Quality vs Quantity
By Marcus Barclay
Im sure you have all heard the saying quality over quantity, whether it is regarding your schoolwork or your job etc. The same can definitely be applied to archery, and this is how I have come to focus the quality of my shooting over the quantity of arrows shot.
Pursuing a minority sport in any country can be tough, and archery in New Zealand is no exception. But despite this I have been competing in archery tournaments around New Zealand since I was 14 years old, and up in till my first World Youth Archery Championships in 2013 I believed that the countless hours down at the range shooting end after end with my compound were of some benefit to my archery. It was not until I realised just how good the rest of the world really is at archery, compared to New Zealand that I decided that I needed to train smarter not harder.
I was first introduced to the concept of back tension back around 2011, and at the time was keen and willing to do what I could to help benefit my archery. So with the help of my coach at that time I was able to set up my equipment to a high standard and really start working on improving my shooting, and it wasn’t long before I had my own T.R.U Ball HT back tension release aid. Looking back on it now, the worst thing I did at the time was go straight into a tournament with my new release with minimal quality practice. After that tournament my mental side to archery had really suffered as I was using something that had been described to me as “the ways the pro’s shoot,” but during that tournament I had shot the worst score and most unconfidently that I had shot for a long time. So back to the practise range I went and did what I had been doing, which was shooting as many arrows as possible.
By mid-2012 I was not being coached anymore due to the fact that my previous coach was firmly set in his ways and though I respect that in people like him who are very knowledgeable about what they do, I found his method of coaching limiting as he couldn’t explain things in different ways. I wouldn’t admit it either but I had developed a very bad case of target panic due to the fact I hadn’t been taught to correctly use back tension in a way that I could comprehend what it was that I needed to do, so the arrows I would shoot at practice at home would only worsen the problems that I was facing.
Now that I was shooting without a coach, I started using my thumb trigger release and things started to improve, this continued for about a year and a half, in which I attended my first World Archery Youth Championships in China where individually I had poor results. Which I was really confused about, considering the arrow count I had been putting down in practice for my build up to the event.
Not long after that I found myself stuck at a point where I wasn’t getting any better, I was becoming quite erratic with my results, where I would have some great days and then some shocking results to follow, and I don’t mind having bad results as it shows you what you need to focus on and improve. But the frequency of these bad days was telling me that I needed to change something, and soon. Unless I wanted to be back at square one like I was with my back tension release aid and unable to shoot confidently because of target panic. I was lucky enough that one of the U.S.A coaches from the past few years, Rob Turner had moved back to New Zealand with his wife and was willing to help and coach me in my build up to the next World Youth Champs that would be held in Yankton, U.S.A.
Working with Rob was great, as appose to my previous coach, Rob had plenty of knowledge but could explain it in different ways to help me understand what I needed to be doing. So that was a big bonus. I found myself back on the right track soon in regards to my shot execution and mentality towards archery.
Once again I was able to travel to the World Youth Archery Champs in 2015 and despite not being able to handle the weather there very well. I felt that my archery was taking a step in the right direction, and now that I understand the concepts of archery that I need to work on I have been able to do some quality training and really focus on the different aspects of my shooting.
So over the past 4-5 years I have learnt a lot about what it takes to become a better archer, shooting a lot of arrows isn’t always best when starting out, taking a bit of time to develop your skill before increasing the quantity of arrows shot can be hugely beneficial to your future in archery.