Here's how the Olympic archery squad's Tom Barber will be clocking up the training hours this Christmas.
Christmas is (usually) a time of year for family, friends and festive cheer; this is no different for archers, of all levels, in my opinion. Of course, for those working towards a specific goal or challenging themselves to achieve something new in the upcoming season, there has to be a proportionate degree of discipline to training displayed throughout the period. For me, I'll be endeavouring to train as effectively as I can within the circumstances that we will all be faced with over Christmas; I'll likely have to think outside the box this year regarding my actual means of training, but I am thankful that I will at least be able to conduct it in a safe manner that poses no risk to myself, or more importantly, to others.
Despite the Covid-19 restrictions, there is one aspect of my usual training that I certainly will be able to carry out this year, without any impact whatsoever to its execution or effectiveness. I am referring to forms of analysis, specifically to the ability to reflect upon and evaluate your approach in your journey to your goal so far. Why is this particularly important though, you ask?
All goals generally share one thing in common: they usually require a long period of time, patience and effort to stand a chance of achieving them. I mean, if they didn't, what would be the value or meaning in striving towards them? Certainly for me, it's the sustained effort over time that provides the greatest reward at the end of the journey. And this is not simply because I kept doing the same thing, over and over again, for the whole timeframe between setting the goal and achieving it; it's because I had to show courage to make changes to the original plan, I had to adapt my thinking, redirect my approach, and importantly learn more about myself each time I hit obstacles along the path to that goal.
So this Christmas, rather than worrying about whether you will able to do your usual quota of arrows or when you can get your bow training done on Christmas Day, take some time to look at yourself and your training. Ask yourself the difficult questions, and don't be afraid to try something different in your approach. The more honest you are with yourself, the clearer path you will have as to what to do next. The best archers in our sport are the most honest; they find out where they need to improve, and they set about it with ruthless efficiency. Most of us are quick to seek a fix to weaknesses in the technical and physical domains, but how many of us take the time to confront weaknesses in our attitude and mental approach to the sport? I really hope that this year, more of us can do the latter when the ability to work on ourselves technically and physically will be limited.
My New Year's resolution is to help other archers more often where I can, hopefully so they can enjoy archery more!