As a Coach, I see it all the time and all of us are guilty of the same thing, we dream big. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, dream, and DREAM BIG. Where we tend to falter is in the plan. We point ourselves in what we think is the ONLY direction that will lead to success, hoping for some kind of magical giant stepped result.

If only, life were like that.

Setting smaller, attainable, goals is very similar to creating a business plan.

Okay, so now what the heck am I talking about?

What most people don’t realize is that a business plan is a live document, in that… It never stops changing. It, if being managed correctly, will undergo continuous edits, allowing for adaptations to meet unforeseen challenges to the success of the plan, and ultimately the business.

Now let’s apply the same sort of thinking to the process of our personal advancement. Setting shorter, intentionally measurable, steps toward a much larger goal will allow us to be adaptive in the process. It is within that adaptive ability that allows us to move in different directions attached to the rewards that inherently come with measurable results.

And, – now for the best part – because the plan is ‘live’ the BIG DREAM can change and the effort is still rewarded. Sometimes, what we think we wanted or needed the endgame to be wasn’t at all the real goal. You might ask why that is, and the answer would be as simple as… Experience.

Smaller goals and successes bring otherwise unrealized experience.

It is this realization that can assist in guiding future successes, one baby step at time.



Image  —  Posted: 2017/03/30 in From the perspective of an Archery Coach., Infographics









To add to this… The best part of the sport are the changes you will notice in yourself.

*Please note: None of the participants in this video are connected to Dark Wolf Archery.

Put it this way…

I’m not sure if I know of a single success story where someone didn’t work extremely hard to be that lucky.

Movers, shakers and risk-takers are losers, first. Winning is about learning what not to do a second time.


Just sayin’…


Image  —  Posted: 2016/04/11 in From the perspective of an Archery Coach., Infographics










It has been my privilege to have been permitted to help, through sport and business, both young people and business professionals find success by providing a sense of clear direction when it comes to decision making.

But, that is only part of the formula.

There is the action that is required to make any plan successful, and with that also comes discipline, which basically means… What is repeatable in regard to positive behaviour to acquire the best results?

What few realize is that success in any aspect of our lives is learned and, it’s where we choose to learn from that is most important, even critical.

I have a mentor that is always saying, “I’d much rather teach a kid to steal bases than watch them learn to steal cars.”

I think that this sort of thought can have a positive affect on anyone, regardless of age, in as much as it points to taking advantage of rules while avoiding the wrong path.

Look at having a good mentor as working with a bit of a safety net, in many cases, business or personal circumstances alike, it is their experience and the experience of a network they have access to that has an incredible amount of value.

It’s like being able to walk a path that’s already been traveled, wearing someone else’s shoes.

All of this said… There is one thing that I enjoy above all others about the Mentoring Process, it’s that look in the eyes of the person you’re helping when all of a sudden they see it and realize they could have done it all along.

Now, that’s awesome!

I’ve recently started making wooden long bows, this one is version 2.0 and a work in progress. So, I’m learning a ton as I go along. I call it the LongTooth.

I will post pics of the different stages of completion, if you’d like to follow along.








This bow is a Lefty and there’s a bit more work yet… stay tuned.

Thinned this LongTooth out a bit and it’s starting to bend now. Just gluing on a pistol grip arrow rest and the limb nocks then some more shaping and tillering, and with any luck shooting it by the week’s end.


Getting closer to Tiller Time, then shooting!

Can’t wait!!!


I’ve watched it many times; in fact I’m guilty of it myself. It was awhile back now, but when I first started in archery I didn’t know any better, and right out of an archery school I purchased a bow 15# heavier in draw weight than I had been using. If, I had only realized the amount of damage that I could have done to my body in regard to strains and tears, these are injuries that could have ended a passion before it ever really had a chance to get started.

So, this brings forth the argument…

“What is a good rate of increase in poundage or is there one at all, and is it personal to the individual?” (whew what a mouthful)

Like most people that teach, I try to use bows that are around 20# for beginners and usually a longbow or recurve. The reason for this option, in regard to style, is one of transferrable skills. It is far easier to utilize what has been learned, going from Traditional to Olympic or Compound than vice versa. Most students will grow into a 20# bow quickly, strengthening their bodies where necessary to maintain a “hold” while learning the individual aspects and subtleties of an archery shot.

“And there in, lies the secret… “Hold.”

So, to answer the above question. Yes, there is an appropriate rate of increase. Yes, there is a certain “personal” need that must be observed to maintain safety. I usually go shopping with students to be certain that what is purchased is what will suit their rate of advancement. What I’m looking for, in regard to draw weight, is a slight shaking of the draw arm elbow but no shaking on the bow side of the body at full draw. Other than this slight shake, the draw must be solid and fairly comfortably held for 10 to 12 seconds with only a slight increase in shaking. Why the shake? This is the visually measurable indicator that the bow is about 2 to 4# over what the student is comfortable in pulling, which often is about 4 to 6# more than the 20# they started learning with.

By using this method, we are creating another stage of development by building strength in a slow, controlled and carefully monitored set of circumstances that can be altered as needed.

So, what happened to me? I jumped from a 25 to 40# bow right away, figuring that I would eventually grow into it. I did eventually do exactly that but not without paying the price through injuries that prolonged the process of learning. That dramatic of an increase forced me to practice with improper techniques, it took 6 months just to build strength enough to pull and hold without shaking, and then came the process of correcting form errors. After 18 months, I was able to shoot with reasonable accuracy. Here’s the scary part…

“If, you expect an average 2# of increase every 4 to 6 weeks, it will work out to, pretty much, the same time frame. So, why try to turn it into a race?”

The trick here is to realize that the higher you go in poundage the slower and more controlled the increases should become. Your physical safety may depend on this way of thinking.

Be safe.

Shawn-Rees-Dark-Wolf-Archery-001Recently, I decided to go back to my roots in Archery and after making a half-dozen cedar arrows I picked up my Trad Bow. I’ve been shooting, pretty much exclusively, my Compound Bows for almost 2 years and have managed a few accomplishments but have never really been satisfied with the experience. You see, the fundamental difference between Compound and Traditional shooting is that Compound is a mechanical process, and if one doesn’t give one’s self over, entirely, to that process, accuracy is fleeting.


However, Traditional shooting is the dance, the romance and the art behind what it means to be an archer, it is within this realm where the bow submits itself to becoming an extension of its master but not without raising both to something far greater than either could ever be alone. Is this a bunch of hullabaloo? I think not. The experience is heightened through knowing that as one’s skill increases, it is done without strapping on or changing yet another mechanical aid to do so.

In a single word, the Traditional experience can be described as being a release from what binds us to the daily grind that we call life.

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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.

For years now, all I’ve been hearing is “If you want to be at your best as a target shooter, you MUST use a back-tension release.”  

First off… POPPYCOCK, I say.

There are some really good competitive shooters out there that will move to a trigger or thumb release in high-wind conditions for “Command Release Control” when needed because the “shot surprise” philosophy or approach to making a back-tension release function just isn’t going to deliver winning results. And, that is mainly due to using a BT release incorrectly in the first place.

Most people are under the misnomer that using the pull-through technique of aiming and continually pulling on a back-tension release will eventually make it go off, believing the sudden surprise of the arrow being gone is a properly executed shot.

However, you can pull on a BT release all day and without mechanically causing a physical rotational action, the trigger function of the release will not activate.

If, you think you’ve been using your BT release properly and are using the Pull-through method described above, I challenge you to try this. Do everything the same, meaning you’re still going for a surprise release but instead of pulling through, you’re going to relax two fingers on your draw-hand.

Draw back and lock everything, your back, your string-side shoulder and your bow arm. Aim, no further movement is required, with the exception of relaxing your index and middle fingers to cause the rotation, triggering the release.

Suddenly, there is no increase in pressure during the shot execution, no sudden movement of the bow-hand because of mis-timing the relationship between rotation and pull. The release portion of shot execution becomes more relaxed, more intentionally repeatable and has a higher instance of consistency.

Give it a try and see if it improves your results. It’s a secret that some pros don’t want you to know.

Me… I’m sticking to my modified trigger because it’s what makes me feel comfortable and confident during shot execution, and that’s 90% of the battle. The other 10%? That’s another article.

These shots.

This bow.

This release.