Thursday was my lesson day with Coach Holly. I got so many questions answered during this one lesson!
First, the good news. I was able to continue keeping my right shoulder low. So low, in fact, that the top of my “T” formation stayed in good alignment during the whole lesson. At no point in time was Coach reduced to standing there holding my shoulder down shot after shot. How did I manage this? Well part of it was…I was trying to lift my bow up too high every time. I stopped working about being able to aim and just concentrated on lifting the bow just until arms were level with shoulders. I’m shorter than I thought I was. Or at least it feels that way. Now it feels like I’m lifting the bow to my collarbone, not my face. But “feeling” is very different from reality. More on that in a minute.
Second, the also good news. I was able to answer the question of “why do my arrows tend to go far right?”. In my zeal to use my back muscles to draw, I was twisting myself. A lot. A very lot. So that my body was no longer aligned with the target. I was all twisted up. Coach was able to help me untwist myself, but it will take practice to get consistent with this.
Twist, no. Open through the back, yes.
Now the bad news. I am not straight through my spine and legs. This isn’t a matter of standing up straight. It’s a matter of correcting decades of lop sided living. Right now, If I feel like I’m standing up straight, I’m actually leaning.
Straight as the Leaning Tower of Pisa
I think men suffer from this much less than women do for a number of reasons. The first is purses. We girls carry them, packed with stuff, usually on the same side of our bodies, for decades. Decades! Let’s consider our body as lining up along a 3-D graph. A straight line through our hips is the x-axis. A straight line from the top of the head to the floor is our y-axis. And a line from front to back is the z-axis.
When we spend decades carrying purses, grocery bags and children on only one side of our body a couple of things happen. The muscles on that side of the body become overdeveloped compared to the corresponding muscles on the other side of the body. Over time, this pulls us out of true so that we lean along the x-axis running through our hips. And because of this you can also see a shift along the y-axis of the spine, pulling our line to the right or left. A massage therapist told me a decade ago that I was developing muscle tension on my right because I carried so much of everything on my right side. I wish I’d listened to her then, because I’ve done more damage and become more lopsided in the intervening years. This also contributes to my twist problem above. The overdeveloped shoulder and back muscles of my right side have the power to twist me away from the target. What “feels” like opening up is actually twisting way off to one side.
What about the z-axis? We don’t lean forward or back along it, right? Wrong. Very wrong. And girls, this part of the chat is going to be all about us. You see, we have things stuck to our chest that men don’t. We have boobs. And while those of us blessed with smaller boobs won’t notice this as much, we who have larger breasts struggle with gravity every day. Gravity is pulling us, by our boobs, forward and down so the we lean forward along the z-axis. The older we are, the more accustomed to this leaning we become. So that we may feel we are standing up straight when in fact we are leaning forward.
Your arrow can’t fly straight if you’re twisted to one side and leaning forward! Well, the arrow will fly straight – straight to one side or the other because that’s the way your body is pointed.
Right now I have some posture exercises to do to help me realize what true straight alignment feels like. Hint- it feels like I’m leaning back and to one side. I also need to make sure that when weight training I’m only doing as much as my weaker (left) side can handle. Sure my right side won’t get as strong as fast, but I’ll be in balance, which is way more useful!
This isn’t an easy fast fix. Its something I’ll have to work on for months. Or years.
I discovered something cool at my last lesson as well. When I’m in alignment, but haven’t drawn back far enough, it is physically impossible to roll to my anchor. Instant feedback!