One of the greatest strengths of archery as a sport is also one of the deepest weaknesses for the archers who practise it.

The target is a wonderful device. It’s exceptionally easy to understand – the closer the arrow hits to the middle, the better the result – and it provides instant feedback.

In simple terms, a good shot gets a 10 and anything else could be improved upon.

And therein lies the issue. Because when we’re training, we get immediate feedback on every shot. But training isn’t where an archer is required to perform on the scoresheet – that’s in competition.

So this visual representation of performance can actually do more harm than good.

That is why it is sometimes important to remove the focus from the target when practising. That doesn’t have to mean not shooting at a target, nor not scoring, but changing the parameters of a session using exercises.

The world’s top archery teams don’t head to the training field just to shoot 100s of arrows. Many use varied programmes of strength, control and focus work-outs to teach specific skills that better prepare athletes for competition.

These are some simple examples of drills that anyone can integrate into a single visit to the range – or as part of a larger training programme – to help improve their scores.

1. Card-deck simulation

How: Shuffle a deck of cards and shoot matches against the deck, with each card having a different value. Aces and picture cards are worth 10 points and all other cards in the deck are worth their number value.

Draw three cards per end or set, leaving them face down until your arrows are in the target. Reshuffle the deck at the end of each match.

To increase the difficulty, simply remove lower-value cards from the deck.

  • Leaving all 52 cards is an average arrow of 7.2 points.
  • Removing the two, three and four cards leaves an average arrow of 8.5 points.
  • Removing the two, three, four, fix and six cards leaves an average arrow of 9.25 points.

Why: There is not a better way of randomly simulating matchplay. The goal is to win seven matches in a row – and win the tournament.

When: Use when preparing for competition.

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