Total Archery, by Kisik Lee and Robert de Bondt

a review of the book by A.Ron Carmichael

There has been more discussion lately about "Korean Archery" as the best method of shooting recurve target archery.

This is not surprising since out of 43 records maintained by FITA (world and Olympic records), the Koreans hold 39 of them, and a case can be made that at least two of the others are held by acolytes of the "Korean Archery style". The highest FITA recurve score is held by a female Korean (1405) and she is only one of many, many Korean archers able to routinely shoot better than 1350. We do have some US archers able to shoot through the 1300 threshold, but amazingly few compared to Korea. So we presume there is some "Korean" secret or method, and in a way, there is.

First, I believe that the "Korean Archery" style is simply the US style taken to an efficient extreme in several ways. They started by observing our best archers such as McKinney and Pace, many years ago, and decided what worked best. Due to their culture they were able to single-mindedly pursue a goal of devising the best methodology by using their youth in training camps the likes of which have only been seen in East Germany in the 1960s. I am NOT implying the comparison in a negative way, just that the US could NOT have that kind of program due to our society's norms. But we CAN now benefit from their program.

The result of their efforts is that they have developed a method that is bio-mechanically sound and most importantly, devised a way of teaching this method consistently to coaches that insures the coaches are all on the same page. Korean Archers do not get mixed coaching messages even though they apparently always shoot under the direct supervision of at least several coaches (to insure no bad habits creep in).

If a Korean archer were to start shooting at 8am, and purposely adopted a flaw in his execution, and every 15 minutes throughout the day a different Korean coach came in to watch him shoot, chances are excellent that EVERY SINGLE COACH would see the same flaw and tell the archer exactly the same thing to correct it. In America, I would guess that the archer would get 5 different opinions from 10 different coaches and at least two of the coaches would diagnose target panic no matter what. Of course, that Korean archer typically shoots many hundreds of arrows, in some cases a 1000, each day, 6 days or more per week.

If there is anything we in the US can learn from the Koreans, is that we need to do a better job of teaching our coaches to be consistent. We now have a tool to contribute to that end that the "low-end" coaches that introduce our kids to archery, can easily add to their toolbox. I've not read a better book on archery than TOTAL ARCHERY, and one has to admire Kisik Lee and his expertise, his long history of producing champions.

This new book being circulated is called TOTAL ARCHERY, by Kisik Lee and Robert de Bondt. Kisik Lee is currently the head archery coach of the Australian Institute of Sports, and has many, many Olympic and World Champions to his credit. This book is a superb reference for the future of US archery. The photos are clear and deal specifically with the text, serving to clarify the written words.

The NAA is planning to carry this book and you should be able to obtain a copy soon. Please put it on your list, add it to your library right up there with the likes of McKinney's book (The Simple Art of Winning), Steve Ruis and Claudia Stevenson's compilation (Precision Archery), Ruth Rowe's book (Fundamentals of Recurve Archery), etc. and you won't regret it. Though you may find you will initially spend a good deal of time reading instead of shooting, your shooting will be the better for it.

NOTE: As of October, 2005, USA Archery has announced that Kisik Lee will assume the role of NATIONAL HEAD COACH, at the behest of the USOC.  Good things are coming!


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