Indoor season is fast approaching and, although COVID-19 changed the operations and appearances of indoor ranges worldwide, it shouldn’t change how you practice your short game.
Indoor shooting has long tested archers’ mental abilities because it eliminates the outdoor elements that often affect performance. Everyone wants to shoot high scores indoors, of course, but that requires a solid practice routine and work ethic, especially when shooting competitively.
A vital first step to scoring well in competition is to keep score in practice with witnesses around. Try to schedule a recurring time when you can practice with like-minded archers at the range and shoot for score. You could even do this at your club’s league night. Shooting for score while practicing in front of others can push you from your comfort zone and help you see where you must improve.
A proven practice drill is to shoot for your desired score at short range, and slowly move the target back each time you achieve your score. If your goal is to shoot all of your arrows into the gold center, start at 10 meters with a 40-centimeter target. Shoot a regular 30- or 60-arrow score while striving to keep every arrow in the gold. When you succeed, move your target back 2 meters and shoot another score. Keep moving your target back 2 meters with each success until you reach 18 meters. This same method also works for shooting a perfect 300 in practice.
Another good practice drill is designed to break the habit of aiming too carefully. With no external factors such as wind, precipitation or bright sunlight disturbing archers, some try too hard to achieve perfection. They start micromanaging their shot execution. A perfectly still sight pin does not ensure your arrows will strike exactly where you aim. Well-executed shots, however, increases your odds. To end this tendency to “aim hard,” try shooting faster so you can’t aim for too long.
This drill forces archers to trust their shot and execute it under some pressure. Many of the world’s best recurve archers start and finish their shots in less than 10 seconds, and they still shoot 10s. Shot execution, not stationary aiming, is the key.
In addition, try training with archers who are better than you. They’ll push you to improve by striving to catch up. If you shoot a recurve in a club dominated by compound shooters, see if you can shoot better than them. It will build your confidence while pushing them to get better, too.
Try to find fun, innovative ways to make yourself a better archer this indoor season. Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from training to be your best.