Archery and self-discoveries
In October of 2013, being an adult, as measured more by my age than my emotional maturity, I had to get a full-time job. The winter sun only rising low in the sky, plus daylights saving and my very bad habit of having resistance to anything that smacks of self-discipline, forced me to take a break from archery. I could have kept shooting on the weekends but I felt that it would be good for me to put all of archery on hold and see if I wanted to come back to it in the future.
For three months I enjoyed gaining weight at my sedentary job as an education coordinator at Moviola while indulging in another bad habit of eating cake every night just before bed, or actually as a means to make myself fall into a sweet diabetic type of mini-coma.
Then, there was Christmas break. All my friends and family were asking about my archery. I had a friend that used to tell me that guilt was a useless emotion, but I have recently found that everything can be useful, even guilt (and disgust, don’t underestimate disgust, it’s very useful too, I became disgusted with my bad habits and so change came about). If you got it, use it.
My mother has made many sacrifices to support me financially. The thought of throwing it all away made me feel so guilty that I decided I had to become brave and ask my job to shift my schedule so that I would have enough time in the mornings to shoot at least 5 days a week. To my delight, my boss said yes!
In the very beginning of this return, I’ll admit that I had this strange inability to enjoy shooting. All I felt was the pain of waking up early and being out in the cold. Haha, some of you who are snowed in will have a good laugh at what I consider cold, 54 degrees! Yes! Blame L.A.
I shot my first 3 triple X end effortlessly. See, no other holes in the target! Proud of that.
Of course, the magic of having taken the break would leave me just a couple of days before the National Indoor Tournament that I was to attend in Tulare, CA. I became very inconsistent and was shooting just as bad as I had during the first week I ever worked with the clicker.
Oh the clicker! I thought I was having a mental clicker breakdown of sorts. So, I went back to the notes from my last few lessons with Don Rabska. Clicker drills were in order!
Just a couple of days before the tournament and I had returned to very basic clicker drills! Still this resistance that seemed like fear of the clicker persisted.
During the tournament I focused solely on keeping my draw fingers relaxed as I drew past the clicker and remained in motion. It helped tremendously with my release and I was proud of being able to practice that throughout the entirety of the tournament.
As soon as I got back out this week I became frustrated that despite my focus on relaxing my draw fingers during my follow through that I was still shooting very inconsistently. Then, as all seemed dark and woe-is-me-ness, I made another important discovery from looking back at the notes from my lessons. The notes said, once I have my fingers relaxed I can focus on draw scapula motion. Aha!
I visualized the scapula motion before each shot and soon found that I had absolutely no fear of the clicker if I simply focused on the motion of the scapula. Then, I made a very important (and slightly embarrassing discovery). For the last two years I had been only using my arms and shoulders to shoot! No wonder I was so inconsistent! I was never truly taking advantage of the body’s natural strong stable platform of the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi!
Only very briefly did I lament this sad fact. Truly, I felt empowered with the self-discovered knowledge of HOW to shoot with these muscles. There were a few rare days when I had gotten completely into my back but they were only during lessons with Don and then the very next day I would have lost the feeling and become very frustrated that I was unable to get it back until the next lesson. Now that I had found it again, on my own, my body now knows. There’s no going back.
My bow arm now has length and strength. I feel the back muscles connected to both arms moving toward the target for every shot. I am no longer afraid of the clicker because I have a good feeling of motion as I shoot. I moved my extended clicker at least an inch this morning and I’m only 1 cm away from being able to put the Beiter back on and not have the shotgun like kickback of the extended clicker. A target pin was cut and used to make the extender, if you look closely you can see it on my bow. Don is very good at MacGyvering things.
All this time, nearly two years, my back muscles have rarely been utilized properly. I had to lower my arrow count to 40 arrows per day. It’s ok to take baby steps, especially now that I’m using the right muscles!
Personally, I have made some new discoveries as well. No more excuses for my behavior and circumstances – time to become a real adult. If I want to be an internationally competitive archer, then I must behave like one. I’m tackling my bad habits one by one.
This morning I discovered that I can never seem to remember to do my bow arm exercises, which before the break I did nearly every single day for about a year. I realized that the only time I have to do them is in the evening when I get home around 9 pm from work or in the morning before shooting. It is no wonder I forget to do them, I’m too exhausted when I get home from work! I have learned that whatever is most important to me needs to be done first thing everyday. Plus, I must admit that I really enjoy having the archery range all to myself nearly every morning.
I have created a new habit of getting up earlier to get all my archery training done before going to work. This also required a shift in when I go to bed, which with the time change has been a slow process but manageable. I have also stopped eating after 6pm in order to fall asleep earlier, which has led to me eating a lot less junk because I used crave it most at night because I was so tired.
The Olympic Gold dream is not a mere fantasy but a project extraordinary enough to inspire me to become my best self.