Every archer strives for that perfect 300 score in 30 arrows, but it takes a unique mindset to do it in practice, and then repeat it in competition with money on the line.
So, how do archers do it? The answer sounds simple: Don’t shoot 9’s. But that’s easier said than done, and teaches nothing. Archery is a game of consistency, and the most consistent archers win.
The first step in achieving a perfect score is not trying to force it. Forcing a score introduces tension into the shot and the more you force the issue, the more elusive that 300 becomes.
Having absolute confidence in yourself and your equipment is a great step toward perfection. Any doubt in either can make you second-guess your shot, and those are arrows that usually hit the 9. Many of the world’s top archers occasionally tweak their equipment to customize it. They’re that confident in their shot and how they execute it.
Coach Bob Hickey in the Seattle area recommended a drill that helps build confidence in your shot as you seek a 300. You start by shooting at a 40-centimeter target face at 10 meters. This lets you sight in so you’re shooting 10s and really homed in on the center. The drill is to shoot 30 arrows at your target while striving to shoot a 300.
You might find it easy to shoot a perfect score at that range, which is the point. It builds lots of confidence. Once you’re comfortable at 10 meters, move the target to 12 meters. Continue moving back a couple of meters each time you shoot a 300 until you reach 18 meters.
Vegas champion Chris Perkins of Canada said shooting a 300 at the famous tournament can be stressful and a big feat, but he thinks it’s no different than shooting a 300 at home or at a local event.
“I treat each round exactly the same, whether I’m practicing or shooting a tournament: one shot at a time, and keep in rhythm,” he said. “Shot timing is crucial when pressure is added, and that’s one of the biggest things I focus on. There’s no real secret or difference to shooting a 300 in Vegas other than location. It’s the same round, same target, and same you.”
A key takeaway from Perkins’ observation is his focus on maintaining the same timing during the round. Archers too often slow down when under pressure, which changes the way their shot feels, and puts extra stress on their bodies.
No one holds the secret to shooting a 300, of course. Practice is the constant of all archers who consistently shoot 300s at and away from tournaments. Push yourself to be better than yesterday, and train as hard as you can. And always remember Perkins’ quote: “It’s the same round, same target, and same you.”