In Archery Maybe it is Best to Follow Your Heart.

Practicing the mechanics of archery takes patience and focus. It’s a matter of training your muscles to sense alignment and form while maintaining Jedi-like control.   Or maybe all you need to do is follow your heart.


Keast and Elliot published a paper in the Journal of Sports Science that measured archers’ sway, aiming time, cardiac cycle (electrocardiac cycle) and the release of an arrow.1 The study included recurve and compound bows.  This is what they discovered.

Sway was measured at the postural center of the archers’ body and sway varied significantly both within and between two separate trials (the archers were tested twice, 100 days apart). As sway increased the quality of the shot decreased.

As aiming time increased the quality of the shot decreased except for bare bow shooting.  During bare bow shooting as the aiming time decreased the quality of the shoot decreased.

Cardiac cycle time was also measured.  Here they found that cardiac cycle time increased significantly as the archers approached the release of the arrow where there was a good shot.  When the shot was bad or average there was no significant increase on the cardiac cycle.


The most consistent parameter related to the quality of a shot was the placement of the first finger movement within the ST phase or mid-cycle phase of the electrocardiogram for arrows of good quality.

How does an archer achieve the movement of the finger (to release) within mid-phase of their cardiac cycle?  You can’t feel the individual bleeps of your electrocardiogram.  I can only explain like this:  It is in that millisecond when you sense the target, feel the calm, unconsciously find that instance where everything is blocked other than the target, and then release occurs.  It appears that the heart knows when you have it right.


1)  Keast D, Elliott B: Fine body movements and the cardiac cycle in archery. J Sports Sci. 1990 Winter;8(3):203-13.


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