Q: I’m new to instinctive archery, having migrated over from Olympic style recurve and I must say that I’m loving it! The only trouble is that now, I’m not very accurate shooting this way. Is this something that will naturally improve over time and if so is there a training method or something I can do that will help me practice or even speed up the learning process?
A: The thing with instinctive archery is that there is no easy way and no short cut to get good at it. The only real “true” way is with dedication, practice and hard work. The trick is to find a way of shooting that suits you and is comfortable, concise and repeatable. Then comes the hard work, training your body and your brain to work together so you can subconsciously hit those distances without thinking about it. All the calculations are done in your subconscious.
Having said that, one of the training methods I use is called paper cup training. This is where you fix a paper cup to a target and stand approximately two metres away. Then, focusing all your concentration on the inside of the cup, shoot your arrows into said cup. You will notice your first group will probably be scattered around the cup but every end after that your group will shrink. The name of the game is to sink three consecutive arrows into the cup. As soon as you’ve achieved this move back another two metres then rinse and repeat.
You can move back to whatever distance you feel comfortable shooting at, although I tend to get people to stop at about 20 metres when they first start training.
Then it’s just a case of moving forward again. This keeps your brain thinking, your body working and committing those distances to your muscle memory.
But why use a paper cup, can’t I just use a target, I hear you ask? Well, you could, but using a cup gives you a 3D point to focus on, really drawing your concentration inside the cup. It’s also good for you every now and again to mix things up a little bit and shoot at something a little bit different from your everyday target face. It’s very similar to when you see juniors at an archery club when someone puts a balloon on the target… You just watch those groups tighten.
Merlin Archery’s Grizzly Jim
The Glade Ask The Experts – in association with Fairbow