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As you begin in archery, the most important aspect to focus on is definitely your form. Proper bow shooting techniques will help you achieve consistent results.
The idea is to start with a lower draw weight so you can shoot numerous arrows during each practice while improving your skills and muscle groups involved in drawing a bow.
This way, you will avoid unpleasant soreness or injuries that may leave you discouraged and ruin your love for the sport altogether.
Although it may seem easy for you to draw a "heavy" bow once does not mean it would be a sound choice to make for your day to day shooting sessions. You won't be going on a deer hunt the first day neither will you just shoot one or two arrows if you want to get better at it, so start "light", learn, shoot repeatedly and have fun doing it.
Archery is way more than just buying a bow and arrows. Apart from choosing the right equipment for your needs, you got to work even more mentally than physically to be a better archer, especially when it comes to competing or bowhunting with stressful conditions involved.
With that being said, the psychological aspect of the sport will be further discussed in another article because of the overwhelming amount of content this subject holds.
As the title of the article had you guessed, I will get further in depth about the proper bow shooting techniques to adopt in order to start on the right foot and see improvement coming along no matter which type of bow you are using.
From the position of your feet to the way you release the bowstring, every subtleties in your technique will affect the flight of the arrow where the idea is to avoid as much as possible the influence you may have on the projectile while it is expelled from the bow to the moment it reaches the target at the location you aimed.
So here are the 7 elements to remember when you are on the field flinging some arrows:
If we decompose the action of shooting, we can notice that a good position is the foundation of a proper bow shooting technique in order to improve your accuracy.
A proper archery stance starts with the alignment of your feet and your body before shooting. There are two common stances or let’s say more popular stance techniques which start with your feet. Again you should try both or any position that you think would give you a good stance and keep your preferred one. Keep in mind that a more stable and steady body position will increase your precision when shooting.
The square feet stance, as shown above, is simply putting your feet parallel to each other with a slight distance in-between and perpendicular to the target. The distance between your feet is determined when you are comfortable with it and feel that you are steady on the ground. It is usually aligned with your hips and shoulders.
To help you, you can use a broomstick, an arrow or a rope in a straight line perpendicular to your target. This will be your shooting line. Basically, an archery must put one foot on each side of the line. A right-handed archer would put his left foot in front of the line parallel to the target and a left-handed archer would put his right foot in front of the line parallel to the target.
Then, imagine a straight line from the middle of your target back to where you are. This will be your target line. You can do this with or without a bow, just don’t shoot or dry fire if using a bow. Those two lines will help to determine where to stand for a better shot. Finally, when you have determined both lines, make sure that your toes are in straight line with your target line so your feet are square to the target.
The square stance is perhaps the easiest position to use and repeat one shot after the other which is important to achieve greater consistency, therefore increasing accuracy.
The second option is the open feet Stance. As we see above on the image, the open feet stance is quite different than the square feet stance. This one is a bit more difficult to apply but will give you an extra stability when well mastered.
First, recreate your shooting and target lines with arrows or ropes on the ground.
Second, place the shooting line between your feet and move your front foot behind the target line, about 2 inches behind. Your rear foot has to be more or less in the middle of the target line.
For better results transfer your weight forward as much as you can before losing balance. In other words, lift your weight off of your heels. We suggest a 60%-40% weight on the front and rear foot. This transfer will bring more weight on your front leg and give you a more stable stance and an angle to aim with more precision. By pivoting slightly toward the target, this stance gives a more natural aiming feeling and avoids the possibility of being unbalanced on your heels. Finally, remember to keep your shoulder forward as if you were using the square feet stance.
Knowing how to hold your bow is really important to keep consistent shots. After all, holding your bow is the first action you will do before any other actions. That said, the grip should be in-between your thumb and index touching your palm. The remaining knuckles should generate a 45 degrees angle away from your bow. To do so, rotate your hand away from the vertical grip of your bow in a 40-45 degrees angle.
Getting yourself in a comfortable stance and T posture. Lift your elbow up and bring your hand to your anchor point.
If using a compound bow, you will most likely be hooking your release aid to a D-Loop after which you can proceed with the drawing motion while safely bringing your bow up towards the target.
If using a recurve bow, you will either be using your bare hand (not so recommended for extended periods of shooting), a finger tab (highly recommended for target shooting purposes) or an archery glove (often used by traditional archers/bowhunters). A finger tab with a spacer is a good option to place the arrow between your fingers without pinching it which is the usual method employed by target archers.
You can notice that some archers place all of their fingers under the arrow when holding the bowstring which is mostly a question of preference and comfort.
After you have chosen your favorite hand position on the string with the release aid of your liking, you can proceed with the drawing motion of your bow while bringing it up towards the target.
Bring your fingers to the corner of your mouth (as shown in the image above) or under your chin (used by many Olympic target archers), find a comfortable, consistent and concise position for your hand (vertically aligned) and keep it that way every time you shoot to improve your shot accuracy.
Learn to focus while aiming, don't just shoot momentarily with impulse. Get used to concentrate and aim your target precisely for 8 to 10 seconds before releasing an arrow. This would greatly improve your consistency and accuracy when shooting. Since you would be holding still for a few seconds, it is yet another reason to use a lighter draw weight so you can really focus on what you are doing rather than focusing on the resistance of holding the string into position.
It needs to be seen as if you would not want to hold the arrow anymore and let slide the bowstring gently off of your fingers in a linear motion without left/right movements which could lead to unwanted results. Simply relax your fingers until the string is released almost as a surprise.
A good release technique relies on practice and muscles memory. Therefore, to build a proper form and a proper release you should practice on a lighter draw weight (I know right! Speaking about that, one more time. I guess this is something I really want you to remember...) because you will have to be precise on the release.
A lower draw weight gives a better picture of the flaws in your form. It allows the string to move more because of its lower pressure when drawing and releasing, clearly showing if your form is correct or not.
Following the release, it would be strongly recommended finding a second anchor point, somewhere behind your head, to keep your alignment with the target as long as possible and also to avoid plunking (lateral movements when releasing the string). I suggest the bottom of your ear. The main yet very simple reason to develop a second anchor point after releasing the bowstring is to give a more precise motion to be repeated every single shot resulting in a much straighter and consistent arrow flight.
Furthermore, once the release of the arrow is achieved, you should hold your final position still for a few seconds (count about 5 to 10 seconds) while continuing to aim at the target before dropping your bow down. Bringing down your bow too early after the arrow is released could affect the arrow flight, partially ruining your efforts of achieving greater consistency. By holding still, all forms of premature shooting flaws would be avoided.
With that being said, I hope that you have found value in this post and that you are anxious to go out on the field to try those tested bow shooting techniques in order to improve your accuracy and consistency. Do not hesitate to share and comment.