I had my first-ever archery instruction yesterday, and it was eye-opening.
You’d think, gee, a stick, a string, and an arrow. How much “tuning” does a “stick and string” require?
How about bracing height, nock point, arrow rest thickness? Throw in a string waxing for good measure.
I’m not going to get into all those, those can be found with some Internet searches, and it wasn’t about all the bow tuning. It was all about the “Instinctive Training.” It was fascinating. How to shoot without aiming. I told him he was getting all “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on me.
Yeah, we had a good laugh, then this weird look came across his face, there was a wave of his hands (or something), and I kinda lost track of what I was saying….
But it’s true. And how is this best explained?
Like throwing a ball.
That’s it. And how do you get better? By throwing more and more balls. That’s the trick. Shooting more and more arrows.
We talked about stance (look at the picture of the archer in this link; see how the archer’s head and torso are angled?), canting the bow (look at the picture of the archer in this link; see how the bow’s angled?), best and worse anchor points, dragging that damned hand along the face after release. I had some difficulty with that one. The rest of my form is fine, but I seem to have issues with “just relaxing the fingers” and letting the string go (perhaps a Zen analogy on life...?), not plucking the string (okay, nock it off with the Zen, already!). Sometime my fingers “fling out,” but I think most times they touch my shoulder. The other times they do go in the general direction and, yes, I can “scratch behind my ear.”
We don’t need to no stinkin’ targets.
We shoot at “nothing” (there is no spoon…) or part of an exploded balloon at 20 yards (later we moved it in to 10, to work more on the form and finger release issues). I liked that. I had two hours of instruction, then stayed another hour, and I only put up a target in the last 15-20 minutes, just to do so, but I was tired by then, so the hits on the paper don’t near do just to how much frigging better I did and felt over the course of the instruction. The whole “lift-aim-cant-release” I found extremely cool, not-to-mention quite helpful, and, admittedly, reminded me of all those “cool shots” in movies nowadays, where villains no longer shoot a handgun upright anymore, but turn em 45 or 90 degrees to take the shot (though, of course, I didn’t tell Obi-Wan any of this—I did want to remember some of my instruction…).
But, I was grouping! And in a good way!
And, not only that, but there were several distinct moments during all this grouping and tiny balloon-shard, non-spoon targeting (we never actually targeted anything on purpose, it was all about the form;getting close to the balloon was bonus work), that it all actually felt right.
There, I got all Obi-Wan on myself.
Yeah, I could actually get that internal, Zen feeling as I stood there—at arrow release—that everything fell into place and the shot was near perfect (well, at least in my book). It was a cool feeling. It’s like when a writer’s “in the zone,” and it all just flows, you’re lost in the act. You’re not “a writer,” you’re the writing.
Aim without aiming, my friends!