Top compound archers highlight easy errors and how to overcome them. They say you learn more from failure than from success.
Mistakes happen – and the best archers in the world only learn to overcome, then grow, from their errors. So who better to learn from when you’re starting your path in archery? Here’s what some of the world’s most accurate athletes had to say about fixing the most common mistakes when shooting a compound bow.
1. NOT LETTING DOWN
“Some people never let down, because they think they can handle the shot,” said Martin Damsbo.
Braden Gellenthien added: “People work too hard to make a good shot. Good shots happen easily but a lot of time we struggle too long and are too stubborn to start over.”
If it’s not going well, then the best thing to do is to stop; reset, and start over.
2. FOCUSING ON AIMING
“We are really stable shooting this kind of bow but if you only focus on aiming but don’t think about expanding properly, working with your back, and rest like you’re on your sofa, waiting, it can be tough,” said Seb Peineau.
Although the reigning World Archery Indoor Champion said that stability was important, it can be bad if it’s a focus. Seb pushes into the grip and pulls, constantly, against his back – and uses a back tension release – to ensure he doesn’t rest at full draw too long.
3. NOT FINISHING
Both Mariya Shkolna and Tanja Jensen said the biggest mistakes they made was not finishing the shot. Sometimes everything is perfect – and then, they said, the front hand just falls away and the arrow ends up going wide.
“Sometimes I forget my left hand should stay pointing towards the middle until the end,” said Mariya. The lesson: the shot doesn’t end when the release engages.
4. TESTING RELEASES
Two-time Hyundai Archery World Cup Final Champion Sergio Pagni, who also works in an archery shop, had a good story about someone trying a different style of release – a back tension rather than a trigger.
The archer did it late at night and alone (bad idea), but set the trigger too hot, and ended up hitting himself in the face when it went off while he was drawing. He knocked himself out – then woke up two hours later with a bloody nose, staring at the ceiling! Be careful.
5. FOCUSING ON NEGATIVES
“When you’ve been shooting compound for a couple of years. You stop looking at the 10s and focus on the nines. That’s a really big mistake. When you have five 10s, and one nine, you forget to think about the 10s – but you have to think about the good shots, so you can make better ones,” said world number one Sara Lopez.
She also said that sometimes coaches make the same mistake.
Only when you’re shooting strong, consistent shots and the groupings are visually appearing worse than they should be should you invest in top gear said Seppie Cilliers.
“People buy equipment and think that will give them the score rather than practising. Practice is the best way of getting a good score and, when you do practise, your equipment at some point makes a difference – that’s when you invest,” he explained.
7. TRASH THOUGHTS
“When you push the trigger and you have trash in your head, you cannot shoot,” said Natalia Avdeeva. When the world’s buzzing around there, you’re not feeling the shot, she added.
“I think about my family. It’s the best way for me to concentrate.”
Reo Wilde reckoned that having the right drawlength is the most under appreciated aspect of gear by new archers. Too long, and the bow isn’t as accurate; too short, and the riser becomes “herky-jerky” – and won’t sit still.
The only way to fix it? Go to someone, a coach or a store, that knows what they’re doing.
“If you start punching, and you get nervous, you’ll end up in chaos and shoot misses,” said Stephan Hansen. Punching, put simply, is the act of clicking the trigger or forcing the shot to go at a certain moment – rather than pushing or pulling to naturally execute the shot.
“I have tried it. I have been there. Hopefully it won’t happen again. It was a bad habit, I was young and I didn’t know how to shoot perfectly. I shot a back tension and got over it.”
The world number one, and reigning World Archery Champion, said it took him a year to 18 months to overcome punching – and also shot a back tension release from mid-2015 to the end of 2016. He won the first stage of the 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup with a trigger.
“If I want to punch it, my body doesn’t want to. I shot a windy competition recently and I punched a few – because otherwise I couldn’t get my shot off – and it felt bad to do it,” said Hansen.
“I didn’t want to watch myself shoot when I was punching. It was horrible. I don’t mind moving my bow arm to correct something but to punch it and see the reaction, it just doesn’t look good.”