Unless you’re a professional, archery is something you do for fun. It’s a hobby, a way to take a break from the rigors of everyday life. But sometimes it can feel like a job, especially if you’re putting in lots of hours on the range, working to become the best archer possible. That can kill your motivation, and suddenly archery isn’t fun anymore.
CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE
Avoiding the archery blues starts in your head. We all know that archery is considered by many to be 90% mental and 10% physical. How well do you think you’ll do if your mental attitude is poor?
When you think, “I have to go practice,” as opposed to, “I want to go practice,” you’re on the slippery slope to the doldrums. Keep the positive vibes alive. Remind yourself that you shoot a bow and arrow because it’s fun, and an escape from the day-to-day routine.
You can improve your mental attitude by changing up what you do with archery. Taking breaks, for example, can often be better for your game than spending more time at the range. When you start to dread practice, take a break for a day, a week, or however long you need to shake the dread. If you really love archery, it won’t be long before you’ll want to get back to it. And just like that, your mental attitude will have made a 180-degree turn.
CHANGE YOUR PRACTICE ROUTINE
Let’s say you’re really working on your indoor game. Standing on the line for hours on end, staring downrange at a three-spot Vegas target or a 40-centimeter World Archery face can get old.
So, try switching to the NFAA five-spot face. It looks different, being blue and white rather than yellow and red. Also, it requires you to shoot five arrows at a time versus three. It’s different, but the center X-ring is exactly the same size as the one on the Vegas-face 10-ring, so you’re still trying to hit the same size area.
Another idea is to shoot a miniature version of whatever face you’re planning to shoot in competition. Maple Leaf Press makes miniature versions of most of the popular target faces, such as the Vegas three-spot and NFAA indoor targets. These will tickle your brain because they look different. And they’ll actually force you to aim more carefully, since the spot is now smaller. If you can get good at hitting the miniature faces, imagine how much better you’ll do with the regulation ones.
CHANGE YOUR GAME
One of the keys to being successful in archery is to train your muscles to do the same thing every time you shoot your bow. Your body doesn’t care if you’re shooting indoors at 20 yards or out on a field course at 45 yards. Field archery, 3D archery, indoor archery, outdoor archery – all of these varieties provide good practice, so why not take advantage of them all?
Many of the best archers in the world excel at a variety of archery games. Paige Pearce, Jesse Broadwater, John Demmer: These folks are great archers, not just great indoor archers or great 3D archers. Just because you’re trying to improve your indoor game doesn’t mean field archery won’t help.
SHOOT WITH FRIENDS
Oftentimes, archers get stuck in a rut of shooting alone. We’re human. We like interaction. So practice with some friends. Not only is company good for your mental attitude, but it’s also good to practice shooting around other people. You won’t be alone at a tournament, so you’d better get used to shooting with other people watching.
Engage in some friendly wagers with your friends. This will add some incentive to your practice, and it can help you get used to pressure. It’s good for your attitude and good for your training.
Keeping archery fun is entirely up to you. Approach each day with the right attitude and a little variety, and you can improve your skills while still enjoying the game.