Q: I started shooting instinctively but I now have problems with maintaining my concentration on the target. I group arrows well when I shoot paper faces but when I rove or shoot 3D my groups spread badly.
A: Yes, I know exactly how it feels! I had been shooting paper faces for about three years before my first serious roving session in a forest. I had two sets of arrows with me: half a dozen Easton ACC shafts and a dozen crested cedar arrows I had made myself. I found out that I had many more hits than misses with the woodies than with the carbons! I soon realised that it was all about the colour of the shafts. Let me explain.
Instinctive or gap shooting is all about maintaining your concentration on the target and only on the target. When we shoot with sights, the problem doesn’t exist as the sight pin is the aiming device. But when you shoot instinctive or gap, the sight picture becomes your aiming device. Through practice, you get the brain accustomed to a certain picture which it then analyses as correct for a particular distance, and that’s when you release the string. It all happens in a split second, but it must happen for a shot to be good. An integral part of the sight picture is that blurry shaft; blurry, as it is seen only in the peripheral vision. If that arrow shaft disappears from the view, the eye will automatically wander off the target and start looking for it, and all it takes is the smallest sneak peak at the arrow shaft and it’s no longer possible to execute a good shot. You have to let down and start the shooting sequence again.
So why would that arrow shaft disappear from your peripheral vision? When you shoot paper targets, the arrow always stands out on those target rings. But in the forest or on a 3D animal, especially in low light conditions, the arrow shaft blends in with the entire background. A solution is not to use black, or camo, arrow shafts. Go for cedar shafts, or carbons that look like woodies, such as GT Traditional or CE Heritage arrows, and so on.
Time and practice – a lot of practice – will help you develop your natural sight picture, regardless of the shooting conditions. That brighter arrow shaft will help a lot!
The Glade Ask The Experts – in association with Fairbow