Conquering the sport of Archery means conquering yourself....
While I love bowhunting, I am first and foremost a Target Archer. When I started shooting, I wanted nothing more than to compete against the best archers I could find. Of course, on a farm in the middle of Indiana, there were not too many other archers around.
But I practiced every day I could, and read everything I could find. I tried every hand position, and bought every gadget that might get me another point. Physically, I became very solid, but I just could not seem to get over the hump, so to speak.
Then I read a book called "Understanding Winning Archery," by Al Henderson. That book made me look at shooting a bow in a different way. I came to understand that once you have trained your body, you have to train your mind; that at its highest level, shooting a bow is a form of meditation, in which you focus all of your concentration on one point: the aiming of the bow. And you simply let the bow shoot itself.
On the tournament line, when winning or losing is decided by each arrow, you have to let your mind take over, to overcome the pressures that you naturally put on yourself. But when you finally understand the essence of archery, and just enjoy immersing your mind into the pure act of putting the arrow in the center, time after time... winning or losing no longer matters. All that matters is making a good shot each time. Everything else takes care of itself.
Today, with my eyesight failing and my shoulders hurting, I do not shoot as much as I would like. But when I do get the opportunity, I am reminded of all of the reasons I started in the first place. Enjoy this wonderful sport, for it is a purest form of combining body and mind. Take satisfaction from knowing that you are following in the footsteps of such greats as Fred Bear, Howard Hill and many others.
And did I mention: enjoy every minute of it!
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