Very often I’ve had a situation where the haya hits and the ototya misses. I’ve always attributed that to mental factors (thinking about how nice it would be to hit with the second arrow), but yesterday I noticed another component. When shooting the haya, the presence of the otoya in the right hand limits the way it can comfortably wrap around the string and arrow. This is fine, but when it comes time to shoot the otoya that constraint is gone, and I saw towards the end of practice that the position of the right hand at that time is somewhat different.
In particular, for the haya, the thumb of the glove is pointed somewhat downward at yugamae, while for the otoya it was more straight. By taking care to position the thumb the same both times (same as the haya for both), I seemed to get better consistency. Of course, by the time I get to kai, the thumb, though the action of hineri and the various joints involved, should no longer be pointed down, but I think what may have been happening before was that I would apply the same amount of hineri to both, and this may have caused me to twist the right too much on the otoya. Just guessing, but it seems plausible.
Another interesting point that my teacher clarified as if by accident is that, when he says (or shouts) “Hayai! ” after someone shoots, it’s not a question of how much time the person lingers in kai. You could linger all day and he might still say that. What he’s saying is that they are releasing before the tate-yoko cross is fully developed, so it’s “hayai” in the sense of taking a dish out of the oven before it is fully baked. The shooting is “half-baked.”
People do, very often, express the matter as one of counting off seconds, but I think that is only a temporary crutch, like using a timer in the kitchen. What you want is a fully cooked meal, a fully cooked curry. The timer will get you close, but for best results you must try a little taste now and then, and keep going until everything is just right. Professional cooks have told me that the cooking time really varies with ingredients and the seasons, so for the best results you must graduate beyond the timer. Bon appetit!
Meanwhile the order of the day for me is a more fully developed nobiai and full extension at zanshin. There’s a taikai tomorrow so it will be good to add that stress and see how it goes.