Recently I was out shooting with a friend of mine and as we were pulling our arrows from the target he said, ” Man I wish I could hold my pin that steady. It must never move at full draw.” But in actuality, that’s far from the truth. What this got me to thinking about is the big misconception in what aiming actually is. The process of it, what a desired sight picture is, and the mind set behind it all. So with this entry I’m going to break each one of those segments down and go more in depth with each and try to debunk some myths about it all in the process.
First, let’s talk about the process of getting your best sight picture. To get your individual best sight picture, you have to start with a good foundation. This foundation is built with your basic elements of form and draw length. As I’ve detailed in past entries, you need an optimal stance with your feet, a good base through your hips and mid section, your shoulders in proper alignment as well as set properly, and your bow arm, hand and release arm and hand aligned and holding the riser and release correctly. Once this is achieved, you then need to start fine tuning your draw length. This is the trial and error stage where you can change the bow’s draw length in small margins. 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 of an inch or even smaller, until you have the string position correctly touching your facial anchor points with the front half of your body (bow arm and shoulder) in its optimal position. Then also adjusting the D-Loop longer or shorter in the same increments to optimally set up the back half of your body (release arm, hand, and shoulder/back) until your hold is as steady as you are capable of getting it. This will all be trial and error and shooting. Continuing in one direction until you reach a point where you start digressing and then go back to the last point you shot the best. Don’t get frustrated at this, or try to find a setting that will allow you zero movement. That’s not going to happen and the point of this exercise is to just find where your hold is at it’s best.
As you’re performing the above mentioned exercise, what is the desired look you’re supposed to be striving for? Well, this will look differently for everyone. Some will just naturally be able to hold steadier than others, but the patterns should be relatively the same. You are looking for the tightest circles or figure eights on the target as possible for your body. Now, notice I didn’t say you are looking for the movement to stop completely. That’s because you’re not going to be able to get that. It may slow up and hang on the movement momentarily, but not permanently. So the object here is to lessen the overall movement and embrace what is left. Build your confidence up in knowing you have made your float as small as you can physically make it. This is also a time to study your natural float and see what movement it actually makes. Watching as it crosses over different scoring rings and areas on a target face. As you work more and more with adjustments you will start to see a pattern when you set up the right way and a different one as you set up the wrong way. This will also be helpful as you begin shooting for score and practice because you will be able to immediately tell if you are not set up correctly, and you can let down to start over again.
Lastly, let’s talk about the mindset you’re looking for here. This is possibly the most important part of all and is also one of the hardest factors to ingrain into your thought process. Naturally, we all try to hold perfectly still when at full draw. A lot of the time, this desire to do so leads to the dreaded target panic you hear people talk about. That is because you are wanting to be holding perfectly still and as soon as you do, you think you need to slam the trigger down, or rotate your hinge around to get that shot to go off right then because you are perfectly still. But more often than not what happens? You thought you were holding still on the x, but you actually hit an eight. So what do you need to do? You need to let that mindset go completely. Turn off the part of your brain that says you need to hold perfectly still. What you need to do is go back to remembering what your float pattern looks like. The reason you need to do this, is because you need to trust in all of your hard work that you just achieved the best float you can and let that be what you see each and every time you shoot. Don’t get caught up in the movement. It’s there, it’s built into your shot, and your subconscious is actually your best friend here. Your subconscious knows you want to hit the x ring. So what it will do is naturally align your body and and the pin onto the x ring for you. It does this in patterns along with your natural float. What your job in all of this is to do, is to stay out of your subconscious and let it work. Turn your brain off with it’s controlling habits and smoothly execute your shot. Your body will break your shot as your subconscious aligns you onto the x. This is also where you will hear about people timing their shots. This timing is a window of opportunity that they have built up because they have studied their float and know when it starts to break down. They have their optimal window there where the body will work for them to allow good repeatable accuracy.
There’s days and shots where I am literally all over the target. I won’t even be at my best normal float. But, those are the days where my mental training pays off the best, because even though I’m moving around a lot, I will still be scoring well because I know my optimal window and stay out of my subconscious so it can work it’s magic. This is an outcome that is possible for everyone to achieve, as long as you put in the work and then let it all come out in your ability and results.
Here is a link to the video that goes along with this article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjQGT4NDIDc