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Synergism is defined as the simultaneous action of separate agencies which, when working together, have a greater total effect than the sum of their individual effects. So what? Well, synergism is an important concept when applied to archery and more specifically when applied to aiming and grouping. Please read on.

Theoretically, if you have good form and your equipment is well tuned, your arrows should group exactly as well as you aim. That is to say, if you can keep your sight pin in a five-inch circle at forty yards your arrows should group within that five-inch circle as well.

For some archers the theory holds true; they are able to shoot exactly as well as they hold. Unfortunately, most archers shoot groups larger than their holding circle. Amazingly, a select few archers, in apparent defiance of logic, are able to consistently shoot groups smaller than their aiming circle.

How can this be true, you ask? It seems as though the bow would need some artificial intelligence, or the arrow would need a homing device, to impact closer to the center than it was aimed. It seemed that way to me too, until I experienced the phenomenon for myself. I first experienced this hitting-better-than-you're-aiming phenomenon in my back yard, years ago. I shot a perfect Vegas round, though my pin spent considerable time outside the spot.

Even though that first time should have convinced me, I continued to doubt. I passed it off as an anomaly or just plain luck. I became completely convinced only after experiencing the phenomenon during a tournament. The first big tournament I ever shot was the Southwest Sectional Indoor Tournament. I was intimidated to say the least. Terry Ragsdale, Frank Pearson and several other "big name" archers were there to compete. These were the Pros, the Legends, the Big Dogs. I had never actually seen them; I had only read about them in magazines.

When I stepped up to the line for the first end, I was so nervous I shook all over the target. My pin spent most of the time outside the spot. I still managed to put all five arrows in the X ring. I knew I must have been shaking violently when Frank Pearson, always the clown, came up, handed me his how and said: "Here shoot this one, it doesn't seem to shake as much as the one your shooting." To make a long story short, I won my division. On the way home, I analyzed the day's shooting in an attempt to determine how I could have won with all that shaking going on. The only reasonable explanation was this synergism theory.

All this shooting-better-than-you're-aiming stuff began shortly after I started shooting a back tension release aid. This release aid forced me to focus on aiming, while using the large muscles in my back to activate the release. I found myself aiming (directing the bow) with these back muscles rather than with my arms. This gave me a 'centering feeling'. It seemed as though these large muscles were continually centering the pin in the target. As the pin would move out of the spot, these muscles would bring it back to center.

When the release triggered with the pin outside the spot, the arrow hit the spot. Somehow this centering action from my back muscles worked with the bow to direct the arrow into the middle of the target, before it left the bow.

We've described synergism as the sum of two individual components working together. The two components working in this equation are you and the bow. You have an inherent shooting ability and the bow has its own inherent accuracy. Your job in trying to establish a synergistic relationship with your bow is to experiment with tuning, form and focus until the bow and arrow set-up, your form and concentration are all balanced. Then when a seemingly bad shot occurs, it will be compensated for by some other effect, and the arrow will hit closer to the middle than it was aimed.

Now, I don't want to get all mystical, but this phenomenon is related to Zen, you become one with the bow, you develop a deeply rooted sense of what the bow is doing and a willingness to let the subconscious mind control the shot. This synergistic phenomenon only occurs when my bow is perfectly balanced and tuned, and the arrows are correctly spined with the right point weight. It only happens when I'm mentally in the game, and only when I am physically and mentally rested, only when I am using perfect form. In other words, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's magical.

The point is not for you to expect to attain this archery Nirvana every time you shoot It's to let you know that it is possible to shoot better than you aim and to encourage you to work towards this synergy. Although you may not experience it every time, just striving towards this goal, and being in tune with all the components necessary to make a good shot, will help you shoot your best.
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Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Previous Article:Essential Skills For The Bow Mechanic.
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