An Archer’s Journey: An Eye Opening Hour…1:8

 

This past week was a blur. I had far too many irons in the fire. Having to get my presentation ready for the Big East Outdoor Show made things on the archery end a little difficult. On Tuesday afternoon, I made my way to the physical therapist’s office for the first time in about six years.

Since my therapist is always concerned about my progression as an archer, he knows how to give me the proper guidance to rehab injuries the right way to get me where I need to go with the bow and arrow. It made me feel pretty good when he looked at my reports from the orthopedic surgeon and told me that he thought he could have me right back on the right track in a short amount of time. Of course, it would be up to me as to how fast the recovery comes along, as I will have to stick to the plan and do the necessary exercises.

When I was at work on Tuesday, I listened to Episode #206 of the Wired to Hunt podcast:

Wired To Hunt Podcast #206: Taking Control Of Your Archery Future and Target Panic with Joel Turner

 

Everyone should give this a listen. I’m pretty sure that many of you will greatly benefit from this, as I know I did. For many years, I thought was doing the right thing when I focused on my process. I always talked my way through the shot and when I got to certain steps, I consciously told myself what to do next. This became a problem at different times because my conscious mind went into overload, especially indoors when I felt a little bit of pressure.

A call the monster the Evil Monkey. The Evil monkey sits on my shoulder and talks nonstop. All of my friends know about the Evil Monkey. When I come off the range, some of my friends tell me that they had a lot of monkey chatter going on. This is when your mind won’t shut off while you’re trying to shoot. The mind runs wild from the time you draw the bow and runs right through the entire shot. That cute little pet monkey on your left shoulder can — at times — turn into a raging gorilla.When the monkey chatter starts, it overtakes your mind.

After listening to this podcast and applying what was said, I couldn’t believe how easy it became to shut my entire mind off by occupying the conscious mind with the perfect thoughts, thoughts that do not interfere with my shot routine. After listening, I also think that some great shooters don’t have to worry about things like this, however, many shooters like us Joes need to focus extremely hard on that stuff. Each person reacts to things differently. Finding your own process to follow is extremely important. I’m excited about this new chapter I’m going to begin working on. I have a great feeling that the way I will focus on the process going into the future will make me become more consistent and help with my nerves, which sometimes come out when the raging gorilla begins punching my brain.

As long as we’re on that topic, I’d like to give a shout out to my buddy Andy Bush, who shot 59 xs at the New York State Classic to win that event. I met Andy three years ago at the IBO World when I was lucky enough to have him in my group. Although he struggled a little bit that day, I could easily tell that he had great potential. His shot looked pretty clean, and I really liked him as a person. To see him come out with that win made me feel pretty good. He obviously had the pet monkey on his shoulder today and not the raging gorilla. Great job, Andy.

After listening to the podcast, I began working on my new process. I shot a couple of 660 rounds. I shot a 638 on one of them but felt like I executed a lot better than the score indicated. I also shot a 628, and the execution that night felt even better. I seem to be having a little problem with the arrows missing out the left side, barely. I think it might be from not trusting myself to move the sight. I shot a 447 in league this week. I ended up going back to my 35′ 3D and hunting bow, which makes me feel the most comfortable. I felt pretty good about the scores I shot with my 3D setup and small arrows. Hopefully, I keep progressing in the right direction. Here’s one of my rounds…….the very last end.

This week I’ve been fielding a few questions from people about a variety of questions. It made me think back on a day in the early 2000s. Although I had been doing well, I felt like I had suddenly hit a brick wall. I was performing like Jeff Hopkins on my personal 3D range, then I’d head to the national tournaments and fall well short of my capabilities, you know……..I’m Roger Staubach in my own backyard. I like the way my buddy Chuck Weeden put its, “I’m Chuck Beaubouef in my basement Nerves were making me come unraveled, something I’ve battled for many years. Sometimes I’ve beaten the beast, but the beast still rears its ugly head from time to time.

When I knew I needed to do something to calm my nerves and allow me to relax while shooting, I began searching all over the internet for different things I could do. Finally, I settled on a few of them. I signed up for meditation classes and Tai chi classes. I knew Tai chi was very similar to archery in the ways that mattered the most. I also figured that the meditation would help me to have a clear mind.

After going to meditation classes for a week, I stayed after one of them finished and told the instructor about the issues I was having at national events. I asked him for any advice he could give me since I was headed to the ASA Pro-am in Battlecreek, Michigan, the next week. He looked at me and said, “Do this: after every shot, get a little bit behind the group, and focus solely on your breathing. Do this every single shot of the tournament and see what happens.”

I had nothing to lose………….so I gave it ¬†whirl. When the scores were totaled after the first day, I couldn’t believe that I was sitting at the top of the pack. I knew the next day would be really tough, but I went in with the same plan as the first day. I could feel my nerves, but I stayed to myself and focused on my breathing. The little bit of meditation that I had done in the classes was already beginning to work. I was finally able to clear my mind. Evil Monkey quietly slid down my arm and walked into the forest around the targets. He blended into all of my surroundings. Evil Monkey disappeared for those two days. When I walked off the range at the end of the second day, everyone was patting me on the back and congratulating me. They all thought that I had won the event, but my buddy Johnny had snuck up from a few groups behind me and got the victory. I was happy for him, and I was ecstatic about my progress. I shot to the best of my ability that day……….I simply got beat, and I didn’t beat myself. That was an incredibly feeling.

After that day I continued to meditate. I got to the point where I could do it easily, and shooting became much easier with a quiet mind. Along the way, I got off track and stopped doing it, even though I encouraged others to do it. I’ve realized recently that I need to start doing it again. It helps you in every aspect of your life. My buddy Chuck Weeden can vouch for it. I told him he needed to try it. His entire family noticed the difference, then he went on to shoot he highest score in a tournament shortly thereafter. That’s how I knew that this little thing that might take only 5-8 minutes a day has great effects. I challenge everyone reading this to attempt to meditate for seven solid minutes. See what happens and let me know. You can google how to meditate. It’s not a hard thing to learn the basics and what you need to do. You will be amazed at how incredibly hard it is to have a quiet mind. If you can get to the point where your mind is quiet for even 30 seconds when you try it that first time, I will be really impressed and might even give you a prize. Try this exercise and let me know what happens.

Okay, enough of all of that. It’s time give my archer of the week profile. This week it goes to Mark Meyers.

I’ve known Mark for a very long time. Mark has always reminded me a little of myself. He kind of blends into the backdrop and watches stuff around him. He’s one of the most observant people you will ever meet and one of the best people you will ever know. Although I’ve helped a lot of people along the way, I always send people to see Mark when they get to a place where I think they need more than what I can offer. One of the best things about Mark is that he’s never satisfied. He wants to offer people the best of everything. Although he’s a very successful coach, he even sees other coaches, like Mike Price, who he respects a great deal, to help him with his own shooting. Between those two coaching minds, I’m sure they can figure a lot of things out. If you ever want to advance your game, both of these guys are great choices.

Anyhow, back to Mark. He used to always be in the hunt at every type of tournament he attended. Eventually, he decided to focus more on bettering other archers and spending less time on his own game. Amazingly, when he does shoot, he still shoots well. He made the cut at the IBO World a few years ago and had a great showing. Yesterday, when he made a post about Jacob Slusarz, his student, I could see his pride. But his pride wasn’t for anything he did, rather, it was for Jacob’s win. Mark has helped many people become better archers. I’m extremely fortunate that he lives in my area and I can call him a friend. I know I can be a pain the ass at times, but he’s always willing to listen to me and give advice. A few years ago, he even watched me at the Lancaster Classic when the camera was on me for an extended period of time. He told me to call him when I got home because he saw something I might be interested in learning more about. I respect that about Mark. He knows I would never be insulted because he’s just trying to make be better. I feel fortunate to have his eyes on me, as well as Mike’s help from this winter. Between the two of them, I’m hoping to improve as time moves forward. ¬†Mark also represents Darton Archery. I know that Ted appreciates everything he does, but until you actually see what he does, it’s hard to imagine. If you see Mark on the 3D range in New England or New York this summer, make sure to say hello and ask him any questions you can about the Darton bows or coaching. He’s extremely knowledgable about a lot of things. After conversing with him, you’ll feel a little smarter on your way home.

 

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