before each shot to ensure peak consistency for every shot. By making that process a habit, they reduce the chances of skipping the small steps that deliver consistent accuracy.


To ensure you’re mentally prepared for a match, practice shooting the same style of targets the event uses. If you’ll be shooting a five-spot target, visit an archery shop and pick up a handful of them for practicing at home. That helps you familiarize your sight picture for the tournament’s targets. Some archers might argue that accurate bows hit whatever their sight targets, but understanding your sight picture helps you detect details, like how much of the target fills the inside of the sight’s housing. That factor can be the difference between 2-inch groups and sub-1-inch arrow stacks.


You cannot execute every shot exactly as planned. When that happens, don’t dwell on the failure. Forget about it and fall back on your practice. Remind yourself that you’ve done everything possible to shoot to the best of your abilities. Focusing on missed opportunities can drive archers into a rut, and distract their concentration on the shooting process.


No matter how well you’re shooting, remember you’re out there to have fun! Don’t focus on a score and how it ranks with other archers’ scores. Set personal, attainable goals. That helps you track your success and development. You can easily tweak those goals as you progress in archery. And don’t be shy about asking for help. Everyone at the match wants their peers to succeed, so they’ll happily help other archers.

Gear and shooting techniques usually dominate most archery discussions, but don’t neglect your mental preparations. Bounce ideas off other archers while sharing feedback. Before you know it, you’ll pick up on tips that seem minor but fuel your growth as an archer.