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When you engage in archery, or any individual sport for that matter, what are your goals – against whom or what do you compete?

When you begin each time, are you focusing on a “best” score or the best scores of others? That may not be a path to success. Focusing on the most that is attainable at the moment or the performance of other people may do two things that are not desirable. One is that you may be “setting the bar” too high. The second is that you are splitting your concentration between what you need to do and what others are or have done.

Remember we are talking about an individual sport. In a team effort you are also not best served by trying to beat the other team. In a team sport you are best off with performing in a manner that supports or enhances the performances of your team mates. That boils down to simply performing at your own best.

Therein lays the proper answer to the opening question. Against whom or what do you compete? Quite simply you compete against yourself. In archery, the target and the range on which you shoot are not so much challenges to be overcome as they are the conditions that exist at the moment. In most cases your equipment is probably capable of better than you do on a given day, so it too just represents surrounding conditions. The performance of others, either now or under supposedly similar conditions in the past, falls in the same category.

We have all heard the saying that the longest journey begins with a single step. Focusing on the entire journey places one’s goal too far out in front to be useful. The journey need not be abandoned if once in a while one takes a step or two backward. We simply refocus on the next step forward and continue on.

When we attempt to shoot a bow, either in a competition or in practice, we should endeavor to compete only with ourselves and set a goal to improve upon or own performance. Imagine what you will accomplish if each time you shoot you improve your “personal best.” Accolades of one sort or another are nice. Doing better at something each time you try is more satisfying and longer lasting for yourself. If you continue to make steady progress with what you have, you should eventually become the “tortoise” that beat the “hare.”

Make no mistake – your only significant competition is yourself. Winning a competition with a poor personal performance is a hollow victory. If you didn’t beat yourself you didn’t really accomplish much. Accolades are most sweet when you have stood out among your peers while doing your own best.

If our primary goal is to beat someone else’s score or record, where else is there to go once we have done that?