You’re Hitting the Bull’s-Eye,
But Are You Missing the
Mark? You’re Hitting the Bull’s-Eye, But Are You Missing the Mark?

You hit the nail on the head. You’re right on the money. You’ve put your finger on it. You knocked it out of the park. You hit a bull’s-eye.

Those expressions mean you got things exactly right.

When you hit a bull’s-eye in archery, you’ve made a great shot, assuming that’s where you aimed. In archery, the goal is to score bull’s-eyes. Hits there mean success and misses mean failure. But sending an arrow exactly where you aimed shouldn’t be your only goal. By focusing solely on bull’s-eyes, you can miss the mark by ignoring what the sport can mean to you.

Archery is a lifelong sport that teaches patience, dedication and persistence. Measuring success by the number of bull’s-eyes you hit in practice might sell yourself short. Developing and sharpening archery skills sends everyone down different paths, but every path should include goals along the way. You’ll go further by setting several goals and then focusing on achieving them.

Setting goals improves performance when done correctly. Athletes, academics and business professionals use a process called “SMART” goals, which stands for specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-based. Wherever you are on your archery journey, SMART goals give you something to work toward and help you progress.

SMART Goals:

Goals are impossible to achieve if you can’t gauge them. By measuring success, you hold yourself accountable to that goal. If your goal is to shoot your bow three times each week, but you only shot twice, you aren’t measuring up. Photo Credit: ATA.

Specific: Goals should have a narrow focus. That’s why “hitting the bull’s-eye” is an easy goal to set. However, archers must address many other specific goals. Ask yourself which areas need improvement. What do you want to accomplish? What do you get out of archery? Maybe archery helps you relax and release stress along with your arrows. But maybe you’ve been too busy for your bow. Instead of setting a goal to shoot your bow more, set a specific goal like, “I will shoot my bow three times each week.”

Measurable: Goals are impossible to achieve if you can’t gauge them. By measuring success, you hold yourself accountable to that goal. If your goal is to shoot your bow three times each week, but you only shot twice, you aren’t measuring up. Other measurable goals could include, “I will tighten my arrow groups” and “I will increase the poundage I shoot.”

Action-Oriented: You’ve set a goal. Now what? An action-oriented goal charts a path for meeting your goal. If your goal is to increase your shooting poundage, you can shoot more often and do strength and conditioning exercises. If your goal is to improve your shooting form, visit an archery shop and take a lesson.

Realistic: Failing to meet your goals can be discouraging and make you feel like a failure. But sometimes such failures are beyond your control. And unrealistic goals set yourself up for failure. Before setting a goal, make sure it’s realistic. If you’re new to archery, qualifying for the Olympics isn’t a realistic goal, but competing in local tournaments is. If you’re juggling family commitments and a full-time job, practicing three hours daily probably isn’t realistic. Consider setting a goal of practicing three times per week.

Time-based: Deadlines are all around us at work, school and home. Too often they’re annoying and approach too fast. But without deadlines, some things don’t get done. By setting deadlines, you force yourself to accomplish a goal instead of putting it off.

As you set your SMART goals, they will fall into two types of categories: outcome and process.

It’s important to challenge yourself and set outcome goals, but consider limiting your number of outcome goals and include some process goals. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

Outcome Goals: Hitting the bull’s-eye is an outcome goal, which is results-oriented. Although these goals are specific and can drive you to work hard, outcome goals can also be beyond your control. Many archers’ goals center around competition. If your goal is to win, even the best tournament of your career might fall short if other competitors shoot even better. That outcome is beyond your control. It’s important to challenge yourself and set outcome goals, but consider limiting your number of outcome goals and include some process goals.

Form related goals help by focusing on the process so you can fine-tune your skills and grow your archery abilities. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Process Goals: If hitting the bull’s-eye is the outcome, everything it takes to get there is the process. Process goals are entirely under your control, and can be physical and mental. These goals involve doing the right things to achieve the right outcome. For example, process goals include shooting your bow three times weekly, “setting a consistent anchor point,” and focusing on your shot. By focusing on the process, you can fine-tune your skills and grow your archery abilities.

With all the ways you can improve your performance, archery is great for goal setting. It also improves your concentration, determination and mental toughness. You can then take these abilities and use them in other aspects of life. By creating SMART goals, and focusing on the process and outcome, your goals will help you shoot bull’s-eyes and improve your performance.

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