Posted on Leave a comment

Backyard Archery Tips for Staying Sharp with Dave Cousins

Bowcast Archery Podcast 002 - Dave Cousins - Backyard Tips for Staying Sharp

The REAL Dave Cousins stops by to chat about how to stay sharp at home. During the pandemic, everyone was searching for ways to keep in shape when not being able to visit their local archery shops or ranges. He shares lots of great tips for improving your archery game.

“The more you shoot, the better you’re going to shoot, to a point. When you start breaking down and you start losing proper form, then you need to walk away and take a break.”

  • Fun games you can participate in on the World Archery Social Media Page.
  • Tips for how to be more steady while aiming.
  • How to avoid Robin Hoods because they’re hilarious until you start spending $15 per arrow.
  • How to shoot every year “without a plan”
  • How focusing on one thing you did well will help with your confidence.



Note *the transcription ai may not be perfect)


Welcome to another episode of Bowcast, this is the archery podcast with the new school archer in mind. Bowcast covers everything from tips, techniques and archery technology that will help raise your success in the field. And now here is your host, covering the straight shot, Carrie Zylka.


Carrie Zylka  00:35

Welcome to the Bowcast podcast. today. We are talking to the real Dave cousins. I love that your Facebook says The REAL Dave cousins.


The REAL Dave Cousins  00:46

The REAL Dave cousins I love that. Yeah, it just happened that way. It was one of those things I probably should have started an athlete page before a personal page and then there’s kind of no going back so stuck with it


Carrie Zylka  00:59

right Dave is a professional Archer. He is a, an amazing bow hunter. He is a very prolific figure in the archery and bow hunting world and we are going to be talking about just kind of how to stay sane and how to stay in shape and keep sharp because just because we’re all on the pandemic lockdown right now doesn’t mean we can get lazy, right?


Dave Cousins  01:25

Absolutely not an archery where it’s really a self sport. It’s the perfect thing to do when there’s nothing else to do.


Carrie Zylka  01:33

Exactly. So why don’t you give the listeners a little bit of a rundown on who you are and why we should pay attention to the next 20 minutes or so?


Dave Cousins  01:42

Well, for the last 25 years, I’ve been a full time professional Archer. I’m 43 years old, essentially the day I graduated high school I signed my first pro contract and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a member of the United States archery team for now. that entire time as 17 world archery gold medals have shot over 30 world records in my time have won the Vegas shoot three times. I’ve been active in all disciplines of competitive archery. And I’ve also traveled the world and Bo hunted and quite a few destinations as well, as well as just just being an outdoorsman and an outdoors person my entire life with hunting, fishing, whatever it is just in the woods in water. So it’s been my lifelong passion and somehow I was able to maintain the drive and find the outlets to make it a career


Carrie Zylka  02:39

Living the dream.


Dave Cousins  02:42

That’s what they say. You know, but with anything, if you make your passion, your livelihood, they say it’s really not work. But in order to be successful. There are days when it’s Sure as it sure is, but the rewards are really so much sweeter when you’re completely involved in something that’s your own. Yeah, rather than punching the clock for someone else, soooo


Carrie Zylka  03:13

Agreed. So what do you do? So, sometimes when you’re not, you know, traveling the world winning World Championships. I’m assuming you have maybe a training routine or a practice routine to stay sharp with the archery Can you give us a rundown on that? Yeah.


Dave Cousins  03:32

Yeah, normally it all circles around. And it’s all focused around tournament’s and what events I have coming up on unfortunately, right now, that’s just not the case. You know, so traveling internationally or nationally to you know, large scale events, just as an app and nearly everything has been postponed or canceled, or put on the back burner. So that has definitely affected the training, schedule and regime. So really right now, I’m just Back to nearly just backyard archery like everybody else just trying to stay sharp and trying to be motivated and, and it tinkering with new equipment and stuff you know, we have to remember fall in the outdoor industry is literally right around the corner. You know, even though now this is April you know new products usually always start launching in October So, so on the engineering and product testing development side, we’re working on new products, you know, as we speak, we have to carry on as business as usual. So, I keep my self consumed with that type of thing with testing and product development, so forth, but really just a lot of just backyard archery. I mean here in my home, I’m lucky enough to have my own full archery shop, full you know, 20 yard indoor range and everything around the property. I live in a rural area. So getting outside shoots Mero shoots 3d targets, you might end my target, my hundred Guard lane is not an issue. It’s not like I’m cooped up in the city or anything like that. So I just just try to stay active and try to stay on my discipline because archery is a craft. And if you don’t stay proficient in it, it’s a skill that decays. Just like every hunter knows, as fall comes. I wish they were shooting their ball year but a lot of people just don’t have the opportunity or time due to other requirements. They dust a bow off maybe a month before the season and they get to it. And they know that, you know, gees, a little more practice would have been better. So that’s kind of the mindset I started trying to stay and I just stay proficient stay sharp. It is a tangible skill that that decays over time and if you love to shoot and you love to be in the outdoors, it’s not really an effort anyway, so you want to do so right.


Carrie Zylka  05:52

So say somebody lives in a suburb and they have a little bit of yard in the backyard. say they can only shoot up to 20 yards. would you suggest that they set a target and even do the 10 even 5, 10, 15, 20 yards? Or would you just is it more muscle memory that you would recommend?


Dave Cousins  06:11

I’ll tell you something, something that’s actually going on right now and it’s a partnership with World archery is on world archery social media page, there’s a group that actually has started on the behalf of world archery a short distance like online League, and every week they’re posting a different target face PDF, which you can download and print that is scaled to your distance. And they’re kind of having fun with it. They’ve got compounds they’ve got recurves they’ve got bear bows, and people are shooting as close as five yards away. You know all the way up to 20 yards depending on how much distance you get. In some people are have been fortunate enough to be able to get outside whether they they live in a very urban area or you know you live in an apartment Whatever. There are people actually practicing and shooting archery and competing for fun and growing their skill at very short range, and it’s through that resource that world archery has launched on their Facebook page. And there’s some really good things you can do there. But the biggest thing is going to be trying to stay in touch with what you see in your sight picture and how you engage your shot. That’s the craft of it that being calm and stable. And still being able to make a good shot. That’s what makes you an archer. And anytime you can dedicate to that especially I think, a lot about bow hunting so much in bow hunting you you set your standard your blind up, and you know I got a trail coming here and if a buck comes this way, I’ve got a shot here if I don’t get that shot, and maybe I’ve got one here and if the wind changes, then I know maybe my Stan location change so you spend a lot That time going through what that opportunity might look like if you get a chance to take a shot and harvest an animal will practicing archery in your yard in your living room, your garage or apartment really should be no different. Every single arrow really should be approached with full intent of the process of what are the three or four key things I need to do to make a good shot and give this arrow the best chance to find its mark. So it’s really no different there’s a lot of crossover and similarity there. Interesting.


Carrie Zylka  08:39

Can I ask you so sometimes when I’m so when I draw, and I set that pin on the target, sometimes it wavers a little bit. Do you have a tip for those of us who aren’t super steady, our arms just aren’t super steady.


Dave Cousins  08:58

Sure. Well, the first thing to remember is No one holds dead steady. Even at the top level of competitors, we don’t hold that steady. We definitely have less movement and how we’ve achieved that is number one, knowing in our mind what our site can look like, at its worst, and still achieve, where we want to hit, you know, a 10, or an X or the Killzone on the 3d target or whatever. Knowing that you’re going to have movement, knowing that the spot you want to hit is an area not one defined little pixel. So first of all, knowing that the 10 ring on a 3d target, or on a Vegas face is an area and that anywhere in that area, your arrow scores the higher value right away. That should be the first step to giving your mind permission to allow the bow to float to move a little bit. Because the siphons always going to be moving back in and around towards that area. You know, it’s kind of like the driving analogy or tying your shoes or You know fork and knife on a plate cutting something bringing it to your mouth. These are movements just kind of happened you know, put a lot of thought into it. You know the destination know the process, you driving down the road, get the yellow line on the left, you get the white line and mailboxes on the right in your eye and hand keep the vehicle in your lane, don’t actively try to steer it and force it within your lane. Same thing with aiming a bow. You know, if you start each shot with what your sight picture can look like at its best and worst, and still stay in and around the target area. And then you think about what are the three or four key physical things that I need to do to stay strong during the shot, stay engaged in the sight movement and execute a good shot to get this arrow as close to the middle as possible. And if you kind of lay those steps out as a roadmap before you ever draw your bow back. You’ll start to notice that as soon as you let go of the physical control of holding the bolus, steady As you can see, it starts to get steadier. And also your shot timing and routine becomes a little bit more consistent. You don’t have shots that go crazy fast, you don’t have shots that seem to take forever. things start to get a little more streamlined and then you notice a natural rhythm or cadence to your shot routine. And that kind of becomes the the ticker that keeps you on your pace.


Carrie Zylka  11:26

I had read all this was many, many years ago, I forget if it was North Korea, or South at one of the Korean countries during the Olympics that um, one of their professional archers said that she always made the infinity symbol to keep it real steady. And I always thought that was interesting. And I guess I’ve always just tried to hold it steady as possible, which usually backfires on me.


Dave Cousins  11:51

Yeah, usually does in with that analogy talking about Korean recurve South Korean recurve team. Yeah, that’s a very good analogy for what your site picks Looks like because your eye is always going to be driving your sight back to the middle. And it’s going to be that subconscious level of correction, and reconnection and steering that’s going to cause the float and cause the movement and your eye really likes to align objects. Like if you were to just you’re sitting in your office right now or wherever and you were to just point at something on the wall, you literally look at it, you raise your arm, you extend your finger and it just goes to it. You know, you don’t have to think about these minor muscle movements like Up Up, down, down, left, right, left up down note right there. There it is pointing at that outlet. You just look in your in your body and your mind in your I’ll go there. aiming a bow is really no different. And in all shooting sports, any the act of aiming, whether it’s rifle, pistol, shotgun, whatever it is. It’s literally the same process except with archery. We’re more exposed to it because we have this thing we’re holding back at full draw We have this bow we’re holding up we have all this stuff in front of us and our senses are kind of overloaded whereas they’re not as our senses on is heavily burdened when we do any other shooting sports a shotgun rifle pistol, you know, it’s a little different physical application than it is with archery, but the principles are all very the same. interesting is


Carrie Zylka  13:19

that why a lot of these targets have five smaller targets rather than just one. I feel like some like an eye fatigue or something if I scare if I stare at the same exact one over and over and over again or try to shoot the same one Not to mention Robin Hood’s which suck but



a lot of people think Robin Hood’s a great until problematic


Carrie Zylka  13:42

by your own arrows then it’s not so funny.


Dave Cousins  13:46

idea. I want to see one post on social media or somebody shoots a robin hood that’s actually in the x rays. Have you noticed that? It’s like arrows scattered all over the place. And you have a robin hood out in the middle of the floor. Good job, I guess know, that the same thing wrong twice. And I’ll probably get slammed for that, but it’s the thing, you’ll notice that going forward, you’ll never unsee it now. But, uh, the thing with with a one spot targets is, it’s really one of the easiest things to learn how to aim on and when I start with new archers, or archers that are season but struggling a little bit when I’m working with coaching them or trying to share some ideas about the mental aspects of it all go to a one spot target face because there’s just less visual input. You know, and with the multi spot target faces, it’s really once you get a lot more advanced and you want that clean, crisp target every single shot and also we need it to preserve the integrity of scoring when we’re shooting large diameter arrows at these indoor targets. We you know, we really need a fresh target face for every year to be able to score well and obviously not stable barrels but yeah, sometimes the most This spot can be a little bit frazzling sometimes to the average Archer, there’s just the target feels like it’s smaller, it looks like it’s smaller. And it just overloads with a bit of anxiety, it makes things a little more challenging sometimes.


Carrie Zylka  15:13

So what I’m hearing is, especially if you’re refreshing or just starting out, or like I said, you just haven’t picked up your bowl all winter, because it’s negative four degrees in Wisconsin, and you don’t have to an indoor archery range. No single single target out there, focus on that for a while, get good at that one. And then know maybe after that branch off rather than stressing yourself out.


Dave Cousins  15:39

Yeah, and also to just to reiterate, shoot every year with a plan. You know, just like it was that one shot of a lifetime at a huge buck that you’ve been patterning and chasing all season. You know, shoot every arrow with the fullest intent of what do I want to do with this arrow? What are the steps I need to do? Take to make sure I do that. And then commit to the process and do it. And after every arrow, you shoot, ask yourself two questions. Number one, what did I do well during that shot, because even during the worst shots, there’s going to be something in there you did well, you need to reward and praise yourself on that one thing or several things that you did well, that will help build a more positive self image, greater self esteem, and also give you the belief that I can do this. Yes, I’m a little rough around the edges, but there are some things I got a good grasp on. So it’s praise. And then secondly, we do ask yourself Sorry, guys,


Carrie Zylka  16:44

just do you mean you mean like so even though you make kind of a shitty shot, you’re like, oh, anchor point was great. My hips were perfect. Okay,


Dave Cousins  16:52

yeah, there’s something in there you did well, you know, so that tells you what you’ve got nailed down so that you can move on to other stuff. Then the next question is, what will I do better during the next shot? So the first one is praise. And the second one is goal setting. You know, you’re like, Hey, I got my anchor, right? My weight distribution from my hips. My form was good. My peep and scope are centered. Okay, I did those things. Well, well, my execution was a little rough. I didn’t maybe my my bow hand could be in the bow a little bit better, it could be a little stronger on my aim. So that’s goal setting what you’ll focus on doing better the next shot. So what did I do? Well, what will I do better? Those two things can guide you as to, you know how you need to approach the next shot. And there’s no more important time than in practice in the backyard and your garage in your living room. To build that process, so that when you do get that once in a lifetime opportunity on a hunt, or in a tournament or at a local 3d or league Something that now you’re ready you’ve been in that moment know what you need to do to give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome. Cool


Carrie Zylka  18:14

it’s you make it out there. I don’t have time today but I’m gonna want on my lunch hour.


Dave Cousins  18:19

Right? I don’t know why.


Carrie Zylka  18:24

Um, what other tips would you give people who are stuck at home? Just flinging some arrows in the backyard? How many arrows Do you think they should shoot? I mean, cuz you can, I don’t know I know there’s the whole muscle memory versus fatiguing your muscle and then starting to shoot like crap. You know, those two sides of the coin, what would you suggest as far as how many arrows they should shoot in a day just to stay sharp?


Dave Cousins  18:52

Well, the actual quality is going to vary for everybody dependent on their their mental capabilities and also the physical capabilities. There’s some times here at home, even during the peak season, I might only shoot 60 arrows or 120 arrows in a day. And then there’s other days where I’ll shoot 500 you know, just because I’m not getting it right, or it’s just that good. I don’t want to stop. But on the days where I shoot very few arrows, sometimes that 60, you know, one round or 30 a half around, it’s because I shot every one of them with perfect intent. I was disciplined enough to visualize what I wanted to accomplish to visualize the steps I needed to go through to give that arrow the best chance to be where I wanted it to be. And then was hundred percent committed to that process on every single arrow. And those days are really rare. But when I can go through all those steps and really be honest with myself and committed to it is the most rewarding 30 arrows, I can shoot. It’s just it, you know, it’s taxing. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. But it’s just so rewarding. So that would be my advice is, you know, how many ever number of arrows you can shoot and shoot them? Well, like well composed shots.


Carrie Zylka  20:24

And that would assume that like, because I’m, like 60 to 500 and about fell out of my chair, I’m like, even theory about that, and my arms are falling off. I’m assuming that if you start out say with 25, and then the next day you do 30 or whatever it is, you know, you gradually increase as as you get stronger.


Dave Cousins  20:48

Yeah, I mean, the more you shoot, the better you’re going to shoot to a point. When you start breaking down and you start losing proper form, then you need to walk away and take a break.


Carrie Zylka  20:58

Okay, no, no, it’s time to stop.


Dave Cousins  21:01

Yeah, yeah, when I feels like another thing too, and I talk about this in my seminars, and when I coach people, the number one reason we all got into shooting a bow, it’s because it’s fun. Yeah. When it stops being fun, pull back and ask yourself a few questions and look at like, why have I taken this to a point where I’m not reaping the enjoyment that I so got when I started this, have I set my expectations and goals? Way too lofty for what I have the time and ability and resources for now, like I talked to a lot of people are convinced they’re going to be the next world champion or next Olympic champion. Those slices of the pie are really thing you’re talking about less than one 100th of a percent of the population is ever going to be in position to win a medal on a world stage or Olympic stage. Even rare. You know, not everybody’s going to be in that position. Think about why you got into shooting the boat to begin with, as far so apply as much mental and physical energy that you have to still keep it the sport that you love and not make it a burden or a source of frustration.


Carrie Zylka  22:24

Perfect. That is just like a great bookmark to this whole conversation. That’s perfect. Well been doing this a while so well, that’s why I thought you’d be a great interview for the first couple of episodes of the podcast launch. I was like, for like, literally, I was like, Who were some of the originals who you know, were on the some of the original episodes and then who are people I really


Dave Cousins  22:48

respect and who I know will be the oh geez out. Oh,


Carrie Zylka  22:52

yeah. A couple of them come in. And you know, and this is perfect. Well, cool. Well, Dave, why don’t you tell the listeners where they can find out more about you and how they can follow along or attend some of your seminars like you said or what you’re up to. Yeah.


Dave Cousins  23:09

Right now you can follow all my exploits on social media to my Facebook athlete page the real day cousins. And of course you can always keep up with my sponsors social pages, pse archery, should we first strings, camps gear arrest Carter, Carter enterprises, Carter releases and stuff, all those all those fun companies you can find all that info on my social pages. And that’s kind of where I’ll be, you know, doing some updates here and there, some little tech videos and stuff and just sharing a little peer into my lifestyle what I do, I’m a avid avid bass fisherman, bass angler and tournament angler. Unfortunately, no tournaments coming up this season right away due to all the government guidelines, but I’m just recently acquired my main guides license so when we can re congregate And people can start traveling back up here to vacation and whatnot. I’ll be making my services available for guide trips for smallmouth and largemouth bass here and in the in the main area. So that’s kind of another chapter the next chapter in, in what I do in the outdoors is spending a lot of time in the woods and waters again and doing some guidance.


Carrie Zylka  24:23

Well, again, I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and walk us through some of these tips and get in depth with it.


Dave Cousins  24:31

Well, thanks for the opportunity to speak with you guys and your listeners and all and I look forward to next time. Thank you

Leave a Reply