- What is all this mumbo-jumbo called visualisation?
- How does it work?
- What do you have to do?
- Does it help?
I asked all these questions a couple of years ago, not believing in it at all. But I knew all the top archers were utilising this area of archery and it certainly seemed to be doing amazing things for them.
So what exactly is it? In it’s simplest terms it is a form of daydreaming. You see yourself in your minds eye, imagination, call it what you will, shooting perfect arrows that land in the ten-ring. It does take some practice and at first you can feel really silly. You must start with some form of relaxation procedure, the easiest being to sit somewhere quiet and comfortable and undisturbed and breathe in and out slowly and calmly, feeling yourself sink in to the chair.
Next, try thinking yourself through a shot from standing on the line, placing your hand in the grip, placing your string fingers and taking some of the tension, lifting the bow, turning head towards the target, drawing, anchoring and finally the wonderful feeling of the arrow leaving the bow and watch it hit the target in the TEN ring.
Try this for a few sessions and gradually build on it. Start to feel the grip in your hand, feel the string in your fingers, feel the weight of the bow as you lift it, see the target, the sight, the blurry string, feel your hand as it comes to anchor, feel the extra stretch and the follow through as you release.
Don’t worry if you lose your way or get confused, drop back to some relaxation breathing and start a new shot. It takes a long while to be as good as the top archers but it is worth persevering. You should try to visualise every day and keep it as real as possible, see it at the right speed, in familiar surroundings but always see your arrows in the gold. This helps to train you in positive thinking.
As you practice, and perfect, this technique you can expand it to the point where you can visualise your next tournament and see yourself feeling calm, relaxed, positive and strong. If you know the venue you can see the field or hall, see the sky or the lighting conditions, feel the breeze or the stillness and see yourself shooting really well.
You can use the same process to practice a particular piece of technique, especially useful if you are learning something new or trying to correct a fault. You get into a relaxed state and just see yourself doing the small portion of the shot that needs working on; but you must see yourself doing it correctly.
After lots of practice you can visualise a good shot on the line, just before you shoot it, and you can also use visualisation in competition to prepare yourself for your task, and, if things have got away from you, a quick rehearsal of a good shot can bring things back on target.
I have learned the hard way that just shooting the arrows is only the tip of the iceberg. Lots of other areas need attention, and visualisation is just one of a number of powerful tools that if practised regularly will definitely improve your shooting.
Good luck, good shooting and may all your golds be TENS.