Relaxation and concentration are very crucial factors in archery as they can assist you to shoot more accurately. The tension that comes upon you just before taking a shot may make you to lose concentration. Learning various breathing techniques can help you to relax and be able to focus on the target. Additionally, proper breathing carries more energy to the muscles. It enhances performance through increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream that in turn reduces blood pressure and eventually leads to a drop of anxiety. Below are a few methods that you can try to control your breathing.
Zen Breathing (deep diaphragmatic)
Normally, when calm we breathe 12-15 times per minute but when anxious this rate can double. While we mostly breathe rapidly, only using the top part of our lungs or one sixth of the lung capacity. Zen breathing helps one to breathe more deeply and slowly that is about 5-6 deep calm breathes per minute. It can help improve your archery skills to great levels by two major methods. First, you can take a deep diaphragmatic settling breathe prior to raising the bow. This has a settling effect and also lowers your center of gravity. It also creates a sensation of gaining more strength. Secondly, you can take a deep diaphragmatic breathe and exhale prior to raising the bow. These two methods sets you out on a rhythm and increase your focus. Many professional archers prefer the first option to the second. However, you can try either of them to realize which works best for you.
This is the most common breathing technique where you take in a deep breath, exhale completely and then take a half of a breath then take it out slowly and naturally while aiming and shooting. This however, tends to give a rushed execution of the shot and may cause the arrow on a downward trajectory. This is so because you tend to be trying to beat the countdown as air slowly escapes your lungs.
As advised by professional archer, Randy Ulmer, you can “super-saturate” your body with three deep breaths. One taken just before you draw and the second while you draw. The third as you settle your pins while exhaling a quarter of your air. This not only keeps your chest expanded but also supplies your muscles with a lot of oxygen. It also helps to maintain a steady poise as you take your shot.
Practice on these breathing techniques on a daily routine so as to evaluate the best one for you. Notably, yoga has been identified to greatly aid in breath controls which are essential in archery. Some of the yoga routines stress your breathing while still allowing deep and consistent breaths. Therefore, you can learn even more breathing techniques in your yoga classes.
While at it, another way to help your mind to remain focused is through self- hypnosis and/or meditation sessions. While it may be a long shot, used together with the aforementioned breathing techniques you can elevate your archery skills to new heights.