If you are fired up to do well then your conscious mind takes over from your unconscious mind,and over rides all the practise and training you have done and laid down as good technique because it believes it can do better.
I started in chapter one to describe how I tried to distract myself between shots to relax and so shoot better, by thinking of Oak trees and how they moved in the breeze…. . This is the starting point of mental imaging.
The practise and repetition of a skill creates sensations we can recognise . These in turn enable us to do the same next time because we know how it feels, its a feedback loop which the more we do it becomes more established not exclusively in our conscious mind but also in the nerves and muscles controlled mostly by our subconscious and automatic mind. The first step in mental imaging is to allow our subconscious to do most of the work on tournament day so that we do what we practised. This is the occupying of the conscious mind with something which doesnt interfere with the skill we have learnt. The degree to which you as an individual can do this is part of the make up of those who can perform calmly be it on the stage or on an archery field.
This process can be considerably refined, and the next step is to help the process of building up a feedback loop in training so that the particular aspect of training or the aim you have is more exactly focussed on. Practise can be very time consuming so poor quality practise or practise which is of less than best value for effort will limit the progress that can be made , both because of the time and energy and the motivation “store ” available in any session is limited. An athelete has a finite time to reach maximum performance , even if its a lifetime. During that finite time the ingredients for success alter and not all the optimum resources are always available as time passes. What do you do to optimise practise? The answer is that you use the conscious mind to focus the actions AND the thoughts during performance of shooting so that not a moment is wasted.
When you see a 100m sprinter “focus” on a race it is obvious that that is what he is doing. Also an archer prepares for the shot. “Mental Imaging” now makes the thought process part of the total automatic process that the body learns in just the action it automatically controlled when I was thinking about trees. Every part of the process of making the shot is accompanied by thoughts as well as actions, the actions are rehearsed AND so are the thoughts. You tell yourself how you will feel and what you will see as the bow is held out to the target. The process is all consuming, and the physical and thought processes become so linked that the action causes the thoughts to appear just as automatically as the thoughts cause the actions.
Try this out and see if by practising the dual thought and actions rehearsal you can actually enhance your shooting.
Rehearsing in the mind is a starting point for good and consistent shooting. The combination of mental and physical has to be better than just training the physical.