Archery | Why is Form Important?
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Archery | Why is Form Important?

August 14, 2019

Hey guys, this is NUSensei, and today we’re going to answer one question. “Why is form important?” If you’re an experienced archer then this question doesn’t really need an answer, but if you’re starting out you may be wondering about this fixation about form. You’ve probably been told by many people that you should go and get lessons, and I get that for a lot of people this isn’t really your thing. You don’t really want to go and spend money at a range to learn how to shoot. You just want to get your bow and start shooting right away. So why should you care about form? “It can’t be that hard right? I mean, I could look at videos on YouTube, man, learn how to shoot without ever going to a club or range. Lots of people are self-taught, why can’t I do it? And who cares how I look? I’m not being judged on form! This isn’t gymnastics! All that matters are the results. If my arrows are landing on target and getting high scores, then I’m going to win. Who cares about form?” What sometimes gets to people is the fact that many clubs and coaches will spend months knocking your form around, changing this, changing that, “rotate your elbow”, “relax your shoulder”, “tense your stomach”, “stand straight”, “wax on wax off”. And just when you finally start to get decent groupings your coach decides to change you again, and then you’re spraying the target. “Hey, what happens over there doesn’t matter. What happens over here does matter.” And it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because you know you can shoot well. If you keep on doing what you’re doing, you can shoot accurately. So why should I keep changing my form? People use the words “form” and “technique” interchangeably, and I wanted to refer to technique in other sporting contexts. Take football for example. I’m talking about the round kind of football, the soccer kind of football. The only goal in football is to score goals, and it doesn’t matter how you score a goal as long as it crosses the line and gets into the net it’s a goal. You could toe poke it, you can head it, you can chest it, you can bicycle kick it. It doesn’t matter. A goal is a goal. Goals can be, and often are, accidental, but they don’t have to be accidental. A player who’s trained professionally will know how to score goals. They know the correct techniques and motions. They know how to hit the ball, and where to hit it. They know the correct weight distribution, they know the correct focus and muscular action. When they’re aiming for the goal, they’re not aiming in the general direction of that net, they’re aiming for specific spots. That’s the difference between an untrained amateur and a professional footballer. A rookie tennis player is only focused on getting the ball over the net. A more experienced, trained tennis player will aim their strokes. Training and technique will allow them to control where they hit the ball. You’re playing pool with a pro. When you hit your balls they go everywhere, and you can never quite get the right angle. It’s right there, right in front of the pocket, and you tap the ball, and it goes bouncing off in some random direction, but when the pro hits their balls, not only do they sink their balls, they position the shot for the next one. It’s all intentional and precise. Notice some of the recurring words and how it applies to archery. It’s not accidental. Everything is intentional. You’re not accidentally hitting bullseyes. You’re not accidentally missing the target. You’re not accidentally hurting yourself. That last point is particularly important. You can hurt yourself if you use the wrong technique. If you place stress on the wrong muscles, you can cause damage and put yourself out of archery. But the most frustrating part of not having good form is that you can’t replicate your shot. It might be because of different back tension or different anchor point or a different sight picture. There are so many things in your form checklist, and getting them all right is one of the biggest challenges in archery, and its really frustrating because every shot is slightly different, and you’re trying your hardest to minimize the variation. That’s why you train with good form. You have the consistent shot process so you don’t vary that much. And let’s say you’re training in your backyard, and you have managed to get consistent groupings on your target. That doesn’t mean that you can replicate the same form in a different situation. If you’re shooting at a different elevation or different target face or a different distance, you may find, and you are likely to find, that you’re not gonna shoot anywhere near as consistent because you’ve just built yourself into a rut. You are using rote muscle memory to replicate one shot and one distance. That’s not an example of good form, or good accuracy, or good shooting. That just repeating something over and over again until you can get that one thing right. It doesn’t mean it applies to other situations. Good form allows you to shoot in a variety of scenarios. If you can hit at 5 meters, you can hit at 50 meters. That’s the principle behind establishing good form. You shoot the same way at close distance as you would at long distance. Furthermore, if you’re learning without having a foundation or fundamental form, then people start making up all these weird practices that they justify as helping them. Things like half draws or crouching while shooting. All these weird things which, from a trained archer’s point of view, will be completely nonsensical, but it’s really hard to unlearn that sort of thing. People are so ingrained that their way works, and then they don’t listen to anybody else. That’s what makes it super frustrating from the archer’s point of view and from the instructors point of view, because form is the basis for your shot. If you don’t have form then you’re not going to shoot well. And sure some of these techniques might work, but they won’t work all the time, and sooner rather than later you’ll become frustrated once again. Point is if you want to become a good, consistent, and better archer, you need to pay attention to your form. Now, if all you want to do is just fling arrows in your backyard and not care where they hit, it doesn’t matter, but if you actually want to hit what you are aiming at, then you have to pay attention to your form. You have to have people watch you shoot and give you feedback and observations and see how you are shooting. That’s probably the biggest challenge for any archer is that you can’t see yourself, and that’s something you can change. Whether that’s standing in front of the mirror or recording yourself or getting other people to watch you. You need to see yourself shoot. Only then can you begin to diagnose the problems you have and start making changes that make you better. There is a line between being self taught and having no clue what you are doing. Form is the foundation. You build your form, and you build your foundation for archery. If you choose to skip this step and just go straight into archery without learning about the basics, it will be a frustrating and disappointing experience. If you take the time to learn form, even at the most basic level and figure the rest out, then you are setting yourself up for a more positive, successful, and adventurous archery journey. The choice is yours. You can have your own form, but you need to have form, and people do things similarly for a good reason, and that might be worth looking at. Anyway, this is NUSensei, hope you found this interesting, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.

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  1. It's frustrating to see people THINK they don't need help and defend in a strange fervor if when offered feedback. They become almost hostile.
    Thankfully most at our range realize it is needed and crucial in becoming better sooner than later, and later on come asking for it and apologizing for their earlier behavior.
    This vid gave a few points to toss their way the next time this occurs, cheers!

  2. some people just don't have the time for paid training I work full time overnights and I have adult responsibilities that others my age don't have so I don't have the time to be trained

  3. as someone who used to think his way was good enough, I'm here to say he's right. that moment when a YouTuber is seemingly speaking right to you… I can testify to just how hard change can be. but I can also testify to how necessary and worthwhile change is.

  4. Hi NUSensei – here's a question for you. Would learning two different types of forms or systems simply interfere with each other? For example, learning thumb draw with traditional bow while also practicing standard recurve with mediterranean draw.

  5. i didnt need any help shooting a tree in my backyard but after all that i went to my local pro shop convinced i was going to buy a compound bow but then i got some advice and got fitted i even spent 5 hours shooting a house bow and guess what i fell in love with the samick sage it is a decent bow for the money and it feels realy smooth another bow i was looking into was the martin jaguar elite and it vibrated alot in my hand probably because of bad form anyways the point is i am a lefty with a 31 inch draw and a compound that would fit me cost close to 1000 usd because of my draw length but i found that i had alot more fun with a recurve that fit me instead of a bow that was a compound but didnt fit me draw length didnt feel nearly as important on the recurve but i loved it so much that i decided i wasnt happy just shooting a tree and hoping for the best anymore during the 5 hours of range time i learned the hard way how important it was to have good form i am just going to assume that it was because i was gripping the bow wrong because i had string slap all the way from the bottom of my wrist up to the side of my elbows and on top of that the bow string would always catch on the arm gaurd when i bent my arms i could avoid string slap because well they were bent but i learned through trial and error that that isnt correct either because the arrows would fly super left or super right when i kept my arm streight the arrows would always be in a streight up and down grouping but that was also wrong because i would get jellyfish stings where people usualy put the arm gaurd i dont have a smart phone or money for lessons is there a way i can still improove form preferably something super cheap?

  6. you Sir are damn right!

    i am a trad/instinctive archer, so my form is very different to olympic recurve….but it is still a repeatable form…and that is crucial!
    specially on 3D parcours where you have varying terain – keeping that T and adjusting to the groud and angles.

  7. You just described my first two lessons completely. Just had my second lesson last night and just as I got my groupings, the instructor came by and changed my form. Group again, change something else.

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