Blank Boss … Why?
Most days down the field you see the experienced archers wandering waaaaay down the range to set up their targets at 70 or even 90m. They shoot their arrows, amble slowly down the field, retrieve their arrows then amble back talking air temperature or button pressure or trading banter … its SO annoying. Don’t they realize you could have got another dozen arrows shot during their stroll? They are wasting valuable shootie time! Then one day they set up their boss at just feet from the line without a face on it, shoot dozen arrow ends in 2 minutes then glare at you like you are wasting their time by collecting at 30m. What are they doing?
This is the Blank Boss drill and its purpose is to remove the distraction of aiming while letting you concentrate on how the shot feels so letting you develop a rhythm to your shot. This drill is excellent if there are variables in your shot that you really need to tighten up on. Variables are never good because they interfere with your consistency and that costs points.
To blank boss, you want to set up the boss no more than 3-4 meters away. To prevent smashing your arrows you need to have several aim points around the boss. You don’t actually AIM at these, just point the bow at them vaguely! They are there to make sure the arrows safely go in the boss and you should have several to spread arrows about so they don’t clash when shot close together. Robin Hoods or cracked nocks are likely if you shoot at only one point in blank boss. Now pick an element of your shot you want to examine in detail. As you shoot arrows into the boss, focus on what that element of your shot should feel like. Lets say its your release. Each release should be crisp and smooth. Don’t let your mind wander and make sure the form is as perfect as you can make it. Remember aiming isn’t important in this drill. Hitting in the area of your aim point is acceptable. After a dozen or two, switch focus to another part of your shot but REMEMBER to keep the part just practiced as solid as possible.
An extreme version of this is Blind Boss. You don’t just remove the distraction of aiming, you remove the distraction of vision allowing you to concentrate on how a shot feels. Memorising how a shot feels will let you better replicate the shot when your eyes are open and aiming! You blind boss exactly the same way you blank boss except you close your eyes. However, don’t close your eyes until AFTER getting set and pointing your sight at an aiming mark – all of which should be central-ish on the boss. Your eyes are really just closing as you draw, through expansion and release. This ensures you don’t launch one over the top or around the side of the boss. If worried have someone stand beside/behind you for a few shots ensuring you point the bow safely into the boss till you feel more confident.
All this can be done to simulate any range with your sight pin cranked down – blind boss probably a bad idea if simulating 70-90m!. Body position is different for longer ranges but you can still blank boss these at 3m. Just be sure to raise the boss up on the frame at least 20-30cm (8-12″) to prevent shooting over the top and have someone check your first few shots for safety. In addition, blank boss is also a good way to shoot many many arrows quite quickly (there’s no walk to collect) as a strengthening or endurance exercise. 100 arrows in an hour is easily possible but there’s no need to rush if quality of shot is your aim. Its probably worth doing blank boss once a month for 30 minutes/an hour if only to reinforce your shot cycle without the aiming distractions. Its an odd drill but it has lots to commend it … and while the experienced archers are doing it, it stops them lollygagging about at 70m!
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If you feel unsure about this particular drill or how to go about it safely, ask someone. Either a coach or experienced archer. Never launch into a drill you don’t know how to get the benefits of or how to shoot safely.