There are a million little things one must know and master about traditional archery.
While it’s true that one can become an adequate traditional archer in a few months, there always seems to be something more to learn. At least in my case.
After learning the very basics of archery on a 25 lb fiberglass beginner’s bow back when I could barely pull 25 lbs, (and those of you who know me realize that was back before the Flood) I have learned archery techniques mostly by watching people who shoot well and making an effort to mimmic them. This works much better for me than just reading books. I’m very much a hands-on kind of learner. (This caused some trouble when I took theoretical physics classes in college, but that’s another blog.)
I have tried to find coaches and instructors, but have run into a couple of issues. The first is that most instructors want to teach olympic style shooting. I am not interested in standing at 70 meters all day long with a high tech, state of the art bow, shooting at a target that’s a meter and a half in diameter. I want to be able to shoot at targets of any size from any distance and angle with a bow made of wood and glue and a minimum of attachments.
I am also not interesting in shooting compounds. I worry that if I took up this weapon, I would obsess on the sights and other mechanisms. I don’t begrudge anybody who shoots with a bow that might as well be a rifle, but I take some pride when these same archers say, “Y’know, I was just never any good with a recurve or longbow.”
The second issue is that most instructors tend to feel that, regardless of different body types and styles, everybody shoot stand in the exact same position, use the exact same anchor point, and use the exact same release style. News flash – variety is the driving force behind evolution. How do you think people found those successful stances and styles? I need to experiment. Just ask my sword coach. When he says that a certain guard doesn’t work, I always need to find out why not. It’s frustrating and instructive, and sometimes good for a laugh.
Because of this, or perhaps in spite of it, I have had several episodes in my archery experience when I have discovered something fundamental about the sport that increased my accuracy by quantum leaps. My response to this has been, “Wow! Why hasn’t anybody told me about this?”
This happened to me just the other day, when, after putting a lot of thought into a specific aspect of aiming, I was inspired to try something slightly different. Ding! “This is the right answer!” I shouted to the birds and squirrels who cheered me on at the otherwise empty archery range at 7:00 in the morning. “Why hasn’t anybody else mentioned this?”
I’m not sure, but I think the answer is that a large majority of traditional archers have their “secret techniques” that give them any advantage they can get.
So now I have a decision to make: Do I keep this secret for myself, knowing full well that other archers are probably keeping the same secret, or do I share the information with others who are making the same struggle to find good instruction?