Monthly Archives: August 2013

Flair!

“He’s plucking the string”.

There may not be a mis-diagnosis more common than that one.  A bystander will see the string hand fly out to the side, and assume plucking is the cause.  It is likely to be something ELSE.  Telling an archer to “not pluck” is poor coaching technique.

Rather than a true pluck (like plucking the string of a guitar), it’s more likely to be a combination of several common problems:

    1. The archer has far too much tension in the string forearm, making a relaxed release impossible.
    2. The wrist is cocked out because the string forearm is not nearly in line with the arrow.   In this case the archer can easily see the string elbow if using a mirror as the target.  Simple physics causes the hand to fly out from the jaw during the moment of release when muscles are relaxing.
    3. If the elbow is behind and in line with the arrow, the archer is “in alignment” more and there is no elbow to be seen in the mirror.  If the string arm is not put into alignment by the archer, the bow tends to try to do it during the release process.
    4. Because of the cocked wrist and excess tension in the forearm, the archer has a harder time of simply relaxing the string fingers, and is prone to making an active “letting go” effort which causes the fingers to go straight out after the string is loosed.  A relaxed release results in the fingers actually curling up, not sticking out like a porcupine.

Coaches, in plucking cases it is important to study the archer’s release with a tool like Coach’s Eye or a high-speed camera like a Casio Exilim.  Most archers know their string hand should end up behind and near the neck for followthrough and will MAKE the hand go there no matter how hard it is.  A camera will reveal that the string hand makes a detour out because of the physics and tension then goes back near the neck to where it should have gone immediately.

It’s NOT plucking, and telling an archer “don’t pluck” is worse than useless.  Get at the root cause of the hand flare and “plucking” will vanish.

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.