Many sports have academic benefits, which means they empower the mind and the body. Basketball requires players to know how to release the ball at just the right angle and with just the right power to make a basket. The same can be said for baseball when throwing strikes or hitting the cut-off player from the outfield.
The Wildcat Archery Club at the University of Arizona is empowering students by connecting the dots between science, math and physical skills. When aiming for the perfect shot, archers battle an obstacle called the “archer’s paradox.” Natalie Robbins of the Daily Wildcat, reported:
“The paradox explains the fact that although the arrow is pointed slightly off-kilter from the target before release, it will still hit the target. Much of archery is experimenting to find the best way to make the arrow travel as straight as possible. The arrow, however, will never travel truly straight. Adjusting to the arrow’s spine and stiffness are two ways to address the Archer’s Paradox.”
Many archers recognize the challenge of finding their personal balance between the arrow’s position in their sight/field of vision, and where it hits the target. Archers must know their body and its angles to know how they shoot best. “Archers must also have a basic understanding of physics, as well as geometry, trigonometry and algebra,” the article continued. “Taking into account arcs and vectors is a large part of determining where the arrow hits. To get the perfect shot, you must get the arrow as fast and flat as possible.”
Sandra Childress, the club’s coach, gives tips on how archers can find their sweet spot and land arrows in the middle.
“There are two elements to it,” Childress told the Daily Wildcat. “One, the arrow is landing where I want it to be: the X, the gold ring. To make that happen, it’s a combination of the anchor point on my face, the grip in my hand, the draw length, the position of my shoulders, and my entire form. When it’s all correct, you should hit the sweet spot, because you’re in your sweet spot.”
Because of gravity, sweet spots change when shooting downhill or uphill. The slightest hand twitch or change in stance and grip can affect your shot drastically. “One-eighths of an inch change at the archer’s position can be upwards, depending on the distance, of anywhere from 2 inches to 6 inches,” Childress told the Daily Wildcat.
Madison Eich, an Olympic hopeful and a sophomore in mechanical engineering, notes a close tie between archery and her engineering classes. She uses her knowledge of statics and kinematics to improve her archery skills.
“When I come back into anchor, there is an angular movement that your body has to the bow’s weight,” Eich told the Daily Wildcat. “Subconsciously, I don’t think about it, but when you start pulling back the bow, your brain kicks in and is like, ‘Oh, I’m actually pulling some weight. What muscles do I use, and how in line do I have to be with the arrow so that I can shoot the arrow well enough?’”
There is no perfect algorithm for hitting a bull’s-eye, of course. Angles and mathematics differ for everyone, based on height and stature. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the archer beside you is nailing shot after shot. What matters is finding the right scientific approach for you. If you can find the right mix of science, mathematics and confidence, along with a bit of heart, you’ll become one satisfied archer.
Ready to overcome the Archer’s Paradox and land more arrows in the “sweet spot?” Head to your local archery shop to take a lesson and perfect your shooting form.
Original research and reporting conducted by Natalie Robbins of the Daily Wildcat.