Blind Bale, the 6′ archery practice.

Posted: 2014/09/06 in From the perspective of an Archery Coach.

There are Archers out there that have never done or even heard of blind bale practice. And, actually, I can remember scoffing at the notion, believing that anything that removed the visual part of aiming from the shot cycle was utter nonsense. However, I can tell you that my technique and form have improved, not to mention my scores are climbing, since adopting the practice into my training routine.

The basic principle behind the process is to remove the visual input by closing your eyes and physically focusing on what you feel.

Don’t think, feel. It’s like a finger pointing to the moon, concentrate on the finger and you’ll miss all the heavenly glory. *** Bruce Lee

A very big part of a well-executed shot is how it felt before, during and through the process.

Archery is a very tactile sport, the more points of contact you can have with your bow without interfering with its function, the more accurate you will be.

The basic setup is simple, all you need are the target, 6′ of space, your bow and a few arrows. Oh, and a willingness to learn what’s really going on with your form. So, the first step is to create a safe shooting lane with a shooting line about 6′ from the target. Don’t be overly concerned about exact measurements, in this case close is good enough. I’ve used a closet, spare bedroom and a hallway within my home on bad days when standing in the rain isn’t so appealing. The trick is to place the target at or about shoulder height, it is important to keep in mind that this is a form aid and an arm at 90 degrees from the torso is desirable.

There are 3 drills I will focus on. There isn’t one that I place more importance on over another, knowing that each in its own way will help break down the individual elements of a shot for fine tuning.

1. Closed Eyes

This exercise may work best with a second set of eyes watching and making form correctons where necessary. The drill is rather simple and it’s the closing of your eyes that gives it the name Blind Bale practice. Come to full draw and hold, aim as you normally would, when you are confident that things are normal close your eyes and continue to hold for an additional 5 to 10 seconds, then release WITHOUT opening your eyes. It is the removal of vision that allows you to focus on specific aspects of your shot. For example, how smooth is your release, steady is your bow arm or where are you feeling stresses when that given area should be relaxed?

I find this one particularly helpful with shot cycle timing in combination with breathing and it’s often done with or without a target.

2. Torque Testing

This drill requires the use of a Paper Tuning frame and that it be placed between the bow and target. While shooting through the paper each arrow’s flight is visually recorded as a tear, and assuming that your bow is properly tuned, it will produce something close to a bullet hole. It is the changes in what the tear looks like that you’re looking for. Each tear has the potential to reveal flaws in your shot execution. For example, over extending your draw, dropping your bow arm, punching the trigger, and the big one, torquing the bow during release will result in a different looking tear. The best part of this drill is that you cannot argue with the results that are recorded on the paper.

What I like about this drill is that I’m getting feedback that tells me when something is wrong, and it forces me to think about what it is that I’m doing to discover the error in my technique.

3. Prolonged Aiming

Use your computer and print 6 (1/2″ or 1 cm) dots, equally spaced on a piece of paper. The drill is simple in its intent to build strength and stamina, aim at a single dot for 30 seconds before allowing a release. Shoot 1 arrow at each dot for five rounds, a total of 30 arrows, then measure with a ruler the size of each grouping. You can record the results, if you wish, making note of improvement.

Strength and stamina are important. Shoot a full FITA round and you’ll soon discover, why?

Shoot until you’re tired and then some.

The use of these drills will increase stamina and skill at further distances, make them part of your training routine.


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