An X is an X till it isn't, what I mean by that is some people can shoot unknown 3D great and win about every tournament but don't get the same great results at 20 yards indoors. You would think common sense would say unknown 3D should be the hardest to shoot because you don't know the distance and you have the terrain and weather against you, but to some people like me it's easier. In unknown 3D I don't know the yardage, and I put less pressure on myself to hit the center because I don't know the yardage. I am getting better and better at judging the yardage and I have shot plus games at IBO National events, but if I have a bad shot in unknown 3D I blame the shot on my yardage being off and not my shot. And when I do that, it doesn't affect my mental game or next shot. I asked Levi Morgan about this and he said "indoors where you just stand on a line and shoot 20 yards the game is so easy it makes it hard". I agree with what Levi said there, in my experience when I shoot known 3D I push myself to hard to hit the bonus rings because I think I have to shoot perfect like in indoors because I know the yardage. I also lose focus by thinking it is so easy, and I think too much about shooting the center instead of just shooting my shot and then I lose my mental game and start shooting like crap.
When shooting unknown 3D there are a couple things that can take the pressure off you to shoot perfect, Levi said "I know going to Vegas or Indoor Nationals that I can't miss or I'm done right. Or 3D I can shoot one in the leg and still feel like I'd still have a chance to come back". This is because in 3D you have bonus rings, so if you shoot an 8 you can shoot a 12 and now your back even. So like in an ASA shoot off, if you are in 3rd and on the last end you can shoot a 14 to take the lead, but if you miss it you could go back to 5th so there is a risk versus reward factor. But in indoors, you don't have any bonus ring so if you have a bad shot there is no way to come back from it unless everyone else has a bad shot too.
It is very rare to see someone that is really good at indoors be really good at unknown 3D too. Levi said "I thinks it's harder for anybody to be as dominant at the indoor game or any known distance game because it's harder to be perfect". Practicing for the two requires different practice areas. For unknown 3D you need enough land to set targets to be able to judge them and not just at the same spots so you always know the distance. And you need to be able to set the targets to give you challenging and tough shots. But for indoors you could practice anywhere basically. But I think you need to practice everything harder like being steady and not adding pressure to yourself to shoot perfect and to stay calm every shot and not to lose focus.
For indoors every shot is the same 20 yardage shot, into the same target, from the same spot. Nothing is different and you don't have to worry about any weather or terrain either. Levi told me "known distance stuff it puts everybody on a level playing field right, so it takes half the game away that I grew up doing". Levi grew up shooting unknown 3D, so he knows how to strategize for the shots and he knows how to deal with terrain and weather. That is what I think gives him the edge over other people in outdoor unknown shooting. But in indoors he doesn't need to use that because every shot is the same boring shot. I also asked Levi why he thinks he wins pretty much every outdoor 3D event but not every indoor event. Levis stated "it's a lot more mental indoors where you have to almost go into auto pilot and just shoot your bow and not think about what's at stake. And that's easier said than done especially when you grow up like I did shooting 3D. In my mind it's wired to strategize all the time". To me it is too hard to just put my mind on auto pilot like Levi said you need to do because I will over think my shots.
I have more fun shooting outdoor 3D because I get to shoot at different targets at different distances, in different setups and nothing is really the same between targets. Standing in one spot shooting the same thing over and over again for 3 hours is not fun. Also when I shoot 3D I get to shoot with my friends sometimes and get to talk to them. And if I'm not shooting with friends then I'm shooting with new people, and sometimes I get to learn some new things from them which helps me with my shooting. For indoors you don't get that because there is not that much time to talk to each other because everyone is pretty much shooting all at once, and you're not suppose to talk on the line.
Thank you very much to Levi Morgan for helping me with this story. I've been wanting to finish this story for a long time, but didn't know how to answer my questions. In my opinion Levi was the perfect person to answer the questions that I had, and now I understand why an X isn't an X, and I hope this story helps you understand that too.
Originally published in the June 2021 edition of The Young Archers of BowJunky Media