Archery = Bouncing Babies

So, I have this slow realization (not an epiphany as that’s a sudden realization) that what we do in archery is sort of like playing that old video game — Bouncing Babies. I’m sure you have all seen or played a variant of it before, either on an old school 1980s hand held or a old PC game made in the 90s. Here’s a picture of it:

Wide Screen ! hahaha

The goal of this game is to move a pair of firemen left and right, timing their bounces till the babies land in the ambulance. In this analogy with regards to archery, we are the fire fighters, think of the pair of them as your left and right arm, and the stretcher that ties them together is your “shooting form”. With that in mind, a beginner archer shooting at a close distance with a low poundage bow is like this scenario here.

Yup, its fairly easy, there is only one goal — get the one baby to the ambulance, aka getting your first arrow to hit anywhere on the target. But bear in mind, the beginner archer is not working with a fully functional set of controls here, its their first time holding a bow, they don’t know if they are standing right, they do not anchor right or even anchor at all, they have anxieties about shooting the bow. Bouncing baby terms, its almost as if they are working with a badly damaged handheld. Their toddler cousin got into it and had gotten their sticky fingers all over the controls, and you can barely mash the button to make the pair go left or right. That is what your beginner archer is dealing with, struggling with working the controls, controls not working as well as they should, making it a struggle getting just arrow on to the target.

Now for someone who has moved past the beginner’s stage, here’s the new picture. It’s a more advanced stage, you are able to move the controls better and position the fire fighters where you want them. In this metaphor, the babies that are bouncing are now every little possible “error” or fault that might occur when we are at different stages of a shot cycle. For example, early on in your shot cycle, u might be worrying about your grip position; half way thru your shot cycle, you might be worrying about achieving a smooth draw with no collapse; and the last part of your shot cycle, you are worrying about your release and its follow thru. So many things to worry about, that could possibly go wrong, just like having a bunch of babies in the air and you are running back and forth to ensure you are not dropping the ball/baby literally :)

Now for the most advanced stage, this is like a world archery contest/olympic level kind of archery. The biggest difference is the amount of tiny “shits” u have to look out for. At this level, every thing comes at you fast and hard. you have 101 things to consider and 101 possible way to make a mistake. Here, you are aiming for high scores and high stakes ! so, naturally, the bouncing babies are coming really fast and really endless, in a continuous wave ! Good luck catching them all !

Anyway, last but not least, this is with respect to learning to shoot with a coach who challenges you and gives you something tough to work on. There, the big giant baby is your new objective or as my coach says, mantra. The big thing that we are working on now. Its big, its scary and you can’t catch it with your current firemen and stetcher for sure. That’s expected as we need to get better with practice to reduce the size of the baby, which is a metaphor for “active processing”, and increase the size of our stretcher, which is a metaphor for “better shooting form”. The best approach is to both shrink the baby and increase your stretcher size ! :)

There, this is my bouncing baby metaphor for archery :) Hope it applies to all of you who shoot ! :)