It’s been a long while, but I finally put some time into a stave. This 60” black locust stave has been drying for a year and a half. I chased the back rings down to the one directly above my target ring. This is a really thin ring. I’m leaving this on while I draw on the front profile and thin the limbs. The stave will be 1-1/2” wide.
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!
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The winners at the Sud de France – Nîmes Archery Tournament will likely qualify for the Indoor Archery World Series Finals. 🇫🇷🏆🏹
😲 It’s been five years since Mike Schloesser shot the first perfect 600-point indoor ranking round at the Sud de France – Nîmes Archery Tournament. 🇫🇷🏆🏹
In 2017, Dallas Jones became the first African-American to win a national archery tournament. Then he won gold at the 2019 Lancaster Archery Classic.
Jones, 16, is from Brooklyn, New York, and began shooting archery at age 10. But his story actually began much earlier when a man quit his job to pursue a more fulfilling career.
That man is Larry Brown, now a New York archery coach.
Brown got his own start in archery at age 5. His father, who worked as a bowyer while also running an upholstery business, took Brown and two of his other sons to a garbage dump. He tacked an old couch cushion to a dirt pile, and put a bow carved from a neighborhood tree into Brown’s hands.
That moment changed Brown’s life. From then on, he shot a bow whenever and wherever he could. According to his coaching bio, Brown spent much of his childhood looking for tree limbs to turn into handmade bows so he could practice shooting. Not until age 11—six years after he began shooting—did he buy a bow from a secondhand store. He bought what he describes as “his first real bow” in his 20s.
Brown began competing in the late 1970s. He won a spot on New York’s Empire State Games team in 1985, and became one of the few African-Americans to compete on the national archery circuit. He became head coach of the women’s archery team at Columbia in 2002. That team finished second in the U.S in 2003.
For many, that would be enough. But Brown wanted more. And not just for himself.
“When I went to tournaments and I didn’t see any black and brown children, I said: ‘You know what? I’m in my 50s now. Let me make a little change here,’” he recalled in a CBS News interview.
Brown left his Ivy League position to coach archery in the New York public school system. He has worked the past 16 years with children at 12 schools, introducing them to archery and, in the process, teaching them confidence, discipline and patience. He hopes to increase diversity in archery.
“It wasn’t about a job,” he told CBS. “It was about a mission. And that’s what made it much more comfortable for me to do.”
The impact of Brown’s coaching reaches beyond archery ranges. When asked by CBS2 how the archery program affected students, P.S. 69 Principal Sheila Durant said: “It develops self-confidence in them, their self-esteem, discipline and focus. And that translates into better test scores.”
Dallas Jones might be the winningest archer Brown has coached, but Brown balks at calling Jones the most successful. When CBS asked how he felt about his protégé’s accomplishments, Brown hesitated.
“Joy and happiness, to answer your question straight up,” he said finally. “But the success I see with him, I also see in children who don’t get as far as he did, but they came through the program and learned from it.”
One of Brown’s former students, for example, recently earned her master’s degree. Her feat demonstrated that an archery program’s success can’t always be measured by tournaments.
“The greatest reward is them,” Brown said, gesturing at his students. “Outside of a medal, outside of getting paid, outside of the external attributes, the true growth is a living person doing what you taught them to do. And it changes their lives.”
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