Archery | The Definition of Skill
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Archery | The Definition of Skill

August 16, 2019


Skill. A word that is thrown around often in archery. Sometimes it’s used to assess an individual. Sometimes it’s used to compare two different
athletes. Sometimes it’s used to compare two different
styles. Sometimes it’s used objectively. Sometimes it’s used in a derogatory way. It’s used by non-archers. “Oh, you do archery? How good are you at archery?” “I’m…this good.” It’s used by archers…against other archers. “This kind of archery takes less skill than
this kind of archery.” Skill. A word that we all understand, but few of
us can explain. And because of that, whenever we bring up
the mention of “skill”, we always get into arguments because we come in with different
understandings of what makes a person skilful. So, I’m here to lay down a definition and
get you think about what skill means to you before you start applying it to other people. Skill is a measure of how proficient a person
is. I think most of us can agree with that. The more skilful you are at something, the
better you are at it. What we often miss in our analysis of skill,
however, is that skill must be measured. Skill isn’t – or doesn’t have to be
– an abstract concept that you vaguely apply to someone. Skill should have some kind of metric. This metric may be objective. It may be subjective. But it has to be measurable. A skilled chef is able to make dishes that
taste good. A skilled artist is able to show creativity
and complexity in their work. A skilled musician is able to play pieces
with flow and confidence. A skilled teacher is able to deliver new content
in a clear and meaningful way. So what is a skilled archer? A skilled archer can hit their target. That’s it. This is something that can be measured – the
frequency of their bullseyes, the size of their groupings, the points on the scorecard. You might wonder about form. Form is a big part of archery. You can observe and analyse a person’s shot
process or comment on the cleanness of their release. But, archery is not a performance art. You can have the best form, but if you can’t
hit your target, that means nothing. Skill at archery is simply your ability to
hit the target. That is all. If your definition of skill is different to
what I stated, then you are bringing something more into the picture – a personal opinion,
a biased perspective, an intrinsic value, a hidden agenda. And I’m going to refute some of these perceptions
of skill. You might say that a skilled archer must be
able to shoot a heavy draw weight. No, that just means that you are a stronger
archer. You might say that a skilled archer must be
able to loose 3 arrows in 1.5 seconds. No, that means you are a fast shooter. You might say that a skilled archer is able
to use a variety of different bow types, on foot and on horseback, ambidextrously. If you can do that, then you are a versatile
archer. None of this matters if you can’t hit your
target. This is, in my opinion, the only qualifying
factor that is relevant when discussing someone’s skill. Their ability to hit the target, irrespective
of what kind bow they are using, or what technique they use, is what defines their skill. A person practicing a particular form of archery
might have additional parameters, and we may have to measure skill within these parameters,
but that means that we can’t then take these measurements and apply them equally to a different
set of parameters. So now we come to the main event: the tradshooter
complex, the purists who believe that shooting instinctively with a traditional barebow is
the most skilful form of archery. Firstly, I acknowledge and, to an extent,
agree with the general perception that because this particular style of shooting is more
difficult that it takes more skill. However, the part that often gets overlooked
is whether you are able to reach a level of proficiency in this chosen discipline. Let’s say that I am shooting an indoor round,
and I achieve a certain score with a compound bow. You do the same round with a traditional bow,
and you get a similar score. Considering that it is generally easier to
shoot accurately with a compound bow, I would believe that you are certainly a more skilful
archer. Basically, if I got outshot by a traditional
barebow shooter, I’ve got a lot to work on. But let’s say we go back to 70m. This time, my compound bow scores 300 points
more than your barebow. Who is the more skilful archer? Can a traditional shooter really claim that
they have more skill if they are attempting a task that has higher difficulty, but achieves
a lower result? Are we simply going to blame our choice of
equipment? Do I have less skill than you simply because
I’m shooting a compound and you’re shooting a longbow, irrespective of what our scores
were? Obviously I can’t claim to be the better
archer because I’ve got the training wheels, but can you claim to be a better archer on
the basis that you are using the purist form of archery? And so we go back to our definition of skill:
it is the person’s ability to hit the target. Every archer will agree that it is the person,
not the bow, that does the work. We’re not putting our bows in shooting machines
and counting the bullseyes. It’s up to us to execute the shot perfectly,
and the mistakes are our own. But that is not always the case. Sometimes, it is our equipment that is letting
us down. Some bow types will lose more energy in vibration. Some materials are naturally going to be more
inconsistent in varying conditions. Some equipment choices will limit the effective
range of the shooter. There is a reason why you never see barebow
shooters at Olympic level. The bow type is legal in Olympic competition,
but no barebow shooter – not even modern barebow – has ever shot the minimum qualifying
score for an Olympic team. Not even close. So barebow shooters can’t consistently hit
a target at long distance. Do we blame the archer, or do we fault the
equipment? How do we know that a barebow shooter’s
score was the result of target panic or fluctuating temperatures? How many points were lost as a direct result
of the limitations of the bows and arrows used? If you are truly going to measure skill, then
you have to logically take equipment of the equation. Let there be no differences in equipment. Let’s make everyone shoot at 15m with Genesis
bows. Standardised distance, standardised bows. No one is advantaged or disadvantaged. May the best archer win. But let’s go further. Since forever, traditional bows have been
touted as requiring the most skill to use. However, one can argue that compound bows
demand the most skill. Why? Because of the same argument that it used
against compound bows. They do all the work. They’ve got stabilisers and sights and cams. They’re so mechanical, you literally have
to pull the trigger. So if the compound bow is engineered to do
all the work – that means that every mistake must be the fault of the archer. It is up to the archer to execute the perfect
shot every single time. Is that not the perfect definition of “skill”? If the equipment and technology is so consistent
that it removes nearly every variable in the bow, then the only variable is the archer. Any compound shooter will blame themselves
for a bad shot. And truly, if compound bows remove all skill
from archery – why do we still see a score gap even at the highest levels? Why can’t every archer pick up a compound
bow and shoot perfect scores? I don’t care if this looks boring to you. Has it occurred to you that perfection is
boring? If you got out of compound because it felt
boring and you really enjoy instinctive barebow, have you considered that it isn’t really
“skill”, but “thrill”? Does the thought that the arrow might hit
the target – and it might not – excite you? That’s it, isn’t it? It isn’t just the simplicity or the naturalness
of barebow. You’re really a thrill-seeker who thrives
on having some control, but not complete control, over what happens with your shot. Because now you’ve realised the true meaning
of the archer’s paradox – that you want to achieve the perfect shot, but you’ve
forfeited your ability to do so. But you love the feeling of getting as close
as you can. That is our “Skill Spectrum” – from
crossbows and compound bows to Olympic recurve to traditional. And even in traditional, we see the “skill
difference” between barebow shooters who stringwalk and instinctive shooters who ban
all aiming methods in competition. The reality is that this spectrum isn’t
about what how much skill is required, but the relationship between the bow and its user. For recurves – Olympic or traditional – just
because you execute a flawless shot process doesn’t mean the arrow is guaranteed to
find its mark. How good you are at controlling what you can
is the mark of a skilled archer.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Please do a video about another YouTube video I have come across called ATTEMPTING ARCHERY! EPIC FAIL! by benturbz. This video annoys me so much because of the multiple obvious issues show.

  2. If you put a 15 year old with no archery interest at all in front of a table and tell him/her if you hit this target at 20m away you will get 20 dollars. On the table lies on a compound bow and a recurve bow, him/her will most likely choose a compound bow because it is generally thought of being easer to use. I think the reason is because you see a lot of hunters using compound bows and they always are very accurate but when you see the recurve bow hunters the archer misses more. To me it comes up to more discipline. In my opinion it would take more learning to use at recurve and it would be easer to use a compound.

  3. I think you are wrong there. Compound bows and sights remove skill from the archery. That is it removes the skill of judging you gap and / or the skill of smooth release. Compound bows leave you with one skill holding your bow steady. So it is only one skill you need to learn well to master the skill of archery. While an olympic archer needs two. Needs to hold the bow steady and needs to master the release. A barebow archer needs even more skill. A 3D barebow archer need to adjust to elevation. Others even needs the ability to shoot moving target. Biathlon archers need the skill to run fast and shoot accurately even when exhausted.

    So they are more skillful because they need to learn more skills to be good at archery (that is hitting the target). Does it not fit into your definition of skill well then I do not agree with your definition. If the only point of archery is hitting the target then why dont you shoot compound? Because hitting the target is not the only point of archery. You shoot Olympic style bows because you are good at the set of skills Olympic style target archery requires and because that is the type of archery that is on the Olympics. Would you still shoot sighted stabilized recurve if the Olympics only allow barebows or compund?

    If you compete against a your peers in your choose set of rules there still can be only one winner. You need to be very good at the set of skills your discipline requires.

    The problem with archery is that it is not one sport and different disciplines require different set of skills but still everybody called themselves an archer. There are bigger differences between a barebow 3d archer and a compound archer than between a compound archer and Olympic rifle shooting.

    An other problem is that the Olympics committee picked sighted bows for the Olympics. it would be much more interesting and accessible for the public if they pick 30m distance and uniform wooden bows.

  4. your closure about thrill nails it… i'm just a beginner, but i'm definitely attracted to the simple hunting bow, and the thrill of hitting a target at 20m, i guess its the same goes for a compound at 70m, But i dont want to walk that far every 3 arrows 😀

  5. As someone who enjoys shooting compound, target recurve, and instinctive barebow, I couldn't agree more. The raging arguements that spring up sound much like Ford vs GM vs Mopar to me. If one type af archery suits you more than others, that doesn't make you more virtous as a result, which seems to be the basis of a lot of these flame wars.

  6. at 70 meters iƒ you can shoot a recurve without a stabilizer , sight, clicker and out shoot me with my compound then yeah your a better or more skilled archer . highly doubt that you can tho

  7. Hitting the target is unfortunately not enough to qualify an archer as skilled. We have a saying: "Even a stopped clock shows the correct time twice a day". Even a blind archer can hit the target … You simplified your definition of skill too much.

    To put it bluntly: If you want to use your definition of skill. you also have to drastically reduce what you consider archery to be of any use. f.e. hitting the target with a 40# compound bow with sights at 50 meters.

    But that is not archery in general. That is just a small subset of it.

    And to the compound bow being more demanding in skill comment: Are you serious ? All bow types require the same skill types, however some of them do reduce the requirement in some of the skill types. To get back to the compound bow, for the same draw weight, the compound bow requires less physical ability to hold it steady as an example of skill requirement reduction. A sighted bow requires less skill in distance/target lead/shot alignment areas.

    Just to prove it: use a sighted bow to shoot a plain target (simple white sheet of paper with no markings) and do the same with a trad bow. If your form is consistent with both, there will be no difference. However once you introduce a reference point, it is easier for the sighted bow to keep on that reference point, the sight aids the archer in that.

    I hope I got the point across: the more advanced technology you use, the better results you get from the same skill level.

  8. Seems like there is just an arbitrary pissing contest where each type of archery chooses to invalidate the skill sets that other types of archer chooses to value.
    Target archer = only maximum arbitrary accuracy under ideal conditions matters.
     Compound hunter = only can I get a clean kill on my animal matters. Perhaps that includes shooting from a knee, or out of a tree rather than standing.
    Traditional target archer = can I do this in accordance with historical tool sets.
    Traditional military style archery = can I hit a man sized target a number of times within a certain time limit, on on the move, etc…

    What this makes me think of most is a boxer challenging a judo practitioner to a boxing match then upon winning declaring himself the better "fighter". Put any specialist within their specialty and to no surprise they're going to have a massive advantage.

  9. I don't think "hitting the target" is sufficient for measure of skill, it should have the additional point of being "consistent", so a measure of skill is being able to "hit the target consistently."

    Many say that barebow requires more skill than compound, and I can somewhat agree to this because more is required of you to be consistent, but if consistency is the key factor then one must take into consideration what is the biggest factor to consistency.

    In the shooting process, one has to

    1. Aim
    2. Draw the bow (consistent draw length)
    3. Hold the draw
    4. Release

    Compound shooters only have to worry with (4), olympic recurves (3-4) and barebow has to do all (1-4). It doesn't matter if you do all 1-3 perfectly, but have a bad release, you'll miss. Because your draw length and aim is hard to keep consistent in barebow, it actually masks the bad releases as well.

    So even if you are skilled in everything but have a poor release. It ends up making everything else moot. If a barebow archer is really skilled, they can easily pickup a compound bow and shoot as good as the top 10% in a short time; but you rarely see that.

    It can be quite fun to move between disciplines of archery, it actually helps you appreciate the different aspects of archery.

  10. "Skill" can't be measured outside of a set of rules.

    When you join a sport or a game, you have a set of rules and a condition to win. The one who is better capable of adapting his own "experience" as well as the most capable to that set of rules is the most skilled.

    As far as Archery goes, we wrongly use the type of Bow as a representative of the type of competition we are watching. This isn't strange but it can be somewhat incorrect. The "Coumpound" has rules who are less restrictive as far as equipment goes, but at the same time the conditions to win as harsher. Hitting a "10" is easier with compound alright, hitting a single "9" may be enough announce your defeat on World Level Archery, how easy is that?

    Same goes for any other type of bow competition. Olympic Recurve has a variety of rules limiting equipment choices and also has different conditions for victory. Same goes for Traditional "Field" archery, or even longbow competitions, etc.

    Naturally, based on that, it makes total sense to call an famous recurve archer as "unskilled" on a traditional field tournament because on Olympic target shooting doesn't require measuring distance, for example. That won't make a traditional shooter shoot better on a static target tough. An archer that practices different styles of archery can be called skillfull alright, but once you have a set of rules he is just a jack of all trades.

    (naturally, you can always create a competition set of rules which having experience on a myriad of archery techniques is more important than having a single perfect technique)

  11. Love your many educational archery videos. It is helping out the beginner and intermediate community of archers. Thank you for making quality videos.

  12. I think I do have to disagree with your discounting form as a consideration for 'Skill'. Archery is a performance art, similar to how Swordsmanship is a precision art. Both art forms require a strong grasp of technique, and the ability to consistently apply and execute that technique to achieve desired results. A Swordsman's skill is determined by the consistency of their technique, and their ability to execute that technique to perform their art without error or injury, and I believe that one's skill in Archery should be determined the same way. An Archer's skill should be determined objectively, I agree, but to truly determine skill in Archery it needs to be a function of form, as well as what happens on the target. I studied Japanese swordplay off and on for about 13 years, and I am an avid student of Sun Tsu's teachings, and if there is one thing I have learned about skill it is that one must combine technique and presence of mind in order to achieve it. One can draw a bow and have perfect form, but they miss every shot, thus they are knowledgeable of technique. Likewise one may not have good form, but they Robin Hood every arrow on demand, therefore they are very accurate. Alone these two elements are not skillful, but together they become skillfull.

    In my eyes, a person who is skilled in a discipline of Archery is someone who has developed a level of mental and physical control over themselves and their equipment to achieve a consistent execution every single time.

    To be skilled in any one discipline means that you are skilled in that discipline, not Archery itself. To be skilled in Archery itself is to be skilled in all disciplines of Archery, effectively reaching Mastery. Somebody who uses a compound bow is not more skilled than a traditionalist, and an Olympic Archery is not more skilled than a crossbowman. To be more skilled than an Archer from a different discipline means that you are better than them at their chosen discipline as well as being skilled in your own. If you cannot shoot a recurve bow as well as you can a compound, you are not more skilled than somebody who can only shoot a recurve bow. If you cannot shoot a compound bow as well as you can a recurve, then you are not more skilled than somebody who can only shoot a compound bow. This dogma between the skill of compound, traditional, and Olympic Archers needs to stop, because between disciplines skill doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is respect, and the increasing lack of it between disciplines is tearing the Archery community apart at the seams.

  13. I think you'd might appreciate this video, as it doesn't get enough attention. It's an "instinctive" snap archer versus a top ranked Chinese Olympic freestyle recurve shooter in a timed ring toss competition. Both do extremely well.

    https://youtu.be/_t1l52ztA_E

  14. This concept can be applied to many different areas of life. Your execution of teaching this knowledge through archery is excellent! I hope your students can apply this to other areas of their lives 🙂

  15. That was a great video. Makes sense to me.
    I don't think we should be comparing different disciplines.. skill is measured separately in each class.

    It's the olympic archer VS Lars Anderson comparison is an easy one to use.
    Lars can shoot/loose 100 arrows in a minute into a range of close targets with a light draw weight bow.
    An olympic archer can consistently hit Gold at the farthest distance for a long duration of time with a heavy draw weight bow.

    Who is more skilled? how the fuck is that supposed to be measured lol. Just stick to each class, people.
    The top performers for all classes of archers, are pushing the limits of their specific class.. so clearly they are all just about as skilled as they can possibly be for their specific class. Regardless of other variables in other classes.

    If they ALL can't really get much more skilled at all.. then I think they are all pretty equal in skill, in comparison to what their human body will allow.

    Really we should be comparing to others in the same field, and how far the human body can be pushed.
    NOT, comparing to archers who do something rather different.

  16. The eternal question of archery disciplines. I like it. Why can't we just enjoy the bow we shoot and help each other get better?

  17. There's a bunch of good points here but there are some I just can't agree with:

    1. "Taking equipment out of the equation when talking about skill" – that's like saying a singer who hits perfect notes with assistance from an autotuner is just as skilled as a singer who hits perfect notes with no electronic assistance whatsoever. All bows require a certain degree of skill to operate and become proficient at, but the type of bow and gadgets you use will definitely impact how much skill you need to have in order to become proficient with them.

    2. "Hitting the target is the way to measure an archer's skill" – it really depends on what type of archery you do. The main goal for most archery variations is indeed hitting the target, but there are some that have different main objectives. Kyudo for example will prioritize form over hitting the target. You can hit perfect bullseyes all day long but you'll fail a test if you mess up your form. Flight archery is all about shooting the maximum distance. You don't need to hit anything, there's no target, you just need to get your arrow to fly the furthest distance. In historical warfare, there were a lot of archer regiments where the main objective is that you're able to keep formation and shoot high-poundage bows in unison. You were concerned about blanketing the air with a hail of arrows at a given command, you didn't care whether you hit individual targets or not.

    3. "Different bows require the same amount of skill to be proficient at" – I agree with this in a competition perspective. A compound shooter needs just as much skill to win against other compound shooters as a barebow shooter needs to win against other barebow shooters. But there is no way you're convincing me that hunting with a compound bow takes just as much skill as hunting with an english longbow.

  18. yes but ive mentioned this to you before! why is there not SOMEONE that can bare bow a 70 m shot like omg.. but can anyone do it? id sure as hell try lol but to be robin hood omg… you say no!!!. so where does skill lay? if i was gonna measure someones skill id say recurve and go for it. u agree go bare bow and go for it. but still to push ppl to say THIS is skill. skill is still using your contraptions. i dont like compound bow for SKILL get over that hump and youre not holding anything. id accept gear and stuff but not training wheels. if you can get it there go for it.

  19. I am going to bring something more into the picture, skill is being able to hit the target given that you are not using technological advantage, one person against another with similar equipment. Otherwise lets take humans out of the picture and have robots competing against each other which would of course make it meaningless.

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