Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting Out of My Own Way

Ever since I got my new bow – I have been shooting better than ever before. I have begun breaking horrible habits that I had never even come close to figuring out how to break in the past year of shooting…

Things like grabbing my bow – I am NOTORIOUSLY bad about this. No matter how many times I internally yell at my hand to stop grabbing the bow after a shot, I still would. EVERY TIME. Last Saturday I finally figured out what it felt like to let the bow fall. Not that it can fall on the ground – I have a finger sling that stops that from possibly happening, but you don’t want to do anything to the bow that could mess with the natural motion of the shot… And I just couldn’t get my brain to be ok with that. Until now… I still catch myself doing it occasionally, but I’m getting better…

Or “punching the trigger” on my release… You want a smooth, steady amount of pressure in order to have a smooth, steady shot… And I had a lot of trouble getting my brain to connect with my right hand (I blame it on being a lefty… me and my right hand don’t usually have to coordinate on many things...) in order to get that smooth motion. But now I am finally getting more smooth shots than not.

And it has increased my scores to levels of AWESOME that I thought I would never see... I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they haven't! I’ve gotten more perfect triple bulls-eyes in the past two weeks than I did in the past year! I’ve been working on my mental game to break down the bad habits – I know my body knows how to make a good shot… I just have to trust it!

So I’ve been analyzing the breakdown of what is going on during a “good” shot and what is going on during a “bad” shot…

**Side note: I have those in quotes because I’m trying to break the habit of seeing it as “good” or “bad” and instead just seeing it as what it is – a shot. An opportunity to get a bulls-eye or not. Does it matter if I get a bulls-eye? Nope. Not really. I’m here for fun. Yes, I want to improve and that’s why I keep practicing and trying to do better, but it doesn’t REALLY matter. It’s not going to change anyone’s opinion about me as a person, so why should I let it change my opinion about me? If that even makes sense… Anyway…**

It’s kinda hard to really explain, but a “bad” shot is generally full of mental arguing, self-doubt, and name-calling. We are always our worst bullies… I would never tell someone they are an idiot for doing something simple wrong during a shot, but I’ve told myself that a million times. There’s a lot of fighting myself when I know that the shot just does not feel right and I should really just let down and start over, but my brain just keeps saying “Nah, I got this. Fight through it.” But those shots never turn out well… They just feel awkward and you end up frustrated and discouraged… Plus, there’s a much bigger chance that you are going to hit yourself with the string because your form is off. Which HURTS – btw.

Now a “good” shot? I love those. Those are the ones where you are calm and detached. Your body goes through the motions smoothly – nothing is forced. I told J the other day that a good shot feels incredibly graceful to me. He disagrees – his best shots feel the least graceful to him. There’s really no right answer (seriously – it doesn’t matter that he’s been struggling lately and isn’t shooting as well), everyone has to find their own, unique groove for it. But for me it feels beautiful. The positioning, the draw, the breathing… Smooth, controlled… Peaceful. And there is no mental arguing – no bullying.

In fact, I tell people all the time that they wouldn’t believe the stupid crap going through my mind when I’m shooting well. Yeah, I go through my mental checklist of what needs to be happening, but that’s secondary to my insane random chatter. Like the other day – for reasons I can’t even begin to explain – I kept thinking, “If Anne Hath-a-will, Anne Hathaway” and then giggling hysterically in my head. If I need to distract myself, I’ll start spelling state names… Or humming songs in my head with the wrong lyrics that make me laugh…It’s all about getting your brain out of the way and just letting your body do what it knows how to do.

With these break-throughs lately, I feel so much more prepared for the tournaments that I have coming up. My first one is tomorrow – it’s the California State Indoor Championships. Throughout January each archery range in California has had available times to shoot and then all the scores will be compiled to determine who the winners are. I’ve decided that I’m just going to look at it as just another Saturday at my usual archery range. I’m not going to get too fixated on the score or else my brain will start trying to take over. But between me and you? I have a REAL chance of getting a medal. Like, for real real. And I still think it would be awesome if I could get a new State Record – the one now for my division was set back in 1996. It’s about time someone beat it! But that’s a BIG-TIME stretch… I would have to have an almost perfect round, which I have not yet done… But who knows? It could happen…

And then we go to Vegas next month… I was looking at last year’s scores and if I can get myself into the right group – there’s a chance I could actually win some money! That is CRAZY-PANTS!! I just have to keep my mind in the right place and go through it one shot at a time!
  

And with her – I FEEL like a pro…

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