You are going to lose an arrow. No matter how good you think you are, you are going to lose an arrow. If you don’t occasionally bury an arrow somewhere other than the target, you are not trying hard enough.
Practice is just that – practice. This is the time to make your training more difficult than you imagine a tournament might be. Otherwise, you’ll become real good at shooting easy targets under perfect conditions. The conditions are almost never perfect.
If you primary mission in archery is to be great at 18-meters then you will need to practice at 18-meters for thousands of hours. After some time, you may start landing all your shots in the yellow, no more of those red shots. But, that will not be enough. You will need to get better. So, you can make your practice a bit tougher.
How do you make it tougher? Eighteen meters is just 18-meters. Eventually, you end up shooting it really well at your practice range. You sign up for a major tournament and you end up putting an arrow or two into the red. Why? Who knows and who cares other than you. Are there ways to train smarter that might help you shoot well in a tournament? Here are a few that have helped me.
First, I will occasionally practice with a clock. Two minutes is plenty of time to shoot 3 arrows. But, unless you know beyond doubt how you do against the clock, during a tournament the clock can get into you head. Another way is to practice with music on. USA Archery tournaments are now playing music during the competition. If you haven’t practiced with music in the background that too might get into your head. It can be especially bothersome is the music played is not to your liking.
How about shooting with the goofy archer standing next to you poking you with his arrows or stabilizers? If they are available put stools next to you just outside of what would be a tight lane measurement. Get comfortable with things encroaching your space. By the way, if another archer is touching you, tell him to stop. Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you are touching someone take steps to stop. Something you can do during practice is move your quiver/belt to another position as if it’s orginal position were infringing on someone else. It will feel different. Get used to different. Basically, you want to do anything you can think up to make your practice life match whatever might be thrown at you during competition. There will be circumstances you can’t think up. Having practiced with an occasional curve you’ll be better prepared to handle life as it comes to you.
Three D is easier to make more difficult. You can move targets so that they are harder to hit. Don’t do stupid things, be smart about target placement. If your maximum distance is 50 yards, practice some at 60 yards. Don’t neglect the close shot. You will on occasion come up on a target that is less than 15 yards. Your twenty-yard pin is less useful at 10 yards than you think if you don’t practice the shot. Don’t practice only at 5-yard increments starting at 20 yards. Shoot those in between distances. If you hit an eight don’t move on until you only hit higher scores on any target at any distance where time and ranges allow.
Rest assured at some 3D range there will be a “Range Master” setting up a course that will be harsh. Getting a line on the shot is absurd. Yet, there are those archers that land 12 (of 11 for IBO) on those targets time after time. If you have the property and inclination do what’s possible to make shots tough and safe.
By creating challenges for practice you will improve – you might lose an arrow or two. Don’t be afraid to come up short in the quiver a time or two.