Trading Lessons from the Archery Range pt. 1
Yesterday was my first day back at the range in a week. I had some problems with my shoulder so was resting it, but yesterday it felt better. Even though I’ve been shooting for over a year now and won two competitions, there is still a lot of work to do.
I was shooting decently consistent to start off yesterday…scoring a 10 (perfect), a 9 (in the gold center) and an 8 (red – one level off from the gold center) for every 3 shots (round) from 18m which = 60ft.
My pulling shoulder which used to be out of alignment (too high) was now at the proper level, but my back elbow was not totally inline with my front gripping hand. I started to make some adjustments but still the same result…10, 9, 8. I began to wonder what am I doing that is off?
Just then the instructor Diego pulls me aside and tells me next round we’ll go back to 3m target as he wants me to work on something. At first, it was discouraging to my ego being moved to the smaller target. But, I’m committed to learning the art of archery so instead of worrying about looking good shooting at the 18m, I was happy to go back and practice some basics.
Although most of my technique was correct, I was missing two things;
1) After my shot, I forgot the rhythm to close my eyes for 3 seconds while holding the bow
2) I had put too much of my energy on the target and not the process
The first one was relatively easy to change as it require a physical adjustment. However, the second one needed an internal adjustment, one that was more subtle and had no outer reference for me to gauge.
After three rounds, I was keeping my eyes closed and back in the rhythm, but far more importantly, my energy was focused where it needed to be – on the process and not the target.
I went back to 18m and started shooting. The whole time I was using my energy on the process and forgot about the target. After 3 arrows, I shot a 10, 9, 9. Even though the result was a slight improvement, there was something else going on. My awareness was where it needed to be. I was totally focused on the process and not the result, and thus doing all the things I needed to make a good shot.
How Does This Relate to Trading?
In trading more so than archery, there is a temptation which can distract you from the process. It is called money. Most people learning to trade do not have all the money they need so the temptation to be distracted is enormous. You look at your charts and see the EURUSD moving 150pips in the last few hours or the GBPUSD moving 400pips in the last two days, or all the flashing lights and what do you think?
‘Wow, I could have traded that and made $$$‘. Or you think, ‘Whoa, that pair is moving, I should get in that‘. Or, ‘Wow, if I had put 10 instead of 5 lots, I would have made double the money‘.
Sound familiar? If it does, your not alone and most traders go through this process. But herein lies the trick, which is the same in Archery.
It is easy to be more focused on the target and not the process (following your trade plan & rules, using proper risk management and being disciplined). It is more convenient to not follow your trading plan and make some quick pips then to follow it completely no matter what is going on in the markets.
Everyday I have tons of traders like yourself that come to me saying ‘I want to do this for a living‘ but when it comes down to it, many do not follow the system, or the risk management rules, or the trading plan. It is because they are so focused on the target and forget about the process.
Trading for a Bank
Speaking of trading for a living, do you know what it takes to trade for a bank?
4,000 trades. Yep, that is right – 4,000. Why? Because banks want to make sure their traders are trading their system as is, and the best way to do it is drill it over and over again. They have a lot of money on the line and they want to make sure before trading their money, you know what your doing to the point it is habit. This can only be done if you are focused on the process in the beginning.
Your Training as a Trader is not finding the best system out there, but in learning how to master the process. How do you do that? By being fully focused on what you are doing every time you make a trade. By doing this, your thinking or emotions never get a chance to interfere with your trading and decision making.
Have you ever had a great trade setup but didn’t take it out of fear (emotion)? Or have you ever got in a really good trending move, only to exit early before your system because you ‘thought’ it was going to turn around? Has this ever happened to you? If so, it is a direct communication where your focus is (on the target, not on the process).
As in Archery, so in Trading
When you are trading, ask yourself where is your focus? On the target and money to be made? Or on the process (using correct risk management, following your system, executing the technique). Keep your focus on the process until it is drilled inside your head so deeply, there is nothing left but the discipline and you executing according to plan. Skill is a drill and all highly successful traders have drilled their skills through the hammer of the training process.
Lastly, if something is not going right with your trading, do not feel it is a setback to go trade smaller lot sizes or go back to demo. I often have to go back to the 3m distance to work on various aspects of my technique. Once they are back in sync, I go back to the 18m. You can do the same with trading by going back to demo for a month or so, and once the results improve, go back to live trading. Quit thinking about the money you have to make right now and focus on the process. When you do, you will find you are hitting the target with more consistency then ever.
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For a really good article on Discipline and the mental aspects of trading, check out this great article on Trading Lessons from Jesse Livermore – the World’s Greatest Trader.
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