Instinctive shooting is the same as throwing a ball – you know from experience what to do in order to get the ball to hit the target you are looking at. This is very similar in instinctive archery. Before competition and known distances, instinctive archery was the main (if not only) way that archers shot all over the world, be it in hunting situations or war. The problem is that nowadays, sighting and the above named referencing system give a great advantage in target archery, so that it would be foolish not to use them when interested in competitions. Nonetheless, if you are into field archery, where you shoot at unknown distances, or just shoot for the fun of it, then instinctive shooting can be as good as or even better than sighting, because it is extraordinarily rewarding. It takes much more time and effort to learn than referenced shooting. Talented archers need 2 years, most archers even more, to get on a level where you really know that you will hit what you are looking at.
One needs discipline, since it is tempting to fall to gap shooting, which is much quicker to learn. “If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
It cannot be judged from the outside how the archer is aiming, and many people believe after shooting gap for several years, that guessing the right reference point out of habit is the same as instinctive shooting. The only way to find out is to make a shooting at night, where the target is illuminated only by a torch light and no reference points visible (do not try this at home).
Here is an attempt of a description of how to learn instinctive shooting:
One of the main mistakes that people do when trying to learn how to shoot without any reference system is that they start at medium distances, like 30m. However instinctive archery should be learned from 5-10m, where the arrow flies straight out of the bow and does not drop, so that you get a feeling for where you are pointing the arrow. It can help to imagine a laser pointer in your arrow. There is no need to look at the arrow point and aim with it, since it is the direction in which your bow arm points that really matters. Your peripheral vision will notice the arrow and the bow window and use them as an additional reference, but do not focus on them. Just keep looking at the gold.
If your form is good enough that you get tight groups, you will quickly learn how to point your bow arm so that you can hit small circles on the targets. Once you got that, you can increase the distance to 30m and get used to the drop the arrow experiences here. The next tricky part is to learn how to shoot at long distances, 50-70m, where you need especially much experience before you get used to it. When you shoot far too low in the beginning, it is important that you let it happen until your subconscious got used to it. It helps to remember the arrow flight and visualise it before shooting.
The last tips are:
- Never train for more than 30min, or your brain will get tired.
- Keep changing distances.