An Archer’s Journey: Injuries, confidence and good friends

Since I enjoy shooting a bow so much, it sometimes becomes rather difficult to listen to my body when it talks to me. For the last few weeks, my joints, tendons and muscles have been telling me that I need to take a break. Being bullheaded, I blazed forward and figured I could beat the damn pain. Well, sometime that’s just impossible.

This week I wasn’t able to do very much with my bow(s). The injury in my elbow has gotten progressively worse and really flares up when I shoot one of my bows. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the amount of shock that is distributed into my arm when the arrow jumps off the bowstring and is launched forward. Trying to deal with the pain has been a chore and has eliminated most of my actual training. This week I was only able to shoot on my two league night, and I probably shouldn’t have even done that.

My hold was halfway decent on Tuesday night. I made a lot more good shots than bad ones. I ended the night with a 446 and 27 Xs. I feel like I’m finally starting to flatten out a little and gain some consistency. Amazingly, I can easily identify why I miss when I miss now. I also know that it I follow the steps properly, I will shoot every arrow in the middle. If I leave something out or try to rush through a step or two, I will usually miss, even it the miss isn’t by much.

I’ve been missing a few arrows at 6 o’clock lately, and after talking to George about it, I’m pretty sure we figured out exactly what is happening. I’m getting a little dipping and bobbing as I get into the shot and it fires right when the pin is at the bottom of the circle. I’m pretty sure I’m losing just a tiny bit of back tension, which is resulting in the low misses. I will make sure to work on maintaining the same pressure throughout the shot to keep this from happening in the future. If the same thing continues, I will know that I haven’t properly identified the 6 ‘o’clock problem.

I was unsure what to do on Friday night because of the pain in my elbow. I knew that I couldn’t shoot the bow that jars my arm, but at the same time, I felt like I could shoot as long as the bow didn’t beat me up. I quickly sighted in Mark’s bow and put his sight back on it. To my amazement the arrows hit right behind the pin when I made good shots. This was an incredible difference from last week when I struggled with the bow while trying to get it to group. Looking back at it, I found the problem. I recently traded a sight online and the problem was in the sight. Supposedly, it was a brand new CBE Vertex. Upon receiving it, I could see where there were a few scuff marks on it, so I knew that someone definitely had their hands on it, even if he didn’t use it. The quick detach would not lock down without having all sorts of slop in it, either. With the sight doing that, it wasn’t returning to the same place after the shock of the bow moved it, causing the arrows to spray. I lost all confidence in the bow, but in reality, it wasn’t the bow.

After shooting the bow through paper and getting the arrows to make a bullet hole through paper, I knew that the tune on it was pretty close to where it had to be. I knew I shouldn’t be getting the shots that were appearing in the target. As I continued shooting the bow, I started losing confidence. I thought it was me making bad shots, even though I knew the shots weren’t that bad. ¬†Finally, I made two perfect shots. The arrows both scored as inside out Xs on the Vegas target. The third shot was as good as the first two, and the arrow landed dead high in the 7-ring. That’s when I instantly realized I wasn’t the reason behind the bad grouping. After further study, the sight was to blame.

Although I tell people all the time to pay attention to this stuff, I ignored what I tell them. If you are a good shooter, and you’re making good shots, the arrows should hit behind the pin or pretty damn close to that spot. If the arrows aren’t hitting there, there is most likely a problem with the equipment. You have to trust your form before your confidence takes the hit. Confidence gan be extremely hard to regain once you’ve lost it, and in turn, it could lead you to begin making bad shots for no reason at all. Trust your form, trust your shots and don’t be afraid to blame it on the equipment. But be careful when you start transferring the blame to your equipment. There’s a fine line between equipment problems and YOU problems. If you don’t shoot well in a tournament or on league night, don’t start blaming the equipment for something that has to do with your imperfect execution.

So by the time Friday night league got done, I felt pretty good about my shooting. I had an extremely hard time holding the bow steady because the draw length on Mark’s bow was about 1/2 inch short. I’m going to get the modules from him tomorrow to see if it makes things better. Although I only shot 51 Xs, the round felt a lot better than that. I got out of the gate with five Xs, but the next round saw the round take a downhill turn when I only anchored two Xs. Once I got into the round, I felt like I could shoot really well with the bow if I had a little more draw length. I went from hating this particular bow a week ago to realizing that I think I really like it. Actually, the only reason I didn’t like it last week, was because it was frustrating the hell out of me when the arrows weren’t hitting behind the pin when they should have been. The handle on the bow felt good, and I liked the way the bow reacted when I shot it. Now, after adding in the right let-off stops for me, the draw length became too short. I’m excited to try it with the correct mods on it not that I have the right stops on it.

I won’t be shooting much this coming week due to the elbow issue. Although I’m headed to the Wintercam Classic next weekend, I don’t expect much. It’s really hard to set something up this time of year to shoot at 3D targets when I’ve been shooting at paper. I also don’t have much ambition to stand outside and wing arrows in subpar weather. I did go outside on Wednesday when it was 70 degrees to make sure my marks were close. I shot a pretty decent group at 50 yards, so I think I’ll be able to keep them in the scoring rings.

Remember as we make this final push of the indoor season to concentrate on the things you’re working on. If your main objective is to have a successful 3D season, then you need to really make sure you focus on making good shots. The size of an average 10-ring on a 3D animal is considerably larger than an X. Pounding Xs isn’t that important as long as you can make good shots and keep them in a kill that’s the size of a small deer. That’s why many times in the amateur ranks of 3D, we see people win who don’t necessarily pound paper. It’s a different game that doesn’t require the pinpoint accuracy in many cases. Have fun and don’t over-aim. Confidence is everything in this game. As you saw earlier in this post, it comes in goes in the snap of a finger. Pay attention to your confidence, because as your confidence goes so does your shooting.

Here’s the group I shot at 50 to get my 50 mark.

 

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