Friday, May 18, 2012


It turns out my friend Jess is also into archery, and she roped in a co-worker, who then arranged for a lesson on Sunday with a guy who turned out to be the Stanford head coach. I've been meaning to arrange a lesson (though not with him), so this was perfect.

It was amazing! He did a bunch of stuff with alignment, and when I pointed out my release of the arrow had been screwy for months, he saw it immediately and tied it into the overarching alignment theme. Basically, your bow arm has to be locked, so you're minimizing the muscles involved in holding the bowstring back. Releasing the arrow means squeezing the shoulder blades together, so the arrow hand pulls through the string, which magically makes the arrow go straight. Iron-rod posture, shoulder blades together and chest forward at the end.

It's actually that simple. When I do all that, the arrow very naturally goes more or less where I want it. ("Aiming is very natural, and it's absolutely the last thing you need to think about.") a few thousand more shots and I should have it down pat.

Generally, it's impossible for us to see ourselves. We always need another person giving us feedback, whether it's a coach or a Zen teacher. Even surgeons.

I decided randomly to check craigslist for a used sight, and found a guy selling an entire Olympic archery setup: sight, stabilizers, stand, carrying bags, bow. I had to promise myself not to spend the $800 on a setup that's not necessarily right for me, but the sight seemed a safe bet. I, uh, kind of ended up buying the stabilizers too--it was all a fantastically good deal--which means I now have accessories worth far more than the bow.

As expected, my shooting isn't stable enough for the sight, but the stabilizer, which I use without a weight, makes a huge difference, much more than I expected. It balances the bow, so it takes less effort to hold it and I can focus on my body position, and it also absorbs the vibration from the shot and makes it more pleasant.

I miss aikido, but this is also fun, and takes less energy.

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