By Cody Altizer

My older brother was a very skilled and talented basketball player.  He scored 1000+ points in his high school career, set records, and won a lot of games.  He was recruited heavily by in-state schools and was pursued by a handful of Mid-Major programs, including a couple from the Ivy League.  He always had one dream, however, and that was to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).  So, he decided to go to the University of Virginia and try to walk on the team.  Long story short, my brother is an ACC regular season champion (2006-2007).

What does this have to do with bowhunting, you ask?  Well, quite a bit actually, and it goes much further than the cliché, “don’t give up on your dreams!” My brother, who is now a world renowned skill development trainer, has always adopted a simple motto in his training, “get out of your comfort zone!”  That means handling two balls to make handling one that much easier.  That means handling three balls to make handling two that much easier so you can beat a full court press on your own in the game.  That means hitting players with boxing gloves during drills.  Forcing them to shoot and finish over canoe oars.  Designing any innovative, unconventional tactic that can get a player out of their comfort zone to make game situations easier is my brother’s specialty.  I challenge you to do the same with your archery practice.

Let’s be honest, accurately launching some arrows in our backyard during the summer isn’t a difficult task, especially with today’s bows.  Even after not shooting for a couple months, it’s not hard to step back to 40 yards and 12 ring your 3D Rinehart.  You can call me conceited and arrogant for writing such a statement, but it’s the truth.

Instead of conforming to such monotony and, quite frankly laziness, I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone when practicing.  How is up to you, but be creative.  I like to go for a nice run and then immediately shoot an arrow from 30+ yards.  Or, you could do 50 pushups, and then fire an arrow.  Exercise your mind as well.  Draw back and give yourself 5 seconds to anchor, aim, and make a good shot.  Conversely, keep your bow drawn as long as possible, a minute or more, before shooting.  If you don’t make a good shot do some pushups or go for a run.  Give yourself added incentive to make a good shot, and “punish yourself” when you don’t.

The above may sound unnecessary or troublesome, but it’ll greatly increase your confidence and shooting skills so when that moment of truth does come around, you’ll be ready.  Getting outside of one’s comfort zone, be it in basketball, archery, or life in general, is an exercise that we should all practice because we’ll be much better people for it.

– Cody Altizer