“Practice makes perfect.” Until it doesn’t.
Motivational phrases are meant to inspire you to keep trying till you succeed, whether it’s in art, archery or aerobatics. Achieving excellence takes commitment, but routines and endless work often cause frustrating slumps. Even the most gifted archers won’t shoot their way to improvement if they lack self-motivation.
If you’re reluctant to pick up your bow, don’t despair. You’re not alone. Many others have endured similar challenges and fought through them. Read seven of their motivational ideas for improving your performance:
Get a Coach
An archery coach is the best way to improve performance. It’s hard to get better if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. Archery coaches have the expertise to help you shoot your best. They will analyze your form and pinpoint how to improve.
Coaching help can yield amazing results in little time, because a coach holds you accountable and maximizes your time on the range. Visit an archery shop to find a coach near you.
Practice with a Partner
Archery might be a solo sport, but it can also be filled with friendly faces if you shoot in leagues and tournaments. Practicing with others keeps you accountable and it’s more fun than shooting alone. It can also improve your skills. Research finds that people achieve goals more often when sharing them with others.
Find an archery buddy and plan to improve your performance together. Commit to a practice schedule. It’s harder to skip evenings at the range when someone is waiting for you there. Join a league or attend tournaments. When fellow archers expect your presence, you’ll feel motivated to show up.
Focus on Your Form
Take time to get back to the basics. “Three things to remember: form, form and form,” said David Mamo, a Level 3 USA Archery coach. “Trust your form, don’t aim too long, and just shoot the shot.”
Fundamentals build the foundation of good form. Archery basics consist of stance, grip, posture, bow arm, anchor point, release and follow-through. Archers who’ve shot a while often assume their basics are second nature, but false assumptions cause sloppy form. For an in-depth look at form, watch this video on basic compound archery form.
Blank-bale shooting is a great way to focus on form and add variety to practice routines. You either close your eyes or you don’t shoot at specific spots on the target. Instead, focus on your form and shot sequence. Shooting at blank bales also alleviates target panic.
Every Shot Counts
If you focus on your score, you might get too focused on the big picture. “Practice for 1 point, and make every arrow count,” Mamo said. “Don’t pay attention to score until you finish shooting.”
Shoot every arrow with maximum effort and focus. If you treat each shot like it’s the only shot that matters, you’ll stay focused. And rather than pressuring yourself about the score, focus on improving your overall performance. “Try to shoot your average, not your best,” Mamo said.
Playing games isn’t just fun. It boosts performance. Pick a game and challenge a friend. Everyone loves popping balloons with arrows. Blow up two balloons of different colors, and cover a target. Pick a color. You earn 1 point for every balloon you pop in your color, but you lose 1 point if you hit your opponent’s balloon. Decide how many arrows each archer shoots, and start. Highest score wins. This is a fun way to practice with focus while under pressure.
Tic-tac-toe is another fun game. Make a target with paper and a marker. Call the square before each shot. If you hit the square, it’s yours. If you miss, it’s up for grabs and your opponent shoots. The first to complete a row wins. For more ideas, read “Fun Challenges to Improve Your Archery.”
Set Personal Goals
You want to be a better archer, but do you know what that means? Improved scores? Better form? Better accuracy at longer ranges? All of the above? Goals boost motivation. Set a goal and then find the steps to achieve it.
Sometimes motivation requires literal steps. Consider Fitbit, for example. The company didn’t just encourage people to walk more to get healthy. It gave them goals. Fitbit suggests the average person take 10,000 steps daily, which is roughly 5 miles. With that goal in mind, thousands of people buy Fitbit and similar devices to track their steps. Try setting daily archery goals that vary by total shots, target distances or anything else you can track and compare for self-motivation.
Nothing causes faster burnouts than boredom. Archery is a recreational sport, and archers should have fun and lighten up. Mamo believes archers who stay motivated find ways to make practice entertaining yet challenging.
Studies of college swimmers and professional rugby players found that passion sparks motivation. Athletes who burn out typically aren’t physically exhausted. More likely, they lost their passion for the sport. If you’re in a slump, think about why you fell in love with archery, and focus on those positive factors. Maybe it’s your workouts, camaraderie or the intense satisfaction of hitting bull’s-eyes.
By tapping into archery’s powerful fun and motivation, you’ll resume shooting your best. If you can’t stay self-motivated, don’t despair. Visit a nearby archery shop, and you’ll find inspiration wherever you turn.