Archery on the Autism Spectrum - Part 1
Posted by Charles D. Seals - 60X Staff Shooter on Apr 10th 2023
Part 1: Tips for the Archer with Autism Spectrum Disorder
This is the first in a series about archery on the autism spectrum.
Charles D. Seals is a staff shooter for 60X Custom Strings and is passionate about archery and autism awareness. He suffers from level 1 autism spectrum disorder and uses his struggles with autism to improve his archery game.
Advantages of Shooting Archery with Autism
When on the autism spectrum, you may see the world differently. Depending on your place within the spectrum, your outlooks could be very different. When applied to archery, these outlooks can be used to your advantage. Heightened concentration and extreme focus are helpful to people in the sport of archery. When applying that concentration and focus to your shot process, it becomes ingrained and repetitive, as it should be. This can give you an advantage, especially by being able to visualize every shot scenario from beginning to end. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Use the talent given to you to your full advantage. When feeling pressure, take your time and focus on your goals.
Adapting to the Current Situation
If you are an archer and have autism, you see everything before, during and after the shot. Physics is not only applied but visualized. When you have the unique ability to actually see the arrow fly in your mind before you even step to the line, this can be a huge advantage to your game. Everything becomes a factor, not just your normal shot process. You see and hear it all. It becomes more than just a step-by-step process. Your surroundings play a large part, such as environmental noises, smells and proximity to others. You must alter your process to fit each shooting scenario. It takes extreme concentration to make the proper adaptation, from your footing to your follow-through, visualizing it all before taking the shooting line. No matter what archery game you’re playing or what organization is hosting the event, you should apply everything you’ve learned and be confident. Do your very best to adapt to and overcome every shooting scenario you face.
Set goals in both practice and competition and write them down. Do not overthink the goals you’ve set. Overthinking can lead to the goal you set becoming unrealistic in your mind very quickly. Make your goal(s) challenging yet obtainable. When your goals are not met right away do not overthink as to why. Assess the possible reason and form a solution to obtain the goal, keeping in mind that archery has ups and downs.
You can always alter your practice or seek the help of a coach. A coach is an essential tool to becoming a proficient archer. It’s also a great idea to research the techniques needed to help obtain your personal goals. Search for quality books on the mental game and shooting drills to use as a reference. Watching professional archers shooting in tournaments and following them on social media are also good tools to have in your arsenal. Gain as much knowledge as you can on the sport, especially in the discipline you’re interested in.
Tips for Dealing with Autism as an Archer
Use your autism to your advantage; do not give up when the odds are against you. Always finish the practice or tournament. In practice try to always end the session on good, strong shots. When the practice is not going to satisfaction, take a break and regroup, then come back refreshed and relaxed. When arriving at a tournament try to arrive early, especially if traveling long distances. This gives you time to register and breathe before the crowd forms. Try to get to the warmup range early before it becomes congested. Doing this will help to alleviate some of your anxiety. You will have more opportunity to assess what’s best for you and prepare accordingly. Remember to breathe and loosen up. Stretching is also important before and after the warmup shots are fired. During the tournament concentrate on one arrow at a time; the arrow you’re firing is the only one that matters. At the conclusion of the event or practice, take time to decompress and stretch, then replay the event or practice in your mind and see what needs attention. Take notes and apply them in your next practice session.
Enjoy Your Experience
Try to enjoy the company of your fellow archers and remember archery friends quickly become an archery family. Take advantage of all the constructive criticism and advice you get from others. It may help you to further your game. Above all have fun and shoot your bests shots. The only competition you have is you, so strive to do better and be better than you were last time.
This is the first in a series titled Archery on the Autism Spectrum. Check out part 2: Understanding the Archer with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
About the author, Charles D. Seals
My archery passion began when I found a picture of my dad holding his recurve bow and a ribbon he’d won in a competition. I began sneaking my brother’s bow while he was at work and from the first arrow I was hooked. I was gifted my first recurve bow from my aunt when I was 8 years old my dad coached me on proper shooting discipline. My dad gave me my first compound during the Christmas of 1990, which prompted my transition to compound.
I currently compete in the ASA as a semi pro in the known 50 class concentrating on Texas state level competition. I have competed in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas winning various awards in indoor and 3D.
I have assisted as a coach and consultant in the local 4H archery program. I currently provide private coaching to help youth archers achieve their goals in archery and receiving college scholarships.
I was diagnosed late in life with level 1 autism. I’ve always seen the world differently and didn’t know why, needed answers. Through extensive research and therapy, I was diagnosed at the age of 39. From that day forward I have made it my mission to spread autism awareness through my archery passion.