Archery Practice: Improve
With SMART Goals Archery Practice: Improve With SMART Goals

SMART goals are used to improve performance in many fields, including sports, business and academics. “SMART” stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-based.

SMART goals apply to brand new archers and the most advanced competitors in the world, recreational and competitive archers alike. Whether you’re taking your first shots at the archery range or shooting in the World Championships, SMART goals can help you to improve your archery practice experience.

A SMART goal has five main characteristics:

It’s Specific: The goal describes in detail what you will do. For example, if your process-based goal is to improve your shooting form, you should still be more specific about how you will do that. A good way to do that is to describe what you want to achieve with the goal. So, “maintain good posture when I shoot” is a good goal, but “keep my back flat and my shoulders straight” is an even better specific, processed based goal.

It’s Measurable: A scale or percentage measures how close you come to succeeding. For instance, a scale of 1 to 10 ranges from 1 as the worst attitude possible to 10 as the best attitude possible. Percentages are useful for things you try to remember for each shot, such as ensuring your bow arm is turned correctly before starting the shot.

It’s Action-oriented: Your goal should include specific things you plan to do, including how to reach your goal. The goal should include action verbs such as check, think, say, move, etc.

It’s Realistic: Your goal should match your ability level. A good reference is something that’s just beyond your comfort level. Avoid setting goals like “100 percent of the time” or “My bow shoulder will be a perfect 10 out of 10 for every shot.” People aren’t perfect, so it’s unrealistic to make perfection a goal.

And it’s Time-based: Set a time length for this goal. It could be a practice session, a week or a season. This goal should be written down and evaluated after the time period ends.

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We’ll use “process goals” for this discussion because they’re building blocks for all future success – they literally help you take the process that you use to shoot your bow and improve upon it. Process goals deal with the actual process you use for shooting your bow, whether mental or physical. You can refresh your memory with this quick primer on the different types of goals that we published recently.

So let’s put this together. First, keep a journal to record your goals. Writing down your goals is an important part of the process. Next, pick a mental or technique-based (physical) goal. Each goal should have a positive meaning, so avoid words like don’t, can’t and won’t. If your first attempt at picking a goal sounds like, “Don’t do XXX,” ask yourself, “What would I like to do instead?” Make that your goal. Do not set more than one mental and one technique-based goal at a time.

Pick something that truly affects your shooting ability. Next, take that goal and expand on it. Describe it in detail, and describe how you will achieve it. Once your goal is explained thoroughly and you have a solid plan for achieving it, set a realistic standard of success using scale or a percentage.

Finally, decide how long you’ll work on this goal before evaluating it. If the goal lasts longer than one practice session, start each practice by reviewing your goals so you stay focused.

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After the time period ends, evaluate your goal and determine if you achieved it. Ask these questions and journal your answers:

Did I meet my goal?

What was good about this goal?

How would you change this goal in the future?

If you had success with any part of your goal, highlight it for future reference. If your approach didn’t work, that’s okay! Approach the problem differently next time. Either way, you learned something valuable.

Here are two examples of fully written SMART goals that are process-based:

“I want to keep a calm, focused, confident attitude regardless of my score. Before each shot I will remind myself to give this arrow my best attention. If I get distracted on a past or future arrow, I will clear my mind before starting my shot. I will take a slow, deep breath while thinking, ‘This is the only arrow I can control and I will give it all my attention.’ With my best attitude being 10 and my worst being 1, I will keep my attitude at 7 or better all day. I will do this for today’s practice.”

“I want my posture to be straight and balanced, with a flat back and low shoulders. After I place my feet in the proper stance, I will make sure my hips are directly below my ribcage to flatten my back, and that my shoulders are straight but low and relaxed. I will keep my head held high and straight. I want to focus on having straight posture with a flat back for 80 percent of my shots this week.”

SMART goal setting is a great way to improve your archery game, giving you a clear-cut way to track progress and incentive to keep practicing!

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