Failure Drives Obsession By Matt Elliott

Failure Drives Obsession By Matt Elliott

You may have seen the second episode of this season of Born and Raised Outdoors, Land of the Free (LOF) 4.0. If you haven’t, you can find it here:

In the episode you’ll see me miss a bull elk at 7 yards (minute 15); a virtually unfathomable miss, even for me, the guy who missed the shot. And then again, it isn’t.

I’d like to say that I can practice my way to successful outcomes, 100% of the time, when the single moment to execute arrives. I’d like to say that the hours of time I invest painstakingly building every arrow to precision will make the absolute difference. I’d like to think that the thousands of arrows I shoot leading up to the season, until I can deliver arrows at 100 yards within a 6” circle, which is well within the kill zone of an elk, will guaranty success in those moments.

The truth is, it is impossible to practice those moments except in those moments and sometimes, I still fail. And in this case, fail I did.

How? How do I miss a bull at 7 yards? The answer lies in two, related places.

1) I rushed the shot. Under the effects of adrenaline, my perception of time slowed and while it felt like 30 seconds between deciding to execute the shot and the shot firing, it was only a few seconds. Lesson: There’s likely at least twice as long as you think you have to execute the shot.

2) I didn’t follow my process. There are many critical steps that need to happen to deliver a well-executed shot. Each step requiring focus, on that step, in order. And in this case, under intense stress, I forgot one of the most critical. I was so engulfed in watching the bull as he moved through the trees as I looked for a shot that when I got the shot I didn’t anchor into the peep (the little hole in the string that the archer looks through to line up the shot with the bow sight). The Lesson: It is control of the process that delivers the arrow to target and the objective is execution, not the result. Focus on execution and the results happen.

Since that shot, I’ve thought frequently of these two things. Sometimes with such intensity that I want to jump out of my skin. But there aren’t do-overs. Only successful outcomes, lessons learned and next times. That is ultimately what compels me to hunt. The binary finality of it. Success or failure. The success drives passion. The failure drives obsession.

Until next time…. If you want to hear more detail on the situation, you can listen to me discuss it with the best archer in the world, Levi Morgan, on episode 14 of ‘On the Line’ Podcast: “Hard Lessons Learned”.