In the seasons between indoor and outdoor, it is time to practice. In an individual sport like archery, practicing can be boring, for target archers we are spending a lot time doing the same thing over and over again. It can be hard to track your progress since all athletes experience growth and development like the NASDAQ industry average with lots of peaks and valleys.
Practicing is an absolute must if any athlete wants to improve however you can help yourself keep focused and motivated by changing things up, working towards the future and adding a little fun.
It is always a good idea to practice all the distances that you need to compete in for a tournament; however, there are several reasons why an archer should practice at longer distances. First, practicing to shoot longer distances will automatically improve shorter distances. Second, it helps develop strength and endurance since you need to hold your arm up higher and longer. Lastly, especially for younger archers, it prepares you for the future, since every older age category moves further and further back.
For target archers, the smaller the grouping of arrows the better. You can help develop tighter groups by shooting at smaller target faces. Indoors, try a 3 spot target or 5 spot field face for target practice. Try novelty target faces or make your own target using an old catalogue. To this day, my favourite is to shoot balloons, much like a carnival. You can set up different sizes and shapes. Small balloons are great for accuracy and long thin ones help with groupings since you often need 3 arrows to pin and pop the balloon.
In most individual sports, like archery, athletes practice by themselves which allows them to focus without distractions, however tournaments are rarely completely quiet. A lot of archers end up shooting lower scores simply because of the noise, so why not have some practice with noise and distractions. Invite friends over to shoot with you, play loud music or have friends TRY to “safely” distract you while shooting. Since you cannot predict or avoid distractions at a tournament; prepare for it.
A lot of young archers get stressed out at tournaments when they have to score OR when they are score watching. When you are young and still developing your math skills, it can be very stressful to keep score with everyone looking over you.When you are at home, practice quickly adding scores together to become good at it. Score watching is can be very stressful no matter your age or experience, sometimes you get caught up in the score for each end, how far behind you might be, or even focusing on one bad arrow. Practice focusing on consistency and grouping ; ignore the score because if the group is good you can always move your sight.
By keeping focused, practicing, keeping it fresh and fun and being prepared for all types of tournaments you can enjoy the sport for the long term and reach your goals with a smile on your face.