Over the past 6 months, I’ve received numerous messages and conversations with people asking me my opinion of the Hit the Gold software. I’ve meant to do this review for months, but unfortunately for all of you, something else has always taken priority. Luckily, I’ve found some time to sit down and get this done. As always with this blog, these thoughts and opinions are truly my own. I encourage you to disagree and have a conversation with me on why.
I want to start by explaining what Hit the Gold (HTG) is. It is a TOOL, which is designed to improve your mental strength in the context of archery. I stress the word tool because it is not a magic pill that will suddenly have you shooting all 10s or increasing your scores over night. Instead it is just one piece and must be combined with many other tools to form the complete puzzle. In addition, consistency is key. If you are not using HTG on a regular basis, I doubt you will find much benefit in it. Instead it needs to be added to your toolbox as an archer and trained regularly to see improvements.
So you are probably wondering, “how does HTG work?” Before buying the product, you must decide if you would like the recurve or compound edition, but both “work” the same way, so I will not specify between the two (basically its a graphics difference in what you see for a target and the type of bow being drawn). Next, the program has a couple different options right from the main menu. When opening the program, you can choose to Play, Improve, Analyse, or Record. Below is a quick description of each of these modes.
When you enter the play mode you have a couple more choices to make. You can choose to “shoot” indoors or outdoors and as practice or a tournament. Indoor/Outdoor will again change the visual you see on the screen. You will either be in a gymnasium or a lush forest/field shooting, and you will either be shooting at a 40cm vertical 3 spot or at an 80cm/120cm target (compound/recurve). Right now, the program does not make the adjustment for 3 vs 6 arrow ends. All ends in all modes are 3 arrows each. However, I am told this is something that will be fixed in future updates. The practice mode is just what you would expect. You “shoot” an indefinite number of ends as practice. In the tournament mode, you start out locally and can work your way up to international competition, by winning tournaments. You shoot a qualification round, you are then ranked against your opponents for that level, then if you make the cut you shoot elimination rounds until you lose, just like a typical archery tournament. Whether you choose to practice or shoot a tournament, in the play mode you are not actually shooting your bow. Instead you are using your brain to “shoot” the arrow. Each arrow you will see the archer on the screen draw the bow, then you will see aiming (sight ring on bow is placed over target), and then you fire the shot. The program will then tell you the value of the arrow you shot, based on your brain waves throughout the shot cycle.
This is where I find the most benefit in this program and spend most of my time. Although I think the Play mode is a quick and easy way to learn about the program or show it off to your friends, I think most people should start in the improve section before moving to the others. The improve mode starts with training your alpha waves. You have 60 seconds to get your brain waves in the ideal frequency range in order to pass this section and move on. If you fail, you can either continue on, or you can repeat the session and try again. I highly recommend continuing in a section until you pass it before moving on. I think this is where the true training and benefit lies. After alpha waves, you move on to beta waves. You are given 3 attempts to achieve the correct beta waves. If you don’t, you again can move on or retake that section. Finally, you move on to the third and final section where you are trying to hit the gold. Much like when you are aiming, you will see the cursor move across a target, indicating where your brain is in relation to ideal. When it lands in the 10 ring you will be notified with a message. This lasts about 30 seconds, and when it is over you are able to see what percentage you were in each scoring block. You also will see a plot of your alpha waves from the first section and the number of beta wave hits out of 3.
I have to be completely honest and let you know that I have not attempted to use HTG while shooting my bow, which is what this mode is all about. Basically in the record mode, you wear the headset while you are shooting and the program records your brain waves during the shot. I do want to try this at some point, but in all honesty I’ve been lazy. I have the program on my computer in my house, so I tend to schedule using HTG during the day when I have a quick break in my “real job.” The headset I have is not extremely comfortable and isn’t the most convenient for this exercise. Also, it is important to note that you cannot do this alone, you will need someone to sit at your computer while you are shooting. They will need to hit a button to start recording (when you begin your shot), when you start aiming (as soon as you anchor), and then when the shot is fired. They will then be asked by the program to input the score value. Again, I definitely plan to do this, I have just been lazy and haven’t gotten around to asking my husband to help. If you DO use this mode, you can look at each shot individually over time or broken into the 4 types of brain waves. More importantly, however, you can analyze your shots (see next mode).
Whether you have “shot” arrows in the play mode of HTG or with your bow using the record mode, you can analyze the different brain waves at different parts of the shot cycle here in the analyze section. If you use the record section in particular, I think this is very valuable. You can compare multiple shots and determine what similarities your good scoring shots have (and same thing with your poor scoring shots). I always say it’s easier to fix something once you recognize a pattern and know what you are looking for. If your alpha waves peak during the aiming phase on bad scoring shots, for example, then you know you need to keep them down through the aiming process. This is where going back to improve mode is helpful. You can take what you learn here and fine tune it for you.
Now that you understand the different modes inside HTG, I want to stop and share something from first hand experience. When I began using HTG, I got frustrated bc I couldn’t “figure it out.” I was trying to “beat” the game and couldn’t solve the puzzle. I wanted answers to how to shoot a 10 or how to keep my brain waves up, etc. The thing I actually like about the program now after using it for awhile is it doesn’t try to tell you how. Everyone is very different and how their brain works is different, so this tool allows you to try things and see what works best for you to produce high results downrange. I can definitely tell a difference when I use the program on normal days vs high stress/emotional days. Using the program regularly, I am able to get my alpha waves in an ideal state on avg the 2nd try, however, on those “bad” days it can take 5-10 attempts, or I may never pass the alpha wave section in improve mode.
And that leads me into how I use the program. Again, I stress for me this is just a piece of my mental training. I take strategies I learn elsewhere (whether from books, mental coach, or other shooters), and I test them out inside HTG. The way I train with the program is simple: I go through the improve section until I complete each step (1)alpha 2)beta 3)hit the gold). I then shoot the highest level tournament I have unlocked (indoors or outdoors depending on what I am currently training for). I shoot a qualification round, and if I qualify for the OR rounds, I do those until I lose. I try to do this at least 3 days a week, but my ideal is probably more like 5 times/week. Realistically, this shouldn’t take me more than about 20 minutes, now that I’m familiar with the program and can move through the improve section with less repeats.
Friends of mine choose to use the software differently than I do. Again, I think that is one of the strengths of HTG, you can use it how you like. One good friend of mine is on the road a lot for work, so he uses HTG in place of actual shooting since he can’t always bring his bow with him (or have somewhere with a range nearby). I also know some people have found it helpful to alternate between shooting in the program and shooting in real life. Another friend of mine uses HTG as part of his tournament warmup routine. You can use HTG anywhere you can bring your computer. And yes I do mean anywhere, I have had a friend use HTG on an airplane. Can you imagine what the other passengers were thinking, as the headset isn’t too inconspicuous!
So with all that what are my impressions, and would I recommend HTG to other archers?
First, let me say yes. I would recommend Hit the Gold. I will say again that I don’t think it has magically improved my game, but it HAS made me more aware of certain things (like how much a negative or unfocused day can really impact my shooting). I also started working on a more specific/detailed mental plan, and I think the program has helped me more quickly discover what does or doesn’t work for me. If I was just trying certain methods while shooting, I don’t think I would have realized as soon that it didn’t have a positive impact, so there would have been a lot more trial and error involved.
Is HTG perfect, no. Yes, the graphics are very basic. No, you can’t choose your avatar. Yes, there are definitely some improvements I’d like to see made (like 6 arrow ends for outdoor in the play mode), but I have spoken with the developers and they are very open to feedback and making changes. One of the great things about the software is once you have purchased it, you are eligible for updates when they make them. From talking to them, I know they had originally planned to come up with many upgrades to their original PC version throughout this past season, but they had such a strong request for developing a mac version that they put all their time and energy into getting the mac version out. Now that they have done that, I expect they will be able to go back to making upgrades to the program as a whole. Ultimately, I think at the current price point (as long as you remember this is simply another tool in your archer toolbox), I think HTG can be beneficial for just about every archer out there who is willing to be consistent with it. There are programs that are literally 10 times the price on the market today, and I don’t think any of them do a better job in helping archers improve their performance.
And because you’ve read this far, I want to reward you. If you’d like to purchase Hit the Gold software, please contact me, and I will give you a promo code to save 10%!