Archery | Shot Rhythm
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Archery | Shot Rhythm

August 17, 2019

[shwhhh-thunk] Hey guys this is NUSensei. Today I’m
going to talk about a concept in archery that I call the shot rhythm. Most
people actually develop a good shot rhythm rather naturally, over time, with
plenty of practice, but many people don’t understand why it’s important, and
especially when you’re starting out you want to know what to look for when you have good shot rhythm. Shooting isn’t just about pulling it back and then letting it go. There is a process to a shot
and following each step of the process, in due time,
with good rhythm, will ensure good results. Let’s look at some of the habits people
have when starting out. This first pattern tends to be more common with people who are entirely self-taught and looks like this. The problem with that is that it’s way too
fast. There’s no time to consolidate. The draw is very rapid, there’s no muscle
engagement, there’s no time to aim. People who claim to be shooting “instinctively” still aren’t following all the steps. There is simply no time to consolidate all the steps in the
shot process. So that is way too quick. This second pattern tends to be common
with people who are learning archery for the first time under guided
instruction and looks like this. The problem with this rhythm is that it’s way too slow. There is too much hesitation and too
much doubt. In the back of your mind you’re not sure what you’re doing. You’re second-guessing and double-checking your point of aim, and you kind of forget the entire shot process. You’re just focused on one thing at a time. And as a learner this is what I would expect, but this is
something which, gradually, you would like to move away from. You don’t have to
shoot that slow. There is a third pattern I’ve noticed, and this tends to be more
common with younger kids, and it looks like this. The problem with this particular rhythm
is that it’s a two-point process, where the shooter only focuses on two things.
Pull it back, let it go. There’s no transition between these two
steps, and there are actually more steps involved in between. So this kind of
shooting is quite erratic, it could work at close distances, but it’s not going to
guarantee consistent results. Instead, a good shot process with smooth rhythm should look something like this. This also translates over to Olympic
style shooting. So a good shot process with good rhythm will look something like this. Whereas a bad shot process
with bad rhythm looks like this. Now when I mention good and bad
rhythm, I’m not talking about the speed at which
I shoot. That varies between people and different people prefer different tempos. However, what I’m talking about is the amount of time you spend on each part of the shot
process. From the draw, to your anchor, to aiming, and the release. Why this is important is not just about psychology but also about muscle control and muscle memory. Archery is about consistency. Now, which
rhythm you use, whether it’s a slow rhythm or slightly faster rhythm, whether you spend more time on your aim step or not, that varys between people and coaching styles. But what’s
important is that you develop a sweet spot for your shot process. That way you
know when things go right and when things don’t go quite right. I’m not saying they’re necessarily wrong. You can still execute a good shot with a
broken rhythm, but you want to develop that mentality, that zone, where you can
replicate the same shot over and over again, and you know within in a fair amount of precision that your shots will be very similar. One of the important
concepts behind a good shot rhythm is flow of motion. A good shot flows nicely, it’s nice and smooth and silky. That’s what a good shot should be, but the reason behind that is that it optimizes your muscle usage. A lot of the archery techniques
and alignment that you study will involve muscle expansion. Now the correct thinking
behind this is that as you draw, you expand. So your chest expands, and your back muscles start squeezing together. That engages the back tension, and that qualifies as a good shot. Now if I execute a smooth draw, a smooth anchor, a smooth shot, then everything comes out really nicely. On the other hand if I commit some of the very common beginner errors, you start to see muscle contraction. There are two things beginners tend to do. The first
one is that they come to quickly, and this is simply not ready. The body isn’t ready to align the muscles.
It’s all arm based, mentally not ready to aim. So all these things will stop you from executing a smooth shot. The other problem that is very common with beginners is the overdraw. When you
pull too far back, and they have to creep back forward to get the right anchor.
Especially finding your anchor and getting your nose right and so on. These things can play
havoc on your muscles. Your muscles, especially if you’re new to archery, and you haven’t built your conditioning, you don’t have the stamina and endurance to
control that amount of movement in your back muscles. Basically, and it makes a lot of
sense to me think about it this way, if I go from one direction, from here to
here and shoot, then that’s a single direction, a simple smooth flow. If I have
to come back and reverse the direction because I’m cramping, I’m changing my
draw, I’m change my anchor, then that will result in more changes in direction in
your back muscles. That will tire you out much quicker. It’s simply far more difficult to
execute a clean shot when you’re going back and forward and back and forward,
and these movements are very subtle. These are millimeter differences,
but they play a big role in where your arrow goes. Earlier I mentioned about the “long hold” problem, where beginners will pull back and spend a lot of time aiming and aiming… and aiming and aiming… and aiming. And they just refuse to let go. Like you tell them it’s okay, let go. You’re on target, and they still hold that aim. And then they finally let go, and it goes somewhere completely different. It’s very
frustrating for beginners. It happens all the time, and this is another example of why
shot rhythm is important. This is the extreme end where instead of rushing the shot, you’re going too slow, you’re holding for way too long. This is a a prime example of
muscle contraction. The longer you hold the bow, the more your muscles get fatigued. You can hold for around three seconds before you start experiencing significant muscle
shake. You can definitely feel it. You can see it here, i’m talking I know, but just holding this 20-pound bow, which is very light, I’ve started to feel a lot of strain, and when you’re that tired your shot will not go where you aim at, and this is one of the bizarre things when you do archery. You have to trust yourself. I know people like to aim, even with
instinctive shooting there is some element of aiming, subconsciously, and when you’re starting out you want to get it right, and you want to say “I’m gonna hit that bull’s eye right there, my arrow should be here, I’m gonna shoot”, and all
these things are going through your mind, but as you’re doing that the clock is ticking.
Your body is starting to get tired, and after about two seconds your shot will decrease in quality. What that means is aiming for longer, or holding for longer, doesn’t mean a better shot, and in many ways it makes the shot worse. The shot will
deteriorate. So holding for a long period of time, and ruining that shot process, is
something which will take your average score down. It’s something which a coach while
likely train you out of. They’ll get you shooting nice and smooth, with good rhythm, rather than focusing on aiming for longer, because really your bow wont change that much where it’s aiming. Most of your shooting isn’t about aiming. It’s about execution. A good release, a
good process, will put the arrow on target. I’m already pointing at the same spot i can just pull it back and let it go, and if I let it go right away it’ll probably hit the gold,
because I know what I’m looking at. The brain will recognize that this is the same thing
that you’re looking at for the last thousand arrows. So even though you might be
shooting bare bow or instinctive, a lot of it is about execution and not aim. So don’t
slow down your rhythm just to get the perfect pinpoint shot, because the longer
you hold, the less likely you are to achieve that. The problem is worse when you have a sight on your bow. Olympic recurve even compound have this problem, and the problem is that it’s very tempting to hold onto the shot and wait until the sight
settles exactly where you want it to be, and especially for the compound, which has a let off, which means you can hold for much longer, then it’s just too easy
to just be target fixated and wait for the perfect shot, but your body wont wait. Your muscles will not hold that weight for that long time, and eventually your shot
will deteriorate to the point where may as well just let down, and that’s one of the things you have to factor in. The longer you hold, the harder it is to execute a good shot. Now the actual sweet spot for a good
shot rhythm varies between people. Different archers and different coaches
will recommend and emphasize different things. Even Kisik Lee, the American coach, in his method there’s this nice diagram which allocates a certain amount of time to each part of the process. You don’t have to do this. If you know it
then it helps to build your understanding, but you don’t have to follow these things
rigidly, especially as your starting out. The more important thing is understanding the general concept of maintaining good rhythm. From start to finish a shot
shouldn’t really take more than 3 seconds. Two-and-a-half to three seconds is a
nice sweet spot, where your muscles aren’t contracting, you’re not mentally being
blocked by the target, and you execute consistent shot rhythm, and good shots within that time frame. Now there are exceptions. If you watch the Olympic Games, you’ll see the world class archers, they seem to do this all the time. They pull back, and they hold, and they hold, and they hold. They wait for the right moment to let go and get that “X” or “10”, and that’s hard.
That’s really hard. You have to understand that these guys our world class athletes. They’ve spent hours every week training, shooting thousands of arrows, and that builds
them up. It conditions them to hold for longer, to slow down their shot process, and yet still maintain control of the process from start to finish. That’s a lot different.
For a beginner or intermediate these are things to try to avoid because the
longer you hold, the worse it gets. Everybody who’s done a competition and shot under pressure will know this. You can never seem to get a good shot if you hold for longer. It’s a bit of a paradox. If you don’t aim long enough, you’re shot wont hit the gold, but the longer you aim the worse it gets, and that’s a very fine point of balance, and the reality is, even the top level archers
will refrain from holding for longer than the process. They will know the sweet spot and let go when that sight drops onto the target. Any longer and they’re fighting that balance. Too long and they have to let go, and basically accept the shot may not hit a “10”. That’s the
reality. So just because a professional holds it for 5 seconds doesn’t mean it’s a good shot, and most of them know that they’ve done
something wrong, but they’re trying to salvage a good shot out of it, and thankfully for
them, they have the experience, the conditioning, to do so quite frequently,
but for people getting to that stage it’s something which you have to combat and counteract. So what happens if you don’t maintain a consistent shot rhythm. The
main problem that develops is the loss of consistency. If every shot has
different timing and different rhythm then every arrow will hit a different
place. There are simply too many variations in
your process. So building in a good rhythm in your routine and your practice
sessions will allow you to maintain optimal muscle usage. It will help you
maintain muscle memory, and you start to recognize a smooth, good shot from a bad shot. Another problem, especially with the people who hold for too long, aim for too long, is that you start becoming target fixated, and you start acquiring symptoms of target panic, when no matter what you do you cannot hit this target because your
brain and your body cannot synchronize and everything falls apart. To sum up, the point of good shot rhythm
is to maintain a consistent bracket of time where we can execute a shot with
optimal results. You are physically and mentally prepared to execute each shot.
If you go too quickly and rush the process, you are not ready. You aren’t anchored correctly, you have no solid data that you haven’t expanded correctly, so your shots will
not land where you want them to. If you hold for too long, then you
are going to fatigue faster, and your shots will not get much better. Exactly how much time you spend in your
shot process varies between people. How closely you stick to it also depends. On a windy day, on a further target, then you may spend more time aiming carefully. But even so, you need to
try to train yourself to shoot with more consistent rhythm and that way you get
more consistent results. Anyway, this is NUSensei. I hope this is helpful. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Good video! It reminds me of what Fred Bear said about himself – he was a self confessed 'snap shooter' He could not hold the string at anchor point for more than a split second. It is a mental condition (so he said) and for some reason, some people simply cannot overcome this and build up a proper rhythm.

  2. Hah! Someone got shot – the first aid kit is open :oDDD Joke aside NUSensei, thanks to your brilliant tutoring, I am getting better and better each week – slowly does it and Rome wasn't built in one day, eh?

  3. It seems you are following me around. I have become aware of my variable rhythm from anchor to release. It gives me homework for the coming week to visit this detail. Thank you Sensei

  4. Awesome vid. As a beginner gives me to reflect on it seeing those errors, "too long" while overthinking is my current issue. 😉 Do you recon you can make video on archery stances? Basically there's mostly two of them: square and open. Interestingly koreans dominantly and Europeans use square while Americans (I guess by Kisik Lee school) uses open. I tried both and I feel while open, maybe, theoretically, "bio mechanically" stronger its brings errors as body is in twisted position. Although I can perfectly imagine square one to be as effective stance. Does it make sense pursue open stance and train body to it?

  5. Great video thanks for the info I just started shooting a recurve after shooting compounds for several years Your videos help a lot

  6. I haven't been able to shoot my bow its been too hot its the dog days of summer it gets 100+ degrees ferheinheit where I live and the only indoor range you have to pay $10 a visit and that's for the non 3D targets to boot and with winter coming by the time I get the time to go to the free outdoor range snow will be on the ground man I hate the bipolar nature where I live. I think I was holding my shot too long and using too much of a mix of arrows because I have shorter arrows and longer arrows.

  7. Can I just say personally I love your videos and advice and I've been shooting a recurve for a couple months it's a sage. Personally I like the sage but I feel like like I'm ready for a upgrade. I really like archery and I'm ok with buying on the more high end market. My problem is I'm a left handed shooter and I can't find any left handed risers other than the sage so where should I look. It's very frustrating because I've come across some amazing bows but the companies and manufactures that make them only sell them in right handed models.

  8. So after watching this and the running the clock video you posted, I was wondering your opinion if my shot process was faster on my first shots of the ends and a bit slower near the end of the end?

  9. This is very helpful. I've been shooting just under a year now and am getting to the point now where I need to develop my rhythm and this video has definitely given me so good guidelines for doing so.

  10. NuSensei, just wondering – on 20m what is the spread of your arrows 9 from 10? No idea, just saying something: within circle with diameter of
    40cm? (I would actually like to know 'instinctive shooting' if you do that – so without aiming-gear-stuff)
    (Is interesting to know what my teacher (you) can do there .. to know how far I'm off)

  11. Whenever my arrow is releasing its moving towards the left of the target. is it that the string is not pulled back straight? Because my neck is kept at a constant place or is it because of my anchor point. Please suggest me what to do

  12. whenever I shoot my recurve bow as I pull back the bow string the arrow doesn't stay on the arrow rest instead it goes off to the right. It only happens when I put one finger on top and 2 on the bottom. Why does it do that? (it's a Samick Sage if that helps any)

  13. This has been one of my biggest problems since I moved up from a training bow. I couldn't keep the process consistent and my movements were off so after spending time making sure I was moving my arms in the same way each shot, I picked a song to sing in my head. From set to anchor, it started giving me cues on where I needed to be in that shot process with visual cues on where my hands should be. I started seeing groupings again and it was majorly refreshing. If you'd like to use this, pick a chorus or line for a song you really love with a tempo you are very familiar with. See if it works for the shot and hang onto it. It's like a mental time stamp for your shot and it's been working for me!

  14. Even though I know NUSensei would never dry fire a bow, I get nervous every time he draws it back without an arrow on the string >_<

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