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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This post and idea grew out of Skropi's post about the mental aspect of slingshot shooting. In the course of that discussion Ordo linked to a book called "Zen in the Art of Archery", which discusses the Japanese martial art of kyudo or Way of the Bow.
Kyudo has several set protocols for shooting which are followed in a slow, meditative style. Like all other martial arts, it's about "correctness", not accuracy. A more far-eastern approach of focusing on the act, not the result. This is not to say that accuracy is not important, just that accuracy comes from correct shooting, not the other way around. Accuracy is not the goal. It is a style of active meditation that uses the Bow as a medium.
Anyway.
I would like to start practicing this style with the slingshot, since the mechanics translate almost directly. I'll be using the same breath techniques, same overhead draw style, same stance, and same follow through as a kyudo archer. If anyone would like to join me and post their thoughts, their setup, whatever, then this can be our online dojo.
Just to be clear, I'm not a practitioner of any martial art, just an interested party. I think I've learned enough over the last 8 years of shooting slingshot and the last couple years studying books on Zen practice as it relates to martial arts that I am ready to step foot on this path and maybe help others who aren't as experienced.
This post isn't to debate the merit of this approach, which will always come down to the individual. Replies along the lines of "well, that's not how I like to shoot" or "why don't you just go shoot a can" are not welcome and will not last long. I try to never abuse my moderator powers, but this thread is about encouragement. If it's not your thing that's totally fine, just move along.
I'll be posting my thoughts, videos, and practice guidelines here. In the meantime I encourage you to Google "kyudo " and read up on it and maybe watch some vids. If someone could link to the pdf of "Zen in the Art of Archery " in this post I'd appreciate it. I'm not so good with the technology...
 

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Thank you for starting this thread MJ. I haven't still read the book, but the few shots I've took with a somewhat similar approach, meaning focusing on the act of shooting, breathing, etc, and not the result, were very encouraging. Not because I hit the target, hardly even looking at its general position, but because my mind was at last at ease. It made my shooting, albeit short, much more relaxed and enjoyable. The good results was just a by-product, I don't dwell on that.
Just a question, is the technique of the kyudo explained in the book linked by Ordo? Or only the mental processes? I have to finish reading tonight, to start tomorrow my new way.
Yes, it's not about the results, it's about the process, giving it a higher meaning. Interestingly enough, the results do come, at least in my case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah, I'm going to write up a few guidelines and procedures similar to what is done in kyudo. That's why I'm directing people that way for right now, because it will be very similar. Stance, focus, breathing, draw, etc.
I practiced all day using the kyudo form as outlined in the book and it was fascinating! Calming and quieting to the inner noise like meditation but without all the sitting still.
We're moving into our new place this weekend, but I'll try to find some time to lay down and outline. Or check out the first 20 pages of Zen in the Art of Archery. I'm really going to do my best to get some videos up, too.
 

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This subject is something I am probably considered an expert.... after all, for my black belt in Aikido, I had to show "mastery" of two traditional Japanese weapons, my choice.

One of the weapons I chose was the Japanese long bow, favored by mounted Samurai... Since I was taller than most, the long draw style really appealed to me.... and it wasn't to long before I could outshoot the instructor...

Kyudo is great if you want to work on "the way" (literally translated, Do = the way)... You'll learn how to focus better and train in meditative movement... along the journey learning why the draw is performed as it is (I gave a huge hint in mentioning mounted Samurai)... the actual end goal being enlightenment, self fulfillment and ultimately "living in Zen".

BUT, the thing is if you want to be as accurate as possible with a slingshot... I do not think Kyudo is necessarily the correct path to take for you to find "the way"... of being as accurate as possible.

My opinion is... and I actually had quite a controversial disagreement with my Sensei about it... to become as good as you can be at shooting, you should concentrate only on the aspects which contribute to making you better at shooting... peripheral knowledge is fine, peripheral movements/exercise were also fine to learn, but when it comes to the actual shot and accuracy itself, they (if used) can and quite often do hinder what you really want... and that is to be more accurate.

Me, I wanted to master the weapon and shoot it more accurately, as well as I could and hopefully better than most others.... really didn't want to try and find my way to self realization... I felt that I was fine in that regard already.

So basically I had the thought that anything that didn't contribute to the goal of being a better shot, actually could and probably does take away from the actual end goal of most shooters... and that is specifically to become the best shot they can be.

That being said... I'll help out where I can... giving my opinion on what can help with accuracy and so forth... but when it comes to the idea of using specifically Kyudo type movements and many of their concepts... I don't feel that would necessarily be all that helpful to what most really want to achieve.
 

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Heya Bill!
My reason for starting the other thread, The mental game of shooting, was to find a solution for the mental fatigue I get from shooting. That little discussion over there, led us to kyudo and its mental approach, and then led MJ to start this more specific thread.
I don't know exactly what MJ, or anyone else has in mind, but here is how I look at this matter.
I want to be as accurate as possible, that's the basic fact. I've reached a point that while my body can shoot hundreds of shots with little effort, my mind really can't. I become mentally fatigued very easily. Let me give you a usual example. I shot 1 shot at each target, a 6cm one, a 4cm, a 3cm and 1.7cm, and I get 4 consecutive hits. Great! I can't make it all the time of course, but when I do.....my mind refuses to shoot anymore. It's psychological, the pressure I put on myself to become better and better.
So, for me at least, this whole Kyudo thing, was a way of making me relax, and I did manage it a bit, by concentrating solely on my form, and not on the possible hit or miss!
No, I am not trying to find enlightenment, or copy every move they do in Kyudo, I am trying to reach the calm mental state that they seem to achieve, and I think all good shooters achieve that, whether it is Kyudo, Olympic archery or whatever.
So, I take elements of technique from Olympic archery, and mental calmness from Kyudo :) And yes, when I am calm, without my self imposed pressure, I shoot better and longer! That's what I need to achieve now, mental stamina.
All in all, what I think this thread is really about, isn't so much accuracy, but how to improve on ones focus on stance/posture/technique and most importantly, mental attitude! Which will yield results in accuracy too!
 

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If someone could link to the pdf of "Zen in the Art of Archery " in this post I'd appreciate it. I'm not so good with the technology...

http://www.ideologic.org/files/Eugen_Herrigel_-_Zen_in_the_Art_of_Archery.pdf

... been in my bookmarks for years. In a nutshell, the goal of any concentration discipline is to turn off the white noise ... to stop 'thinking' during practice.

Real progress occurs when you can stop reading about zen and start practicing it.
 

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Having been down several marital roads in my life I tend to go along with Bill Hays thinking.Form is necessary so are mechanics but I believe these come with mindful practice.If I do this this happens,etc. I like Mojave Mo’s quote “Do not acknowledge that which you do not wish to occur” because if your thinking of all the other stuff where is the attention focused that the targets needs to get hit. I try to “Be here now”and take 10,000 shots and learn from each one.So my form changes with each shot if only microscopically.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I agree with you, Bill. I don't think that just following the form setup by kyudo will lead to pinpoint accuracy. It takes more than that.
But dedication and practice do lead to great shooting and if you're not already at that high level then maybe a direction to follow is a good thing to have.
I don't know for sure, I'm just starting at this part of it too.
Personally, I already have what I consider to be an impressive slingshot resume. I'm looking for something else. Everything I learn about Zen practice makes me more interested in it, but I've never been able to settle down with a practice method. An active meditation involving my favorite passtime seems ideal to me.
So, I'm here for the path to Enlightenment. Any reason that anybody wants to come along is fine, or I'll go alone. Which is fine, too :)
 

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Having been down several marital roads in my life I tend to go along with Bill Hays thinking.Form is necessary so are mechanics but I believe these come with mindful practice.If I do this this happens,etc. I like Mojave Mo's quote "Do not acknowledge that which you do not wish to occur" because if your thinking of all the other stuff where is the attention focused that the targets needs to get hit. I try to "Be here now"and take 10,000 shots and learn from each one.So my form changes with each shot if only microscopically.
I think we all agree with that! The subject is different, it's not about how to achieve accuracy, it is about how to be mentally relaxed and able to concentrate for long periods of time.
For me, what I do, is this. I have my form down, I know how to raise my holding hand, grip the pouch, etc. So, when I shoot, I do not think at all about hitting the target, success or failure doesn't enter my thought, as the only thing that I think about is nothing, my total concentration is focused on my form, which I know it works. I dont even focus on the target, as it really distracts me if it is bigger than 1.5cm, I don't focus on my frame, I focus on form, and my sight focuses on infinity, everything else a blur. That way I can stay relaxed when shooting, and not get mental fatigue, and as a happy consequence, hit my targets more often!
Of course, in order to get to this point, I did focus entirely on my technique, making slight, and not so slight changes, until I found what is the most consistent way for me to shoot. What I didn't manage to fix, and I am only now on my way of fixing, is the fear of failure, which causes me to get tired and stop shooting early.
So, one doesn't contradict the other in reality. Keep in mind that I am not copying Kyudo's physical technique, only the mentality, which probably I also adapt to my own idiosyncrasies.
In a few words, when I draw, my purpose isn't to hit the target, but to have perfect form, my focus isn't on the target, so I let my brain do its thing, and line everything up, while I remain calm. I do aim of course, just not the way I did before. It works for me, and it's something I am only now developing, so I don't know what changes, if any, I will be making.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I do think that the relaxation and focus techniques could be helpful with tournament shooting. Concentrating one one shot at a time is one of the most useful things you can do in a tournament setting, along with being able to block out distraction.
Having a set routine of shooting to lean on seems like a real benefit. Something you do every time, whether you're in your yard or at the World Cup. I've seen many very good shooters fall to pieces after the first miss in competition (and sometimes before...)
 

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The arch and the stones

Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.
"But which is the stone that supports the bridge?" Kublai Khan asks.
"The bridge is not supported by one stone or another," Marco answers, "but by the line of the arch that they form."
Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: "Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me."
Polo answers: "Without stones there is no arch."

From Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino.
 

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Not focusing on the target, not focusing on the frame, let it all be a blur, etc. Seems like the ideal way to do this is to shoot at night in the dark. Can't see the target, can't see the frame leaves one with nothing to think about other than correct form. Is it worth trying?
 
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