By Crispin Duenas
Archers often debate whether shooting indoors benefits outdoor shooting, but I think it can be valuable. It shows, for example, how your mental game holds up under pressure without the effects of wind, weather and other external factors. Let’s review some keys to indoor shooting.
Shooting indoors at short distance bores some archers, but I stay focused by scoring frequently and trying to make incremental improvements (for a score out of 300). That helps me see how my mental and technical games are improving without outdoor elements affecting my arrows as they streak to the target.
Scoring, and becoming comfortable with scoring, helps me get into a rhythm that keeps my shots flowing and feeling good. Repeating these good-feeling shots in a brief time frame (short walks to retrieve arrows) ingrains the shot into my muscle memory, making it easier to repeat shots that feel – and score – amazing.
Because it’s just you and the target when shooting indoors, it’s a great place to work on your mental game. You almost instantly can see how changes in mindset affect your shooting. What you learn indoors, of course, can transfer to outdoor shooting to help you succeed earlier in the season.
A strong mental game is the largest contributor to good indoor results. By working hard at it, your confidence levels can only go up.
Shooting indoors at 18 meters means your arrow spends a fraction of time airborne, compared to 50 or 70 meters. Therefore, your arrow should be tuned in to be corrected by the time it hits the target. If you had a setup where the bare shaft hit slightly stiff or weak at 30 meters for your outdoor bow, your indoor setup should have the bare shaft hit in the middle of your fletched shafts at 18 meters.
You might also need to experiment with different setups, such as different sight pins or stabilizer setups, to determine what shoots best indoors.
For recurve archers, this is also a great time to test fatter arrows rather than the thin arrows commonly used outdoors. Some archers find that fat arrows tune easily, but many others cannot get them to group consistently. Although fat arrows catch more lines on the target, they can be unforgiving if the bow can’t be tuned for them. Scorecards don’t say whether you shot fat or skinny arrows, so test them as much as possible before switching and shooting a major event.
Let’s discuss an exercise that builds your confidence in shooting perfect scores. Essentially, you shoot on a 40-centimeter indoor face, starting at 10 meters. Shoot 30 arrows (10 ends of three arrows) at 10 meters and try to shoot a 300. If you fail, try again. Once you shoot a perfect score, try it with competition timing of 2 minutes for three arrows. Once you succeed, push your comfort level by shooting a perfect score in 1:30 per end, or even 1:00. That hones your shot timing and builds your confidence. Once achieving those results at 10 meters, repeat the drills at 12, 14, and 16 meters.
You’ll soon find that your scores at 18 meters will be close to, if not, 300. Archers of all levels can adapt these drills by changing the 30-arrow goal to “all in the gold,” or whatever is appropriate. The key is to build confidence, a big part of archery success.
Variety spices life … and archery. Indoor archery has several different rounds and target faces. Shooting a World Archery face one week and an NFAA field or Vegas face the next prevents boredom. Keeping things fresh by changing the round I shoot helps me avoid the potential monotony of the indoor season and just enjoy archery.