You should practice all distances, and you should practice shooting a round. However, you need more practice at the longest distance. Firstly, because if you can shoot this well you should carry the stability of your shooting stance and style over to the shorter distances and secondly, because you will probably be able to shoot ends of six or more without damage – less walking in the long run.
General practice allows you to check on and improve your score. There are things that you should be looking at to help this process along. Your coach will help you with stance and style.
You should be looking for bolts that cease to perform as you would expect, and checking your sight arrangement as well as sight marks. Learn the effect of making a change to your sight.
In particular, check the alignment of the fore and rear sight tubes, and the size of the foresight element. You need to check these frequently to ensure that the way in which you see the target has not changed. You should also check the effects of filters if you have these available on your rear sight. Record the light conditions as well as distances, sight marks, and filters used. Changes in light will also have an effect that you need to be aware of.
Don’t forget to get sight marks for your spare prod(s).
You will get 3 practice shots if you have to change a prod in competition. These will be wasted if you do not have a good idea of the relative performance of each prod. Prods are not identical. One relative to another will shoot high or low, left or right.
Be prepared so that you can make a first order adjustment, including some of the minor adjustment for the day’s conditions, before you shoot the first bolt. You should then only be making fine adjustments during your additional practice shots. This will save you points on your next scoring end.
You should have a clear idea of what score you anticipate achieving, and what that means for each distance. There are two reasons for this. It gives you small targets to achieve as you go. This can aid your concentration. Secondly, there is not always time in practice to shoot all distances. So if you go out and shoot one or two distances, then you have an ideal of how well you are doing.
Here’s a suggestion of what you should expect for a variety of levels of performance firstly for Target and then Sport bows. Take these figures as a guide only. You may prefer to shoot at one particular distance and so perform better than suggested.
In a competition you may have a good distance and achieve more than one of these score expectations. That’s a bonus. Don’t forget that a round is made up of scores for three distances. They all need to come close to the standard you have set. However, it is nice to see a higher score than you expected, and get some breathing space.
If you look steadily at an image for more than 15 seconds your retina will retain that image for an instant after you look away. You cannot tell that this has happened. If you hold your aim for more than 15 seconds you may actually move the bow off target and back on without knowing.
It is essential to aim for no more than 10, maximum 12, seconds. If you cannot make the shot in this time you must close your eyes, or deliberately look away at something else, and then return to aiming.
Aim until the bolt hits. The follow through is important. It ensures that you do not move the bow before the bolt has left the track.
Take the example of shooting at 18 metres, which is approximately 20 yards (60 feet). Bow speeds are usually quoted in feet per second. From a bow with a rating of 240 ft per second the bolt will take 0.25sec to cover the distance. Normal human reaction time is 0.25sec. Track athletes train and practice race starts just to reduce this reaction time. It’s not going to work with shooting. If you are not still aiming when the bolt hits the target then the odds are that you moved before you pulled the trigger, or at least before the bolt left the bow. And if you moved then so did the bow.
If your head is up and you are looking at the target when the bolt hits it is certain that were not aiming when you pulled the trigger. So where was the bow pointing?
You should use the same practice indoors and out so that you have a consistent style. Hold the aim for 2 to 3 seconds after pulling the trigger. The bolt will then have hit the target, even at 65 metres.
Shooting in the wind is an art that you will have to think about. Light wind will have minimal effect. Windage adjustment will be sufficient.
But what happens once the wind is stronger and variable in strength. Windage adjustment alone will not do the trick. Windage allows for a “static” set of conditions. If the wind varies in strength you have to use your ears.
There is no value in shooting when the wind is strongest, or when it is weakest. That gives you just one set of shooting conditions that is acceptable during the cycle of a gust, and you may have to wait far too long to meet those conditions. You need to listen and estimate a mid-point in wind strength, or wind blowing at a strength you recognise. That way you should have at least two chances in a gust when you have the conditions that you have allowed for. Considering the vagaries of the wind you are likely to have more than two opportunities. Be prepared to change to another set of conditions if it becomes necessary.
Some shooters aim off to compensate for wind draft. This practice is generally not recommended as in all probability the bolts will go where they are aimed! It is arguably better to maintain a constant 10 ring hold and wait for average wind conditions.