In archery we don’t randomly fling arrows but, instead, pick a spot and try to hit the target. In a similar manner, training should be goal-oriented. Goal setting, the formal process of creating, recording and reviewing goals, is proven to improve performance when done correctly. It’s also one of my favorite things to teach. So many students continue to use goal setting through life, on and off the range.
3 Types of Goals to Get Started
Outcome Goals: Use sparingly for motivation
Outcome goals, as the name suggests, are result oriented. This could be winning a tournament or winning a bet. If you ask archers about their goals, many in the sport offer an outcome goal: to make a USAT team, win a tournament, get the biggest buck or be a professional bowhunter (and yes, being a professional bow hunter is very competitive). Goals like this rely heavily — not just on an archer’s own abilities, but also on the abilities of competition faced. Because this goal type directly relates to performances outside of your own, they can set you up for failure.
Even if you shoot better than you ever have in your life, you could ‘fail’ because someone else outperformed your performance. Use Outcome Goals rarely and primarily for motivation. When goofing off, instead of practicing, Outcome Goals can keep you focused and get you out on the range.
Performance Goals: Use to track progress
Next are Performance Goals, which focus on improvement relative to past performances. Performance Goals are more effective than Outcome Goals because the focus is on improving your own performance. For instance, a Performance Goal may be to hike farther, with all of your hunting equipment. Or maybe it’s to beat your personal best by 5 points. These help track progress and also assist with motivation.
Still, focusing on these goals while on the range can be detrimental to progress. Individual coaches and athletes vary on how much they rely on performance goals. Some feel too much emphasis on performance distracts from correct form and mental game, while others feel accuracy is a necessary part of archery and ignoring it is naive.
I would encourage you to pay attention to how helpful or distracting you find these goals and adjust accordingly.
Process Goals: Focusing on your form and mental game for effective improvements in your shooting
Process Goals focus on improving archery skills (form or mental). I encourage archers to ask themselves, “what are the biggest things (mental and form) holding me back from being a better archer?” Then use the answer to choose Process Goals. Form process goals could be improving alignment, mastering shot execution or building strength. Mental process goal could include staying focused on the current arrow during competition or managing your nerves better during a hunt. It’s often suggested to limit yourself to one form and one mental goal at a time, then put your focus on only those until you see an improvement.
Keep these three goals in mind and get started. Pick an Outcome Goal for motivation, a Performance Goal for direction, then one mental and one form Process Goal and have at it.