I’ve always been a perfectionist, but while raising two children the past 13 years I’ve learned to value progress over perfection in daily life, habits and hobbies. That distinction is critical to effective teaching and learning.
In archery, I’ve been as much student as teacher while learning beside my oldest son. Among other things, my 7-year-old and I have worked on the proper grip, stance, anchor point and release. What I didn’t learn until much later was the value in his approach. That is, he’s happy with small victories, and focuses on them.
How can other archers focus on progress and small victories, and patiently chip away at flaws while working toward excellence? It’s a process, a basic concept of teaching. Start with a checklist of components, and repeat them until they’re retained.
It’s important to focus on progress, not perfection. People lose interest quickly when learning becomes solely focused on results. Let’s discuss some tools to stay focused on progress.
Use the steps of shooting to keep the archer focused on the process. An archer’s stance is the foundation of consistent shooting. Help them find a comfortable stance. Keep it simple while working your way up to the bow hand’s grip, the anchor point, and eye/peep alignment. Focus on small victories. Emphasize details through praise and correction.
When archers struggle to find a consistent anchor point, praise them when they do it right, even if their shot missed the bull’s-eye. Likewise, if they somehow arrow a bull’s-eye while torqueing their bow, praise the shot but note the technique issue. Use the Oreo method, which is two compliments for each correction.
Just don’t overdo it. Archery uses muscle groups that other activities ignore. It can take time to build the strength and endurance needed to succeed consistently. When technique gets sloppy, it might signal fatigue, which derails progress.
When that happens, it might be time to end a frustrating shooting session, rest, and celebrate their victories of progress. Wins might be slight increases in draw weight, crisp and clean releases, or a consistent anchor point. Whatever it might be, celebrate it!
By focusing on progress, not perfection, you can have profound impacts on youths and adults, and beginners and experts. No matter the archer’s age, skill or gender, celebrate their progress. You’ll end the drudgery and monotony of pointless drilling, and let the archers advance at their own pace.
How do you stay in archery’s positive, progress-based lane? Emphasize process. Make performance secondary to form and setup. Celebrate the positives and build on them. Correct flaws, but don’t dwell on them. Have fun! People shoot better when smiling between shots.
Visit an archery shop for gear tips and tuning. While you focus on progress, they’ll outfit you with archery’s greatest gear!