Posture and effort in archery (1)

Posture and effort in archery – I –
Consol Bofill


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Beyond the sportive achievement, archery can be experienced as a transcendental, immanent, fundamental experience. It is then presented as something that happens by itself, generating a feeling of ease, lightness and - at the same time - fullness and perfection. The whole process (taking up the bow, preparing to shoot, looking at the target, releasing the arrow) requires an attitude and a disposition that are not always possible to reach and accessible for the person who is shooting, as they depend more on his/her own "self-image" than on the acquisition of a technique or skill.

"Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks and feels differently and, in each case, in accordance with the self-image that each of us has built up over the years".

It is not uncommon that after several years of archery practice, having acquired a sound technical knowledge, the archer finds himself in situations that are beyond him, even if he respects all the instructions and recommendations. He feels everything that needs to be done, takes the correct posture, takes the bow and follows all the steps until the arrow is released, but many things happen then ... except those he was expecting. This concerns less what could happen in relation to the result of the shot towards the target than the reactions of the body, the mind, the emotions, how the archer feels. Something then prevents him from following the precise indications received, in spite of all the effort he makes: there is something that resists, there is something that eludes his understanding and his will.

And often, this is because it’s not a question of "doing" something, but more of "stopping doing" it, so as not to interfere with the expression of genuine self-regulation, or (and this is the same thing) so that something can happen (in reality), going beyond the limits of what is possible.

"Transforming impossibility in possibility, possibility in ease, ease in elegance”.

Our self-image develops from early childhood, through the relationships with the outside world and with ourselves. It responds to a determined conception of the Ego, the fruit of a historic-cultural context. The way we act and the development of our own potential, the way we effectively involve ourselves and develop our personal possibilities in all facets of our being, depend to a large extent on our personal self-image (feeling of self, self-awareness, beliefs about the self...), as they draw the limits that we discover in our movements, in our posture and - in general - in communication with our environment.

Paying attention to one's own difficulties or limits in action, posture, relationships, etc. is a path that highlights the beliefs to which one responds, with all the clichés that condition the perception of our self. The self-image is before, at the center and after all doing, conceiving, deciding. It is a construction on which the human being is completely dependent, because - when it is unconscious - it prevents us from living, thinking, deciding by ourselves, leaving the space open to the fact of "being lived", being thought, being directed by another will.

From a fully conscious attitude, the bow, the arrow, the target and the person establish a dialogue, which opens up to another space where there is no longer any differentiation, which forms the same reality ... as in zazen where the relationship between posture and reality, the person and the outside, is constantly recreated, a relationship crossed by fleeting events and innumerable micro-movements which generate a kind of complicity between tranquillity and dynamism. The way in which the person perceive himself changes, he's recognizing himself in the relationship with the bow and what it is asking for, while at the same time he's broadening his self-awareness and discovering himself as "other" in each new encounter.

November 2020.

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