Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Fear of Being Accurate

Well the Olympics are almost here, and with them a chance to think about sports we generally ignore.  This New York Times piece on "target panic," an affliction suffered by expert archers, is worth a read.  I especially liked the advice about how to begin to manage the problem: “Do not focus on results....when you focus on results, it builds anxiety. And anxiety is the kiss of death.”

Interesting to me is that this is exactly the way to extract yourself from a poker-playing condition known as "tilt."  Of course it's easy to say, and very hard to do, but it is THE cure.   When I start to run bad, and lose more than one or two session in a row, I try to convince myself, before I sit down to a new game, that I'm probably going to lose some money.  I'm not TRYING to lose--I haven't given up--I just accept beforehand that I probably will.  For some reason this forces me to try to enjoy the experience for what it is (like trying to find something interesting about the special effects in some terrible movie you can't walk out of).  It doesn't work every time, but it works a lot.  I'll finish a session thinking, "that was actually kind of fun" and then notice, with real surprise, that I've won $500.  (This is all online; it's much harder not to know whether you're winning or losing when you play at a casino.)

I digress.  But, anyway, a good piece.  One year when I was at camp, a bunch of pro-level archers came in to shoot at tennis balls hanging from tree branches.  They didn't hit every shot, but they hit a lot of them, and I remember thinking how fun it looked.  I could never hunt, but if I did, I would use a bow.  At least there's some sport in that.  (He says, knowing next to nothing about hunting with gun, bow, boomerang or even plastic harpoon.)

1 comment:

Johannes said...

If you ever hunt me, as I know you plan to do one day, for the love of God use the biggest gun you can find. The last thing I want is to stumble around in the forest with an arrow shaft protruding from my gizzard and catching on brambles as I die slowly of your clumsy aim and outdated weapon choice. I'll curse your name on my sylvan death bed!