A superficial observation of the archer executing a shot may lead to a misunderstanding of the abilities involved in this complex sport. One of the most common mistakes is considering the "Aim" as the most important skill in archery. However, there are no mono-skill sports, the analysis of a sport must involve the basic technical execution of the action as a mere starting point.
Most inexperienced athletes or "taster athletes" frequently ask their instructors why the arrow hasn't hit the gold even if they were keeping on aiming at the spot when the release happened.
Basically it happens as natural consequence of the concept that archery is an aiming skill related discipline. It must be observed that although the aiming moment is part of each shooting sequence in archery, what makes our "aim" reliable is more about what the athlete builds up in the earlier phases of the shot.
Those phases are mainly:
- the set up of the shooting position
- the related sequence of "key points" we use to check before starting a new shooting action.
Stance The Set Up of a reliable shooting position starts with the contact of the archer's feet and the ground around the shooting line: the Stance. Various Archery philosophies recommend different stances. The most reliable stance for a beginner is the parallel stance: feet kept parallel across the shooting line, at shoulders width; The ideal line of the shoulders is perpendicular to the shooting line.
Hips The Hips orientation must be in line with the orientation of the feet. The ideal line of the Hips will be perpendicular to the shooting line and orientated to the direction of the target.
Trunk Coherently with the Hips orientation, the Trunk must hold the most neutral position possible. Avoid to install conscious contraction at Core level which may lead to postural sway on the Sagittal Plane since the early stages going after stability. Many literature reviews have demonstrated that core isometric contractions and core isolation protocols don't cope with the efficient distribution of the effort across the kinetic chains involved in sports (Gambetta, 2007; Bartlett,2009; Lederman, 2010).
Shoulders Height Shoulders should be set up at the lowest position possible although they shouldn't be forced in low. It's likely that most neophytes are not confident with the movement patterns required to set up an efficient archery position since the early stages. Asking to perform a forcing action of the shoulders in low may result in heavy stresses at gleno-humeral level paving the way for injuries in the worst cases. To be considered also that human brain leads to movement that it knows already, then the forcing attitude of the shoulders in low may result in back or front orientation of the Head of Humerus (HH) as relying on the strong muscles as Pectoralis Minor and Major and Teres Major in forward orientation or on the Latissimus Dorsi and Teres Minor in backward orientation of the HH. Both orientations would create a misalignment of the bow shoulder with the direction of the internal forces of the bow and expose the Gleno-Humeral joint to "suffer" the pressure of the bow towards the body as we remind that the bow is a bilateral lever. Hence the shoulders depression movement must be performed in the highest possible economy and must maintain the HH in the Frontal Plane, where the opposition of the bow forces will happen.
NB: In many cases it can be found that Shoulders depression of the neophyte is not achievable on the Frontal Plane as the shoulders keep on "setting higher" once the drawing has started. A possible source of this can be the weakness of the lower fasciae at trunk level as Pectoral Muscles, Rectus Abdominins, etc. in front, Latissimus, Serratus and others on the back operating as a "Kinetic Chain". In fact those muscle districts behave as stabilizers muscles of the HH in the opposition to the forces of the bow. A earlier technical introduction to the "pushing attitude" of the archer, combined with a lower pounded training bow to enhance the economy of the shooting action and a sound "prehab training program", could sort the effect.