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Simple.

With any archer and particular with newer, less imprinted archers, there is a conflict – does one (coach) worry about where the arrow goes, or how it gets to go there?

Most NTS coaches will give lip service to “what happens on the line determines what the arrow does”.

When the arrow leaves the bow, what can the archer do to change where it goes?

Right.

Equally as strong, and extremely more important, is that the shooting of a bow is a result of a second, or 8, of effort.  If you can accept that from the moment an arrow is nocked on the string until it leaves the bow is a “shot cycle” then you can divide that time up into “steps”.   Like walking down the aisle to your wedding.  It’s a series of steps that leads to success or (unfortunately) failure.

That time can be divided into fragments, so let’s call them steps.  Pieces.  Parts of the pie.  a sum of the pieces.

In the National Training System (NTS) we must teach the archer to adopt techniques for a variety of steps that together make up a successful shot.

So when faced with a new archer where does the coach start?  With the ground.  Work from the ground up.  (now, I will admit to first always, dealing with any parts of the archer that might lead to either danger or injury)

Why?

In the NTS, Kisik Lee has demonstrated time and again that for say, step 5 to work easily and properly, the archer must have done step 2 in an excellent way.  To shoot an arrow in a best way, the archer must accomplish each preliminary step well in order to succeed in the most effortless shot cycle.

If you skip step 2, when you get to step 4 or 6, you cannot succeed in that step because step 2 set up failure.

For example, and there is no better graphic,  if you fail to place your bowhand on the grip with the meaty part of the base of the thumb just slightly to the inside of the centerline of the bow, then you cannot achieve a 45 degree angle of bowhand/bow riser, and you then cannot set your elbow into an easy vertical orientation.  If you cannot set your elbow vertically, you will then be unable to tense your tricep enough to hold the upper humerus into the shoulder socket assembly.  This would in turn adversely affect your draw length, your ability to smoothly CLICK, and your aim thereof.

If you allow an archer to skip proper foot placement or shoe choice, or knee locking, or butt tucking, or chest position, or hip rotation, then the archer will have trouble later on in the shot with succeeding in other parts of a shot cycle.

MANY times I see another coach trying to “fix” a problem they see, without understanding that the actual cause of that problem happened much earlier in the shot cycle.

Please, if you coach, do not speak when you first think to – do not assume you have the archimedes moment (EUREKA).  Instead, please assess whether what you are about to pronounce, is actually truth.  Accurate.  RIGHT.
It does no good to correct a bow shoulder problem if you do not first solve the posture of the archer.

In solving the posture the shoulder (or other downhill step) may actually take care of itself.  A chain reaction of benefits.  Remember the NTS is not a trophy nor an accomplishment, it is not a static thing.  It is DYNAMIC, a process in motion, always dependent on “what happened before” to achieve success in the end.  Skip a step and the archer will not succeed.

 

 

More Flow, Please

Returning to the subject of the book I mentioned on FLOW.

Learning *any* new skill in life is characterized by obvious clumsiness which decreases as the mind and body begin to agree about what needs be done.

It’s why we actually name an infant “a toddler” as she tries to stand, and then walk – she literally toddles about :)

Before too much time has passed, though, the toddler actually stands, perfectly still and in control and then for the rest of that child’s life, standing will be a completely unconscious accomplishment – easy to do without ever considering it.  The parents will be hard put to even recall how clumsy that toddler was in the beginning, so effective is the child’s brain at becoming adept – making the incredibly complex task of standing upright look smooth and easy, effortless.  Though I still remember my daughter’s look of “heyyyy” when she first locked knees and realized what she had done to her world view.

How many times have you watched an elite archer make a shot?  And of those times, how often could you have described it as “effortless”?  Most if not all of the time, if you are like me.  Effortless because they’ve learned to use only the muscles needed, no antagonistic muscles in the chest fighting against the trapezius for example, and also to enlist those muscles properly at the right time and in the right amount.  Finesse, Skill, Deliberate, Smooth, Powerful, Easy, Effortless, all words to describe what the elite athlete does.

So I am angling here to provide a GOAL of learning the parts of the NTS – as the archer gains a degree of mastery over the pieces, the coach must help the athlete to link them together into a smoother, more flowing series of movements.  Increase the flowing nature of calibrated movements in the human body.  You can’t just hope they do that, you must coach them into doing it smoothly and deliberately and efficiently.

The NTS draws heavily upon the human nature of movement. It optimizes the motions by enhancing the naturally skillful method of muscle contractions acting on the bones.  It relies on Archmede’s lever action because of how powerful the lever is. Mother nature put several superb levers in the body and used them to well, leverage power.

Also, there is no partial muscle contraction.  A muscle fiber is either tonic or atonic.  Contracted or relaxed.  Now, a “muscle” is composed of many thousands of muscle fibers, and through skill and training we learn to enlist a cascading increase of fibers when we want to grow strength, power, or speed gradually during a motion.  The untrained person will exert “a bunch of effort” and tend to fire off all of the bundles of fibers in a muscle yielding a crudely powerful contraction, kind of like lifting a heavy barbell in the clean and jerk.  Brute force, however, does not serve well in olympic target archery.  (It was great at Crecy and Agincourt, where quantity of arrows launched counted far more than accuracy of those arrows)

I feel coaches (should) speak of “purposeful practice” instead of praising the mere shooting of x number of arrows.  And as the archer grows in the skill of deliberate drawing (the cascading of muscle fiber activation in the correct tempo) and in the levering about the shoulder assembly by employing the middle and lower trapezius together with the LAN2 to achieve “holding”, the coach must encourage these separate things to be all one coordinated FLOWing of movement.

The goal is holding.  Getting there requires a calibrated cascade of contractions in the right muscle groups, a river of power flowing through the archer’s skeleton which is guided by the calm, focused mind of the archer.  I know I used cascade several times in the last few sentences – do you understand why?  Hopefully you are experiencing a cascade of understanding!

Encourage your athlete to merge the tiny steps of walking through the NTS shot process into a river of powerful flow and soon they will, well, make it look as easy as standing.  If they achieve the same level of mastery over the shot cycle, flow it all together, then they will be far more able to answer the stress of the moment and still make their own shot when it counts.

How do you get the athlete to “merge” the parts of the shot cycle? That depends on the athlete, I think.  I found using a metronome during one stage of development to be really helpful.  Verbally counting down with the stated conscious goal of continual motion was good.  Even, saying “MOVE MOVE MOVE”, could be a proper code word (Mnemonic) if properly defined to the athlete.   Or, “build, Build, BUILd, BUILD….” in a soft-to-louder manner might work better for one than another.  But hopefully you get the idea.

To get anywhere nowadays, the archer has to know how to merge into the flow of traffic.  Teach them that skill so they can make it look easy.

Going with the flow.

I’ve been posting clips from a book to my Kindle Amazon highlights file.  This book deals with the more esoteric aspect of coaching, MENTAL development.

If you read through this post, you’ll be rewarded with the name of the book and a link to it on  Amazon.

It’s normal for the archer to want to “work on” something everytime she shoots.  We all want to be better at what we do, and the physical aspect is right in front of the brain.  But if you are familiar with periodization, a means of physical training optimization, you may not have extended the concept beyond the physical.   I like that the notion deals with MENTAL periodization also.

Don’t just work on “something” every time you go out.  Set one day of practice out of every 7 that you shoot, to just shoot.  But instead of working on that release, or that transfer, holding, relaxed wrist, etc., you can choose to become complete null mentally.

Look, if you have been shooting for more than a few months, you have begun to myelinize your shot pathways.  It’s time for you to trust yourself and well, trust in the force, Luke.

Follow your normal shot mechanism conscientiously, carefully, till right before you go to the “up” position, (set to set-up).  When you have gotten to that point, you are ready to engage autopilot, and perhaps think of nothing in particular.  Emit a mantra, an “ommmmm” loud enough to hear between your ears.  Think of a polar bear in a snow storm.  Or, like one of the most successful female compound archers ever, visualize green legos.    Just don’t work on anything in the physical realm, think only of smoothness.  ease.  flow.

The goal is to relax and let your body take its course.  Disconnect from the desire to determine the results through force. Instead, learn how to go with the flow of your body’s natural abilities to complete the actions of delivering the arrow into the air.    Like visualization, going with the flow takes practice and clever desire.

The book?  ok, you’ve earned it…

Golf Flow  by Gio Valiente

Remember, as with several other excellent golf books you need to substitute the word golf with archery, ignore the sand traps, and think of how what he writes can apply to your particular desires to be a better archer/golfer.

PS: Are most archers practicing mental strengths, such as visualization?  Not so much.  Despite champions uniformly praising the skill development of visualizing as key to their success, I find it is amazingly difficult to persuade athletes to develop this skill. The students I coach that have given themselves over to this notion have become much happier with their abilities and performances.  In archery, the power of the mind will exceed the power of the body given a chance to do so.  This book in great part has mental strengths in well, mind.  :)   Well written, and I recommend it only for those who can trust in their mental force.

In times of pure stress and duress, when hitting the spider is the strongest desire in mind, allowing the subconscious to rule will win out, provided the athlete has laid the foundation for succeeding with flow by practicing the nothingness of the perfect unconscious release.  Wow, how zen is that?

It’s Not Either Or – Archery is not a zero-sum game

Archery is a sport.  For some it is also a way of life. Or at least a meaningful part of a “normal” life.

After 6 months of thinking on the role of sport, I’ve concluded that a critic was wrong back then.

The act of promoting archery cannot be to the detriment of archers.  I don’t mean “a rising tide lifts all boats” but that could also be true.

After a 5 year history of participating in several community archery events, a club president arbitrarily decided that it was not prudent to continue – it was “outside” of the normal functions as that person narrow-mindedly perceived the function of the club.  As a result, hundreds of kids from one event never got to touch a bow – their path through life remains duller, less enjoyable.  At the other event about 1000 kids did not get to learn about archery in college.  To me the loss is not calculable.

It is incredibly important that any opportunity to share archery is NOT ignored.  You deprive yourself as well as those that would benefit.

Look.  Archery.  You do it because ….??  If you view it as a job right now, think back to when you started.  That was because you … enjoyed it?  Why not help others to enjoy it as well?  As you share your insights, your knowledge, your sport, you learn more about yourself.  You become better by helping others.  So the next time you wear an archery-related shirt be ready to share the sport.  Heck, share the sport without the shirt (umm, do wear some kind of shirt, ok?)

Archery is a sport to be proud of.  You can be proud, you can share, and be a better person thereby.  No risk of diminishing yourself if you speak from the heart and are truthful.

Look Here.

Many of the topics I am moved to share thoughts on come from my students, primarily my college students. :)

When an archer has a miss (not “if”; as EVERY archer will have a miss) it apparently needs must involve some coaching to speed the process of retrieving the arrow(s).

The vast majority of normal missed shots will only miss the bale by inches, rather than yards.  (Not talking about missfires/shoot-through-the-clicker/letting-down-and-shot-anyway/triggered the release whoops early kind of events)

As such, the arrow will fall within a narrow cone or rectangle that barely is wider than the alley the bale sits in.  Yet time and again I’ll watch archers search 5, 10, or 20 yards to the side of the bale for the arrow which will almost certainly be found BEHIND the bale…Teach your archer to note mentally how the arrow missed. Was it to the side because the wind came up/quit right at release?  Was it on the plunger and launched OVER the bale?  It can make a great impact on the limited time we often have to work with the archer if too much time is wasted “in the green”.  And first, exhaust the possibility that it is within a narrow rectangle about the width of the darn target bale!  Only after that, go searching wider afield…

And teach them to go to the target, go ten or twenty feet further, and then take a sight on their scope’s tripod way back on the shooting line, so they have a sense of where the arrow traveled FROM and to….finding an arrow in the turf should not be rocket science and it should not take all day.

What Should I Buy First?

It is hard to know what archery gear to buy first!

A 25″ length riser is the standard size, and most archers use that and modify the length of the bow to accommodate their draw length by choosing either a short, medium, or long set of limbs.

It helps to know a fundamental aspect:  Bows are rated in resistance to drawing (aka, the “draw weight”) in pounds at a specific distance of draw, stated simply as “30 pounds at 27 inches”.
If you pick up a medium length bow (68″ total length of riser and limbs combined) that is rated at 30 pounds@27 inches, and if you draw it back to 28 inches, expect the draw weight on your fingers to rise to perhaps 32 pounds or so.  If you draw to only 26 inches, expect the draw weight to be less, say 28 pounds (or so).  The weight will always vary from limb to limb, as limbs are by nature NOT physically identical even when made by the same craftsman with exactly the same technique.  Just a fact of life.

The increase in weight beyond the labeled amount when drawing more than 27 inches is called “stacking” and varies widely between brands and levels of quality of limbs.  Cheap limbs tend to stack more, as do shorter limbs relative to longer limbs for a given draw length.  That is, a 68 inch bow consisting of a 27″ riser and short limbs will usually have more stack (and more limb tip lateral stability AND more vibration) than a 68 inch bow with a 23 inch riser and long limbs.
The reason why “stack” becomes clearer if you examine the modern recurve limb.  If you consider the cross section of the limb as you move from the base at the limb pocket out towards the string notch area/tip, you will see that the limb gets smaller (lighter per unit of cross-sectioned distance) the further out to the tip you look.

As you draw a bow back, the limbs bend under the energy you invest in them.  But the bending is not uniform, meaning the tip area (the “recurve”) bends differently than the limb nearer to the limb pocket.  The parts of the limb also move in different directions!  The tips move towards the center of the bow much more than the thicker base parts of the limb, which mainly moves towards the archer’s string hand.  It has a lot to do with leverage and angles.

Why such a long explanation?  It makes an incredible difference to the success of the archer, the choice of how to make the bow long enough.
1. Archer A shoots 5 days a week and has lots of time for cross-training, bulks up muscles and is very fit.  Archer A  LIKES the stacking effect as a way to get feedback the closer to click the arrow gets.  Archer A also thinks it is easier to make a good release with higher poundage, so to get that stacking feeling, a 25 or 27 inch riser with SHORT limbs is A’s choice.
2. Archer B is the same draw length as “A” but cannot maintain the same level of fitness and training effort.  Limb stacking for “B” makes it very hard to maintain excellent form through the click.  “B” needs to cast the arrow the same distance, but perhaps wants more control and feeling and less raw power, so less stacking is a good thing.  “B” therefore chooses a 23 or 25 inch riser with medium or even long limbs.  The limbs will be springier, not stressed as much, and the shot will have less short-frequency vibration (the “thunks” or “clanks”) and more long-frequency good vibration (the “strums”).  There will be less stacking, so the archer will get through click easier with the same amount of effort expended over each inch of drawing done  relatively speaking.  I view “B” as being closer to the sweet spot.
3. Archer C fears stacking and goes with a 27″ riser and long limbs, and ends up with a bow that is very easy (compared to “A”s and “B”s bows) to draw back to anchor and through click, as it never stacks.  But the bow is so long that the recurve part of the limbs never gets the same amount of deformation(stress) that happens in A & B.  The bow simply cannot cast the arrows as far as A & B’s bows would in the hands of archer “C”.
So depending on a lot of variables, there is “too short”, “just right with short/long”, “just right with long/short”, and “too long”.  YIKES.
Now you ask in frustration, “well how do I know what I need?”   Don’t panic and don’t assume you can’t get it right. As a beginning or even intermediate archer, you can get in the right ballpark and not even realize it could be better, because it will still feel great, such quality are the current products on the market compared to the bows of yesteryear!
A few general rules of thumb:
If you can afford it, buy the most expensive thing of each category and you will at least look good (until you shoot your arrows).
Otherwise, (and all of this is just one opinion – get several and decide for yourself…
For your first gear purchase, get the best riser you can afford, and get the cheapest limbs you can get by with in the general weight range you think you can handle.
After the riser and limbs, get the best sight you can afford.  A Sure-Loc can last you your lifetime.
Likewise, get a Beiter Plunger rather than a cheap one for the durability and especially the reliability.
These parts also are completely independent of your strength in drawing the bow and your skill level.
These are “one-time” purchases, as is the riser in all likelihood.  The two things that vary a LOT will be your limbs and your arrows so you want them last.
You should review the stabilizer market, and purchase something “not the cheapest” and “not the most expensive”.  Stabilizers need to perform some basic functions of mass/weight distribution and a LITTLE vibration absorption, and inertial resistance, and it is not rocket science so don’t pay for rockets, until you have the best everything else.
Adolescents who will grow will obviously need different length arrows.  Those archers who increase in strength through training and exercise and technique enhancement will also need different length as well as differently spined arrows (spine is the rigidity of the arrow and has huge impact on arrow grouping on the target and clearance).
BTW – never sell your old limbs – you may need to fall back to them if injured or if you make substantial form/technique changes.
I favor a shorter riser and longer limbs to achieve any given bow length yet there is a lot of flexibility in any chosen pairing of riser to limbs.  Eventually, you do want to buy the best limbs you can afford as well, because the more advanced limbs DO make an impact on you each and every time you loose an arrow.
Arrows come last because the riser and the limbs make the arrows behave a certain and different way.

Your technique, your fundamental method, makes your arrows behave a certain way.  During the initial learning phase, you are changing (hopefully!) so much that making an arrow investment is just not smart.  I consider Easton X10s an investment, and for many even ACEs are an investment.  Navigators and ACCs are a great balance of price and performance, many archers will never need to shoot anything more refined than Navigators or ACEs…Though X10s are the most shot-arrows at every Olympic since their introduction, and I recall a statistic that every medal in singles competition since they were first introduced has been taken with X10 arrows.  If you can afford X10s then certainly enjoy.  But first secure the best riser, limbs, sight, and plunger. THEN and only then splurge on X10s.

Lessor considerations:
Don’t use spinwings until you can (mostly) stay on the bale at your competitive distances.  Instead, start out with a durable vane such as the Easton or Arizona vanes, until you are shooting competitively. And before you switch fully, go half-and-half with a new kind of vane and compare your groups to make sure you are moving towards better.
Big arrows: Shooting indoors is pretty much what archers do when it is too cold to shoot outdoors, and for such short distances many archers feel they need a bigger arrow-diameter-to-target-size ratio to straighten out the arrow in a shorter time/distance, and they perceive an advantage to “line-cutting” score getting so they go with a FAT arrow.  Fat doesn’t matter so much indoors because there is rarely a cross-wind to blow the shafts sideways off of center target.  If you do choose to get a fat aluminum arrow for indoors, realize that you will have to re-tune/re-setup your entire bow and tune each season.
Unless you are headed to the world indoor championships, the Face-to-Face in Europe, or some such fancy hooraw shoot (that means the Vegas Shoot) where you absolutely must have every extra point AND you are not shooting at an elite level already, fatboys might be worth the hassle (and experience) of retuning frequently.  You might notice that most elite archers stay with their serious (outdoors) arrow, which requires only slight tuning adjustments for shooting at 18 meters instead of 70 meters.

Tuning?  Tuning is the adjustments to the bow’s physical parameters to match the way your fingers leave the string and your hand holds the bow and your arrows flex.  Pure and simple. No, not simple.  COMPLEX.  but that’s tuning in a nutshell – adapting hardware to the software(that’s you, archer) so that the pattern of arrows falling on the bale are as closely grouped as possible.  Tuning is a lot of fun, and is an ongoing challenge for the improving archer.  Some say tuning is never done.  Others tune once and then don’t make a change in their setup no matter what, till they can’t stand their performance any more and decide to “change up” everything.  Whatever.

I’ll end this with: “rarely will an archer shoot UP to his bow’s potential. The weakest link in the arrow delivery system is typically the grey matter.  But the effect of pride and excitement in one’s gear cannot be discounted – there IS a placebo effect.  Shiny gear helps you to believe in the force…and the force can be powerful indeed.
Ok, one more thought: give a man (or woman) a fish and he’ll eat for a day.  Teach her to fish, and she’ll feed herself forever.  Buy a bow and you can shoot an arrow.  Learn how to shoot that bow and you’ll hit what you aim at.  Another way of saying, investing money with a good coach is better than simply throwing money at your bow and flinging arrows in a sad hope of getting good at it.

Some Science

I’ve been against stretching for several years, when the first studies came out.  They were somewhat low in “P” value, meaning the studies weren’t HUGELY designed.  Here is more information to learn on – why you should NOT stretch before you plan to exercise, and the author gets it right.
This is a copyright blog post from

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/reasons-not-to-stretch

by Gretchen Reynolds

April 3, 2013, 12:01 am

Reasons Not to Stretch

By Gretchen Reynolds

Most of us grew up hearing that we should warm up with a stretch. Strike and hold a pose, such as touching your toes, for 30 seconds or more, we were told, and you’ll be looser, stronger and injury-proof.

But anyone who follows fitness science — or this column— knows that in recent years a variety of experiments have undermined that idea. Instead, researchers have discovered, this so-called static stretching can lessen jumpers’ heights and sprinters’ speeds, without substantially reducing people’s chances of hurting themselves.

Now, two new studies are giving us additional reasons not to stretch.

One, a study being published this month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may find yourself feeling weaker and wobblier than you expect during your workout. Those findings join those of another new study from Croatia, a bogglingly comprehensive re-analysis of data from earlier experiments that was published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Together, the studies augment a growing scientific consensus that pre-exercise stretching is generally unnecessary and likely counterproductive.

Many issues related to exercise and stretching have remained unresolved. In particular, it is unclear to what extent, precisely, subsequent workouts are changed when you stretch beforehand, as well as whether all types of physical activity are similarly affected.

For the more wide-ranging of the new studies, and to partially fill that knowledge gap, researchers at the University of Zagreb began combing through hundreds of earlier experiments in which volunteers stretched and then jumped, dunked, sprinted, lifted or otherwise had their muscular strength and power tested. For their purposes, the Croatian researchers wanted studies that used only static stretching as an exclusive warm-up; they excluded past experiments in which people stretched but also jogged or otherwise actively warmed up before their exercise session.

The scientists wound up with 104 past studies that met their criteria. Then they amalgamated those studies’ results and, using sophisticated statistical calculations, determined just how much stretching impeded subsequent performance.

The numbers, especially for competitive athletes, are sobering. According to their calculations, static stretching reduces strength in the stretched muscles by almost 5.5 percent, with the impact increasing in people who hold individual stretches for 90 seconds or more. While the effect is reduced somewhat when people’s stretches last less than 45 seconds, stretched muscles are, in general, substantially less strong.

They also are less powerful, with power being a measure of the muscle’s ability to produce force during contractions, according to Goran Markovic, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Zagreb and the study’s senior author. In Dr. Markovic and his colleagues’ re-analysis of past data, they determined that muscle power generally falls by about 2 percent after stretching.

And as a result, they found, explosive muscular performance also drops off significantly, by as much as 2.8 percent. That means that someone trying to burst from the starting blocks, blast out a ballistic first tennis serve, clean and jerk a laden barbell, block a basketball shot, or even tick off a fleet opening mile in a marathon will be ill served by stretching first. Their performance after warming up with stretching is likely to be worse than if they hadn’t warmed up at all.

A similar conclusion was reached by the authors of the other new study, in which young, fit men performed standard squats with barbells after either first stretching or not. The volunteers could manage 8.3 percent less weight after the static stretching. But even more interesting, they also reported that they felt less stable and more unbalanced after the stretching than when they didn’t stretch.

Just why stretching hampers performance is not fully understood, although the authors of both of the new studies write that they suspect the problem is in part that stretching does exactly what we expect it to do. It loosens muscles and their accompanying tendons. But in the process, it makes them less able to store energy and spring into action, like lax elastic waistbands in old shorts, which I’m certain have added significantly to the pokiness of some of my past race times by requiring me manually to hold up the garment.

Of course, the new studies’ findings primarily apply to people participating in events that require strength and explosive power, more so than endurance. But “some research speaks in favor” of static stretching impairing performance in distance running and cycling, Dr. Markovic said.

More fundamentally, the results underscore the importance of not prepping for exercise by stretching, he said. “We can now say for sure that static stretching alone is not recommended as an appropriate form of warm-up,” he said. “A warm-up should improve performance,” he pointed out, not worsen it.

A better choice, he continued, is to warm-up dynamically, by moving the muscles that will be called upon in your workout. Jumping jacks and toy-soldier-like high leg kicks, for instance, prepare muscles for additional exercise better than stretching. As an unscientific side benefit, they can also be fun.

 

How well do you know your plunger?

It’s amazing how many archers do not understand the nature of the Berger Button/Cushion Plunger and the center-shot setting.

If you are a recurve archer, have you ever taken the time and trouble to explore the effect on tune and arrow behavior which changing your center shot has?  Perhaps you should experiment so you understand cause-and-effect and can tune better.

Start by measuring exactly how “deep” your plunger is so you can put it back to it’s current location if you want to return there quickly and easily (iow, when you panic). :)

Now, whatever its depth was, unscrew the plunger and set it to be about HALF as deep as it was. This’ll be the starting point and you’ll gradually move it deeper (past its original position most likely).   If it is designed like the Beiter Plunger you can tighten the spring by rotating the shroud until there is NO give in the button.  KEEP TRACK OF HOW MANY 360 DEGREE TURNS AND CLICKS YOU HAVE TO GO TO LOCK THE BUTTON DOWN. Again, so that you can put it back where it was at any time.  If another brand, just use the matchstick trick, insert a matchstick or a toothpick, something that eliminates the action of the spring for this exercise.

I like to do this shooting exercise with bare shafts.  Fletchings/vanes only serve to disguise the effects you seek to understand.  Be sure you are close enough to keep the arrows on the bale! Put up a blank sheet of butcher paper with a dot to aim at, or use a fresh target so you can circle each end of arrows.    Assuming you can shoot 3 arrows and get a group, well… do so.  Note how the arrows fly (how much they skew sideways) and where they go relative to your aiming point.  After each three arrows, rotate the plunger IN 1/2 turn pushing the centershot deeper away from the riser, and watch the arrows “march” across the target bale.

At some point the arrows will fly better than they have been and keep getting better, cleaner in flight.  Then as you continue changing the center shot, they will start to fly worse.  Keep going for a few ends and simply educate yourself on how the arrows fly, how they look in the bale (esp. if a foam bale – if a straw bale the angle of the dangle is not so diagnostic).  Ultimately you want to return to that plunger setting of “best behavior”.  You then might wish to check this “center shot” position in the traditional, arrow-on-the-bow-and-look-down-the-center-of-the-limbs method just to see how far off it is from the “accepted perfect center shot” (where the edge of the string away from the riser is just touching the junction of the shaft and arrow point joint).  If there is a difference between the “ideal” and your empiric center shot I would suggest it is due to the spine of the arrows and most importantly your release technique.

So which is better?  The one that give you the best groups, of course.

Incidentally, you did the center shot first because it has the more profound, basic influence on the arrow compared to the spring tension, but the spring can have a huge effect on the shape and size of your grouping pattern.

SO, how about the plunger tension now?  same thing.  You will not know until you try all the settings, using the same “little bit at a time” method keeping track as you make half-turns on the tension.  Notice how certain areas of adjustment actually make big changes in the left-right arrow groups, and as you get close to the sweet spot, you get better groups.  But you have to decrease the number of clicks per change as you near the sweet spot or you might go right past it.  Again, this exercise is simply to learn what effect the plunger tension has on the flight of the arrows as well as the grouping.

There is no more commonly used, less understood, hardware on the olympic recurve bow than the plunger.  You can study the engineering and physics of it all day long, and never really understand what it’s good for.  Till you experiment a little…

 

 

Bareshaft Benefits

A short one (I hope):

I found all of my parts were healthy enough to shoot some without pain, so I dug up my old ACEs, 32 inch long, and realized their points were rusty (really) and the vanes toast. 

SO I put together a 27 inch Hoyt GM right hand riser, some long 30 pound WW limbs Lindsey had left over when she went to medium length and dedicated herself to promoting the Hoyt bow products, made a string to match, and started shooting barebow up close.  Amazing when nothing hurts, even when at 38 pounds at click…!  So I moved back to 18 meters, adjusting the center shot and plunger tension to straighten out the arrow flight. 

I found that shooting nothing but bare shafts was a great way to set the center shot, the nocking point, and the plunger tension.  When the vanes are not smoothing out “crumby” things, you see very quickly how good your release truly is, and if you do shoot groups at say, 18 meters you can readily tell from the arrow’s behavior what needs adjusting and tweaking. 

Bare shaft groupings in comparison to fletched groups – this has long been my preferred method to tune a bow in many ways.  Bare shafts alone – a valued addition to the tuning library of options especially when *nothing* on the bow is tuned… 

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success, by Matthew Syed

First, I think it best if you have already read Gladwell, Coyle, Colvin, Gladwell, Gladwell, Coyle, Ratey, and Gladwell.  (each author mentioned once per book I have read).  But here are some excerpts from Bounce:
Practically every man or woman who triumphs against the odds is, on closer inspection, a beneficiary of unusual circumstances.
Not genetics, but a unique circumstance, such as an older brother excellent as a competitive driver, or a geographic circumstance, where the athlete can walk out the front door of the home and be shooting 70 meters within just a few steps.
“The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves,” Gladwell writes. “But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.”
Just because Syed is repeating at great length the quotes from these other authors I cited does not mean the information is not properly applied to the NTS method of training archers.
These differences are not just statistically significant; they are extraordinary. Top performers had devoted thousands of additional hours to the task of becoming master performers. But that’s not all. Ericsson also found that there were no exceptions to this pattern: nobody who had reached the elite group without copious practice, and nobody who had worked their socks off but failed to excel. Purposeful practice was the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest.
No one.  Every exceptional athlete got there by work, not by gift.
research has shown that when top performers seem to possess an early gift for music it is often because they have been given extra tuition at home by their parents.
Parents can make a profound difference.
How long do you need to practice in order to achieve excellence? Extensive research, it turns out, has come up with a very specific answer to that question: from art to science and from board games to tennis, it has been found that a minimum of ten years is required to reach world-class status in any complex task.
I have seen that this number can vary if the practice is of sufficient quality. 8000 hours can be enough for a top step.

Note: not necessarily 10,000 hours but rather ten years?

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell points out that most top performers practice for around one thousand hours per year (it is difficult to sustain the quality of practice if you go beyond this), so he redescribes the ten-year rule as the ten-thousand-hour rule. This is the minimum time necessary for the acquisition of expertise in any complex task.
As Ericsson puts it, “There are apparently no limits to improvements in memory skill with practice.”
the new science of expertise. Speed in sport is not based on innate reaction speed, but derived from highly specific practice.
I read this as, “With a sufficient coach, development does not have to be assigned to a schedule.
But we can now see that the solution to the riddle is simple. In essence, Douglas spent more hours than any other player in the history of the sport encoding the characteristics of a highly specific type of table tennis: the kind played at maximum pace, close to the table.
the movement has been encoded in implicit rather than explicit memory. This is what psychologists call expert-induced amnesia.
subconscious performance is proven to be the most elusive but the best
Great shot-making, then, is not about developing “muscle memory” rather, the memory is encoded in the brain and central nervous system. The ascendency of the mental and the acquired over the physical and the innate has been confirmed again and again.
“The most important differences are not at the lowest levels of cells or muscle groups, but at the athletes’ superior control over the integrated and coordinated actions of their bodies. Expert performance is mediated by acquired mental representations that allow the experts to anticipate, plan and reason alternative courses of action. These mental representations provide experts with increased control of the aspects that are relevant to generating their superior performance.”
“One key trait the study found was that these companies valued ‘domain expertise’ in managers—extensive knowledge of the company’s field. Immelt has now specified ‘deep domain expertise’ as a trait required for getting ahead at GE.”
if you want to bend it like Beckham or fade it like Tiger, you have to work like crazy, regardless of your genes, background, creed, or color. There is no shortcut, even if child prodigies bewitch us into thinking there is.
It is only possible to clock up meaningful practice if an individual has made an independent decision to devote himself to whatever field of expertise. He has to care about what he is doing, not because a parent or a teacher says so, but for its own sake. Psychologists call this “internal motivation,” and it is often lacking in children who start too young and are pushed too hard. They are, therefore, on the road not to excellence but to burnout.
neatly emphasizes the power of practice when it is challenging rather than nice and easy. “When most people practice, they focus on the things they can do effortlessly,” Ericsson has said. “Expert practice is different. It entails considerable, specific, and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well—or even at all. Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.”
call it purposeful practice. Why? Because the practice sessions of aspiring champions have a specific and never-changing purpose: progress. Every second of every minute of every hour, the goal is to extend one’s mind and body, to push oneself beyond the outer limits of one’s capacities, to engage so deeply in the task that one leaves the training session, literally, a changed person.
That is worth stating again: world-class performance comes by striving for a target just out of reach, but with a vivid awareness of how the gap might be breached. Over time, through constant repetition and deep concentration, the gap will disappear, only for a new target to be created, just out of reach once again.
Elite skaters regularly attempt jumps beyond their current capabilities; less elite skaters do not.
If you are not falling down when you ski you are not learning.
Purposeful practice is about striving for what is just out of reach and not quite making it; it is about grappling with tasks beyond current limitations and falling short again and again. Excellence is about stepping outside the comfort zone, training with a spirit of endeavor, and accepting the inevitability of trials and tribulations. Progress is built, in effect, upon the foundations of necessary failure. That is the essential paradox of expert performance.
As Mia Hamm, one of the greatest female soccer players, has said: “All my life I’ve been playing up, meaning I’ve challenged myself with players older, bigger, more skillful, more experienced—in short, better than me.”
Brain Transformation The ten-thousand-hour rule, then, is inadequate as a predictor of excellence.
What is required is ten thousand hours of purposeful practice. And for practice to be truly purposeful, concentration and dedication, although important, are not sufficient. You also need to have access to the right training system, and that sometimes means living in the right town or having the right coach.
You are also on the path to personal transformation. Literally. One of the most striking things about modern research on expertise is how the body and mind can be radically altered with the right kind of practice. “When the human body is put under exceptional strain, a range of dormant genes in the DNA are expressed and extraordinary physiological processes are activated,” Anders Ericsson has written.
“Over time the cells of the body reorganize in response to the metabolic demands of the activity by, for example, increases in the number of capillaries supplying blood to the muscles.”
A key aspect of brain transformation is myelin, a substance that wraps around the nerve fibers and that can dramatically increase the speed with which signals pass through the brain. A 2005 experiment that scanned the brains of concert pianists found a direct relationship between the numbers of hours practiced and the quantity of myelin. But myelin is not the only theme in the brain change story. Purposeful practice also builds new neural connections, increases the size of specific sections of the brain, and enables the expert to co-opt new areas of gray matter in the quest to improve.
your skull also contains this system, and you too can corral it into action when performing multi-digit calculations. But there is a catch: you can purchase access to this prime neural real estate only by building up a bank deposit of thousands of hours of purposeful practice. That, if you like, is the price of excellence.
In complex tasks, human achievement has many more centuries, possibly millennia, to run before it hits any kind of immovable ceiling. This is not just because the principles of purposeful practice are constantly being elaborated and improved, but also because of what we might call paradigm shifts—completely unforeseen innovations—in technique and application.
SCIENCE AND INNOVATIVE COACHES CAN AND WILL CONTINUE TO RAISE PERFORMANCE.
But careful study has shown that creative innovation follows a very precise pattern: like excellence itself, it emerges from the rigors of purposeful practice. It is the consequence of experts absorbing themselves for so long in their chosen field that they become, as it were, pregnant with creative energy. To put it another way, eureka moments are not lightning bolts from the blue, but tidal waves that erupt following deep immersion in an area of expertise.
technique and education is getting smarter. Similarly, soccer and table tennis standards are rising, at least in part, because technique is improving. So are the training systems, as we have seen. It all adds up to one inexorable conclusion: human performance in complex tasks will continue on an upward trajectory into the distant future, punctuated by innovations that are not merely unforeseen but unforeseeable.

Note: can anyone say, NTS…?

That is the power of feedback. As Chen says: “If you don’t know what you are doing wrong, you can never know what you are doing right.”
Feedback is, in effect, the rocket fuel that propels the acquisition of knowledge, and without it no amount of practice is going to get you there.
For an archer, immediate feedback can come from within, but also must come from a coach’s eye and wisdom.
He also has a coach standing behind him, providing an extra dimension of feedback. His coach is not merely offering encouragement and assessing his levels of concentration, he is also on the lookout for small technical glitches that may have escaped the attention of his charge. The advantage of a coach is that he has a perspective—being able to look from the outside in—that the player lacks.
It is not just that they receive expert advice during training sessions; far more important is that great coaches are able to design practice so that feedback is embedded in the drill, leading to automatic readjustment, which in turn improves the quality of feedback, generating further improvements, and so on.
Almost twenty years after his eldest daughter became the first female grandmaster in chess, Polgar’s insights are repudiated by most academics and ignored by society, despite a growing avalanche of evidence in support. To put it simply: The talent theory of expertise continues to reign supreme. This strangely resilient paradigm has had, and is having, devastating consequences.
a key factor driving success and failure is to be found within the realm of motivation. Sure, clocking up thousands of hours of purposeful practice ultimately determines how far we make it along the path to excellence: but it is only those who care about the destination, whose motivation (to use the phrase in chapter 2) is “internalized,” who are ever going to get there
A coach must recognize that creating drive must sometimes come from the athlete, alone.
What we are seeing at work here might be called motivation by association: a small, barely noticed connection searing deep into the subconscious and sparking a motivational response.
The hand you’re dealt is just the starting point…. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
Armed with a growth mind-set, she interpreted falling down not merely as a means of improving, but as evidence that she was improving. Failure was not something that sapped her energy and vitality, but something that provided her with an opportunity to learn, develop, and adapt.
Excellence is about striving for what is just out of reach and not quite making it; it is about grappling with tasks beyond current limitations and falling short again and again. The paradox of excellence is that it is built upon the foundations of necessary failure.
“Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation, and it harms their performance.”
The coach must never use the cheap compliment, but the true comment.
He praises effort, never talent; he eulogizes about the transformational power of practice at every
opportunity; he preaches the vital importance of hard work during every interruption in play. And he does not regard failure in his students as either good or bad, but as an opportunity to improve. “That’s fine,” he says as his student hits a forehand long. “You are on the right track. It’s not the mistakes; it’s how you respond to them.”
“Every endeavour pursued with passion produces a successful outcome regardless of the result. For it is not about winning or losing—rather, the effort put forth in producing the outcome. The best way to predict the future is to create it—therefore, we believe we have the best training methods to help each athlete achieve their dreams and goals and ultimately reach their ability level in the arena of sports and life.”
This, it turns out, is a strangely difficult art to master, and one that often separates the best from the rest. We know it when we see it: that extraordinary ability of top sportsmen to rise above the anxieties and angst, the doubts and the tensions, that so often paralyze lesser performers. They retain their sureness of touch, their subtlety of mind, all those deep and complex motor is boskills built up over thousands of hours and which can so easily melt in the heat of the battle
Goldacre reports that stimulant medication tends to come in red or orange, antidepressants in blue, and so on.
Ariely, the behavioral economist, has shown that cheap painkillers are less effective than painkillers identical in every respect except for a more expensive price tag. Again, it all comes down to belief. For obvious reasons, we find it easier to believe in a treatment when it burns a hole in our wallet: “At that price, it must be good!”
This book contains much more.  Read it for your own ability enhancement.