Friday, July 4, 2014

Be at Peace

I have made some difficult shots in my hunting career, and I have missed some animals from mere yards.  I will never claim to be an expert marksman, or another Fred Bear or Howard Hill.  If I ever learn even half of what those great men forgot about archery, I would consider myself lucky.  What knowledge I have acquired over my hunting career has been taught to me by the school of hard knocks.   When the chips are down and your trophy animal  is range, it takes all you have to execute the perfect shot.  It is the culmination of years of practice with your chosen weapon. When your weapon is a bow it is all the more challenging to maintain your discipline and work through a good shot.  Heart rate, breathing and worst of all our minds are the largest stumbling blocks to this challenge. Even on an ambiguous yellow target bag some archers struggle with the dreaded target panic.  Shooting well requires your mind, body, and equipment to be in proper tune.

Several years ago I started down a rocky road of traditional archery.  My vision was to eventually bow hunt exclusively with a longbow.  As I find myself  now on the precipice of the realization of that dream.  I felt I would share a lesson the wooden stick I call a bow has taught me.  This realization has become my mantra and one that I can frequently be heard muttering to myself during nightly practice.  Be at peace.  Drawing a bow is a physical activity that requires strength and energy.  It puts tension on the body, induces fatigue, and at the beginning may not be an enjoyable feeling.  There also is the added mental anxiety of wanting to shoot well, this can be compounded if shooting with others, or your quarry is near.  Add in the mental focus needed to maintain proper form and aim, and the whole event of the shot may not be a placid one.

Whether you shoot a rifle, a stick bow, or are a catapult engineer (compound), it is important to find peace before your shot.  For me it is reaching full draw, feeling my tooth and shoulder anchor lock into place, focusing all of my mental energy on a tiny spec I have deemed my target, and then relaxing.  I know it sounds odd to relax while holding 53 pounds of draw weight; but it is a mental relaxing.  Forgetting about what the end result of the shot will be, as long as the shot itself is perfect. The greatest melding of man and bow, culminating in the flight of an arrow.   I find when I can do this and remove all anxiety and mental tension form the shot process, my groups are tighter and most of the time my arrow is within a respectable distant from the center ring.

We all know about the seven fundamentals of marksmanship; stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, breathing, trigger control, and follow through.  I propose there is perhaps an eight which is a relaxed mental perspective that I call, peace.

May your arrows fly straight and your aim be true - Unknown

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