Archer's Paradox

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Elleth
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Archer's Paradox

Postby Elleth » Mon May 26, 2014 11:09 pm

no, not the technical phenomenon. :)

Rather, I discovered something interesting on today's outing. When taking potshots at a 3D target, I noticed that I was much better when I wasn't actually aiming. Rather - concentrating on the point I wanted the arrow to go worked quite well - but the moment I started trying to focus on actually "aiming" - everything went to heck.

This has the feel of a "don't know what you don't know" stage of a learning curve - anyone else hit this particular wall / had this happen? If so, what did you do / what did you concentrate on?

FWIW - bare bow, no arrow shelf, no sight.

Also - that "aim small miss small" advice is amazing. :)
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby ineffableone » Mon May 26, 2014 11:36 pm

Elleth wrote:no, not the technical phenomenon. :)

Rather, I discovered something interesting on today's outing. When taking potshots at a 3D target, I noticed that I was much better when I wasn't actually aiming. Rather - concentrating on the point I wanted the arrow to go worked quite well - but the moment I started trying to focus on actually "aiming" - everything went to heck.

This has the feel of a "don't know what you don't know" stage of a learning curve - anyone else hit this particular wall / had this happen? If so, what did you do / what did you concentrate on?

FWIW - bare bow, no arrow shelf, no sight.

Also - that "aim small miss small" advice is amazing. :)


This is called "Instinctive Archery" and if you practice it regularly there is no better way to shoot in my opinion. Basically you let your subconscious do all the work of aiming for you. I switched to instinctive archery after realizing I was left eye dominant and had spent too long already learning right hand archery to switch to left hand. Immediately my "aim" improved. It is especially helpful for targets on the move and varied, odd, or unknown ranges.

http://www.wildernesscollege.com/how-to-shoot-a-bow.html
At the core of instinctive shooting is training your body to shoot accurately without aiming. This style of shooting is the most traditional style of shooting since it does not require sights. Variations of instinctive shooting date back to the earliest use of archery by humans. Since instinctive shooting relies more on archer skill than sights it is a skill that requires a lot of practice to learn and to maintain.


There are many archery channels on youtube that discuss instinctive archery, and even some completely dedicated to it, like
Wolfie Instinctive Archer https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnkId_L6JEv0r_x1MzMvxfg

These might be some helpful videos about the topic, I know I enjoyed them.

Instinctive Archery For beginners! "Is it Magic" ?


Instinctive Archery by Greyarcher


Instinctive Archery! Calling The Shoot! And Hitting The Spot!
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby RikJohnson » Tue May 27, 2014 2:53 pm

Elleth wrote:no, not the technical phenomenon. :)

Rather, I discovered something interesting on today's outing. When taking potshots at a 3D target, I noticed that I was much better when I wasn't actually aiming. Rather - concentrating on the point I wanted the arrow to go worked quite well - but the moment I started trying to focus on actually "aiming" - everything went to heck.


It's called "Instinct shooting"
Once you get used to your bow, it comes easy. But you need to relearn it with every new bow.
Something about your body knows how to walk and automatically corrects for terrain so you nevfer have to actually PLAN your stride and foot position when you go from sidewalk to grass, it all happens naturally.

Once you get used to your bow, how it shoots, is held, how minor changes in grip and stance change your strikes, it becoms natural.

So you focus on the target, relax, turn off your brain, and let your body do the work.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Greg » Tue May 27, 2014 10:07 pm

Much has been said already, so I'll try to not just repeat everything...but I'm gonna repeat everything.

The difference inherent in Instinctive shooting over shooting sights or the similar 'gap' shooting, is that there is no part of what is called the "sight picture" used to create a reference point for aiming, angle, range, or the like. Instinctive shooting takes nothing into account in your field of vision but the proposed point of impact.

Gap shooting, which is essentially a form of shooting with sights that doesn't actually incorporate sights, is a means by which an imaginary line is drawn from your eye to the tip of the arrow, and then to a specific point, sometimes on the target, sometimes on the ground, etc., which creates the correct angle of flight for the arrow to, again, arrive at the proposed point of impact. It is named for the "gap" between your bulls-eye and the tip of your arrow, which varies based on range.

Shooting with sights has no place on this forum discussion-wise...they're modern, fiber-optic or brass doo-hickeys that take all of the challenge out of it.

Instinctive shooting really just requires the shooter to have consistent shooting form, and a solid focus on the smallest discernible part of the target one can manage. When you point at a bird flying by, your body naturally points accurately, without you sighting along your arm. Similarly, you can train your body to naturally point the bow without you having to sight along the arrow.

BUT.

But if you don't have a consistent anchor point, don't grip the bow in exactly the same place every time, don't have arrows spined well for your bow, and don't have a smooth, consistent release on the string, you could be pointing at the centremost hair over your quarry's heart, and it won't do a bit of good.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Elleth » Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:54 pm

THANK YOU!

I think I was just afraid that if I didn't know exactly *how* I was doing it, it would remain unreproducable in a moment of stress.

I take it the short answer is "practice form constantly to limit the physical variables as much as possible - then just focus on the target?"

Took three shots today. One miss, and...

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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby ineffableone » Mon Jun 02, 2014 1:03 am

Elleth wrote:I take it the short answer is "practice form constantly to limit the physical variables as much as possible - then just focus on the target?"


Pretty much the gist of it. Something I have noticed is a gut feeling of rightness. I know as soon as I start my release if the shot is good or not. It is hard to describe the felling of rightness, but as you continue with the practice of instinctual archery you will learn to recognize it more and more.

Like Greg mentioned pointing your finger at something, you don't think about what your doing you don't sight along your arm or finger, you just point and 99 times out of 100 your pretty accurate. It is difficult though to explain how you just point and know where to point, and it is the same with instinctive archery. Difficult to explain how but once you do it you know it.

Big difficulty is learning to not sight down your shaft, if your used to it. Your eyes tend to want to focus on the closer object naturally. So in the beginning most of your time is spent consciously telling yourself to sight the target not the shaft.

Funny thing about instinctive archery is how well it really can work if you trust your mind to do the hard calculations and muscle adjustments. I have a Sammick Sage recurve bow that I have 50 lb limbs for, but back for X-mas got 35 lb limbs for practice. All my arrows are spined for 50 lb limbs. I decided "what the hell let me try and see how off it is with the wrong spine" My grouping was consistent but off target up and to the left. Just for giggles I decided to see if my instinctive shooting could adjust for this. I raised and "aimed" then reminded my self to adjust, my hand moved to the right and I released. "thwack" bulls eye. I tired again, and again doing the same last minute hand adjustment to the right, and had a nice tight grouping all around the bulls eye. Just amazing. After about 15 min of shooting with this last minute adjustment, I started just automatically "aiming" at the right place needing no adjustment anymore. It just goes to show that a lot of complex decision making can go on without your conscious mind taking part. Now I don't suggest regularly using wrong spined arrows, but this shows how easy it can be to adjust to arrows of the wrong spine with instinctive archery.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Rifter » Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:37 pm

Hmm This is really great info, I had done this a few times at local tourneys but now know it's something I should keep working on.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Manveruon » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:33 am

Good lord, I cannot even describe how awesome this thread is!

Greg, that had to be the best, most perfectly comprehensive description of instinctive shooting I've ever read! Totally brilliant!

I, myself, am right handed and left eye dominant - which can be a major pain in the backside, and no mistake - so I find gap shooting extremely difficult. I've been shooting instinctively since I first picked up a bow, and I can't imagine shooting any other way. I often wonder if maybe my grouping would be better if my eye-dominance matched my hand-dominance, thereby allowing me to gap shoot more effectively, but overall I think any problems I have mostly lie with inconsistency of form. I happen to know I have a rather sloppy and inconsistent release, which does a lot to hinder my accuracy.

But in any case, it's fantastic to be able to read a description that so perfectly sums up the process I've been practicing totally subconsciously for years. I knew WHAT instinctive shooting was, and therefore I knew basically what I was doing, but I never could quite put it all into words it until now.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Greg » Sat Jun 14, 2014 12:14 am

That's why they pay me the big bucks.

Glad you liked it, and glad I could help!

I got into legitimate Archery in first grade, but I was trying to shoot the dowel-shaped colored blocks from my wooden toy sets with plastic coat hangers for years before that. Disney Robin Hood is to blame. I've been shooting ever since, for the most part, with a short hiatus cleverly summed up as "High School", and I dropped shooting compounds once I could pull a traditional bow that was heavy enough to actually sling an arrow decently...right around ten. Been hooked all my life, and shot instinctively for the whole bit...once I grew up past the "guess-and-check" method so prevalent in first grade.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Pwyll » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:16 pm

Nicely said, Greg.

I never really learned this "sights" thing. Years ago, when I still used to do SCA, one of my favorite events was called "Will's Revenge". If you picture someone saying "Fire at Will", you get the idea. Lost more arrows...

They had a lot of roving ranges, or 3D shoots, on different themes. And it was the people who shot instinctive who did better at these, than the ones who aimed. No range indicators, other than best guess. And, the fun part was watching the ones who aimed miss the closer targets.

Anyway, Will's was a fun event. I loved those ranges. Different themes. Monty Python, gremlins, bears... But, yeah, that's why I learned to fletch.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby robinhoodsghost » Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:53 pm

Shooting without aiming, just takes time. If you grabed a baseball and was going to toss it to me, you wouldn't aim per say, or try to calculate how many yards away you were....you would just toss it. It is the same with archery. the main thing is to shoot with the same bow, the same type of arrow, and have your draw and notch point consistant....any varible can throw the shot off. Control what you can and time will take care of the rest.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Elleth » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:13 pm

Back at it! I've been neglecting my bow for ages because of the winter, and finally just did something and shoved enough hay bales around in the barn loft to make an impromptu very-short range.

... and immediately rediscovered this phenomenon. As soon as I stop paying attention to trying to point the arrow and just focus on the target, I'll usually land within a handsbreadth of it, and often as not closer still. I do have a tendency to jerk my release though, which I think is where most of my misses are coming from.

It's the strangest thing to try to practice - but fun! It feels like magic. :)
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Greg » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:13 am

J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter IX: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony wrote:Bree-folk called them Rangers, and knew nothing of their origin. They were taller and darker than the Men of Bree and were believed to have strange powers of sight and hearing, and to understand the languages of beasts and birds.

Sounds right to me. Had to come from somewhere. Practicing archery to a fault, and being abnormally good at paying attention when everyone else is minding their own business can make a person seem to be much more than they are.
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Kortoso » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:57 pm

ineffableone wrote:
Elleth wrote:I take it the short answer is "practice form constantly to limit the physical variables as much as possible - then just focus on the target?"


Pretty much the gist of it. Something I have noticed is a gut feeling of rightness.

Meanwhile the target gets a gut feeling of "wrongness". :P
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Re: Archer's Paradox

Postby Elleth » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:26 am

For what it's worth, I think I finally figured out what I was doing.

Depending on where you are I guess, this will be either utterly "duh" tautalogical, or (like it was for me) a slowly-dawning "Eureka!" moment. :)

Unconsciously in my head, I was building a 3D model.

In that model, because of my vision and life experience living in the physical world, I knew where the target was in relation to myself and my reference frame.
In that model, mostly because of body mechanics but also a bit of peripheral vision, I knew the orientation of the arrow in relation to myself and my reference frame.

"All" I was doing was orienting the arrow in that mental model to point at the spot of the target I wanted to hit.

The bow was irrelevant, except as an application of force along a particular vector.
Aim was irrelevant: I wasn't keying off any particular aspect of the scene.
Heck, if I had the arm strength, proper stance and anchoring would be largely irrelevant.

ALL THAT MATTERED was that 3D model in my head, and the orientation of the arrow on all three axes as it related to the target.
When the arrow was properly aligned to the target, it was time to release.

I'm sure with more experience I could learn to correlate approximate force of the bow with weight of the arrow, gravity, etc. But for now I think I've got a pretty good thread to pull on. Most importantly, now that I know what I've been doing, it's not a mystical magical voodoo beyond my prediction or control. Which means I can have some confidence that I actually can learn to do this on demand.

Woo!
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