Archery Shooting Form
The single most important aspect to shooting a bow accurately is proper shooting form. We will go through the steps to set started on the right track to have good success with your archery equipment.
This is the foundation of your proper shooting form. Start with your feet shoulder with apart with your back foot slightly forward. This will help you prevent you from hitting you lead arm or the arm that you hold the bow with. If you are hitting your forearm it is usually a symptom of bad form or your draw length is too long.
Stand up straight and tall. We see a lot of new shooters that are hunched over or their hips are not straight. This will also start to happen when you start to get tired after shooting a lot. Shoulders directly over your hips and your back nice and straight.
You want to have a relaxed grip on your bow. Seat the grip into the life line on your hand and when you draw you should have a slight bend in your extended arm’s elbow. If your elbow is bent too much this tells us that the draw length is too short. Bending your bow arm will also prevent the string from hitting your forearm and leaving you with a black and blue arm. Again preventing the arm slap is all about form. If you have an elbow that hyperextends this is especially important that you have a slight bend.
This is the most critical part of accurately shooting your bow. Your anchor will vary on each individual because we all have a different shape face and draw length. It can also vary with different axle to axle length bows and different release aids. The place you anchor is less important that being able to recreate the same spot over and over. With the most common wrist strap style release aid the best place to anchor is to put your index finger knuckle under your ear and against your jaw. This will give you a solid foundation for shooting accurately. The second reference point for our anchor is putting the string on the tip or side of your nose. People with glasses will most likely have to go to the side of your nose to have a clear sight window without looking through the rim of your glasses although the tip of your nose is better. The third reference point is your peep sight. This will be adjusted by your pro shop so that you are looking straight through the peep without tipping your head up or down to see through it. If you have a problem finding a solid anchor point you can also add a fourth reference called a kisser button. The kisser button goes into the corner of your mouth.
Drawing your Bow
Nock an arrow. The kind of arrow rest you have will determine which way the cock feather (odd color of the three) or vane should face. Most modern rests you will shoot with it in the up position. Now you hook your release on to the string loop or below the arrow nock on the string. Make sure to keep your finger behind the trigger to prevent from accidentally releasing the arrow prematurely (doing so will cause you to punch yourself in the face so we don’t recommend it!!) Lift your bow arm and draw the string straight back to your anchor point. You should be able to draw your bow straight back to your face without lifting your bow arm above shoulder height or straining to get it back. If you have to strain, you might have too much draw weight and may need to lower the poundage on your bow. You are much better off to shoot lower poundage and have better form because you will shoot much more accurately and be able to steady and aim your bow better.
Aim, Release and Follow through
Now comes the fun part, Aiming and shooting. We now start to aim our pin at the target. Don’t worry none of us can hold the pin completely steady. When the pin is on your target put your finger on the trigger and slowly squeeze the trigger. You should have a little bit of a surprise release when the release goes off. Make sure that you don’t punch or slap the trigger as this will change the arrow trajectory and cause you to miss your mark. This is one very bad habit that we do not want to create called trigger panic. You should have a nice clean release and follow through with your release hand.
Congratulations you just fired your first arrow properly. Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t hit what you were aiming at the first time. You still need to sight your bow in. What we are looking for is consistent groups of arrows. The more you shoot the better your groups will get. Once you have good and consistent groups at 10 yards you can start to adjust your sight to move you to the bulls eye. After you have your bow sighted in at 10 yards and can shoot consistently, then move back to 20 yards. Your groups will open up and you may be low on the target because you are further away from the target. Just adjust your top pin for 0-20 yards. Don’t worry about shooting father until you are very consistent at 10 and 20 yards. Many shooters that have been shooting for many years were never taught the proper form. One thing that I guarantee is you will shoot better if you follow the simple steps above and work on your form. As target archers we need to practice to get the muscle memory for consistent aiming, as hunters we need to practice so that at the moment of truth, our form has become a habit that we do not have to think about.
Good luck and as always “Life begins at Full Draw”